Nothing kills the thrill of a new truck quicker than realizing it’s too tall off the ground for your gooseneck trailer.
You drop the coupler on the ball in your truck bed, plug in the electrical connection and…
You quickly discover there’s only a few inches of clearance between the gooseneck frame and top of the sides of your brand new truck.
It’s a problem that many gooseneck trailer owners and buyers face lately, as trucks continue to come out of factories taller and taller off the ground, regardless of the manufacturer.
Fortunately, whether you’re looking to buy a new truck or trailer or you just need to fit a gooseneck to your truck, there are a number of “dos and don’ts” that can help you get the right gooseneck trailer clearance and stay safe on the road, without denting the sides or tailgate of your truck.
DO: Aim for at least six inches of gooseneck trailer clearance
The minimum gooseneck trailer clearance needed to handle most highway and off-road conditions is six inches between the lowest part of the gooseneck frame and the highest part of the truck side and tailgate.
DON’T: Extend the coupler to hit six inches
Extending the coupler will make the distance from the trailer to the truck sides longer. However, this is not a fix, because the trailer will no longer be level.
Extending the coupler raises the front of the trailer higher than the back, meaning that weight won’t be evenly distributed between both axles. Instead, extra weight will be pushed onto your rear axle, which can bend the axle and/or lead to tire blowouts.
These are dangerous and expensive issues that aren’t worth the risk.
DO: Know that newer trucks are taller
As mentioned above, truck manufacturers have started to hike up the height of their trucks in recent years. While your typical one-ton pickup bed used to measure about 52 inches off the ground, we now see drivers coming in on trucks with beds as tall as 60+ inches.
Trailer manufacturers have responded with taller goosenecks—however, that’s not a perfect solution because it means your head room inside the gooseneck area will be reduced. That height’s got to come from somewhere.
If you’ve got a new truck, be aware that it’s going to be more difficult for you to find a used gooseneck trailer that provides enough clearance, or to hook up a gooseneck you already own. (We’ll discuss some potential fixes below.)
DON’T: Buy a used trailer without testing your truck’s suspension
Just as trucks are getting built taller and taller, they’re also getting softer and softer suspensions. This can be either a blessing or a curse when you go to hitch up a heavy gooseneck trailer.
In some cases, we’ll see customers drop a gooseneck on their truck, and the suspension will simply be too soft to safely support the trailer.
Other times, the suspension will provide just enough give to create the minimum six inches of clearance between the trailer and truck bed, while still supporting the trailer adequately.
It’s nearly impossible to determine what the case will be for your truck and a given trailer without hitching it up and taking a look. So don’t buy a trailer without testing it out first!
DO: Think About the Pros and Cons of “Quick Fixes”
If you already own a gooseneck trailer that doesn’t fit your truck, don’t despair. There are a variety of options that may help you achieve the right gooseneck trailer clearance. Just know that they come with pros and cons before determining which fix will work best for your budget and travel needs.
Fix 1: Pay a professional to take the axles off the trailer, weld a steel block to the frame, and then weld the axles to the block. This can give you almost three extra inches of clearance, depending on how the axle box is constructed.
However, the trailer will now sit three inches higher off the ground, so it can be more difficult to enter. The cost is also going to run anywhere from $600 to $800.
Fix 2: Buy an aftermarket truck lowering kit. These kits can drop the rear of certain trucks by two inches, supposedly without affecting truck performance.
We haven’t tried one of these kits here at Blue Ridge Trailers so we can’t vouch for them, but it’s certainly something to research if it can save you from trading out your trailer or truck.
Fix 3: Remove the truck bed and install a flatbed. With the truck sides removed, clearance to your trailer should be ample.
The obvious downside is that you lose the functionality of a truck bed for hauling.
As with any smart purchase, it’s important to do your homework before putting any money down. A qualified trailer dealer can help you compare measurements, research your options and make a smart purchase that works for your lifestyle and your budget.
Contact Blue Ridge Trailers online or at (434) 985-4151 for a discussion about your individual trailer questions or needs.