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What Is a 5th Wheel Tailgate? (AKA Louvered Tailgate)

When loading and unloading a 5th wheel RV, you end up opening and closing your tailgate a lot. That’s why there is a special 5th wheel tailgate, also known as a louvered tailgate. While not necessary, they provide a few cool benefits over a standard tailgate. Let’s see if they’re right for you!

What Is a 5th Wheel Tailgate?

A 5th wheel tailgate is specifically engineered and designed with towing 5th wheel RVs in mind. A notch taken out of the tailgate allows for hitching and unhitching regardless of the tailgate’s position.

These tailgates are also known as louvered tailgates because of their design. Instead of being a solid metal sheet tailgate, they have angled slats that help manage airflow while towing.

truck with louvered tailgate

Benefits of a 5th Wheel Tailgate

One of the most common mistakes 5th wheel RV owners make is forgetting to raise or lower their tailgate. When you back up to the kingpin or pull away from it, forgetting this crucial step can destroy the tailgate. A 5th wheel tailgate helps avoid this and comes with other bonuses as well.

These louvered tailgates are often made from lighter hollow metal tubing or plastic. That makes them incredibly lightweight, shaving unnecessary pounds from your truck.

They also help control the airflow in your truck bed. Truck beds are designed with airflow in mind, but adding a 5th wheel can turn a truck’s bed into a violent wind vortex.

close up of louvered 5th wheel tailgate

Louvered tailgates help prevent this by dispersing the air through the angled slots to force it under the RV, hence their name! That design also helps keep bug guts off your RV.

Cons of 5th Wheel Tailgates

While we like these tailgates, you should be aware of the drawbacks. For example, you’ll have to find a safe and secure place to store the original tailgate. Also, modifying the tailgate may diminish the value of your truck as it limits the pool of buyers. You’ll want to hang on to the original tailgate to switch it back before selling.

Many truck owners who have converted their tailgates say they miss the workspace. A large majority of truck owners will drop the tailgate to work, sit, stand, or set stuff on. However, the louvered portion of the tailgates has holes that small tools can slip through.

In addition, these tailgates are not as sturdy, which can be a concern when you’re standing on them.

Pro Tip: If you’re traveling with a truck camper not a 5th wheel, find out Can I Leave My Tailgate on with a Truck Camper?

How Much Is a 5th Wheel Tailgate?

The average price ranges of a 5th wheel tailgate is from about $250 to $375. However, the cost can vary based on the make and model of the truck and the materials used for the tailgate.

Plastic generally comes cheaper than metal, but you’ll get what you pay for.

When shopping for a 5th wheel tailgate, be sure to find one designed for the year, make, and model of your specific truck.

Stromberg Carlson VG-97-100 Vented Tail Gate -...
  • All-steel construction
  • Open design improves vision
  • Custom-fitted
Custom Flow VEL28 5th Wheel Custom Tailgate,Black...
  • Product fits FORD 1997-2014 (Exc. 97 F250 H/D, 97 F350, 2004...
  • Fifth Wheel style
  • Designed to match the factory countours of the truck model

How Much Is a Regular Tailgate?

Replacing your truck’s tailgate doesn’t come cheap. Through a dealership, a tailgate can easily cost $1,000+. That doesn’t include shipping, installation fees, or taxes.

If you decide to do it yourself, you can find tailgates from different years, makes, and models for $500 to $700. You may have to find these local because their size makes them tough to ship.

ford truck

Going through a salvage yard can be time-consuming, but you can get a good deal on a used tailgate with a bit of luck.

Do You Need to Remove a Regular Tailgate to Pull a 5th Wheel?

Fortunately, you don’t need to remove a regular tailgate to pull a 5th wheel. However, you do have to lower the tailgate during hitching and unhitching because of the way these RV trailers attach. Then, you have to close it after hitching it to keep it from getting damaged.

rv with palm trees

A hitching and unhitching checklist can prevent you from accidentally damaging your vehicle. Update your list as you gain experience with the process and customize it to your specific rig.

Are Louvered Tailgates Worth It? 

If you tow your rig regularly, these special louvered tailgates can be great. They help avoid mistakes when routines become mundane. Plus, they’re relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of replacing your truck’s tailgate.

If you tow occasionally or relatively infrequently, you may not get as much value out of the investment. Instead, you might put your time and energy into creating a detailed checklist to follow during hitching and unhitching.

truck with 5th wheel tailgate for towing fifth wheel RV

Mistakes happen, even to the best of us. These tailgates can help prevent an easy error when RVing. Who doesn’t like avoiding potentially costly RV repair bills?

Would you purchase a 5th wheel tailgate? Do you use one? Let us know in the comments below!

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Co-Founder, Logistics Queen, Business & Content Manager, and Animal Lover

An Upper Peninsula of Michigan native (aka a Yooper), Caitlin is the organization, big-picture, and content strategy queen of our operation. She keeps everything orderly and on track.

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She also loves the RV life due to the fact that you can bring your pets along. Sharing information about safely recreating outdoors with your whole family – pets included! – is very important to her. Because of this, Caitlin spearheaded the launch of HypePets in 2023.

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