What is a Sliding Fifth Wheel Hitch?
Many RV owners want to use short bed trucks to tow their trailers because they have shorter wheelbases than extended-cab models, and they have more usable passenger space.
The problem is that if you place the trailer’s weight at the kingpin over the axle to provide proper weight distribution, the truck will be more difficult to drive and maneuver.
If the truck and trailer come into contact unintentionally, the damage to the truck cab and risk of injury to passengers can be significant.
In addition, there is the stress of constantly being aware that the problem is always present, as well as the inconvenience of dealing with insurance companies in the event of an accident while on vacation or at a congested gas station or RV park.
The last thing you want to do on your vacation is spending time finding glass repair firms and body shops.
Various businesses have come up with unique methods to addressing the issue. Finally, the auto sliding fifth wheel hitch solution resolves the short bed issue.
A slider or sliding fifth wheel hitch is towing hardware installed to the bed of a short bed truck. It slides forward to allow the trailer to sit directly over the rear axle for normal towing operations but can slide aft while performing low speed, tight turns.
Do You Need Need a Sliding Fifth Wheel Hitch?
Yes, you need a sliding fifth wheel hitch if you have a short bed truck (under 8 feet).
The rear axle on a shorter truck is closer to the cab than on long bed trucks. Since the hitch has to be directly over the rear axle for safety reasons while traveling, that means the trailer is closer to the cab on short beds than long beds. Using a fixed position fifth hitch on a short bed could cause the corner edges of the trailer to collide with truck’s cab during sharp turns.
Although many RV trailers now feature rounded front caps, it often still does not give you the full turning radius possible.
The solution is a slider hitch.
A sliding hitch allows the hitch to temporarily slide toward the rear of the truck creating more room for the trailer. Most sliders will allow for turns up to 90 degrees. Once the low-speed extreme maneuvering is finished, the hitch can then return the trailer back to its closer and safer position for traveling.
There are two big distinctions between sliding hitches, manual slides, and automatic sliders.
How a Sliding Fifth Wheel Hitch Works
How the sliding action of the fifth wheel works depends on if it’s engineered for manual or automatic operation. Manual sliders work by pulling a release pin. Automatic sliders work with no interaction at all. Simply performing a tight turn causes the hitch to slide.
Manual Sliding Hitch
- Generally less expensive than automatic sliders.
- Most sliding hitches are the manual type. That means when you shopping, there is a larger selection of models to choose from.
- Manual slides are less convenient. You have to stop the truck, getting out, pull the pins, set the brakes on the trailer, get in the truck and drive to slide the hitch. Then get back out and secure the pins and release the trailer brakes. Next time you need to take a tight turn, repeat the process.
- With manual slides, all it takes is one time of forgetting to slide it and you could have a very expensive mishap to deal with. It’s easy to forget because not all turns may require sliding. So if your memory is not that great or you are easily distracted, it could really ruin your day.
Automatic Sliding Hitch
Automatic sliders are without a doubt the best sliding fifth wheel hitches. They offer the latest innovation that addresses the downfalls of manual sliders. The rack and pinion gearing in the hitch causes the hitch to auto slide on turns when needed and then return back to the over the axle position once the turn is complete, no action is required on your part.
- Convenience. It fast. No need to stop driving or get out of the truck, just drive as normal. When it’s cold and raining, you stay in the truck warm and dry. It makes your life easier.
- Safety and peace of mind. Not thinking about that tight turn does not damage your truck and trailer. The hitch doesn’t forget to slide for you.
- They are more expensive than manual slides.
- Smaller selection to choose from.
There are two really popular brands of automatic sliders, the Demco Hijacker and the PullRite SuperGlide.
|PullRite 24K Isr Superglide|
|PullRite 4400 20K SuperGlide|
PullRite, an industry leader, has been designing and manufacturing trailer hitches for over 30 years. The neat thing about Superglide is the ability to remove the hitch when not needed with no tools required. With the SuperRail mounting system, you twist the mounting posts a quarter turn and the hitch lifts out and leaves a clean truck bed.
You will need to purchase a capture plate for each fifth wheel you plan on towing as they are not included with the hitch. The capture plate connects to the trailers pin box and converts the turning force of the truck and trailer to turn or wrench the rack and pinion gearing that allows the hitch to slide fore and aft. PullRite’s official site. See unbiased feedback about what others have to say about the Pullrite Superglide at the thedieselstop.com forum.
|Demco 8550035 AutoSlide Ultra Series 21K||Above-Bed Mount|
|Demco 8550037 21K Autoslide Ultra-Series||Under Bed Mount|
Demco is a USA company, uses USA Steel and backs their product with a 5-year warranty. Their Hijacker hitch is a superior product and has made them well-respected within the industry. While most slider hitches have 10″ of travel, the Hijacker has 14″ of travel. It doesn’t end there, it also has 3 vertical height adjustments so that your trailer sits level which ensures that it clears the bed rails of your truck with the proper amount of clearance and helps keep tongue weight in check. Demco Hijacker Autoslide hitches do not require a locking or capture plate on the trailers pin box to activate the slide mechanism.
Demco offers their automatic sliders in under bed mounts and above bed mounts. The under bed mounts allow you to remove the hitch completely when it’s not needed making for a clean truck bed free of obtrusive rails. For under bed installations, you would need their under bed mount system kit as well.
Read more about it on Demco’s official site.
No matter whether you choose an automatic sliding hitch or a manual sliding hitch, keep in mind that it consumes more area in the back of the truck bed than a fixed position hitch. So if you are hauling cargo in the truck bed, keep the travel area of the hitch clear.
Best Manual Sliding Fifth Wheel Hitches
Pricing Key: Prices fluctuate. Each $ = approximately $100.00.
|Image||Model||Towing Cap.||Slide Distance||Rails Included||Price|
|Reese Pro-Series 31860||16K||10″||No||$$$$$$$$$$$|
|Reese Towpower 30051||16K||10″||No||$$$$$|
|Reese 30921 M5||20K||10″||No||$$$$$$$$$$$$|