By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Folks new to the fifth-wheeling game sometimes have a little catching up to do. Sometimes even us “old dogs” learn something new. For example, I know plenty of fifth wheel owners who’ve never had the need for a “sliding hitch” because they’ve always towed with a long-bed truck.
First, what’s a “sliding hitch”? Specially designed for short-bed pickup trucks, a sliding fifth wheel hitch temporarily allows the real hitch to slide farther back in the bed of the pickup – the “maneuver” position. This is helpful when making tight corners – as when maneuvering in or out of a campsite. With the hitch “forward” in the truck bed, in the “tow” position, a tight corner could cause your trailer to impact with the truck cab – not a happy situation.
So, can you tow with the hitch in the maneuver position? Technically you could – and some people erroneously do. But towing with the hitch in back puts the weight of the trailer’s kingpin far behind the axle, compromising the pickup’s suspension and greatly endangering road-worthiness. Never tow with the hitch in any position other than the proper forward “tow” position.