Owning an RV can be plenty of fun, but it can also cause major stress. Not to mention the price tag that comes along with RV issues. When your unit malfunctions, it can be difficult to spot what’s wrong without the help of a professional. The best way to avoid the headaches that come along with owning an RV is focus on preventing issues before they occur.
Slide out problems are one of the most common mechanical malfunctions in RVs. When your RV doesn’t slide out, there isn’t much you can do to save your camping trip. Although problematic, RV slides are almost always necessary. Without their ability to create extra width inside your camper, your vacations would be pretty cramped. RV slide out problems are common, so we gathered some info on how they happen and what you can do to prevent them.
How RV Slide Outs Work
RV slide outs have become an industry standard for almost every type of unit, motorized and towable. Since their rise in the late 90’s, most RVs have included at least one slide to increase the livable space inside your camper. There are different types of RV slide outs, but most use electric motors or hydraulics to operate.
Electric RV slide outs use a rack and pinion, or pulley and cable, system powered by an electric motor. The motor spins a shaft or pinion which moves the slide in one direction, and adding a gear allows it to slide in the opposite direction. The electric motor uses a 12-volt DC power, which runs directly off the main house battery. This makes them usable when you’re not plugged into a power source at the campground.
Though less common, some RV slide outs use the notorious Schwintek slides. Finally, though very rare, a few units are equipped with the power gear slide out system. The rack and pinion, however, is by far the most common slide out system, so that’s what we’re focusing on today.
The top five reasons for a slide out malfunction are lubrication issues, motor burnout, power issues, foreign objects and leaks. Some are easily treatable on your own, but others will need professional attention from an RV technician.
Lubrication issues, the most common, result in your RV having difficulties sliding in and out. This is often an easy fix with a lubricating product like WD-40’s RVcare line, which we’ll discuss later. Be careful not to force a slide that needs lubrication as you can damage the rail system and make the situation much worse.
Motor burnout, another common culprit, occurs when the motor that moved the slide in and out stops functioning. Somewhat similarly, power issues occur when your slide out can’t pull power from your RV, or your RV isn’t properly connected to a power source.
Finally, leaks and foreign objects will prevent your RV slide out from functioning properly. Anything blocking the slides or interfering with their movement can cause slide out issues.
Manual RV Slide Out Overrides
If you’re stranded at a campground with a stuck RV slide out, consider manually moving the slide in or out. Your RV should come with an owner’s manual, which has more unit specific instructions on manually moving a slide out.
Start by finding the slide out motor, often below the slide out room. Remove the brake assembly from the motor by unscrewing it. Find the crank extension and attach it to the crank handle that comes with the trailer. If you don’t have the crank handle. Use a wrench or socket and ratchet. Turn the crank extension by hand to manually move the RV slide out in or out.
After you’ve moved the RV slide out to the desired position, be sure to reattach the brake assembly to the slide out motor. Replace and tighten the screws to prevent the slide out from moving.
Slide Out Problem Prevention
Anything that can be fixed with WD-40 and a Craftsman wrench is approved by Toby Keith, and by us. Lucky for RVers, WD-40 has our backs with their 3-in-1 RVcare product line. WD-40’s RVcare Slide-Out Silicone Lube is perfect for preventing, and sometimes treating, slide out problems. Simply spray the trusted brand of lubricant on the tracks and your slide out will be moving smoothly. WD-40 RVcare also makes Window and Track Dry Lube to help prevent malfunctions and works well on RV window tracks, or other interior slides. Both products are a great way to lubricate your RV after long, stationary months in winter storage.
RV slide outs move with simple rack and pinion technology. Overall, troubleshooting and preventing RV slide out problems doesn’t have to be complicated. Follow our advice to keep your unit functioning well and save yourself a few hundred bucks and canceled vacations. If you have no choice, manually moving your RV slide out is an option, though difficult.
If you continue to have RV slide out problems, bring your unit to Northgate RV. Our friendly and experienced service staff can assess the issue and make the repairs that get you back on the road as soon as possible. If you’re ready to make a change, our sales staff would be happy to help you find a new or used RV ready to leave the lot today at a discounted price. Stop by our Tennessee or Georgia locations, contact us online or give us a call today if you have any questions about the services we can provide for you.