RV slide-outs can cause problems, including leaking, coming off the tracks, or gears jamming. Why have a slide-out if it’s just going to cause problems? For starters, slides provide more room and extra furniture.
You can make your slide-out last longer, so it’s less likely to malfunction. Just in case your slide malfunctions, it’s best to understand how it works and how to troubleshoot common issues.
- 1 What Is an RV Slide Out?
- 2 Common RV Slide-Out Problems (And How To Fix Them)
- 3 What To Do if RV Slide Out Stops Working?
- 4 How To Manually Operate an RV Slide Out
- 5 How To Reset RV Slide Out
- 6 How To Test RV Slide-Out Motor?
- 7 When To Call a Mobile RV Tech?
- 8 RV Slide Out Repair Costs
- 9 How To Prevent RV Slide-Out Problems
- 10 FAQs
What Is an RV Slide Out?
An RV slide-out is an extra room within your RV. You slide the room in when you are hauling or not regularly using your RV. When you set up at a campsite, this room can slide out to give you more space within your home on wheels.
A switch is located along the RV walls close to the doors, bringing the slide-out in or out.
Manufacturers build slide-outs knowing there will be a lot of weight to bear.
The weight also depends on what size RV you have. Refer to your owner’s manual if you want to know the specific weight your RV can handle. Slide-outs can hold anywhere between 600- 1500 pounds, with 1500 pounds being a bigger class motorhome.
Types of RV Slide Out Mechanisms
There are several different types of mechanisms used for RV slides. The kind of mechanism in your RV will depend on the slide-out size and weight.
Electric mechanisms are the most common slide-out, including cable, rack and pinion, and Schwintek slides.
Cable slides are the most expensive and consist of cable and pulley systems. These systems will carry heavier slides. With a push of a button, cables and pulleys will work together to move your slide.
Rack and pinion mechanisms are classics amongst RV slide-outs. This system consists of racks with slots mounted at the bottom of the slide.
The pinions will roll over these slots to move the room in or out. These slides are perfect for tall ceilings and are the most affordable option.
Schwintek systems have worm gears at the top and bottom of the slide. The gears work together to bring in the slide. RVs with couches and long slides have these types of systems.
Common RV Slide-Out Problems (And How To Fix Them)
Slide-outs can be a problem among RV owners. The problem will continue to worsen if you don’t look into it as soon as it occurs.
People have several common issues with their slides, and most of them are easy to fix.
Sagging slide-outs happen from improper use, such as too much weight, damaged rollers, or a worn-out suspension. The best way to fix a sagging slide-out is to prevent it altogether. You can start by not exceeding weight limits in the slide-out room.
If the problem has already occurred, try these simple fixes:
- Install a Flex guard to create a better slide. This device helps the room to slide in and out without sagging.
- Check the seals. If the seals go bad, it will cause the entire slide to sag. You may need to realign or replace the seals.
- You may need to fix the walls or even the roof. A damaged roof or walls can cause the entire unit to sag off the tracks.
Leaks tend to be huge problems with RV slides. It would help if you made sure the slide is entirely in or fully out; otherwise, you will have leaking problems.
Check for debris on the roof of your slide-out and ensure there is no debris in the gaskets. Any tiny piece of dirt stuck in the gasket can cause a leak. You can prevent this by using a slide-out cover to keep water and debris from entering the top of the slide.
A motor malfunction can sound like clicking or popping noises followed by your slide not moving. You can do a few things to try and remedy the situation.
- Check for debris in the RV. The slide won’t be able to move if something on the ground prevents it from sliding in—the same thing with the outside. Make sure you park your RV away from obstacles such as trees or other vehicles.
- Make sure to move the slide-out only when you have your RV leveled out.
- Check under the slide and ensure nothing is jamming the gears.
- If your slide-out refuses to move, you have a motor problem.
If you are unsure how to fix your slide refer to the owner’s manual or call your manufacturer.
What To Do if RV Slide Out Stops Working?
You’re on vacation and ready to set up your RV at your campsite. Everything’s level and plugged in, but the slide-out won’t move!
You can’t live in your camper while the slide-out is in; it’s blocking your living space.
Don’t panic; there are several things you can do to try and fix the situation so you can get back to relaxing:
- Make sure you have power going to your RV. If you aren’t near a shore power source, check your batteries.
- Make sure you have no blown fuses.
- Check to see if you have flipped breakers. You might as well flip them all to make sure.
- Look inside, outside, and underneath the slide to ensure it’s debris-free.
- The motor may have stopped working. Try using a voltmeter to check the power of your motor. Check all the wires to the motor to ensure none of them came loose.
- You may need to check your manual because there could be something wrong that is specific to your RV.
- If all else fails, you can call an RV shop to get more information.
How To Manually Operate an RV Slide Out
What happens if your RV slide-out repairs didn’t work and you tried all the above steps? Using a crank handle, you can manually crank your RV slide in or out.
This device comes with the RV. Using a socket and a screwdriver can also be a possibility for manual cranking.
Look for a hole on the side of the camper; it should be near the slide-out by the camper’s frame. Behind that hole is a bolt you will attach to your crank handle. Turn the crank handle left to extend the unit out or right to bring it in.
If cranking the slide doesn’t work, you may need someone to help you push the slide-out back into place.
How To Reset RV Slide Out
One reason a slide-out has leaking problems is due to alignment issues. In other words, you need to reset the slide-out back on its tracks.
You can tell if you need realignment by feeling where the sealing is; you will most likely feel a few gaps, which cause leaks.
Here are the steps for resetting your slide-out back on its tracks ( this is only for slide-out systems with two inner railings and a gear system)
- Take off the hairpin from the drive shaft.
- To disengage the gear from the gear track, push the drive shaft toward the inner rail.
- Slide the rail side of the room into the right position to readjust the slide.
- Engage the gear and gear rack by pushing the drive shaft back into its original position.
- Put the hairpin back into the drive shaft.
- You may need to repeat these steps a few times until everything is aligned.
If you have a different slide-out system, you can search for those specific slide out instructions.
How To Test RV Slide-Out Motor?
If you aren’t sure why your slide-out isn’t moving, you can test the motor with a voltmeter. You may need two people for this task. It’s a good idea to test the motor before you look into other things that may be wrong; that way, you aren’t pointlessly running around your RV.
Have one person operate the button for the slide and another use the voltmeter on the motor.
When To Call a Mobile RV Tech?
We all want to think we can save a few bucks and fix things ourselves. That’s not always a good idea because you can make things worse. Here are some excellent reasons to hire a mobile RV tech.
- If you have exhausted all attempts to fix the slide.
- If you have a mechanical slide and your gearbox or shear pin broke.
- If you operate a hydraulic system with a busted hydraulic valve or leak.
Mobile RV techs are the most convenient option for fixing your RV. They will come to you; however, they will charge more for gas and convenience. Some have a flat rate, whereas others charge by how many miles they have to drive.
You should expect to pay more than $500, typically starting costs. This cost can skyrocket to $2,000 and up depending on how big your rig is, how far you are, and several other factors.
Finding a mobile RV dealer depends on where you are. Try asking the campground you are staying at, calling an RV shop, or asking your neighbors for recommendations. Sometimes camp resorts will have someone on staff who can help you look at the problem.
What Are RV Repair Clubs?
RV repair club is an app you can subscribe to get information on how to fix things on your RV or camper. You can find any video with expert advice on whatever problem you need to fix. The best part is that you don’t have to spend hours finding the right video.
It costs only $7 monthly if you do the monthly subscription, or you can do a yearly subscription of $50.
This app is worth the money because you will unlock all of the tutorial content to help you fix and maintain your RV. You will also receive 50% off RV parts and accessories from the RV repair club shop.
RV Slide Out Repair Costs
The cost to repair a slide-out differs depending on the complexity of the problem and which parts are involved. You could expect a base fee of $500 just to take your RV to the shop. Then add the cost of parts and labor, and you could look at a bill of over $2,000.
You can save money if you decide to do the repairs yourself, but this may require some research on your part. Here are some common slide-out components that need replacing along with their price range:
- Slide out motor $110 – $600
- Control module $100- $200
- Gear housing $300
- Gear set $200
How To Prevent RV Slide-Out Problems
Rv slide-outs will last an average of 10 years; you could start to run into problems after the 10-year mark. That time frame also depends heavily on how often you pull the slide in and out. It may last longer if you don’t use the RV much.
You can do some things to keep your slide-out lasting longer by performing regular maintenance:
- Check your slide out for debris stuck in the seal.
- Purchase a lubricant for the gears and sliding mechanism; I recommend Thetford.
- Purchase a roof cover for the slide to prevent water from damaging the top.
It would help if you also got your RV regularly serviced to catch problems ahead of time. You want to follow the manual you got with the RV, but typically you want to service it every six months. Servicing can cost about $500 or more to get fluids topped off, batteries checked, and slide-outs checked.
Here are some common questions people have about owning RVs, repairs, and life expectancies.
What is the average life of an RV?
The average life of an RV is about 20 years, or if you drive it around a lot, 200,000 miles. However, If you perform regular maintenance you can extend the life of your RV.
How long do RV repairs take?
RV repair time depends on the severity of the repair. You could see your RV in the shop for one day or up to a month.
Typically, repairs don’t take long; however, the warranty or insurance will push your repair dates out for months.
How much do mobile RV techs make?
According to Ziprecruiter, RV technicians earn anywhere from $30,000 to $49,000 annually. These numbers depend on the state in which the technician works.
How much does it cost to add a slide out to an RV?
The average cost to get a slide-out installed is around $15,000. That number will fluctuate depending on the size of your RV and the size of the slide-out you want installed.
Should RV slide-outs be supported?
An RV slide-out may look like it needs support when jutting out of your walls, but support may ruin your camper. Imagine your tires going flat or your camper shifting. Stabilizers will only ruin the slide if these things were to happen.
Due to their design, slide-outs don’t require additional support.
How thick is an RV slide-out floor?
Slide-outs have different floor thicknesses between RVs. You can measure the thickness of your floor by taking the slide-out in a few inches. The slide-out floor will come up into the RV to clear the inside floor. It is possible to measure the slide-out floor from the small part that is lifted inside the RV,
Why do you need to know the thickness? You may need to fasten a piece of furniture to the slide or even replace the slide flooring.
Is it okay to leave your RV slide out?
You can leave the slide-out in your RV for several weeks at a time, but if you are storing it for several months, you should take in the slide. Taking the slide in will help preserve the life of your surrounding gaskets.
Do RV slide outs work on battery?
You can use your slide out a few ways. You can use the batteries that come with the RV, a generator, or you can use shore power.