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Troubleshooting Issues with RV Slide Outs

Sam Leash-profile-image
Sam Leash
September 24, 2021

TL;DR: RV slide outs expand living space but may face issues like jamming or power failure. Troubleshoot by checking power, fuses, motors, and manual operation. Regular maintenance prevents problems.

Troubleshooting Issues with RV Slide Outs

RVs are one of the most popular and comfortable ways to travel, and built-in slide outs offer even more comfort. These create additional living space and can even double the amount of room travelers have in their RV. However, sometimes slide outs can malfunction or get stuck. Follow along as we troubleshoot some of the most common issues that can cause slide outs to stop working and learn how you can easily fix them yourself!

  1. They won't slide in or out at all
  2. They only slide out partially
  3. Learning manual operation
  4. Noisy slideouts

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Section 1: They won’t slide in or out at all

Double check your manual. 

Different RV models and manufacturers have different requirements for operating the slide outs. Most motorhomes need to be running with the emergency brake engaged, for instance. Double check your manual to ensure you’re meeting the correct requirements to operate your slide outs. If your slide out motor has power and is trying to run, your slide may be jammed. Skip to problem two. If your motor is not running, or you aren’t sure, continue reading.

Check your power supply.

For motorhomes, as long as the engine will start and the proper requirements are met, the slide outs will function. For trailers and towables, the slide outs usually rely on the house batteries. However, it never hurts to ensure all batteries are properly charged, even for a motorhome. Double check your power supplies to ensure your batteries are properly charged if you aren’t plugged into shore power.

Check your fuses and breakers. 

You may need your manual for this as well, as every RV is different. Double check all of your fuses and breakers to ensure nothing is blown or tripped. It doesn’t hurt to clean any dirty fuses as well to ensure proper performance.

Check your slide out motor. 

Over time, wires can come loose or things can malfunction. Using your manual, locate your slide out motor. It could be under the couch, under the bed, in a closet, or any other number of places. Again, all RVs are different, so be sure to use your manual to quickly locate your slide out motor.

Check the wiring to ensure that all wires are properly and tightly connected. If you have someone with you, use a voltmeter to check the power while someone operates the slide switch. If the motor is receiving power, but there is no slide movement, then the motor may have failed.

Check your hydraulic pump and system(if applicable). 

Some slide outs and jacks operate off of a hydraulic system. If yours does, be sure to double check the pump and system to ensure that everything is functioning properly. Hydraulic systems can begin to leak over time, so be sure to check the hydraulic fluid reservoir to ensure that there is enough fluid to operate the system. If your slide outs are out and your jacks are down, the reservoir will have a lower level, versus being fuller when the slides are out and the jacks are up. If you suspect a leak, follow the lines leading from the fluid reservoir to thoroughly check them over.

Problem 2: They only partially slide in or out. 

Jammed slide

If only one slide isn’t cooperating, there’s a good chance that it’s jammed. Return it to the position it was in before the partial failure and check inside and out, top and bottom, for what the cause could be. Carefully remove whatever the object is and proceed with bringing the slide in or out.

Gravity or weight

If your RV wasn’t level when setting up camp, then your slide may be stuck due to weight or gravity. Have one person inside to operate the switch and the other person outside. Gently push your stuck slide while the person inside brings it in with the switch. Get your RV to a mechanic just in case before using your slide outs again.

Problem 3: Manual operation. 

If all else fails, the slides can be brought in manually with most RVs. There are countless YouTube videos and tips online to help with this. Be sure to consult your manual as well to ensure you are following the correct directions for your make and model. Most times, manually operating your slides involves using the included crank for your RV or a wrench. If your slide outs won’t open at all, the best decision is to avoid using them (or cut your trip short if they are a necessity), rather than manually opening and closing them. Not only is this process time-consuming, but being stuck with your slides out is a much bigger issue than not being able to use them in the first place.

Problem 4: They’re making a lot of noise

Do your slide outs squeak and groan so loud that other campers are turning their heads to stare? This noise can be caused by a buildup of debris or rusty parts. While your slide outs are engaged, use a wire brush to scrub the tracks free of dirt, debris, paint chippings, and other particles. Once clean, lubricate your slide outs with an appropriate product, ensuring that the rails, tracks, and gears are all covered. It may take a few times of bringing your slide outs in and out to spread the lubricant thoroughly.

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Section 5: Other considerations.

When dealing with slide outs, there are a few basic principles that may help you to avoid issues in the first place. Keep the following points in mind when working with your slide outs.

  1. Never drive or unlevel your RV with the slides out.
  2. If you don’t feel comfortable troubleshooting your issues, call a mobile RV mechanic or call your dealership, if applicable.
  3. Preventative maintenance is the best way to avoid having your slides stuck in or out.

Section 6: Prevention

Slide outs, like many other aspects of RVs, require regular maintenance to keep them running in tip-top shape. These include regular inspections, part replacements, cleanings, lubrication and more. Luckily, Harvest Hosts has a helpful list of regular slide out maintenance to keep your RV slides running smoothly. If all else fails, you can always phone a mechanic to fix any slide out issues you may be experiencing!

Slide outs are an important comfort feature for many RV owners. If your slide out is giving you trouble, don’t fret! You may be able to solve the problem yourself before calling in a professional. This could save precious time and money. Be sure to keep this list handy in case of any future slide out misfunctions.

About Harvest Hosts
Harvest Hosts is a unique RV camping membership that offers self-contained RVers unlimited overnight stays at over 8000 small businesses across North America with no camping fees. Boondock at farms, wineries, breweries, attractions, and other one-of-a-kind destinations throughout North America, and you’ll get peace of mind knowing that a safe place to stay is always nearby!
Sam Leash-profile-image
Sam Leash
Sam is a seasoned traveler and RVer of 4+ years. She loves adventures of all kinds and spends as much time on the road as she can. When not exploring in her RV or writing about her travels, you can find her reading a good book, cooking a delicious meal, caring for her plants, or hiking with her dogs.