Most Common RV Slide Out Problems. RV slideout problems have plagued all of us at one point or another. We help you understand the most common RV slide out problems, what can you do about them, and how you can prevent future slide-out issues.
This information is a general overview only and can't fully replace your owner's manual, dealer, or certified technician. If you feel uncomfortable or have questions, please contact a professional.
8 Most Common RV Slide Out Problems
Here are a few tips and insights on what you can do to diagnose your RV slide out problems. This will help you determine if it's a problem you can tackle on your own or if you should call for help.
Whether you have a class A, class B, class C, fifth wheel, or travel trailer, let's look at some of the most common RV slide-out problems.
Slideout Switch Has Failed
If your slideout does not move at all when you operate the slideout control switch, and you do not hear the motor or the pump running, then the first thing to check is the switch itself.
- If you have multiple slideouts, try one of the other switches to see if it is operating.
- If not, check if there is a common power issue and then test your switch or control center to make sure they are operating correctly.
Look for a common power issues that would affect all of your controls, motors, or pumps.
- Check your power center fuses and breakers to make sure there are no issues there. Most slides operate on 12-volt power. But when experiencing issues, some manufacturers suggest the coach be plugged into shore power or have the generator running to provide the correct power to the slide motors.
- If your slide operates on 12-volt power and you are not plugged into shore power or a generator, check your battery's state of charge and make sure it is above 12.0 volts. It should be above 12.4 volts to ensure proper operation.
Slideout Electric Motor Has Failed
If you have confirmed that your switch functions properly and you operate your slideout switch, and there is no movement in the slide, you should check your slideout electric motors for power.
- Find the motor that operates your slideout and check the wiring. You may need to disconnect the motor's wiring and have an assistant operate the switch while you check the voltage at the motor with a multi-meter.
- Depending on your motor's voltage, you should see 12 or 120 volts at the motor when the slideout switch is pressed.
- If the meter shows that the motor is getting power, but there is no movement, then the issue is most likely with the motor, and you will need to service or replace it.
Slideout Hydraulic Pump/Motor Has Failed
If your slideouts are hydraulicly operated, and you activate your slideout switch, and there is no movement in the slide, you should check your slideout motor and pump.
- The motor/pump is usually shared with your hydraulic leveling system if you have one.
- Find the hydraulic pump that operates your slideout and check the wiring. You may need to disconnect the motor's wiring and have an assistant operate the switch while you check the voltage at the motor with a multi-meter.
- If the meter shows that the motor is getting the proper voltage, but there is no movement, then the issue is most likely with the motor.
- If the motor runs but the slideout doesn't move, you may have a hydraulic leak or another hydraulic system issue.
Slideout Hydraulic System Leak
A hydraulic system leak can be another cause of slideout problems.
- The first thing to check is your hydraulic fluid reservoir to ensure there is enough fluid in the system.
- When your slideouts are out, or your leveling legs are down, the reservoir will have a lower fluid level.
- When your slideouts are in, or your leveling legs are up, the reservoir should be at or near the full mark.
- If the motor/pump runs but the slideout doesn't move and there is low / no fluid in the reservoir, then you probably have a fluid leak.
- You will need to trace the hydraulic lines from the pump to the operating rams to see if you can find a leak in the system. Check your owner's manual to see specifics about your hydraulic system.
- It is also possible that one of the hydraulic valve actuators has failed. In this case, the pump will run, but no fluid is reaching the ram to extend/retract the slide. The actuators can be manually turned with a screwdriver or an Allen wrench to open or close them. You can try to operate them manually but be very careful; they are precise valves and can be easily damaged if you attempt to force them open or closed.
Slideout Motor Runs but Slideout doesn't Move
If your electric motor runs but the slideout doesn't move, you will need to do more diagnosis on the slide mechanism itself. It may be cable or gear driven.
You will need an assistant to work the control while you examine the drive system to see if you can determine the issue. Because there are so many different types of slide mechanisms, we cannot give specifics, and additional research will be needed for your specific slide.
There are several different types of mechanisms, and you will need to determine which one you have.
Some of the types of slide mechanisms are:
- Schwintec in-wall slide
- Accu-slide cable operated slide
- HWH SpaceMaker Slide
- Rack and Pinion
There may be more types out there, so check your manual or call your manufacturer or dealer to determine exactly which type you have. There may be multiple types of slides on the same camper. Manufacturers may even use different slide types on different models in the same brand.
Slide Stops Before Fully Opening or Closing
Each slide mechanism has a way to know when it is fully open or closed. Here again, you will need specific information about your slide mechanism to understand how it handles opening and closing limits. Another possible cause is that your slide is out of time or your electronic controllers have lost their programming.
Slide Gets Jammed
Slides are complex mechanisms and must be carefully adjusted to ensure smooth movement and alignment from top to bottom and side to side. You can make basic alignment adjustments, but I highly suggest that you leave this to a professional unless you have the proper skills and experience.
- Lubrication of key components of your slide mechanism is crucial to maintaining smooth movement and function of your slide.
- The mechanism itself will have some lubrication needs and the seals that help keep the inside in and the outside out.
- Many silicone lubricants are made for slide seal preservation, so find one you like and follow the instructions.
- Due to the different types of slide mechanisms, you will have to find the manufacturer's recommendations for the type, quantity, and lubrication frequency needed for the actual mechanism.
What To Do
Here's what to do if you have RV slide out problems:
Diagnose the Potential Issue
Use the above information to help diagnose the issue you are having with your slideout. You may not be able to fix it yourself, but you will be better informed trying to understand what is going on. Also, this information will be very valuable when you talk to an RV technician or service advisor.
When to Call an Expert
Uncomfortable with the diagnostic steps listed above? As stated above, there are many different types of slideout systems that are used in an RV. Slideouts are complicated systems that require knowledge of electronics and mechanical principles that would allow you to diagnose and then repair the system.
I consider myself a fairly experienced DIYer, and I prefer to leave slideout repairs to the professionals.
Study your owner's manual to understand what they say about the slide system in your RV. They may include some basic maintenance, diagnosis, and repair information.
Call your dealer and discuss with the service advisor about your particular issue. They may be able to help diagnose your issue over the phone. They may be able to provide mobile service if needed. If all else fails and you are far from home, consider using a mobile RV repair service.
Manually Closing A Slide
I sincerely hope this doesn't happen to you, but if your slide won't close, there is usually a procedure to manually retract the slide. This process will be unique to each type of slide, so here again, you will need to go to your RV owner's manual or check with the slide manufacturer to get the exact operation instructions.
There is usually a tool required to manually actuate the movement. Hopefully, your dealer showed you how to do this, or instructions may describe it in your manual. Sometimes the procedure can be done more easily using a portable drill, but there is usually a way to operate the mechanism by hand also.
The exception to this may be the huge, full wall slides that require a powerful motor to create enough force to move a slide that weighs several thousand pounds.
You may need to bypass the controller for these slides and create a jumper connection from a 12-volt battery directly to the motor. Reversing the polarity should change the direction that the motor turns, so if it moves the wrong way at first, switch how connected the wires to the motor.
How To Fix or Prevent Slide Out Problems
Slides are wonderful inventions that help make your RV much more livable inside. But they must be cared for and maintained to keep them functioning properly.
Fixing a slide mechanism may not be something everyone can do. So we suggest taking your RV to your dealer for maintenance or repair of your slide-outs.
Here are a few things you can do to prevent a premature breakdown:
Don't overlook maintenance on your RV. You paid a lot for your camper, and you want it to work correctly for a long time.
- Find your lubrication points and do it regularly.
- If you have your rig professionally maintained, make sure the shop performs this task.
- After maintenance is done, inspect it yourself, or ask the tech to show you what they've done.
Treat Your Slides Nice
- Don't extend or retract your slides when your RV isn't level. It puts a lot of extra strain on the motors and systems when they move against gravity!!
- Don't have people sitting or standing on the slide when they are moving. If possible, remove items from the slide that add a lot of weight when extending or retracting slides.
If you hear snapping, cracking, popping... STOP!!
It's common sense but make sure everything is out of the way when you move your slides. When you hear a noise that is out of the ordinary, stop!
- Go and visually check the path of your slide to make sure it is clear.
- If needed, have a helper go outside to check there too. Noises are usually not good so find the reason before you continue.
- Make sure the tops are clear of debris if you don't have slide toppers.
- If you have slide toppers and camped in rain or snow, you may still need to clear off your slide toppers. Don't make your slide motors do any extra work.
Experts weigh in on the most commont RV slide out problems they see come in for repair.
- Learn how to retract your slides manually. Practice it when you are home, so you know what to do in an emergency.
- Power tools are great! If possible, learn how you can retract your slides with a drill to operate the mechanism. Hand cranking the slides will take a long time.
- Have the phone number of your dealer's service department in your phone contacts so that you can call them with questions. They are usually happy to help, even with the smallest items.
RV slide out problems affect us all! A few years ago we had an issue with a slide in our class A motorhome.
We were parked quite close to our host's home, and due to noise concerns, we didn't want to disturb them by running the generator all night. In the morning, when getting ready to leave, we started to retract the slide, but it moved only an inch or two and then stopped. It would not move in or out after that.
After several hours of troubleshooting we finally called the Newmar emergency helpline. We learned a very valuable lesson about electronic slide controllers.
It seems that the controllers get confused when operating on low voltage. Because we were boondocking using the inverter overnight, and we let the batteries get too low. Even after starting the generator to recharge the batteries, the slide would not move.
So we disconnected all the cables from the controller for 2 minutes, then reconnected everything. The slide was then able to move. We ran the slide in and out twice to reset the stop limits and confirm its operation.
It worked perfectly and we were ready to go.
Here are the most common questions we get about RV slide outs:
Are RV Slideouts Reliable?
Slideouts are usually very reliable. They need to be installed and adjusted correctly to function smoothly. And as with any mechanical component, they require periodic maintenance and adjustment.
If you don't maintain them, they will probably function well for a few years, and then you will be on borrowed time. If you are looking at a used RV, I would highly suggest an inspection by a certified RV technician.
Why won't my RV slide go out?
Many reasons might cause a slideout not to move. It could be a power issue, a motor failure, or slide mechanical failure. You really need to diagnose the issues to determine the cause and then determine your next steps.
Are you in a driveable RV? Most RVs have ignition interlocks that prevent the slides from moving when the RV engine is running.
Can you drive an RV with the slide out?
Can you? Yes. Should you? Absolutely not. Stay at your location and get a mobile technician to come to you if possible. If you can't do that, call your RV manufacturer and have them walk you through the manual closing of the slide or get their recommendation on what to do for your specific situation.
Driving with a slide fully extended should only be done as a last resort. Most RVs are as wide as legally allowed on our roads when the slides are closed. Some slides only extend 12 inches, while others could be 24 inches or more. Traveling in this manner is very dangerous to both you and the other vehicles around you.
You should also consider the structural stress you will be placing on the RV, both from the wind resistance hitting the slide and from the bouncing and jostling experienced on our great roads.
Do RV slides work on battery?
In general, yes. Most slides operate on 12 volts so that they can be operated when boondocking without shore power. The main issue here is to make sure your batteries are fully charged.
Low voltage can damage motors and control units, so your results may be unpredictable. Always check the state of your batteries before you try to open or close your slides. If possible, hook up to shore power or run your generator before operating your slides to ensure a supply of good power.
How do I reset my RV slide out?
Resetting a slide is sometimes very simple, but you need to know the procedure for your specific slide mechanism. Look in your owner's manual and determine the brand of slide mechanism you have.
If the reset procedure is not in the manual, do an internet search such as "Shwintek slide controller reset procedure" You will also have to find where your slide controllers are located so that you can gain access to the wiring to perform the reset.
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RV Hacks: the Most common RV Slideout Problems. RV slideout issues have plagued all of us at one point or another. Helpful diagnosis tips & tricks - we help you understand the most common RV slide-out problems, what you can do about them, and how you can prevent future slide-out issues. #RVhacks #rvliving #RVslideouts #RVhowto #rvcamping #RVbasics #RVtipsandtricks #seekingthervlife
Tommy Cowden says
After replacing my slide out switch the driver side and passenger side extend separately but retract together. Is this normal or should each side go out and come back in separately? If separately how do I fix that?
Hello. Interesting! Nowadays, most (if not all) current RV slide-outs should extend and retract separately, so this is strange. The slide-out switches should be operating the same way as before the issue occurred, but it may be that you are refurbishing an old RV, or purchased as is, and have not seen the slides in action. It's great that you were able to get the slides working. I recommend that you contact your manufacturer or your local RV repair to see if they can diagnose and tell you the best way to get them working properly. Keep me posted on how you fixed the issue, I am really curious. -Frank
Danny ray brown says
Thank you for all your information I will be coming back to the website with a check list still I can find out how to fix slide
You are welcome! Good luck with your slide!
Don ward says
I have a 08 American eagle it has 3 slide outs after they are extended they will not retract . I apply the park brake on and off several times and then they retract. I am thinking it’s a safety somewhere however I don’t know where to look? I have checked all fuses and the batteries are new and fully charged . Any help with this problem would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. Don
Don, sorry you're having issues. This sounds like it might be a lock-out sensor issue? Depending upon the model you could have a lock-out sensor on your transmission, ignition, parking brake, etc. You will need to contact your manufacturer to determine exactly where your lock out is, or if you might have a different issue. -Frank
Tammie Houston says
It seems that my slideout's motor has failed and my best option will be to get it serviced at an RV repair center. We were out on vacation when we noticed it. The slideout itself can still come out if we pull it manually but the motor isn't working as intended. We rarely use our RV and I suspect something happened to it that broke it while it was in storage. I'll be sure to get it fixed so that the next time we're going out for a vacation, we won't have to face this kind of problem.