For RVers, slide-outs are a gift that keeps on giving. With the press of a button, stale air is replaced with fresh breezes and cramped quarters transform into spacious living areas. Slide-outs literally expand our possibilities on the road. But to keep these complex systems functioning properly, slide-out maintenance is essential.
As a full-time RVer for over 5 years, I’ve learned how to care for slide-outs the hard way – through trial and error. During my first year on the road, I didn’t pay much attention to maintenance. That negligence quickly came back to bite me with a slide that got stuck halfway extended. The repairs were frustrating and expensive. Since then, I’ve become vigilant about preventative maintenance. From electric motors to hydraulic cylinders, I’ve mastered keeping slide-outs in top shape.
In this article, I want to share what I’ve learned so fellow RVers can avoid my mistakes. Consider me your slide-out maintenance mentor! I’ll overview the critical care that electric, hydraulic, and mechanical slide-outs require. You’ll learn insider tips about lubrication, adjustments, and potential problem spots. My goal is to equip you with the key knowledge needed to keep your RV’s slide-outs performing smoothly for years of comfortable camping. Let’s get started!
General Maintenance of RV Slide-outs
To keep slide-outs operating properly, there are some general maintenance practices that apply regardless of the slide-out type –
Seal Inspection and Resealing
The seals around slide-outs bear the brunt of weather and use. Inspect seals closely each trip for signs of cracking, gaps, or deterioration. Any flaws must be addressed quickly with fresh sealant to prevent rain intrusion.
All slide parts that move or interact should be kept lubricated per manufacturer guidelines. Sticking and friction hampers operation and accelerates wear. Properly lubricated parts move silky smooth.
Dirt, gravel, and other debris can collect on slide-out rails, gears, and mechanisms. These particles abrade moving parts. Keep all components clean.
Over time, settling or uneven sites can knock slide rooms out of level. Adjustment keeps rooms square and doors/seals functioning properly.
Motor and Mounting Security
Vibration can loosen motor fasteners and electrical connections. Check for tight, corrosion-free mounting and wiring. Loose parts lead to damage.
Now let’s get into maintenance specifics by slide-out type, starting with popular electric models.
Maintenance of Electric slide-outs
Electric slide-out systems are powered by electric motors and drive mechanisms like gears or screws. Common varieties are –
Schwintek slides operate on an in-wall scissor mechanism that extends and retracts the room.
Step 1: Inspect the scissors mechanism for debris collection or rust. Use compressed air and a vacuum to clean. Rust can impede smooth operation.
Step 2: Lubricate pivot points in the scissor mechanism with white lithium grease every 6 months. This prevents sticking and wear.
Step 3: Check all set screws are tight in pivot joints. Loose set screws allow play and grinding.
Step 4: Confirm slide-out rollers sit properly in channels. Misaligned rollers cause row binding.
Step 5: Inspect nylon wear pads for excessive thinning. Worn pads need replacement to prevent metal-on-metal grinding.
Step 6: Make sure the slide-out motor and gears are securely fastened and aligned. Loose mounting leads to damage.
Step 7: Look for signs of stress cracking on structural parts. Cracked components must be replaced immediately.
Step 8: Adjust room alignment as needed to maintain proper fit and seal compression.
Rack and Pinion Slide-outs
Rack and pinion slides operate on a gear and track system.
Step 1: Inspect the gear rack for broken teeth or excessive wear. Damaged gears need replacement.
Step 2: Lubricate the rack and pinion mechanism with gear lube. Helps the gears mesh smoothly.
Step 3: Check that the mounting brackets are tightly secured to the RV frame. Loose brackets cause alignment issues.
Cable slide-outs are extended and retracted using a pulley system.
Step 1: Lubricate cables and pulleys with silicone spray so they slide easily.
Step 2: Check cables for fraying or broken strands and replace damaged cables immediately.
Step 3: Verify cables and pulleys are aligned properly. Misalignment can cause uneven sliding.
Maintenance of Hydraulic Slide-outs
Hydraulic slide-outs use fluid pressure to operate the room. This is it’s slightly different.
Step 1: Inspect hydraulic cylinders, lines, and fittings for leaks. Repair any leaks promptly.
Step 2: Check fluid levels monthly and top off the hydraulic reservoir as needed. The low fluid causes poor performance.
Step 3: Change hydraulic fluid per manufacturer recommendations, about every 36 months. Keeps contaminants flushed from the system.
Step 4: Verify hydraulic pressure is set correctly. Improper pressure leads to struggling or erratic operation.
Maintenance of Mechanical Slide-outs
Mechanical slide-outs are operated by a manual crank system. In this case –
Step 1: Lubricate the crank mechanism with white lithium grease. Prevents sticking.
Step 2: Check belts or chains are at proper tension. Loose parts cause difficult cranking.
Step 3: Inspect for worn or damaged gears. Replace immediately if issues are found.
Step 4: Verify crank lock is secure in both extended and retracted positions. Safety prevents the room from shifting during travel.
Why Maintaining RV Slide-outs is So Important?
Neglected slide-out maintenance often results in premature failures and expensive repairs. To avoid such inconveniences it’s always better to maintain your RV slide-out. It ensures –
a) Smooth, trouble-free operation – Slideouts slide easily when maintained. Lack of care leads to sticking, stalling, or uneven movement.
b) Weatherproofing – Well-maintained seals prevent rain intrusion that can damage interior walls and furnishings.
c) Safety – Faulty slide-outs can fail to extend or retract fully. This creates a fall hazard between the RV and slide out.
d) Avoidance of major repairs – Lubrication and part replacement at scheduled intervals prevent complete breakdown of the mechanism.
By investing a little time in regular slide-out care, I keep my RV’s slide-out system running reliably for years of comfortable camping. Don’t wait until problems arise – proper maintenance pays off.
Considerations When Maintaining RV Slide-outs
Even though the considerations are a few in number, they are pretty important. Those are –
Follow manufacturer maintenance guidelines. Components like motors and seals each have recommended service intervals. Use only compatible lubricants. Misusing grease or sprays can actually increase wear and damage. Have slide-outs serviced by a qualified RV tech. For major repairs, don’t improvise. Let a pro handle it correctly. Address water leaks quickly. Water ingress causes deterioration. Don’t enable damage through neglect. Inspect slide-outs before and after each trip. Confirm the proper operation and check for new issues.
- Inspect seals, gears, motors, and mounting hardware before each trip
- Lubricate slide components at regular intervals per manufacturer
- Address water leaks quickly to prevent interior damage
- Have major repairs done by qualified RV technicians
- Following maintenance guidelines prevents premature breakdowns
Slide-outs give RVs expanded living space at the push of a button, but only if properly maintained. I hope this overview of slide-out care provides RV owners with the key information to keep slide-out systems performing optimally for years of reliable service. By following proactive maintenance tips for electric, hydraulic, and mechanical slide-outs, costly repairs can be avoided. With just a little periodic attention, slide-outs will continue smoothly extending your RV’s square footage during adventures for years to come. Let me know if you have any other RV maintenance questions!
How often should I lubricate the slide-out components?
You should lubricate gears, rollers, and moving parts about once a month during peak camping season. Off-season, every 2-3 months should suffice.
What are signs the slide-out seals need replacing?
Look for cracked, brittle, loose, or warped seals. Gaps where the two sides meet or obvious wear indicate failing seals that should be promptly replaced.
My slide room is sticking halfway in or out – what should I do?
This often indicates a lack of lubrication. Thoroughly lubricate all components and mechanisms. If it continues, inspect for any obstruction or damage preventing full travel.
How do I realign a slide-out room that isn’t sealing properly?
Consult your owner’s manual for the proper realignment procedure. Often it involves adjusting leveling jacks or internal room controls to tweak alignment. Seals may then need adjustment.
Should I do anything special to prepare slide-outs before winter storage?
Yes, thoroughly lubricate and test the operation before winterizing. Seal any gaps or openings. Clean all components. Charge batteries that operate slides.