How To Maintain Your RV’s Slide Out
When it comes down to it, one of the best features of your RV is the slide out. It makes a spacious living area easy to transport, but also enjoyable for you and your family. They’re very well-designed and made to remain trouble-free. However, to keep it that way, you also have to properly maintain it. So, just like your awning, storage, or any other part of the RV that’s mechanical, you’ll need to properly care for your slide out to avoid problems.
In comparison to other areas of your RV that requires maintenance, the slide out is sophisticated enough that it typically requires much less attention. However, that doesn’t mean they are above issues. Slide outs can develop problems over time if you neglect caring for them. But, as long as you take preventative care of them, you’ll eliminate the potential problems.
Hydraulic & Electrical Slide Out Mechanics: How To Maintain Your RV’s Slide Out
In our modern RVs, most slide outs use hydraulic or electrical mechanisms. For electric mechanisms, they are typically powered by a 12-volt DC that powers the mechanics with either a screw drive, rack & pinion, cable, chain, track, scissor arms, and more. However, slide outs powered by hydraulic cylinders operate independently or in conjunction with a leveling system that has single or multiple cylinders for each room.
Anything Mechanical Needs To Be Lubricated: How To Maintain Your RV’s Slide Out
Mechanical parts, in general, should always be properly lubricated, and the slide out is no exception. We recommend that you apply a dry lube; however, some may also suggest a light lithium grease– but no matter what, be sure to check with your RV manufacturer before applying anything. Beyond that, be careful when using grease on slide outs. They can gather dust and other things pretty easily, so it may be important to clean them regularly.
When applying any sort of lubrication, on hydraulic rams and cylinders, be sure to completely wipe down and clean the parts. You don’t want to see any remnants left over from the lubrication process.
Replace Your Rubber Seals: How To Maintain Your RV’s Slide Out
Just like anything else on your RV, you need to form the habit of checking and replacing seals regularly. If a seal gets damaged, chances are water and moisture will make their way into your RV. Some seals will be stapled, others cemented or bonded. However, they can often be found held together by metal clips. Unfortunately, metal clips can rust and break– causing seals to get pinched at an angle they shouldn’t be or even loosen. So, whenever you check your seals, make sure they are malleable.
At the end of the day, exposure to the outdoors will eventually weather your rubber seals. So, to prevent them from becoming brittle or hard, you should look for some seal protectants.
However, there are two major areas where you should inspect your seals: The ones you can see when your slide out is extended and when it’s retracted. We recommend pulling the slide out to about halfway to inspect as many as possible.
Beyond that, it’s best to inspect them at night. You’ll want to have one person outside and one person inside (with the RV lights completely off). The person inside will have a flashlight and shine it across all areas where the seals are. If the person outside can see any bit of light come through, that means there’s a high likelihood the seals have gone bad.
Once you’ve done that, proceed to search for any even compression on the bulb seals. If you see any that look much more compressed than the others, it’s a possibility that the room may not be properly positioned and you need to adjust it. Unfortunately, if you suspect any misalignment of the room, we highly recommend taking your RV into a shop ASAP for realignment.
Retraction Issues Or Failed Battery Bank: How To Maintain Your RV’s Slide Out
In the instance where your battery fails or your slide out won’t fully retract, what should you do? All RVs have a manual override for slide out mechanics; however, they’ll differ depending on the manufacturer and system that’s used. For electrical slide out mechanics, there’s a motor brake that you must disengage. However, you also will need to physically reposition the motor and disengage it from the drive track.
Luckily, some slide out motors use an extended hex drive. So, you can crank the room in or out as long as you have a ratchet, hand crank, or wrench. Remember though, most of this will require at least two people to disengage the drive gear and manually push the room back into the RV.
As for hydraulic systems, there’s a bypass valve around the hydraulic pump or manifold block. If you open the bypass valve for a specific room, it will reduce the hydraulic pressure just enough for you to manually push the room back in. Once you’ve manually put it in, tighten the bypass valve so as to make sure the room does not move.
Adjusting Slide Out Rooms: How To Maintain Your RV’s Slide Out
No matter what, every slide out should be centered within the opening. Each slide out has vertical, horizontal, and lateral adjustment points and they’ll all vary. We don’t recommend any RV owners to adjust slide outs on their own. However, it’s okay to measure their positions every now and then to determine whether they have shifted or not. It’s not uncommon for slide outs to move out of adjustment over time due to some of the factors we’ve already discussed. Remember though, if you suspect any misalignment take it to an RV shop like Coach Specialists, immediately.
Some Preventative Maintenance: How To Maintain Your RV’s Slide Out
- Keep your 12-volt DC battery bank maintained.
- Make sure all galley components (like propane lines, water tubing, flexible drain piping, etc.) are supported and protected.
- Keep the upper and lower exterior side vents clear from obstructions.
- Clean and lubricate all moving components regularly.
- Check hydraulic fluid levels regularly.
- Keep a look-out for abnormal wear-patterns on the interior floor of the slide out.
- Listen for any moans or groans when moving slide out.
- Do not keep the slide outs extended for a long period of time.