How to Proper care and maintenance for Motor homes and RV’s Slideouts: Tips from a DALLAS RV repair facility.
The RV slideout is one of those amazing features that makes RV’s and motor homes so livable and spacious, yet easy to transport. For the most part they are designed to be trouble free, but only if you keep them maintained. Like any other mechanical or electrical system in your RV, Slideouts need proper care.
As far as your maintenance to dos, the slideout is one advanced feature that requires the least amount of attention. However, slideouts can develop issues, especially when totally neglected. A little preventive maintenance can usually minimize, if not eliminate, most of those problems.
Slide mechanics- Hydraulic or Electrical
Most modern slideout mechanisms usually fall into one of two categories:
• 12-volt DC electrically driven mechanics with a rack & pinion, or screw drive, chain, cable, track, scissor arms, etc.
• Hydraulic cylinder driven; independently or in conjunction with a leveling system, with single or multiple cylinders per room, etc.
Your RV has either a 12-volt battery powered or a hydraulic slide system, with multiple variations of both used by each coachbuilder. With either type, a strong 12-volt battery bank is required.
The most common issue with slideout issues is low voltage.
Like everything else that moves in your RV, all slideout mechanisms require periodic lubrication. It is recommended to always use a dry lube, though some coachbuilders recommend a light grease such as lithium grease be applied Just be sure to check with your manufacturer. Just be aware that if you are using grease on the mechanicals of slideouts, this is a greater chance of gathering dust and debris on the tracks.
One excellent dry lubrication product for RV slideouts is Protect All Slide-out Dry Lube Protectant.
Nearly all of the motor and gearbox assemblies used in slideout rooms are built with modern sealed gears and bearings and they do not need to be lubricated. Just keep them clean. Hydraulic rams and cylinders only require wiping down with a soft, clean cloth and lightly oiling, with all remnants of the lube removed completely afterwards. For obvious reasons, never power wash hydraulic cylinders.
All slide rooms are equipped with rubber seals that prevent water, air and contaminants from entering the RV. They have an abundance of names; sweeper seal, wiper seal, blade seal, bulb seal, flapper seal, etc. Always replace a seal with one that matches the profile of the original. If unsure how to replace one, we can certainly handle that task for you here at Coach Specialists of Texas.
Make a habit to inspect all seals carefully. Once a seal has been damaged, it will likely allow air or moisture into the RV. Obviously the top and side seals are crucial, but do not underestimate the importance of the bottom seal as well. The crucial junction point is where the top seal meets with the side seals.
Some seals are stapled in place, others cemented or bonded to the mating surface, while others are clipped in with small metallic clips. These metal clips can rust and break loose, allowing the seal to come lose or get pinched. When inspecting your seals, check that they are all still pliable.
Constant exposure to the elements can cause the rubber to become weathered, brittle or hard. There are a number of seal protectants on the market that you can use.
There are two sets of seals that require inspection: one for when the room is fully extended and one for when the room is fully retracted. During the inspection process, stop the movement of the room part way through its travel and carefully inspect all visible seals, inside and outside the RV. A good time to do this is at night. In a darkened RV, using a flashlight, have someone positioned outside as you move the flashlight around all applicable seals. Any indication of light seeping through results in the very real possibility air or water can also pass.
Look for even compression on bulb seals. If some portions appear to be compressed more than others, especially at the top or bottom corners, it’s possible the room is not properly positioned in its opening, and adjustments are necessary. The roof seal should lay flat and even all the way across.
If you detect any type of room misalignment, it is highly advised to have it repaired at an RV repair shop. We can certainly correct this ailment for you as well at Coach Specialists.
What do you do when you are out using your RV when suddenly the battery bank fails and the room will not fully retract? All slideout mechanisms have some form of manual override, depending on the brand and type of slide system used on that RV. Some mechanisms on 12-volt DC electrical slide systems have a motor brake that needs to be disengaged. Other electrical slide mechanisms require the motor be physically repositioned to disengage it from the drive track.
Some slideout motors are outfitted with an extended hex drive so you can simply crank the room in or out with a ratchet wrench or hand crank. Still other applications require two people; one to disengage the drive gear and one to manually push the room in.
Hydraulic systems employ a bypass valve located usually on the hydraulic pump or an associated manifold block. Opening the bypass valve for that room depletes the hydraulic pressure enough for the room to be manually closed. After manually retracting the room, always tighten the bypass valve to prevent the room from further movement. Read the specific overriding procedures ahead of time and practice at least one emergency slide room retraction prior to actually having to deploy one in the heat of the moment.
Slide Room Adjustments
Each slideout should be centered, side-to-side within the opening. Every slide room has lateral, horizontal and vertical adjustment points and just about every one of them will vary in type and form.
It is not recommended for RV owners to adjust slide rooms on their own, but users can certainly take measurements from time to time to see if the room has shifted north, south, east or west during the course of its lifetime. Rooms do get “out of adjustment” periodically. Racking of the vehicle during travel can cause shifts in the fitment of the room, or cause hardware to loosen, which will have a direct affect on the trustworthiness of the seals. If your RV is suffering from any type of misalignment, be sure to call us at Coach Specialists for repairs to your RV slideout.
• Maintain the 12-volt DC battery bank. Virtually every maker of slideout mechanisms states the importance of a healthy battery system. Low voltage, inadequate current capability, faulty contacts, etc., can all lead to improper slide room operation. Over 90% of slide motor issues can be traced back to the negative side of the circuit. If the slideout does not move when first energized, check the 12-volt DC system first. Look for low battery power, blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers.
• Some slideouts contain galley components such as appliances and plumbing fixtures. Propane lines, hot and cold fresh water tubing, flexible drain piping and electrical cables are also included in these applications and require periodic inspection. Some makers include a reticulated raceway for hoses and wires to be routed in, while others simply allow them to hang and move with the room. Ensure all are supported and protected properly.
• If the slideout contains an absorption refrigerator, it will include a lower exterior vent as well as an upper exterior side vent, which eliminates the common roof jack. In such installations the rear chimney connecting the lower vent to the upper vent must remain clear of obstructions.
• Keep all moving components clean and free of dirt build-up. Lubricate appropriately.
• If the slideout system is hydraulic, check the fluid level in the reservoir regularly. The hydraulic system is a sealed system, so leaks should never be evident and it’s usually not necessary to add fluid. Refer to the owner’s manual for the correct type of fluid to use.
• Inspect for abnormal wear patterns on metallic components of the mechanism as well as on the interior floor section, just in front of the slide room. Abnormal wear patterns on the interior floor may indicate the need for a vertical adjustment.
• Periodically clean the underside of the slideout room to keep dust and debris from damaging the bottom seal and to prevent contamination
• If the slideout is equipped with an awning, keep it clean and lubricate its moving components.
• Be aware of new noises. Some slideout motors may groan or moan a bit during operation, but if new noises appear, it could be an indication of a maladjusted room.
Finally here is one mistake that we see customers make all the time:
• Fully retract all rooms for lengthy periods of non-use or winterizing. When not in use, keep the slide out pulled in.
A little preventive maintenance can go a long way in extending (pun intended) the life of your slideout. With periodic inspections and proper use, slideout rooms can add to our RVing enjoyment for many years.