Last updated on October 13th, 2023
Why RV Slide Out Will Not Retract and Easy Fixes
I’m sure you’ve been in situations when your RV slide-outs don’t just seem to slide in or out. You arrive at a campsite and level your RV, but when you try to move your slide-outs, they either get stuck on one side or don’t move an inch.
The good news is, fixing a broken RV slide-out is easy. Depending on the situation, fixing a broken RV slide-out can be simple, such as cleaning up the battery connections.
Read on to learn more about RV slide-out problems and how to fix them.
Scenario 1: Your RV Slide Out Won’t Slide Out or In At All
Look Up the User Manual
The first thing I always advise my readers is to double-check the user manual in case of any RV issue. Newbies may be green to the RV slide-out operation and easily miss out on important operational details, while the veterans tend to overlook certain elements.
Remember, different RVs require different operating mechanisms for slide-outs. For example, most motorhomes I know of require RVers to run the slide-outs while in emergency park brakes.
Therefore, the first and most important step is to refer to the user manual and see whether you follow the correct requirements for operating your RV slide-out.
If you’ve adhered to all the requirements of the user manual and your slide-out is still broken, consider the power issues.
In most cases, the battery is usually the main culprit. Most RVs rely on the 12V house batteries to power the slide-outs, but confirming whether they’re charged, and operational never hurts.
Check your battery’s state of charge and ensure it’s above 12.0 vols. Ideally, it should be above 12.4 V for proper operation. Also, ensure it’s not shot, and thoroughly clean up the battery connections.
Plug in your RV to Shore Power
Most RV slides usually operate on 12-V battery power, but when experiencing issues, some brands recommend plugging your RV into shore power. A generator is also a great alternative to power your slide motors.
My slides out sometimes won’t power on the battery, and I need my trailer plugged in.
Check the Fuses, Breakers, and Quick Disconnect
Fuses and breakers may also compromise the operational mechanism of your slide-out controls, motors, and pumps.
Therefore, starts by checking the inline, power center, or fuses in the block to ensure there’re no issues. While a fuse may look hood to the eye, consider performing a continuity test to determine its integrity.
If there’s no action on the fuses, you must start chasing the voltage down the line. Use your meter to check the voltage on either side of the breakers. You would be surprised to find a failed breaker.
The inline breaker, located between the batteries and the motor, tends to blow because of low voltage or amperage spikes. Look around for that.
Finally, check the quick disconnect. Mine had an issue where it wouldn’t make good contact even though it stayed on. A few fast turns on and off helps to remove whatever corrosion or rust stops the disconnect, and it’ll fire right up.
Examine your Motor
Electric slide-out motors on RVs may eventually stop working for several reasons. Some common causes of slide-out malfunction are regular wear & tear, overheating, or damage from power surges. The power supply and control system issues may also compromise your RV’s motor.
Ultimately, the specific cause of RV slide-out motor failure depends on many factors and operating conditions.
Therefore, examining the motor and seeing whether they’re operating as specified is a good idea. Check the wiring and see that it’s tightly and properly connected.
Also, if you’ve a helping hand, use a voltmeter to check the power supply to the motor while the other person operates the slide switch. If the motor receives power and there’s no slide-out movement, then the motor is broken. You need a replacement.
Examine your Hydraulic Pump
If your RV uses a hydraulic slide-out system, a leak between the pump and the reservoir may cause your slide-out to jam.
It takes many years to lose oil in a hydraulic system such as the slide system, but it compromises the operating mechanism when it does. In most cases, you’ll experience a jerking in the slide out. It’s usually caused by air in the system. And yes, the RV slide-out hydraulic system is closed, except as the reservoir, so low fluid could allow air into the system.
I will seal and check the entire system if you’ve a leak somewhere. It could simply be a hose weeping or a cylinder seal leaking by.
Scenario 2: Slides Out Only Slide Partially in or Out
If all but only one side of your slide isn’t cooperating, good chances are it’s jammed. Consider returning it to the original position before failure, and inspect it from inside out, top to bottom, for any issues.
Gravity or Weight
Leveling your RV may also affect a slide-outs function. An improperly leveled RV may result in the sticking of your RV.
Fortunately, it’s easy to address this issue. Simply have someone retract the slide out while the other person gently pushes it, bringing it inside with the switch.
Noisy Slide-Out Operation
RV slide-outs can get stuck occasionally and start making ratcheting sounds and groaning loudly. If so, you’ll likely have a through-frame slide out.
Usually, this is caused by the build-up of debris or rusty parts. The ratcheting action means the motor is reaching s torque limit, and the clutch slips.
In this case, you must scrub the slide track and free them from the dirt, paint, and other debris when the slide-outs are engaged. Also, consider lubricating the slide out, and ensure the rails, tracks, and gears are covered.
How to Remedy an RV Slide-Out Issue
Here’re the tips you need to take if your RV slide-outs have issues:
Diagnose the Issue
The first step is to identify the issue. While you might not necessarily be able to fix it, you’ll be better positioned to understand what is happening. This information is also valuable when you’re talking with your RV technician.
Call an Expert
Sometimes, the RV slide-out problem is so complicated for your understanding. Or sometimes, it requires tools that aren’t at your disposal.
Unless it’s a straightforward RV slide-out issue, I suggest you call an expert, preferably from the manufacturer. Alternatively, hire a mobile RV repair technician.
Manually Close the Slide
Not what you asked for, but I would suggest you spend some time figuring out how to manually close your slide if needed. You don’t want to figure that out when packing from your campsite.
Understand that the retraction process is usually unique for each slide type, so refer to the user manual.
Preventing Slide-Out Problems/ How to Maintain a Slide Out
The truth is that RV slide-outs are more maintenance-heavy than a newborn. Use them for a weekend and then work on them for 2. It’s just part of it. RV slide-outs generally require a lot of preventative maintenance, which most campers never do.
But the thing is, I can’t see myself living in a travel trailer without a slide-out; they add more pace to your RV and make the RVing experience more convenient.
The trick to living in an RV slide-out is knowing how to maintain it. I discovered that most RV slide-outs are reliable when you keep up with your maintenance. Here’re some tips to prevent RV slide-out problems:
Invest in an RV Topper
An RV topper’s main benefit is protecting the top of the slide-out from harmful debris, such as leaves and sticks, that can fall onto the roof. Remember, this debris can cause damage and prevent the proper operation of your slide-out.
Lubrication is Key
Maintenance is key, and a little lubrication goes a long way. Lube your slide-out mechanism with aerosol silicone lubricant, and there’s no need to be sparse with it. Also, keeps the rubber seals healthy with rubber treatment.
Consider the Climate
The existing weather and climatic conditions may also affect the operating mechanism of your RV slide-out. For example, I suggest you avoid retracting the slide out when wet because it means bringing moisture into the RV.
Never Support, or Jack your RV Slide Out
RV and slide manufacturers strongly advise against supporting or jacking your slide out. Instead, you should support the RV frame, not the slide-out.
It’s easy to damage your slide-out mechanism because they exert upward pressure on parts not designed for it if the RV settles. This exerts undue stress on the slide mechanism, which is fragile, in the first place.
Therefore, I suggest you discover why your RV slide-out is sagging rather than band-aiding the symptoms.
Always Keep your RV Level
As I mentioned, you must always keep your camper level, especially with the slides, out for extended periods. It prevents leaks and sagging.
Also, adding metal plates between the rollers and wooden slide floor is an immensely helpful DIY, especially if your slide-out is out most of the time.
Have some DIY Skills
It also makes sense to learn some good DIY skills and learn how to use basic tools. Even better, have some basic knowledge of the electrical system. No need to get charged extra because you don’t know how to reset a breaker or replace a fuse.
Treat your Slide Out Nice
Finally, here’re some pointers on how to treat your RV slide-outs:
- Never extend the slide-outs when the RV isn’t level
- Don’t retract your slide when people’re sitting or standing on the slide
- Stop retracting your slide out when you hear a snapping, cracking, or popping sound
- Ensure you put your eyes on every surface now and then, and it’s easy to see when something is off.
My RV Slide Out Isn’t Level with the Rest of the Camper; Is this normal?
No, that’s not normal. The slide-out should be level, or at least close to level with the rest of the camper. If it’s extremely out of angle, it needs adjustment. Don’t adjust it. I repeat, don’t adjust it or put anything underneath the slide to help level it. You could make things worse. Instead, take it to a professional.
RV slide-outs are designed to expand the living space of the RV when parked. They can provide additional comfort and convenience to travelers. However, when the slide-out won’t retract, it can be frustrating and stressful.
One of the common reasons why the RV slide-out won’t retract is due to power supply issues. Check if the RV battery is fully charged or connected to shore power. If the battery is low or the power source is disconnected, the slide-out may not have enough power to retract.
Another reason could be a tripped breaker. Check the RV’s breaker panel and reset the breaker if necessary.
Lubricating the slide-out tracks can also help if the slide-out is stuck. Over time, debris, dirt, or rust can accumulate on the tracks, causing the slide-out to jam. A silicone-based lubricant can help reduce friction and make the slide-out retract smoothly.
Inspecting the motor and gears is another critical step in troubleshooting a stuck slide-out. Ensure that the motor and gears are functioning correctly and not damaged. A malfunctioning motor or gear may prevent the slide-out from retracting.
Lastly, check for debris or obstructions that may prevent the slide-out from retracting fully. Objects like twigs, leaves, or trash can get caught in the slide-out mechanism and obstruct it. Removing any debris from the slide-out can solve the problem.
It’s important to troubleshoot and fix the issue promptly to avoid further damage or safety hazards. If the above steps do not work, it’s recommended to consult a professional RV technician.
That’s a wrap and everything you need to know about RV slide-out common problems and easy fixes. While slide-outs are demanding to maintain, these simple hacks will make your RVing experience more enjoyable.
Regular repairs and maintenance will solve most of the RV slide-out issues.