Basics of RV Slideout Maintenance
When traveling in an RV, one must grow accustomed to the small living quarters. Although most RVs are produced with every modern convenience you may need, there is still a bit of a learning curve when adjusting to minimal square footage. Yet, many RVs come equipped with slideouts, and these can help to increase your interior floor space. Some RVs may have one large slide out, while others may have two or three small ones. Some of the largest-sized fifth wheels can even have up to four or five total slideouts.
These slideouts can add quite a bit of space to your floor plan and are extremely beneficial to the overall RV experience. However, when enjoying the added space provided by slideouts, you must remember that these mechanisms require routine maintenance to keep them functioning properly. As with all electronic devices, there is a bit of work and care that goes into ensuring that they are in tip-top shape at all times. Continue on for all the best tips and recommendations to maintain your slideouts and keep them running well for years to come.
Slide mechanics basics
In most modern RVs, you’ll find one of two main types of slideouts: electronic or hydraulic. These each work relatively similarly. Electronic slides are powered by a twelve-volt battery, while hydraulic slides are powered by a hydraulic system. However, both systems require a healthy twelve-volt battery to run properly, and both systems perform the same basic function of moving the slide in and out. Because of this, their routine maintenance is relatively similar.
When properly cared for, your slideouts will move with relative ease and have minimal issues. When neglected, slideouts can have problems freezing in either the in position or the out position, along with a myriad of additional potential issues. Slideout dysfunction is quite a bummer, especially if it leaves you stranded at your campground or Harvest Hosts location on moving day. To avoid any issues, follow this regimen for routine care that will keep your slideouts functioning perfectly.
Properly maintaining your slideouts is all about preventative maintenance. There are three main components that will need to be inspected and maintained. These are the seals, the roof, and the mechanical components.
Slideout Seal Maintenance
Your slideout seals are pieces of round rubber that surround the edges of the slide and create a suction seal around the slides when they are pulled in. This prevents debris and the elements from entering your home. The seals are relatively low maintenance, but they will need to be inspected periodically for signs of excessive wear or damage. In addition, you will need to clean the seals from time to time. This will prevent a build-up of dirt and debris along the tracks, which can cause the slideout to malfunction.
In addition to cleaning your seals, they will need to be lubricated periodically. Lubrication allows your slides to move with relative ease and keeps their tracks clear and smooth. The more you open and close your slide outs, the more often they will need to be lubricated, although a minimum of twice per year is recommended. Most professionals suggest using a dry lube, which can be purchased at most RV supply stores or online. These are quite simple to use and simply need to be sprayed onto the base of the seals, starting at the top and working your way all the way around the edges and onto the bottom portion of the seal. After lubricating, allow the seals at least a few minutes to dry before moving them.
Roof Cover Care
Atop most slideouts, you will find a built-in roof cover that looks similar to an awning. These are typically made of fabric, and their purpose is to catch dirt and debris and keep it from entering the RV through the top of the slide. Just like with your awning, you will want to clean off all the leaves, dirt, twigs, and anything else that may have found its way onto the cover before pulling the slide in. If you do not clear off the roof cover, anything sitting on top of it could become lodged in the slideout track. In addition, you should plan to periodically inspect the roof cover for signs of wear and damage. Rips and tears will allow water and dust into your RV. If you notice these, you will want to have the issues repaired as soon as you can.
Mechanical Components Maintenance
As part of your preventative maintenance, you will want to ensure that all of your slideouts’ mechanical components are functioning properly at all times. Since you are likely not a professional, this just means that you will want to keep an eye out for any abnormalities that could occur. When you are moving the slide, listen for strange noises that could indicate mechanical issues. Some squeaking and whining is normal when moving your slide in or out, but if the noise is excessive or different than usual, you will want to have it looked at by a professional.
In addition, keep an eye on the roof above the slideouts and the floor in front of the slideouts. If either starts showing signs of excessive wear, this could be an indication that your slide is not sitting correctly. If this is the case, a professional should be able to easily adjust the positioning for you.
Hydraulic Slide Maintenance
Finally, if you have hydraulic slides, you will want to periodically check the fluid levels. If everything is functioning properly, the fluid levels should stay consistent. If the fluid levels look low, this could indicate a potential issue. You will want to have the slideout mechanisms inspected and repaired, if necessary. Being aware of what is going on with your slideouts and keeping an eye on their functionality is key to ensuring a lack of serious issues.
Slide outs are relatively easy to care for, but they do require some amount of maintenance and should not be ignored completely. Staying on top of your preventative maintenance schedule should leave you with well-functioning slides that properly expand the size of your tiny home for years to come.
Do you perform regular maintenance on your RV’s slideouts? Is there anything important that you would add? Feel free to drop a comment below!
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Check with your manufacturer, but Lippert does not recommend any lubrication on their slide racks or gears–which makes sense because it can attract dirt which can gum up the movement. They recommend mild soap and water on exposed gear/racks and dry lube ONLY on seals and rubber parts.
Thanks so much for this information, Rick! I know many slide racks require periodic lubrication, but it’s good to know that it’s not required for every single type.