Troubleshooting Issues with RV Slide outs

RVs are one of the most popular and comfortable ways to travel, and built-in slide outs offer even more comfort. These create additional living space and can even double the amount of room travelers have i  their RV. However, sometimes slide outs can malfunction or get stuck. Follow along as we troubleshoot some of the most common issues that can cause slide outs to stop working and learn how you can easily fix them yourself!

Photo credit: Pedata RV Center

Section 1: They won’t slide in or out at all

Double check your manual. 

Different RV models and manufacturers have different requirements for operating the slide outs. Most motorhomes need to be running with the emergency brake engaged, for instance. Double check your manual to ensure you’re meeting the correct requirements to operate your slide outs. If your slide out motor has power and is trying to run, your slide may be jammed. Skip to problem two. If your motor is not running, or you aren’t sure, continue reading. 

Check your power supply.

For motorhomes, as long as the engine will start and the proper requirements are met, the slide outs will function. For trailers and towables, the slide outs usually rely on the house batteries. However, it never hurts to ensure all batteries are properly charged, even for a motorhome. Double check your power supplies to ensure your batteries are properly charged if you aren’t plugged into shore power. 

Photo credit: RV Web Network

Check your fuses and breakers. 

You may need your manual for this as well, as every RV is different. Double check all of your fuses and breakers to ensure nothing is blown or tripped. It doesn’t hurt to clean any dirty fuses as well to ensure proper performance. 

Photo credit: Glamper Life

Check your slide out motor. 

Over time, wires can come loose or things can malfunction. Using your manual, locate your slide out motor. It could be under the couch, under the bed, in a closet, or any other number of places. Again, all RVs are different, so be sure to use your manual to quickly locate your slide out motor. 

Check the wiring to ensure that all wires are properly and tightly connected. If you have someone with you, use a voltmeter to check the power while someone operates the slide switch. If the motor is receiving power, but there is no slide movement, then the motor may have failed. 

Photo credit: RV Components – Visone RV

Check your hydraulic pump and system(if applicable). 

Some slide outs and jacks operate off of a hydraulic system. If yours does, be sure to double check the pump and system to ensure that everything is functioning properly. Hydraulic systems can begin to leak over time, so be sure to check the hydraulic fluid reservoir to ensure that there is enough fluid to operate the system. If your slide outs are out and your jacks are down, the reservoir will have a lower level, versus being fuller when the slides are out and the jacks are up. If you suspect a leak, follow the lines leading from the fluid reservoir to thoroughly check them over. 

Photo credit: Forest River Forums

Problem 2: They only partially slide in or out. 

Jammed slide

If only one slide isn’t cooperating, there’s a good chance that it’s jammed. Return it to the position it was in before the partial failure and check inside and out, top and bottom, for what the cause could be. Carefully remove whatever the object is and proceed with bringing the slide in or out. 

Gravity or weight

If your RV wasn’t level when setting up camp, then your slide may be stuck due to weight or gravity. Have one person inside to operate the switch and the other person outside. Gently push your stuck slide while the person inside brings it in with the switch. Get your RV to a mechanic just in case before using your slide outs again. 

Photo credit: The Camping Advisor

Problem 3: Manual operation. 

If all else fails, the slides can be brought in manually with most RVs. There are countless YouTube videos and tips online to help with this. Be sure to consult your manual as well to ensure you are following the correct directions for your make and model. Most times, manually operating your slides involves using the included crank for your RV or a wrench. If your slide outs won’t open at all, the best decision is to avoid using them (or cut your trip short if they are a necessity), rather than manually opening and closing them. Not only is this process time-consuming, but being stuck with your slides out is a much bigger issue than not being able to use them in the first place. 

Photo credit: RV SnapPad

Problem 4: They’re making a lot of noise

Do your slide outs squeak and groan so loud that other campers are turning their heads to stare? This noise can be caused by a buildup of debris or rusty parts. While your slide outs are engaged, use a wire brush to scrub the tracks free of dirt, debris, paint chippings, and other particles. Once clean, lubricate your slide outs with an appropriate product, ensuring that the rails, tracks, and gears are all covered. It may take a few times of bringing your slide outs in and out to spread the lubricant thoroughly. 

Photo credit: The Camping Advisor 2

Section 5: Other considerations.

When dealing with slide outs, there are a few basic principles that may help you to avoid issues in the first place. Keep the following points in mind when working with your slide outs.

  1. Never drive or unlevel your RV with the slides out.
  2. If you don’t feel comfortable troubleshooting your issues, call a mobile RV mechanic or call your dealership, if applicable.
  3. Preventative maintenance is the best way to avoid having your slides stuck in or out. 
Photo credit: Getaway Couple

Section 6: Prevention

Slide outs, like many other aspects of RVs, require regular maintenance to keep them running in tip-top shape. These include regular inspections, part replacements, cleanings, lubrication and more. Luckily, Harvest Hosts has a helpful list of regular slide out maintenance to keep your RV slides running smoothly. If all else fails, you can always phone a mechanic to fix any slide out issues you may be experiencing! 

Slide outs are an important comfort feature for many RV owners. If your slide out is giving you trouble, don’t fret! You may be able to solve the problem yourself before calling in a professional. This could save precious time and money. Be sure to keep this list handy in case of any future slide out misfunctions.

Photo credit: Mortons on the Move

Have you ever had to fix your slide outs? What are some things you do to prevent this from happening? Tell us your slideout stories in the comments below!

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  1. Leonard D Rempel
    19th October, 2021

    I had one of the gears on our Lippert gear pack lose a couple of teeth. Not sure how that happened, but it did. This is on a 2020 Keystone Montana, so not an old jalopy RV by any means!

    YouTube was very helpful to show the right process to replace it. Too much to information to share here, but for the other people commenting about small discrepancies in gaps of their slide seals, adjusting the slides is also fairly easy for someone who is somewhat mechanically inclined. YouTube was also a helpful resource.
    Remember: Owning an RV is like owing a “sticks & bricks” home. You just have to figure some of this out for yourself, or you will end of paying a fortune for someone else to do it. Unless, you are near Toronto; then give me a shout!

  2. Darrell Barnes
    19th October, 2021

    What to do about the large gaps with the closure gaskets on slides? We have a new Outdoors Backcountry 21RWS, and I can see daylight at the floor when the slide is retracted, worse when extended, plenty of room for mice to invade. The gaskets are so large and pliable that a mouse or snake could easily slip through. I have been careful to seal all other possible entry points but the slide is problematic. Any suggestions out there?

  3. Dawn Wilson
    19th October, 2021

    What can be done to prevent the slideout from scratching the floors and leaving indentations in the floor where the rollers sit while the slide is in. This has been a problem since we purchased RV, and RV shop added extra rollers which helps a little (no new gouges in floor), but still leaves indentations in floor.

  4. Jeff Collins
    19th October, 2021

    We have a 2005 Winnebago Itasca 38R. We started having troubles with our large living rm/kitchen slide up in New Hampshire. It would go out but it would not come back in without help. It would take us 15 minutes of work to get in in. We took it into an RV place up there and inspection told us we had a bent rail. They could not fix it for us. We returned home without opening the slide. Our RV repair shop in our area fixed it for us. Turns out we needed one new solenoid and the hydraulic lines had come loose at the fitting and was spewing fluid. Second opinion cost us a lot less.

  5. Dan
    13th October, 2021

    Our slide problem is our 1 year old Rockwood mini-lite started with interior trim in the dining area pulling off the wall. Went to dealer who’s idiotic solution was to trim off the trim. Problem of course got worse cause they only felt with the symptoms. Slide got worse and started damaging the floor. Finally self diagnosed that 7 of the eight screws that hold the slide to the L angle (underneath) had fallen out! Replaced screws and problem gone.

    1. Sam Leash
      18th October, 2021

      What a nightmare! SO glad to hear that your were able to get to the root of the issue and eventually fix it yourself. Wishing you better luck in the future!

  6. Bob Sharpe
    13th October, 2021

    Slide outs. My slides are cable driven. I’ve had to replace several broken cables. Cables tend to start breaking on the end they attach to the slide. I check regularly for cables that are beginning to fray with broken strands. Each slide has eight cables.

  7. Bob Sharpe
    13th October, 2021

    Slide outs. I once found the microwave plate jammed in the side of a slide. Rough road had opened the microwave door and plate had slide out, amazingly finding it’s way next to the wall of the slide. I now always take the microwave plate out and store in cabinet on moving days.

  8. Peggy Watkins
    13th October, 2021

    Has anyone here replaced the seals on their slides without going to a service provider? Are you aware of any online instructions?

    1. Kevin C
      19th October, 2021

      Just to clarify, are you talking about the actual tube seals (very easy to change and we did) or the wipers that wipe the slideout as it comes in?

  9. Steve Robinson
    13th October, 2021

    on the topic of slide-outs not working. Alot of the motors that run them in and out have a break locking lever on the motor itself. Check to see if it is locked or open.