RV Slide-Out Maintenance: A Complete Guide
In the early 1990s, RV slide-outs started to be seen more and more on RVs. Now they are on most RVs large and small. Some have a single small slide-out to accommodate a bed or dinette, and others have slides covering almost all exterior surfaces.
Either way, the goal of the slide is the same: to provide more indoor living space. Step into a non-slide RV and it quickly seems to become cramped. Not all RVers need slide-outs, and some, like the Airstream crowd, prefer it that way.
This added space, however, comes with required maintenance and possible issues. RV slide-out maintenance is key, as well as tracking this maintenance with a tool like RV LIFE Maintenance.
RV slide-out maintenance
We may take for granted how our slides move in and out, but there are moving parts, electrical components, and hydraulic systems in some cases. These items all require maintenance to extend their life and stay trouble-free.
Let’s break down the RV slide-out maintenance you should be doing.
This is a basic yet often overlooked step in RV slide-out maintenance. RVs collect lots of dirt and grime while in storage and in travel. All of this dirt, combined with moving parts, can have negative effects on your slide-out operation.
Before and after storage are both critical times for a thorough cleaning, as well as before and after hitting the road on trips.
The top and sides of your slide-out should be clean and free of debris before operation. Anything that has been collecting on the slide can damage the paneling and/or the rubber seals around the slide.
Sweep off or use your leaf blower to remove any loose debris. RV roof cleaner products are great for removing any stubborn stuck-on stuff. Staying on top of removing any tree sap and grease after trips will eliminate the need for a day-long scrubbing.
The slide rails and gears are generally underneath your RV, therfore, they become dirty quickly. Keeping them free of road debris and dirt that sometimes collects on teeth and in areas where lubrication is applied will reduce excess wear of gears and damage to surfaces.
This is probably the most important part of RV slide-out maintenance. Moving parts cause friction, and friction causes parts to wear.
The seals around your slide-out can become dry from exposure to the elements, and as a result, tear easier and allow leaks. Keep them clean and lubricated with a rubber seal lubricant that won’t dry out the rubber or collect dirt.
The rails and gearing for your slide will require a quality lubricant that protects and limits the amount of dirt and grime it collects. For this reason, it is also important to not apply excess lubricant to parts. The excess will only run off, make a mess, and attract dirt.
It is important to first clean any dirt from the components to be lubricated. A parts cleaner or grease remover can be used for stubborn spots, but a rag and some soap and water should clean most areas if you are keeping on top of it.
Scwintech slides require no lubrication on the rails. Again, ensure they are clean by wiping them with a clean rag. Look for wear in the worm gear pattern and that the worm gear rail is securely attached to the side of the slides.
There are parts to be lubricated behind the seal around the slide-out. They can be located by pulling back the rubber seal and spraying lubricant in from the outside.
Gears and slide rails
The meshing gears included in the majority of slide systems are precision machined and create friction when moving. This can lead to wear and damage if out of alignment, or if dirt or debris has collected.
Gears and rails should be kept clean and lubricated. There should be no binding when operating the slide. Watch for a slide that opens or closes unevenly from side to side. Adjusting the alignment is key at the first sign to prevent further damage.
Hydraulic slide-outs are common on large, heavy slides like kitchens. Hydraulic systems will contain a hydraulic fluid reservoir, pressurized lines, and fittings.
The lines should be inspected for leaks and overall good condition. Fittings are areas of potential leaks, so keep them clean and leaks will be easier to spot.
Many systems utilize an electric motor to move the slide. Check the electrical connections and ensure they are secure. Have someone run the slide in and out, and secure any wires away from moving parts and pinch points.
Listen to the operation of the electric motor for anything that sounds unusual. The slide should move in a controlled manner with no jumping or skipping.
Cable drive systems can be difficult to access in some RVs as the components are often on the top and bottom of the slide. The cables themselves should be clean and free of dirt. Look for signs of damage such as fraying.
In many cases, your slide will have to be in a closed position to access the pulleys on top. Ensure they are secure and in good condition.
Tracking RV slide-out maintenance
As with your car, it is important to track your RV maintenance. Keeping track of when and what maintenance was done will make sure nothing is overlooked or overdue!
RV LIFE Maintenance is a great tool to help conveniently organize all of your RV maintenance. Part of the RV LIFE Pro membership, RV LIFE Maintenance is an easy way to check off and document maintenance as you do it!
Since it is cloud-based, you can upload receipts, warranties, and any other pertinent information.
Not only can you accurately track all your RV maintenance, but you can also track fuel usage, costs, and build your own custom maintenance schedule.
One of the biggest reasons maintenance doesn’t get done is it is forgotten or overlooked. RV LIFE Maintenance will send you reminders so you can plan accordingly.
Ditch the notebook of service dates and envelope full of receipts, and check out RV LIFE Maintenance to streamline your maintenance.
Having records and documentation of all RV maintenance is not only beneficial for you, but when the time comes to sell or trade-in your RV, this can be a great bargaining chip!
It’s easy to put off maintenance until the next trip, but making it a routine and using helpful tools like RV LIFE Maintenance will ensure it is done on time and nothing is missed!