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Are RV Slide-Outs Worth The Extra Space, Or Do They Just Cause More Problems?

RV slide out

Are RV Slide-Outs Worth The Extra Hassle?

There’s a growing debate within the RV community that’s causing a bit of a divide. It’s not about the best brand of RV or the most ideal size of the vehicle. Instead, it revolves around one particular feature that’s become increasingly common in many modern RVs: slide-outs.

On one hand, proponents of slide-outs hail them as game-changers, providing a much-needed expansion of the living area and adding an element of home-like comfort to their mobile lifestyle. These extensions can create more room in the kitchen, living area, bedroom, or even bathroom, making the RV feel less cramped and more like a spacious home on wheels.

However, there are those who argue that slide-outs come with their own set of problems. Slide-outs can lead to a host of mechanical issues, add to the maintenance requirements, and even limit the usability of the RV when they’re in the retracted position during travel.

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So, do slide-outs genuinely offer the benefits of more space and comfort? Or do they just create more problems than they’re worth? In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons of slide-outs to help you make a well-informed decision for your own RV lifestyle. 

What is an RV slide-out?

  • An RV slide-out, sometimes referred to as a slide or pop out, is a section of the RV that can extend outward to create additional living space.
  • They are typically located in the living room, kitchen, or bedroom areas.
  • Depending on the RV model, you can operate slide-outs manually or by pushing a button.

How do RV slide-outs work?

  • RV slide-outs work on a mechanism that involves electric motors or hydraulic systems.
  • The mechanism pushes the slide-out outward from the main body of the RV.
  • When retracted, the slide-out fits snugly into the RV, appearing as a part of the wall.

Pros and cons of RV slide-outs

Pros

  1. Increased space: Slide-outs can significantly expand the interior living space of an RV, making the space feel less cramped and more comfortable, especially during extended trips or full-time living.
  2. Enhanced floor plans: The additional space allows for more diverse and creative floor plans, including extra sleeping areas, larger kitchens, or even a dedicated dining area.
  3. Increased resale value: RVs with slide-outs often have a higher resale value, as many buyers are looking for the extra space and amenities they provide.
  4. Greater comfort: More space means more comfort. Slide-outs allow for larger beds, more room to move around, and the ability to accommodate more people comfortably.
  5. Feeling of home: With the extra room for amenities and the ability to have separate rooms, an RV with slide-outs can feel more like a home than a vehicle, enhancing the overall living experience.

Cons

  1. Potential for mechanical problems: Slide-outs are mechanical devices, and like all such devices, they can break down or malfunction, leaving you with a costly repair bill.
  2. Increased maintenance: Slide-outs require regular maintenance to keep the seals, rollers, and mechanical parts in good working condition.
  3. Weight and fuel efficiency: Slide-outs add significant weight to an RV, which can reduce fuel efficiency and may require a more powerful (and more expensive) vehicle to tow if you have a towable RV.
  4. Limitations on use: In some cases, the interior of the RV can be difficult to use or navigate when the slides are in. For example, access to the bed or bathroom may be restricted, which can be inconvenient when stopping during travel or if staying in a location where extending the slides isn’t possible.
  5. Potential for leaks: If not properly maintained and sealed, slide-outs can be a point of water ingress, leading to damaging leaks within the RV.

Maintenance of RV slide-outs

Maintaining your RV slide-outs is an integral part of preserving your mobile home’s functionality and longevity. Regular upkeep can prevent mechanical issues, enhance performance, and ensure a comfortable living space during your travels.

Here are a few essential tasks to keep your slide-outs in top shape:

  • Regularly inspect the seals: The seals of the slide-out should be checked regularly for any signs of wear and tear. If not addressed, damaged seals can lead to water leaks.
  • Lubricate the slide-out rails: The rails on which the slide-out moves should be lubricated regularly to ensure smooth operation.
  • Keep the slide-out clean: Debris or dirt can hinder the movement of the slide-out. Regular cleaning can prevent this issue.
  • Check for any obstructions: Before operating the slide-out, always check for any obstructions. This can prevent damage to the slide-out mechanism.
  • Regular professional inspection: While regular self-inspection and maintenance are crucial, having your RV and its slide-out inspected by a professional annually is recommended.

Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool such as RV LIFE Maintenance. Not only can you keep all of your documents in one place, but you’ll also receive timely reminders when maintenance is due to help you avoid costly repairs and potentially serious accidents. 

Conclusion

RV slide-outs are a fantastic feature that significantly enhance the comfort and functionality of your RV. Understanding their operation and ensuring regular maintenance can prolong their lifespan and keep them functioning optimally. Regular inspections, lubrication, and cleaning are key to maintaining your RV’s slide-out, ensuring many years of trouble-free use and enjoyment.

However, as with any feature, RV slide-outs might not be the perfect fit for everyone. They require a certain level of commitment in terms of upkeep and attention to detail. For those who prefer a more simple and straightforward RV experience, the additional maintenance tasks and potential mechanical issues associated with slide-outs may seem like unnecessary complications. Also, there are trade-offs like added weight and potential for leaks to consider.

It’s essential to balance the benefits of added space and comfort against these factors when deciding if an RV with slide-outs is right for you. Carefully considering your RVing lifestyle, travel preferences, and comfort needs will help guide you to the right decision. As always, making an informed choice that suits your personal needs and preferences is the most critical part of selecting the right RV for you.

Get tips from other RVers

Forums such as iRV2.com and blog sites like RV LIFE, Do It Yourself RV, and Camper Report provide all the information you need to enjoy your RV. You’ll also find brand-specific information on additional forums like Air Forums, Forest River Forums, and Jayco Owners Forum.

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9 thoughts on “Are RV Slide-Outs Worth The Extra Space, Or Do They Just Cause More Problems?”

  1. I/we have been camping since 1961 and in that time we have had every kind of camper to include a tent in the early days. That was before slide outs were available and never in tents. in the 90’s we started buying RV with slide outs and never had a problem yet. We thank God for that! We bought large trailers, pull and 5th wheels truck campers motor homes and all had slid out with not problems. The one thing that I do is the maintains before it is needed. We did off road and campgrounds without any problem. The one thing that I learn that is more important is the roof that can and will cause leak problems, so check it out often and keep up with the sealing of doors and windows. I am currently looking into buy a newer motor home and it will have at least one slide out. They ass room and comfort to the RV. Just take care of it and enjoy the slide. They all are just a push of a button!

  2. I bought my RV in 2009. I knew I didn’t want any slide outs as there is just potential for additional problems.
    I consider my RV nothing more than a glorified tent. Nothing fancy, just the necessities. If my wife goes with me there is still adequate room for both of us.

  3. In 2014, I bought a new newmar, grand canyon, 39′ gas model. It had 3 slides, & in the first 8 months of ownership, 3 slides had broken! I spent more down time than up time!
    I traded it in for a Thor. I lost $100,000.00 on that coach in one year!– needless to say, I have to this day, a very strong dislike for newmar, & slides!!—

  4. My neighbor was lamenting about having to repair all three of their slides on his later model Class A. It cost he and his wife many, many thousands of dollars and also tremendous inconvenience since 2 of 3 occurred while they were on the road.

    “Did I tell you about all the trouble I have had with the slides on my RV?” I asked.

    After a pregnant pause he looked at me quizzically, then said “Your RV doesn’t have any slides.”

    “Exactly!”

  5. I think the pros and cons of slides are contingent on what folks seek from their RV lifestyle. The person that enjoys extended stays at a location probably enjoys the added real estate a bit more than perhaps the nomad who values simplicity and quick dispersal. The camper who seeks ruggedness for isolated boon-docking would probably forego slides to reduce the risk of damage from off-road travel. Conversely, the coach owner who never leaves the pavement would be inconsolable absent multiple slides.

    For me, they’re a bit restrictive on the road but since I’m parked more than I drive, I consider the infrequent compression from slides a reasonable compromise to the additional space once we’re spread out.

  6. For a retired couple it is easier not to have a slide out. It would be too much trouble for older people to work with it and there would be no reason to have more space. We have a non-slide out 28 footer and turned the extra bed space into closet space. We have a F-550 4wheel drive to pull it anywhere we want.

  7. My Dutch Star is now 23 yrs old. Never a problem with a slide out. The tapered cog wheel system is extremely dependable. And the large living room slide makes a huge difference in livability and comfort. But still quite livable when in, but sure feels good to get it out.

  8. After having numerous problems with slides my first couple years of full-time RVing, I decided I’ll never buy an RV with slides again. Not worth the hassle. However, fast-forward and now I’m in the next phase of RV life and I’ve changed from full-timer to part-timer/snowbird. I bought some land up north to stay on during the warmer months so I’m looking for a rig that will probably sit in the same spot year-round. For this situation I actually prefer slides as it’ll give me extra comfort and the slide mechanism won’t be subject to the same wear and tear as if I were still traveling all the time. So I think it depends a lot on your lifestyle.

  9. Hete is a RV slide out problem that you should also be aware of. If items mounted below the slide out area of the RV floor develop problems, you may have to remove & reinstall the slide out to perform any needed repairs. It is a very expensive procedure from my experience.

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