Many, if not most, of today’s recreational vehicles come equipped with at least one slideout room. Although these add much-needed floor space, it is also important to bear in mind the added maintenance required to keep the slide rooms working reliably and properly. Slide rooms come in many different sizes, but it is important to understand that regardless of how large the slideout is, the operating mechanism is doing a significant amount of work whenever the slide is extended or retracted. Therefore, even though the systems are inherently reliable, they do require regular attention.
Aside from other mechanical breakdown that may occur with slideouts, there are two main areas of “common” failure, which are misalignment and leaks. Although these seem like small problems to resolve, I strongly recommend having all slide issues, whether they are deemed minor or major, identified and repaired by a certified RV repair facility. Even minor slide adjustments can lead to additional problems, and even coach damage, if not properly performed.
Slide misalignment can occur for a variety of reasons and, depending on the severity, the symptoms range from minor water leaks to damage caused by binding. When adjusting a misaligned slide, two primary steps must be undertaken, and these must be done expertly and carefully to avoid further damage. The first step is to identify the cause of the misalignment. This is best left to a professional RV technician, as slide mechanisms consist of several components working together, and identifying the point of failure is rarely straightforward, even for the savviest RV owner. The second step is obviously to correct the misalignment. Slide misalignment can occur along any axis, and the adjustments vary accordingly. While adjusting the slide, there is significant risk of over-compensating, possibly resulting in binding between the slide room and the sidewall of the RV. Binding can become so severe as to seize the slideout and possibly damage the RV. Over-adjusting is fairly common, especially among RV owners who attempt to perform their own adjustment. In reality, even among RV service centers, it is common for some RV technicians to specialize in slideout repair, and some to never touch them due to the complexity of the systems, and specialized training is often undertaken.
Slideout leaks are usually caused by misalignment, but may also be due to worn or damaged seals. Slideout rooms incorporate a variety of different seal types, which prevent the slide from leaking when both extended and retracted. If you notice a leak in the area of your slideout, it is advisable to attempt to identify the exact location of the leak and provide this information to your local service dealer. Slide room leaks and misalignment tend to be related, and both can be easily remedied by your local service shop, so you should certainly report any slide issues to your local dealership immediately, as waiting is bound to make the problem worse, and more expensive.
In terms of regular maintenance, be sure to regularly lubricate the slide mechanism with specially formulated slideout lubricant available from your local RV supply outlet. Spray all external parts of the mechanism, but be sure not to get any spray on rollers or other components that contact flooring, tile, or carpet. If your slide room is hydraulic, ensure the reservoir is always full and that there are no hydraulic leaks. Perform other maintenance as indicated in your owner’s manual. When it comes to slide rooms, maintenance is the key to avoiding expensive repair.
About the Author:
Steve Froese, an avid RV owner, traveler, and Coach-Net member since 2013, is the principal of “A Word to the Wise Technical Communications”, a published RV author, certified RV technician, and licensed Professional Engineer. He frequently collaborates with the “RV Doctor”, Gary Bunzer, and has worked with the RVIA/RVDA as a technical and training writer and consultant. Professionally, he works as a quality engineer and musician. Watch for more of Steve’s work in upcoming Coach-Net publications.