Slide rooms, slide-outs, room extensions, bump-outs, whatever you want to call them have “expanded” the interior space for RVs since the early years of the travel trailers in the 1970s and into the larger trailers with NewMar and the motorized in the mid-1990s. When I was at Winnebago Industries we introduced the first slide room in an Itasca Suncruiser in 1996 and the wide-body (102.5”) in the Winnebago Adventurer. At that time the only slide mechanisms available were the HWH hydraulic version with slide-out rams, and the Power Gear used by Fleetwood with hydraulics and a pinion gear mechanism.
Fast forward to 2020 and we now see room extensions in just about every RV and a variety of power systems and mechanisms! A couple of years ago I talked with my contact at Winnebago about the problems owners were having with their slide rooms and he indicated that Lippert Componets Inc (LCI) has purchased almost every slide mechanism company such as Power Gear, Schwintek, Kwikee, and also have their own systems. So the biggest challenge is identifying what system you have and there could be several in your rig!
Leveling Your Rig
I have discussed this with every slide mechanism manufacturer and they all agree…level your rig and stabilize it before extending the slide rooms! If the rig is out of level, the chassis will twist and the sidewall will twist and the room will not be able to extend without some resistance.
Check Your Battery Voltage
Most slide room mechanisms operate on the 12-volt house batteries and there is a very huge issue with sulfated or weak batteries. You can check out our other articles on proper battery charging/conditioning, however, it’s a good idea to carry a portable battery charger that you can use to get your slide room and leveling jacks retracted in the case of an emergency. If your batteries are weak or sulfated, they may run some basic functions, but when it comes to a major amp draw to bring the slide room in or out, they may not be up to the task. Hook up a portable charger/booster and you might be able to provide enough power to extend or retract the room. Even if your batteries show a 12.6-volt charge with a multimeter, they could be sulfated enough to not provide enough power to extend or retract the room. This can be verified with the same multimeter on the battery at the time of operation which would show the voltage drop during the “draw”.
Most of the major slide mechanism manufacturers have troubleshooting guides available, it’s just a manor of understanding what mechanism you have. If it’s a cable slide used mostly in the bedroom slides, it’s probably a BAL Acuslide or LCI and the motor is located inside above the room with cables and pulleys. This is an easy system to troubleshoot as the points are the motor, cables, and pulleys.
Troubleshooting Schwintek Slide Mechanism
The Schwintek slide has small motors in the walls of the rig on each side that run the room out on a rail of teeth. There are two issues with this slide, make sure the motor is working and the rail is aligned with the teeth of the motor. Pull back the rubber seal and you should be able to see the motor and the “gibbs” above and below the rail. Lippert Components Inc (LCI) which owns the Schwintek brand recommends lubricating the motor coupler and gibbs with CRC power Lube. Check your owner’s manual for specific locations.
If your slide room does not operate, verify proper voltage from the house batteries. Try using a battery charger to “boost” the batteries during mechanism operation. Also verify there is nothing restricting the room such as items along the side or something underneath the room. The room typically moves in and out on rollers. Check to make sure they are not jammed or broken.
There are several troubleshooting methods outlined in the owner’s manual such as verifying voltage to the motors, checking resistance at the motor and others. You can manually retract the slide room by over riding the control module or in a worst case scenario, removing the motors and manually retracting the slide room.
Hydraulic Slide Room Troubleshooting
Lippert Components Incorporated (LCI) owns the majority of slide room mechanisms having purchased Schwintek, Power Gear, and even Kwikee over the years and has an excellent customer service department. If you don’t have an owner’s manual for your slide mechanism, they have them available online and it’s a good idea to have one handy! It’s best to review the troubleshooting tips at your leisure rather than stuck with a nonfunctioning slide room in the middle of your vacation. If your hydraulic mechanism is not working, first check the battery voltage as suggested earlier, then check the fluid reservoir. One of the biggest issues with slide room failure according to my source at one of the largest motorhome manufacturers is ground wires as there are several “gremlins” in the grounded system of rigs. If the motor is not operating, the first thing they do in the service department is run a new dedicated ground rather than spending hours tracing the old one.
Once again, there are some very good troubleshooting tips in the owner’s manual or you can find additional help at www.lci1.com/customerservice or call customer service at 574-537-8900.
If the motor does not operate, verify there is 12v DC power to the back of the switch and to the motor. If there is 12v DC power to the motor and it does not operate, the motor needs to be replaced. You can manually override most hydraulic systems with a hand crank or an appropriate hex or other bit at the motor. In our video demonstration, our unit required a ¼” hex bit had a manual drive knob that could be turned and with the hex bit inserted into the access port, the room could be extended and retracted. Turning the knob allowed the hydraulic fluid to flow the proper direction.
About the author: Dave Solberg: Managing Editor, RV Repair Club
For the last 25 years, Dave has conducted RV maintenance and safety seminars, developed dealer and owner training programs, written RV safety and handyman articles, authored an RV handbook reference guide and logged over 100,000 miles on the road in an RV.
RV Repair Club is your go-to online resource for enthusiasts who want quality RV maintenance, repair and upgrade information – a community where passionate RVers can come together to gather knowledge and share their experiences.
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