Every RV owner should own a basic tool set. Whether your fingers have the experience of a master mechanic or they have never touched a bit of grease, eventually you will get your hands dirty with your travel trailer. If your slide out won’t go back in, that day might just be today. Let’s go over how to solve this common issue.
How To Fix A Stuck Slide Out
Step one is to attempt to determine the cause of the issue. With that goal in mind, I have put together a simple checklist that will hopefully help you save a bit of time and money. More often than not, the problem ends up being something simple that can be solved by your average layman. However, even if you can not fix the issue yourself, running through this checklist is a good idea. RV Mechanics are not cheap, and figuring out the cause of the issue might save an hour or two of the mechanics very expensive time.
Slide Out Troubleshooting Checklist
Let’s start with the simple and easy to test causes before moving onto the more complicated items
Whether hydraulic or electric, your slide out compartment will require power from the RV battery. If pressing the switch doesn’t trigger any sound or movement, the electrical system will be the right place to start testing.
RV camping can easily drain your batteries, and eventually batteries get old and just need to be replaced. I said that we’d start out simple and easy, and I wasn’t kidding. A poorly performing battery at the end of its lifespan can be the cause of a failure to retract the compartment. Try to start the RV. If you can, then your battery’s charge probably isn’t the issue.
If it doesn’t start, check the battery terminals for corrosion from a build up of electrolyte leakage. This type of corrosion takes the appearance of white and blue gunk, and enough of it can sever the connection between the battery and the RV. You can clean this up with some baking soda to neutralize the acid, water to use as a solvent, and a wire brush for scrubbing.
As far as the electrical connections are concerned, you should start with the RV’s fuse box. Its manual should have a diagram, so you can easily determine the correct fuse. If you find a burnt out fuse, then you will just need to replace it with an appropriately rated fuse. Be aware that the fuse was designed to break to prevent electrical damage to the slide out, so don’t replace it with a fuse rated for a more powerful voltage. A burnt fuse can be an indication of a larger problem. If the new fuse breaks, you should seek out an RV mechanic to take a look at the hardware.
3. JST Connector
The compartment and its motor are connected by a JST power cord. Here are a couple of pictures in case you need to know what they look like (male, female connectors). Occasionally, the male and female ends of these cords are yanked apart when the compartment extends outward. It’s not a complicated issue. Although, it can sometimes be a struggle to get those connectors back into place because they are usually difficult to access.
4. Chewed Wiring
You should check the wiring, first at the end points since most issues happen there, but check the entire line. Rodents frequently sharpen their teeth by chewing on wires and tubes, so every part of the wire has the potential to be damaged.
5. Bad Switch
It isn’t common, but the switches that control the compartment can sometimes go bad. If you have multiple slide outs and only one of them is unresponsive, test to see if the switch has gone bad by popping off a couple of the switches and swapping their places. If it fixes the issue for by one by giving it to the other, you will know that you just need to replace an inexpensive switch.
6. Slide Out Obstructions
Check the path of the compartment. Small objects can stop the whole production if they get lodged in the track or gears and prevent the RV’s compartment from returning to its retracted state. It is by design that the motor stops if it encounters too much physical resistance. Of course, bigger objects can be a problem too, but you would likely have already come across the offending item before coming to this page. It should be obvious if the motor is having trouble, so check for objects if you hear any straining noises or it just stops part way during the retraction process.
7. Slide Out Alignment
These compartments very rarely go out of alignment, but it can happen. If this is the case, you will likely see evidence of physical damage or the compartment will not be parallel with the rv.
If the compartments mechanisms seem fine but it still seems off, it might not be the compartment that is misaligned but the RV’s chassis that needs the adjustment. That is a more serious issue and will need to be addressed by a trained mechanic.
8. Slide Out Locks
If you have never heard of a slide out lock, they are extendable bars that hold the top of the compartment firmly in place. Without these locks, the mechanical components hold the lower portion of the compartment in place, but the top half usually isn’t as snug. The lock corrects this and is considered to be a smart purchase that can improve the durability of the compartment’s seals. They are also safety precautions that prevent the slide out from sliding out on the freeway. It’s easy to forget when you have one of these locks in place since they are often out of sight. The downside is that they are super easy to forget since they are usually out of sight.
9. Hydraulic Leak
If your RV has a hydraulic system, you might want to check the reservoir of hydraulic fluid. Sometimes these systems can spring leaks due to the high pressure that pushes against whatever the weakest point happens to be. If the fluid is low, you will need to do some investigating; look for puddles. A Google search could help you find the source of the leak because most models share common weak points.
10. Manual Override
If all else fails, slide outs, whether hydraulic or electric, have manual overrides in case of mechanical failures. You will likely need to disengage the brake assembly in order to move the slide out. Look in your owner’s manual to find out the location of the manual override, brake assembly, and any tools needed. The only challenging part might be locating the brake assembly which you will likely need to disable in order to move the unit. If you don’t have the manual, don’t worry. It probably won’t be difficult to spot the override and most RVs only need a screwdriver for the brake assembly and a crank handle or a wrench to retract the unit.
11. Motor Failure
The bell tolls for all electronics eventually, and these little motors are not an exception. If all else fails, you might need to buy a new motor for your slide out and enlist the help of your favorite RV technician.
Conclusion On Slide Out Closing Problems
It might be a bit frustrating, but as RV owners, we know that this is part of the life that we have chosen to enjoy. Take a moment to relax and then attempt to solve the slide out problem by going through each of the potential causes above.
I am a well traveled Marine Corps veteran that enjoys the outdoor and nomadic lifestyle that RV living provides. I am also a member of the National RV Inspectors Association (NRVIA.org). As the founder of Camperguide.org my goal is to provide you with well researched information so that you can enjoy the best of the RV lifestyle.