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How to Prevent RV Slide Out Problems

Owning an RV can be plenty of fun, but it can also be a huge responsibility. The price tag that comes along with RV issues is often quite hefty. When your unit malfunctions, it can be difficult to spot what’s wrong without the help of a professional. The best way to avoid the headaches that come along with owning an RV is to focus on preventing issues before they occur.

RV slide out problems are one of the most common mechanical malfunctions in RVs. When your RV doesn’t slide out, there isn’t much you can do to save your camping trip. Although problematic, RV slides are almost always necessary. Without their ability to create extra width inside your camper, your vacations would be pretty cramped. RV slide out problems are common, so we gathered some info on how they happen and what you can do to prevent them.

Assess and Prevent RV Slide Out Problems

How RV Slide Outs Work

RV slide outs have become an industry standard for almost every type of unit — motorized and towable. Since the late 90’s, almost every RV has included at least one slide to increase the livable space on the inside of your camper. There are different types of RV slide outs, but most use electric motors or hydraulics to operate.

Electric RV slide outs use a rack and pinion, or pulley and cable, system powered by an electric motor. The motor spins a shaft or pinion which moves the slide in one direction, and adding a gear allows it to slide in the opposite direction. The electric motor uses a 12-volt DC power, which runs directly off the main house battery.  This makes them usable when you’re not plugged into a power source at the campground.

RV slide out extended on a travel trailer parked in the woods.

Though less common, some RV slide outs use pull and cable systems. Others use the well-known Schwintek slides. Finally, though very rare, a few units are equipped with the power gear slide out system. The rack and pinion, however, is by far the most common slide out system, so that’s what we’re focusing on today.

Common Problems

The top five reasons for a slide out malfunction are lubrication issues, motor burnout, power issues, foreign objects and leaks. Some are easily treatable on your own, but others will need professional attention from RV service technicians.

Lubrication Issues

Likely the most common slide out problem, a lack of proper lubrication results in your RV slide having issues smoothly moving in and out. This is often an easy fix with a lubricating product like WD-40’s RVcare line, which we’ll discuss later. Be careful not to force a slide that needs lubrication as you can damage the rail system and make the situation much worse.

Motor Burnout & Power Issues

Another common culprit, motor burnout occurs when the motor that moved the slide in and out stops functioning. Somewhat similarly, power issues occur when your slide out can’t pull power from your RV, or your RV isn’t properly connected to a power source. This isn’t as easy to fix on your own, so you’re better off scheduling an RV service appointment for professional help.

Other Issues

Finally, leaks and foreign objects will prevent your RV slide out from functioning properly. Anything blocking the slides or interfering with their movement can cause slide out issues. It’s best to assess the situation and then decide if you need to call a professional. If you aren’t confident that you can repair the leak or remove the object, it’s probably best to find an RV technician. You may end up making the issue worse, which will only drive up the cost of a fix.

Manual RV Slide Out Overrides

If you’re stranded at a campground with a stuck RV slide out, consider manually moving the slide in or out. Your RV should come with an owner’s manual, which has more unit-specific instructions on manually moving a slide out.

Start by finding the slide out motor, often below the slide out room. Remove the brake assembly from the motor by unscrewing it. Find the crank extension and attach it to the crank handle that comes with the trailer. If you don’t have the crank handle. Use a wrench or socket and ratchet. Turn the crank extension by hand to manually move the RV slide out in or out.

After you’ve moved the RV slide out to the desired position, be sure to reattach the brake assembly to the slide out motor. Replace and tighten the screws to prevent the slide out from moving.

Slide Out Problem Prevention

Anything that can be fixed with WD-40 and a Craftsman wrench is approved by Toby Keith, RV parts included. Luckily for RVers, WD-40 has our backs with their 3-in-1 RVcare product line. WD-40’s RVcare Slide-Out Silicone Lube is perfect for preventing, and sometimes treating, slide out problems.

Simply spray the trusted brand of lubricant on the tracks and your slide out will be moving smoothly. WD-40 RVcare also makes Window and Track Dry Lube, which helps prevent messes and works well on RV window tracks, or other interior slides. Both products are a great way to lubricate your RV after long, stationary months in winter storage.

RV slide outs move with simple rack and pinion technology. Overall, troubleshooting and preventing RV slide out problems doesn’t have to be complicated. Follow our advice to keep your unit functioning well and save yourself a few headaches and canceled vacations. If you have no choice, manually moving your RV slide out is an option, though difficult.

If you continue to have RV slide out problems, bring your unit by Juniata Valley RV. Our friendly and experienced service staff can assess the issue and make the repairs that get you back on the road as soon as possible. If you’re ready to make a change, our sales staff would be happy to help you find a new or used RV ready to leave the lot today. Stop by our Mifflintown, Pennsylvania, location, contact us online or give us a call today if you have any questions about our RV sales or service.

Begin Your Adventure

How to Set an RV Trip Budget

No vacation is truly planned without a written RV trip budget. Before you tow your trailer or drive your motorhome to the campground, you need to plan out how much you expect to spend. Overspending on an RV road trip, or any vacation, is all too easy. There’s nothing worse than coming home with an empty wallet and a new load of stress on your shoulders. You should come back from the campground feeling relaxed and refreshed! Once you know what vacation you can afford and how much you plan to pay, you can travel with confidence.

How to Create and Plan an RV Road Trip Budget

There are a lot of smaller costs to account for when you plan out an RV trip budget. You should set aside about $100 per person (or pet) for circumstances that might not have been considered. This could be anything from a quick doctor’s appointment and pharmacy visit to extra snacks for a fast-growing kid. Most trips will have a few snags or unplanned detours.

A trailer parked at the RV park.

Campground Fees

The easiest part of your RV trip budget is accounting for campground fees. When you schedule your stay, you’ll know exactly how much the campground costs and can mark that down in your budget planner. Campgrounds can cost anywhere from $15 to $150 or more per night. It all depends on what you’re looking for, the size of your unit, the amenities offered and other campground-to-campground variations.

In addition to renting your campsite, there are other costs to consider. Do you plan on renting a golf cart while you’re there? Or maybe a weeklong bike rental? Some kayaks for the family? All of these should be added into your campground fees budget.


If you’re new to RVing you’ll probably be shocked to realize how much RVers spend on gas. Filling the gas tank can easily send you over budget! Motorhomes of course will cost you quite a bit of cash when it comes to filling the gas tank, their weight makes it difficult for them to be very fuel efficient. Similarly, towing a heavy trailer will burn gas pretty quickly. To make matters more expensive, you normally need a large truck or SUV to tow a travel trailer or fifth wheel. Although many car manufacturers have made significant progress in building large fuel-efficient vehicles, these high tow capacity cars can’t match the gas needs of compact cars.


One of the biggest perks of RV travel is the ability to bring groceries and cook your own food. This is a huge benefit to your overall RV trip budget. You can save money over other forms of vacationing by cooking meals in your RV. Essentially, it’s pretty easy to spend the same amount in groceries that you do any other week. Although, anywhere you travel will have a few must-try food spots. You should plan an extra $20 to $40 per person for eating out while on vacation.

If you’re planning on a small RV trip budget, groceries are the way to go. The most expensive part of cooking at the campsite will be the basics. You’ll need to stock your RV with essential items like cooking oil, salt, pepper and other spices. These can be a pricy initial purchase, but once you have them, they’ll last for many vacations to come.

Activities and Entertainment

Just like those must-try restaurants every city has, there are also must-do activities. The big tourist destinations will often have the biggest price tag attached. The best thing to do when planning an RV trip budget is to decide which activities you’ll attend in advance. That way, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how much these activities will cost overall.

An adult couple eating a home-cooked meal in their RV.

Thankfully for us outdoorsy people, a lot of activities are either cheap or free. State or national park attendance is normally just a few dollars and is charged per group, not per person. If you bring your kayaks or bikes with you, those provide easy, cost-effective entertainment. And of course, there’s always hiking! No outdoor activity is cheaper than taking a walk.

We recommend RV travelers purchase an America the Beautiful pass. This is an annual pass for US National Parks and Federal Recreational Land. It covers park entrance and standard amenity fees. At the time of writing this blog, the annual passes are available to purchase for $80 online.

Though there are plenty of other aspects to consider that can cost a few extra dollars, these are the four biggest categories of an RV trip budget. Once you have these costs planned for, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how much to expect to spend. You can always save money while camping by checking out these dollar store camping hacks. Whatever your overall budget looks like, we hope you enjoy the trip!

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