RV Doctor – Jammed Slideouts

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January 19, 2009

Dear RV Doctor,

I own an RV with three slides. The large slide in the living area just stopped working. When you try to open the unit all the other slides open but the large one gets about half way out and gets stuck on the side the hydraulic cylinder is on. It is trying to open but the other side will jam. I have done everything I can think of. Can you give me any advice?

–Jerry Griffin, (Moody, AL)

Answer:

Jerry, always begin by checking for any items that may be preventing the slideout from physical movement. This can include items jammed between the inner RV wall and the slideout fascia or between the slideout and main floor. Look also for a possible damaged spring on the slideout awning resulting in excessive tension at one end of the slide. Choose a troubleshooting tact once you have eliminated any physical obstruction, but realize that troubleshooting slide mechanisms typically mandates detailed, visual inspections and is truly dependent on the brand and model of the slide mechanism employed. That was a big mouthful that basically states there are so many variables involved with slideout mechanisms.

Without a visual reference, I’m just guessing, but in some shops, that in itself is called troubleshooting! In your case, however, I’d first suspect the mechanism that keeps the slideout tracking on a straight path. Something is either causing it to canter or jam part way out. It could be a matter of a simple adjustment to get the alignment back in place.

A basic hydraulic system may include a hydraulic cylinder at one end of the slide and two steel tubes, one at each end, keeping the slideout running straight while supporting the weight of the room. In some designs, these tubes have geared teeth on them that are synchronized together by two small pinion gears coupled together by a long shaft. These gears may be hidden under the main underbelly of the coach. I suspect that either the shaft that connects the two gears has failed. Possibly the pins locking them to the gears have sheared off. It is also possible, but less likely, that one of the gears is broken. This assembly may not be visible without removing some components for inspection. If this is the cause, it may also have resulted in the slideout being out of alignment or crooked when it is fully retracted.

It is highly recommended that you seek assistance from a qualified RV repair facility to find the source of this problem. The steps required to properly repair and adjust a slideout are highly specialized and any incorrect or excessive adjustments could easily result in severe slideout damage, jamming or binding.

(Please feel free to comment, however, please also note that due to the volume of communications I receive from multiple channels I cannot guarantee a personal response in every instance. However, questions of an overall general interest may be considered and published in an upcoming RV Doctor column.)

Leave a Reply

340 comments

  1. DA

    How do you take an RV with a broken slideout to a repair shop by driving it on a road if it is stuck in the open position? I know in this case, the slideout can close, but what if it can’t close? What then?

  2. John Shelton

    DA, heaven forbid any of us having to do this, but there are on-site RV repair shops available to most areas. One may be quite a number of miles away and there would be a mileage fee (sometimes as much as a few dollars per mile) plus repair cost; but at least that is an option if there is no better option available. It also would usually be able to be towed to a repair facility by a wrecker service who would have to obtain oversize load permits, prior to movement (again, a costly option costing some number of dollars per mile) . Usually though, there would be better options available.

    Perhaps this eventuality is not written about very much because it does not make for pleasant reading or create pleasant thoughts.

  3. STAN SMITH

    DA, I, TOO HAVE HAD SLIDE PROBLEMS, ALONG WITH MANY OTHER VERY
    EXPENSIVE “FIXES”, IF ACCOMPLISHED BY THE SHOPS. i MAKE IT A POINT TO KNOW WHAT’S WRONG, BEFORE CALLING IN THE “PROS”. IF I THINK MY MECHANICAL ABILITIES, OR IF THE CASE MAY BE, ELECTRICAL ABILITIES, AND IF I HAVE THE TOOLS TO ACCOMPLISH THE TASK, I AT LEAST GIVE IT A TRY. I ESTIMATE THAT I’VE SAVE AT LEAST $200O. IN THE LAST YEAR, JUST BY “LOOKING”. MOST OF THE TIME, IT’S JUST PLAIN COMMON SENSE.
    SLIDES…………………BROKEN PIN IN THE DRIVE SHAFT. VACUUM PUMP (TOILET)……………..PUMP WAS CALCIFIED, REQUIRING CLEANING. LEVELERS…….LOAD HAD BUMPED INTO THE BOX UNDERNEATH, IN THE BAGGAGE SPACES, KNOCKING A PIN LOOSE………….ETC. ETC. ETC
    ALL OF THESE “PROBLEMS” WERE CURED BY MYSELF, USING GOOD OLD
    COMMON SENSE, AND A BIT OF CURIOUSITY, THROWN IN.

    “TRAVELER”

  4. Gary

    DA…..virtually all slideout mechanisms will have a manual override whereby, even if the electric or hydraulics go out, there is still a manual way of cranking in the slide room. Some are not so obvious by design, but if it ever happens, a call to the manufacturer should be the first order of business.

    And John is correct. Most of the popular destinations or RV areas will have coverage by a mobile RV service technician if necessary.

    Gary

  5. Sid Burklund

    Great article! We are on our second 5th wheeler and have as yet no problems with the slides.
    Your article and Stan’s advice give me some comfort should we (knock on wood) have future problems.

  6. Darryl stein

    Nobody has mentioned the coach being up on the air bags, not stresed trying to be level. The hole the slide goes into can be out of square if the levelers are making the hole out of square

  7. DA

    You all have given great ideas and helps. Thank you for the words of encouragement and wisdom! DA

  8. Curt

    I have a problem with de-lamination on the front cap of a 5’er TB. Looking at $3500 to $5000 for a fix! Does anyone know of a better or cheaper fix? (A spray on or replacement fix) I know that water is the problem and I’m still looking for the leak on the roof-haven’t found it yet, but will-any help please.

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