How to Use RV Slide Outs

Published on January 25th, 2021

Slide outs are among the best things to ever happen to RVs. These nifty additions add tons of space to your rig without adding length. They also open up the interior of your motorhome or trailer, making it feel less like a tube or box and more like an actual home-on-wheels. 

Yes, there is a lot to love about RV slide outs. That said, there are also some things you will want to know before using your RV slides, especially since slides tend to have issues with staying on their tracks, as well as leaks. 

In this article, we will discuss the ins and outs of using these awesome room extenders so you can keep yours in tip-top shape for years to come. 

Line of class A RVs with slides

Types of Slide Outs

First, let’s discuss the various types of slides so you can have a better understanding of which type you have and what you can expect from your slides. 

There are three kinds of slides outs:

  1. Electric Slides — The vast majority of modern RVs come equipped with electric slides. These can be moved in and out using an electric motor. These tend to be quite good at their job as long as the slides aren’t overloaded. However, it is also possible to move electric slides manually should the need arise. Be sure you know how to do this before hitting the road!
  2. Hydraulic Slides — Hydraulic slides are less common. They’re usually found in motorhomes and tend to be heavier/larger slides. This is because the hydraulic system used to move these slides is very powerful, making moving the bigger slides a breeze. When an RV has hydraulic slides, only one motor is required to move all of the slides.
  3. Tip Outs — Tip outs aren’t really used in modern RVs. These are attached to the side of the rig using a large hinge that runs across the bottom of the tip out, allowing the extension to literally tip out of the side of the trailer or motorhome. Every tip out we’ve ever seen has been manual, meaning there are no motors involved. 

Maintaining Slide Mechanisms

Like every part of an RV, slides do require some maintenance. One of the most important things to keep up with is greasing the slide mechanisms. You can do this using a dry silicone spray in order to prevent mess while still keeping things running smoothly. Be sure to do this at least once a month during camping season—more often if you move the slide in and out on a regular basis. 

Booking a Site with Slide Outs

One thing you will want to consider when traveling with an RV with slide outs is the amount of space you’ll need when parked. Unlike slide-less rigs, which are almost all identical except in terms of width, an RV with slide outs will need wider campsites. This is especially true if your RV happens to have opposing slides, as this will mean added girth on both sides of the rig. 

Supporting Your Slide Outs

Slides are heavy. In fact, some can weigh as much as a ton. That is a lot of weight, and when people are in the slide room, the amount of weight only increases. For this reason, many RVers choose to put supports under their slide outs. 

Generally speaking, this extra support isn’t really necessary. RV slides are manufactured with the weight of the furniture and people inside the slide room in mind. That said, if you’ll be sitting in one place with your slides out for a long period of time you may notice sagging and want to add some support. 

Wondering how you might add support under your RV slides? We recommend using steel stabilizers that are made for just this purpose. That said, it is important to note that many RV warranties will be void if stabilizers are used, so you will want to carefully consider your options. 

Fifth wheel with slides

Preventing Leaks in a Slide

As mentioned above, RV slides are extremely prone to leaking. The rubber seals that keep air and water out when the slides are open tend to become brittle, causing cracks and a poor seal. This means water can get in, a problem that isn’t always detected before serious damage occurs. 

To delay this issue a bit, consider using rubber seal conditioner to help prevent deterioration. A slide topper can help as well. Additionally, you’ll want to keep an eye on the seal and replace it at the first sign of damage. 

Controlling the Temperature in a Slide

Another common problem folks with slides run into is the lack of insulation in these slide rooms. These little spaces are so poorly insulated that stepping into a slide room might feel noticeably warmer or cooler than the rest of the rig. 

Obviously, this is a real big problem, especially if you tend to camp in extreme temperatures often. Fortunately, there are steps you can take that will help:

  • As mentioned above, slide toppers help keep rain off the slide roofs and thus prevent leaks. They also help retain heat in the winter and reflect sunlight away from the rig in winter. 
  • RV skirting can be extremely helpful in winter. It traps heat under the rig, helping keep things warm and ensuring your water system doesn’t freeze. 
  • Reflectix in the windows of each slide will also help add a layer of insulation. 
  • Many people find that putting a rug down on the slide room floor can help keep their feet warm in the cold winter months. 

As you can see, RV slide outs do require a bit of extra effort on your part. That said, we think they are well worth the work, especially if you spend extended amounts of time in your home-on-wheels. 

Not sure if a slide out is for you? Why not try renting an RV with slides to see how you like them?

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