How to adjust an electric RV awning

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Having an RV is a wonderful way to experience the great outdoors in comfort. You can spend the whole day in a forest, canyon, or anywhere in between, and when it's time to get some shut-eye, you have a home to return to with air conditioning, running water, and a soft warm bed. 

Sometimes, you don’t even need to go far from your RV to experience what nature has to offer. It can just be nice to sit outside and breathe in the fresh air, sip some iced tea or lemonade in a lawn chair, maybe even have a cookout with family or friends— and that is where the electric awning comes in. 

Sheltering you from the sun and rain, these humble pieces of canvas on mechanical arms can turn the outside of your RV into a nice patio space. However, like other parts of your RV, the awning won’t always work perfectly. 

We’re here to walk you through how to adjust your RV’s electric awning if it gets misaligned, so you can have it made in the shade.


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Diagnosing what’s wrong with your RV awning

As great as awnings are, there are several different things that can go wrong with them. Two of the most common issues are misaligned arms and wobbly movement when extending or retracting. 

The arms can get misaligned for a variety of reasons, such as strong winds, heavy rain, hail, or something as simple as someone bumping into it too hard. 

You should first make sure that the metal arm(s) aren’t bent out of shape. If that is the case, you might need some professional help since hitting it back into place with a mallet might cause even more damage to the arms or motor. 

Motor damage can actually be the cause of a wobbly arm system as well. If you’re experiencing this problem and the arm seems to buck and wobble while extending or retracting, one of the first places you should look is the fitting between the motor and the outer bar of the awning. That fitting will typically have two screws that can get loose, so this should be one of the first places you look. 

We’ll go over some of the basic DIY solutions you can do if you recognize one of these problems.


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How to fix a misaligned awning arm

One of the most common problems with an RV awning is arm misalignment, which can make it look crooked when extended or not sit properly when retracted.

If you look at your awning and the extending arms aren’t perpendicular to the wall of the RV or the outer arm doesn’t line up with the railing that holds the inner arm and the track for the wheels when retracted, it is likely an alignment issue.

Luckily, this is a fairly easy fix. The problem is typically caused by the fabric stretching or wearing down over time. 

  1. With the awning open and unfurled, look to the railing holding the fabric in place at the RV end of the awning. There should be screws near the edges of the fabric, affixing it to the railing. 

  2. Once you’ve found these, you can unscrew these and freely adjust the fabric. There will be tension in the awning since it is fully extended, so be careful not to yank too hard as you’re working. 

  3. As you move the fabric over little by little, you should notice the arms also moving to the side. You can use this method to set the arms back into their proper track and square them up with the railing. 

  4. You will have to screw the awning’s canvas back into the railing before retracting it to its closed position to make sure that it is properly lined up. 

If everything looks adjusted, then congratulations, you’ve properly adjusted your electric RV awning! If it still isn’t lined up, then you should try this method again, opening up your awning and unscrewing the fabric from the railing and readjusting it until everything looks right.


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How to fix a wobbly awning arm

As mentioned earlier, if your awning starts to wobble side to side or buck up and down while it is moving, then you’ll want to check the motor or its fitting. 

The fitting will typically be a piece of plastic or metal that is attached on one side to the drive shaft of the awning’s electric motor, and the other side screwed in around the bar that the canvas winds around. If you notice that the fitting looks loose or can be easily jiggled by hand, tighten up the screws connecting the two. Be careful not to overtighten, as most of these materials will either be plastic or aluminum and can be broken or misshapen fairly easily.

If this doesn’t do the trick, you should make sure none of the arm mechanisms have any loose screws. This would likely cause drooping that you would notice first, but might also disrupt the motion of the awning. 

Finally, if it is neither of those issues, you can unscrew the casing that protects the motor. Inside, you will find the motor attached to the arm of the awning with screws or welded on. If it is screwed on, tightening those screws should keep the arm steady and prevent that wobbling. 

If the awning is still wobbly, or the motor is welded on, you might have to look for more professional expertise.

Spend the day in the shade

Awnings can be a great addition to your RV, and the convenience of an electric motor can turn a two-person job with heavy lifting into a one-person job with just the press of a button. If your RV has an awning, keeping it properly maintained is key to keeping it shady. If something does go amiss, troubleshoot with the tips outlined in this article.

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