How to adjust an RV slide out

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Many RVs come with features that take them to the height of luxury, and we can’t look past one of the best features you might have in yours: the slide-out. Slide-outs expand the usable space in your RV, creating extra room for relaxing, entertaining, and living your day-to-day life on the road.

However, misusing your slide-out can lead to costly damages and repairs that will put a damper on any trip. Learning how to care for and adjust an RV slide-out will help keep it in tip-top shape.

What to know before using your slide-out

Before using your slide-out, be sure to take the following things into consideration.

1. Check with your campground

Slide-outs make more room in your RV and therefore take up more room wherever you’re parked. 

Not all RV campgrounds are okay with this. Depending on where you’re heading out on your adventure, you might want to call ahead to the site you’re staying at and inform them of your plan to use a slide-out. Your campsite might charge you an additional fee for the space you’re taking up, or you might even discover that slide-outs are strictly prohibited where you’re staying. It’s good to be on the same page with the owners of wherever you’re staying to avoid any unwanted surprises.


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2. Know what type of slide-out you have

There are a few different types of slide-outs (electric, hydraulic, and tip-out), and it’s important to know which one your RV has, as this affects how you’ll use it and adjust it. 

Electric slide-outs are the easiest to use, requiring a simple press of a button or flip of a switch to operate. RVs on the larger side might have a hydraulic slide-out which uses a hydraulic pump. 

Tip-out slide-outs are completely manual and have been phased out over the years, so you probably will only have this if your RV is older. These require manual labor to pull out using their hinge. 

3. Take care of hookups first

It’s a good idea to have all your hookups such as electricity, water, and sewer set up before you use your slide-out. 

Adjusting your RV slideout 

We’ll start this off by saying that slideouts vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and from model to model. The only way to figure out exactly what differentiates your slide-out from others is by looking through the manual provided by the manufacturer. 

If anything in there contradicts what we tell you about adjusting your RV slide-out, follow the manual instead. Our advice is designed to be a place to start, but shouldn’t replace the advice given by your manufacturer or dealership.

Furthermore, major adjustments or repairs aren’t recommended for a DIYer. You’ll most likely have to take your RV into a shop so an expert can the adjustment or repairs for you. With that being said, let’s get into what you can do at home to adjust an RV slide-out.


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Maintaining your slide-out tracks

Slide-outs operate by rolling out onto tracks, which means that they have to be properly set on the tracks to function.

If your slide-out doesn’t seem to be aligned in the tracks, it may just require a quick fix. 

You’ll first check out the motor and make sure it’s working properly. This often turns out to be the heart of the issue. Using a screwdriver, remove the motor’s outer door so that you can get into the mechanism inside. There should be a plethora of screws and wires in here, and if any of them are loose, this could be what’s stopping your motor from working right. Sometimes these tend to wriggle free on bumpy roads. Tighten the connections of the wires as well as the screws until they all feel nice and secure. 

It’s also important that your tracks are properly lubricated. Once you’ve tightened everything you need to in the motor, check to make sure that the rails are lubricated. Keep in mind that you should use a lubricant specifically designed for slide-outs. Other types of lube can attract dirt and grime, making matters worse.


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For tip-outs

If you have an older RV with a tip-out slide-out, we should mention adjusting the slide-out cables as well. 

How to do this will vary depending on your RV, but there is usually a sticker that explains how your slide works. It should have all the information you need on how to adjust the slide-out, so read it closely and make sure you’re prepared if you’re going to do this yourself. 

You’ll be turning a nut to adjust the slide cables, so have a wrench handy. Before turning the nut, mark down its original position. You should count how many turns you do to adjust it. Keep in mind that adjusting these slide-out cables can be incredibly tricky. In some cases, you may be able to do this alone, but having an expert do it for you is always the safest (and easiest) option.

Don’t shy away from an expert’s help

At the end of the day, RV slide-outs are not simple pieces of equipment. They’re very complicated to adjust. This is further complicated by the fact that they differ so much from RV to RV. 

Even though we’ve given you some helpful tips above to adjust and maintain your RV slide-out, we recommend taking it to an expert to get their help. They’ve seen all sorts of slide systems and have the ability and tools at their disposal to adjust an RV slide-out properly. 

Do as much as you can at home if you wish, but don’t be afraid to take your RV in to finish the job!

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