By Russ and Tiña De Maris
How do you keep your slideout happy? A little bit of maintenance and forethought will go a long way to making sure your RV experience doesn’t get unhappy when your slideout room won’t slide like it should.
First, when opening or closing a slideout room, check the floor. Sand, grit, or other “foreign” substances can get under the slideout and scratch the flooring. Doesn’t make Mama happy, and if she ain’t happy–well, you know the rest. Likewise, before retracting the slideout, check up topside. Branches, leaves, bird nests, all manner of odd things can wind up on the outside of your slideout, even if you have a retracting slideout awning. If this “junk” gets trapped in the retraction process, you can be in a world of hurt.
Read and follow the instructions provided with your rig. Some hydraulic slide mechanism builders suggest you keep the extend/retract button pushed for a few seconds after the slide has made the full travel–somehow keeping the hydraulic system pressurized. Others simply tell you to get off the button when the room is in or out. Others are “death” on changing room movement direction unless the slideout has gone full cycle. In other words, if you’re in the middle of retracting the room and change your mind, they don’t want you to try and extend the room until after you’ve retracted it all the way.
In terms of periodic maintenance, seals certainly need to be looked after. Seals can dry out, leaving you without protection from the elements. What does your manufacturer recommend? There are some commercial nostrums available, but we’d suggest you be careful of something that contains silicone. We’ve been on this lectern before, silicone can dry rubber out.
What about the slide mechanism? Here’s where things can get contrary. Nearly everyone agrees that slides should be lubricated regularly, it’s just what lube to use is where it gets dicey. One prominent RV technician says you should never use a “wet” lube like WD-40. He feels that the lube may well attract dust and dirt to the mechanism. Others suggest using silicon sprays. Ach! Again, what’s your manufacturer recommend? If you’re under warranty, best to use what they call for in case you develop a problem that they’ll need to fix.
Hydraulic reservoirs should be checked regularly. If they’re low, you’ll need to find out why. Is there a system leak? Follow the lines from the hydraulic fluid reservoir through the pump, and out to the actuating cylinders. If you need to ‘filler’up’ then again, be sure to use what the factory calls for. Some slideouts call for transmission fluid, others specialty hydraulic fluids. Know what you need before you pour!
Finally, this golden rule applies to ALL types of slideouts. KEEP THE BATTERY CHARGED! There’s nothing more difficult than being in the middle of nowhere and having that slide refuse to go back in because your battery is low or kaput. Cranking that slideout back in by hand is a long, and slow process.