Are RV Slide Out Supports Necessary? Here’s What They Really Do

A properly set up RV campsite is a thing of beauty. It’s a great feeling to set your RV up on the pad, press the out button to extend your RV slide-outs with dramatic flair, and watch them lock into place.

Though you might notice a little more swaying when RV slide-outs are extended, and people are using them.

This might lead you to wonder if it’s safe to use your RV without supports? 

The short answer is, yes, you can use an RV without supports under the slide-out section when it is extended. Though, the answer can vary depending on your RV and the manufacturer’s recommendations as well as the age of the RV itself.

At first, RV stabilizers might sound like a logical idea to protect and support your RV’s slide-outs.

Though in most cases they should not be used.  In the real-world there is a greater risk of your slide-outs being damaged by these supports.

Especially if the RV becomes unbalanced, and the stabilizers remain in place. 

This could be something like a tire popping a bead and deflating, or gradually sinking into the ground on when it rains.

With stabilizers fixed in place any time an RV becomes unbalanced can cause damage to the slide-outs. 

What Are RV Slide Out Supports?

What Are RV Slide Out Supports

Slide-out supports are essentially elongated jacks that are strategically placed under the slide-out sections of an RV when the slide-out section is fully extended.

They are specifically engineered to help prevent the slide-out from being overly weighed down.

They also help to prevent swaying and other wear and tear issues, which can be a big deal for some RV suspension systems.

What Use Are RV Slide Out Stabilizers?

RV stabilizers are more helpful with older RVs from the early 1990s and older.

These models didn’t necessarily have access to the kind of robust materials and engineering that modern RVs do.

They also tend to have seen a lot of wear and tear. When a sizable amount of weight is placed into one of these older slideouts, like a fully-loaded dinette, RV stabilizers can help prevent significant sagging. 

Do I Have To Use RV Slide-Out Supports?

If your RV came with supports that were provided by the manufacturer and recommended for use in the owner’s manual, then it is a very good idea to use them.

However, if you are talking about after-market stabilizers, then the supports, or “ ” aren’t 100% necessary. Though they might still be a good idea. 

It’s also worth bearing in mind that slide-out is also intended to help stabilize the entire RV or trailer.

Without them, in place, a person sitting in a dinette section installed in a slide-out on the left-hand side of an RV could change the weight distribution of the right-hand side of the RV.

Not only can this create an uncomfortable rocking motion, but it could also lead to increased wear and tear on other RV suspension components.

This really is a time where it’s more about function and structural support than it is esthetics and convenience. 

Will It Damage My Slide-Out If I Don’t Use Supports?

Will It Damage My Slide-Out If I Don’t Use Supports

There are some different schools of thought when it comes to using RV slide-out support stabilizers.

Especially if we are talking about a newer RV that has state-of-the-art suspension systems and modern-day engineering engineered into the mechanical systems of the slide-out section.

Indeed, most RV manufacturers engineer their power-retractable slide-out sections to be fully extended and held confidently in place without the need for any external support. 

Though if you talk to experienced RV travelers, who have taken the time to get to know their rig and its inherent tolerances, they will often tell you that they prefer to use stabilizers to support their RV slide-out sections when they are taking the time to set up their camp right for a multi-day stay. 

Will My RV Slide-Outs Seal Properly If I Use Supports?

Modern RV slide-outs are designed to support and seal themselves, so long as the weight, you are putting on them is reasonable.

The gaskets and other components at the seams are designed to seal and stay sealed without the use of a support or stabilizer. 

In some cases, adding stabilizer support to your RV’s slide-out section can cause the seams not to seal perfectly. This can lead to inconvenient water and air leaks.

Are There Times When RV Supports Are A Good Idea?

When it comes to newer RVs, it’s best to forgo supports, unless the manufacturer provides them.

However, older RVs from the early 1990s through the 1970s might benefit from supports under the slide-out sections.

This era of RV technology doesn’t have the robust engineering and high-quality materials that modern RV’s enjoy. 

Can Slide-Out Supports Damage My RV?

There are some instances where you might set up your RV with supports under a side-out section and it causes the slide-out to extend too far out.

It could also damage other moving parts or affect components under the slide-out.

Just like how you want to put a jack under the jacking point of a car, there might not be any structurally sound area under a slide-out section. This could potentially damage the floor of the slide-out itself. 

Of course, there’s also a concern about forgetting the stabilizers are there when it comes time to break camp.

You hit the retract button to pull the slide-outs in and suddenly hear the “Bang” of the stabilizers topping into the sidewall of your RV or a “Crunch” as they interfere with the moving parts under the slide-out section. 

I Have A Newer RV And It Moves A Lot, Should I Use Slide-Out Supports

A little bit of swaying back and forth is somewhat common in a lot of RVs. Especially if you are dealing with a tall model.

Though most of the time, the swaying that you experience is related to the ground you are set upon. 

Taking the time to properly level your RV to minute degrees, via the existing suspension system and manufacturer support arms or jack stands will go a long way toward reducing this ambient swaying effect.

It is the first step and preferred option over improvising with RV slide-out supports. 

How Much To RV Slide-Out Supports Cost?

How Much To RV Slide-Out Supports Cost

The average cost for an RV slide-out support stabilizer can range from $35 to $100, with taller supports for fifth-wheel trailers and motorhomes ranging up to $125.

Some are sold as single units, while others are sold in pairs. If you are going to use them, it’s best to always buy and work with pairs. 

Here are some of the best RV Slide-out stabilizers to buy in 2022:

If I Do Decide To Use RV Slide-Out Supports, What Is The Safest Way?

If you have one of the rare RVs that came with supports from the manufacturer, then you should follow the guidelines set out in the owner’s manual.

If you have an older RV, or you simply want some added peace of mind then you can use the following steps to install your RV slide-out supports as safely as possible. 

  • Step One: Set up your RV on the most level ground possible. 
  • Step Two: Test the firmness of the ground. If the ground is soft, you might need to put down half a plywood handy panel or a large paving stone to provide the slide-out support with a firm footing. 
  • Step Three: Extend the slide-out section, and double-check the level of your RV. Consider taking a picture with your phone for reference. 
  • Step Four: Insert the stabilizer against the metal support part of the slide-out, avoiding any contact with wood or other soft materials. Make sure to take into account wires, conduits, and any other moving parts. 
  • Step Five: Expand the RV slide-out stabilizer just enough that it lightly touches the structural metal of the slide-out when there is no weight-bearing in the slide-outs interior. 
  • Step Six: Give everything 24 hours to settle. Then check the level of the RV, and compare it to the image you took in step three. Also, double-check the relationship between the stabilizer and the underside of the slide-out section. 

Conclusion

Modern-day RV slide-outs are designed to be structurally self-supporting and don’t need stabilizers or supports unless the manufacturer specifically engineered that slide out to use them. In these rare cases, the manufacturer will almost always provide them. 

Older RVs from the early 1990s or before might benefit from slide-out support stabilizers.

Especially if you’ve been having problems with the RV swaying when there is weight in the slide-out section, or you have suspension issues with the RV.

In these cases, you want to make sure that the supports are properly installed in structural corners, and not touching or transferring force from the floor of the slide-out section.

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