A stuck RV slide-out section that won’t go back in again can be a real hassle. Especially since you usually discover the problem as you are breaking camp and getting ready to hit the open road again.
If your RV slide-out section is stubbornly stuck in the out position, you might be wondering if there is some kind of quick fix?
If your RV slide-out gets stuck and has problems extending or retracting, sometimes a loose battery connection or a tripped circuit breaker can be the culprit.
Though there are other times when something more complicated like a wiring issue or a faulty switch can make it much more difficult to retract a stuck RV slide-out.
To help you diagnose the problem with your RV slide-out section and hopefully get it to go back in again as fast as possible, we will need to take a closer look at some of the common culprits that can cause an RV slide-out to stick.
In an emergency, you might just have to manually retract the stuck slide-out section to get it repaired once you get home.
Diagnosing The Cause Of A Stuck RV Slide-Out Section
To effectively address the problem, you first have to figure out just what is causing the RV slide-out section to stick in the first place. troubleshooting tips regarding your stuck RV slide.
1: Perform A Visual Inspection
Sometimes something as simple as a stick or tree branch falling on the slide-out in the middle of the night can be all it takes to jam up one of the sensitive moving parts.
Most RV slide-out systems are designed to arrest if they sense resistance. So, even a minor obstruction can cause what seems to be a major malfunction.
Take a minute or two to walk around and look at it from every possible angle. While you are at it, check to see just how level the RV happens to be.
Sometimes a pitch in the wrong direction can place too much stress on an old RV slide-out component.
2: Check The Circuit Breaker Or Fuse Box
Circuit breakers can flip sometimes seemingly for no reason. Older fuses can sometimes get a mind of their own and burn out or simply loosen a fraction of a turn too much for sufficient electrical charge to get to the stuck RV slide-out mechanisms.
This is a good first place to start, as a problem can be spotted and rectified at a moment’s notice.
Usually, you just need to flip a switch on the breaker panel or replace the fuse with a fresh fuse with the same amp rating.
If the new fuse burns out, or the circuit breaker flips again, then you might have a more serious electrical issue like a short-circuited wire.
3: Check The Battery Connections & Battery Charge
Proper electrical current is needed for the power-retractable slide-out mechanisms to work correctly.
Look closely at the terminals on your RV’s 12 Volt house batteries. Even a modest amount of corrosion on the red positive terminal can impede the charge needed to operate the switches, relays, or mechanical components that draw the RV slide-out section back in.
If you see discoloration on the terminal or any of the surrounding components, you should try to disconnect it and clean them.
This is usually as simple as making a slurry of baking powder and a little water. Then scrub it down with an old toothbrush before connecting the battery again.
If the terminals look clean, you should try to put a multi-meter, voltmeter, or battery tester on the RV’s house battery to see how much charge it has.
A deep cycle battery that has less than 50% of its maximum charge can start to fade in performance.
This too could impede the sufficient power needed to properly operate the slide-out power retraction system.
If the battery does read low voltage, you will need to either recharge it or connect a fresh battery to the RV’s electrical system to activate the slide-out system properly.
4: Check The Wiring Leading From The Battery To The Slide-Out Mechanism
If the circuit breaker trips or the fuse burns out, and you don’t notice any issues with the RV’s house batteries, then it might be a short-circuited wire.
Depending on the age, and design of your RV you might be able to trace the wiring from the RV’s 12 Volt house batteries to the slide-out mechanism or the slide-out switch.
Sometimes an older RV can experience some wear and tear on the wiring near the slide-out section due to the constant changes of moving it in and out.
Once the protective coating on a wire is damaged it can easily short out when it touches another wire or comes in contact with a piece of metal.
Not to mention an older RV with failing seals can sometimes let a little water come through causing a short.
You should be especially suspicious of a wiring problem if the slide-out section became stuck when using it for the first time after taking it out of winter storage.
Sometimes mice, rats, or other rodents can get into an RV and chew through a wire or damage a component by building a nest near it.
Sometimes you can spot a shorted-out or damaged wire with a simple visual inspection.
Though with newer RVs a lot of the wiring is run discretely and sealed inside the walls or travels through the RV inside of a secure metal conduit.
5: Check The JST Connector
Most power-retractable slide-out sections are securely connected to a motor via a heavy-duty JST power cable.
Every once in a while the JST cord and the socket disconnect as the slide-out section is opening.
The slide-out then sets itself into place, as if everything is normal. You don’t end up noticing anything until it’s time to break camp and the slide-out section mysteriously sits there
Finding the connector and the outlet port it plugs into can be a challenge with some camper models.
If you are lucky the connector won’t have moved far from the outlet, which looks like a white rectangle with metallic electrical leads in it.
If there isn’t a lot of slack in the power cord, you might have to manually disengage the slide-out section to move the two ends closer together.
6: A Damaged Or Worn Out Activation Switch
With an older RV that has deployed the slide-outs many times over its long life, it is possible for the switch to simply wear out and die on you.
Though for this to be the case, it would have to affect all the slide-out sections and not just one.
This is another one of those times where you will need to manually close the slide-out section and have it repaired by a professional when you get back home.
Thankfully, this is an in-expensive repair and it might just be a good excuse to have the mechanic tackle some other routine maintenance items as long as you have the RV in the shop.
How To Manually Close A Stuck RV Slide-Out
Even if your best efforts have failed to fix the problem, or you need to close the slide-out section to reattach the JST connection, you will need to close the slide-out manually.
While this can be awkward to do with some RV slide-outs, it’s not incredibly difficult.
Most RVs with slide-out sections will come with some sort of T-assist handle. It’s usually in a compartment near one of the slide-out sections.
Once you locate it, you will need to attach and seat the T-assist handle into the slide-out gear mechanism.
At that point, you can gradually turn the T-assist handle, which will move the mechanical gears to close the slide-out section and secure it in place.
Frequently Asked Questions
What If My RV Doesn’t Have A T-Assist Handle?
Some older RV models don’t come with a T-assist handle, and it’s not unheard of for a model that does to lose one over time.
In a situation like this, you will need to use a wrench to move the gears manually.
If you can’t access the gears, you might have to disconnect and remove the slide-out section’s drive motor to manually push it closed from the outside.
How Do I Disconnect The Drive Motor On My RV Slide-Out?
If your RV doesn’t have a T-assist handle or you can’t manually close the stuck slide-out section with a wrench, you can use the following steps to disconnect and close the slide-out.
Can I Drive Down The Road With A Stuck Slide-Out Section Extended?
This isn’t just “Not Recommended,” it’s highly dangerous. The weight of the stuck slide-out section can make your RV unstable even at low speeds.
Even if you do manage to limp down back roads slowly, chances are a trooper or police officer who sees you will pull you over and asses you with a heavy fine.
Can I Store My RV With The Slide-Out Section Extended
If you use your RV as a sort of extra bunkhouse for child sleepovers and other overnight guests, it can be tempting to leave the slide-out section extended all the time.
Though this isn’t good for it, and it definitely increases the chances of a mechanical failure later on down the road.
Especially in cold climates where the seals and other mechanical components can suffer from prolonged exposure to winter weather.
How To Maintain RV Slide-Out?
Just like anything with moving parts, an RV slide-out will benefit from some routine maintenance.
This will go a long way toward preventing problems like stuck slide-outs and leaky failed seals when you are on the road.
When taking your RV out of storage each spring, test all your slide-out sections to make sure they are in good working order.
Pay close attention to the seals to make sure there aren’t any leaks or cracks.
If you find one, it’s best to replace the seal when the RV is sitting in the comfort of your own backyard, rather than suffering a nasty water leaky on a rainy day at camp.
It’s also a good idea to lubricate all the moving parts of your RV slide-out system.
Not only will this help the gears and other components to slide-out easily, reducing wear and tear, it will also make it easier for you to manually reset the slide-out section if an electrical failure causes it to stick in the extended position.
How To Lubricate An RV Slide Out?
It’s best to use a “Dry Lubricant” like a silicone spray to lubricate all the gears and other mechanical parts of your RV’s slide-out.
The pressure inside the spray can itself will give you an extra 2 to 3 feet of range, which is handy if you need to spray mechanical gears that are out of arm’s length.
There are a few seemingly simple things that can cause your RV’s slide-out sections to get stuck in the extended position.
While this is the sort of thing that tends to happen at the most inopportune time, you need to keep a level head while using a methodical approach to diagnose and potentially fix the problem.
If a visual inspection doesn’t reveal any clear obstructions, you can move directly to inspect the electrical system.
Check the RV’s circuit breaker or fuse box to make sure that power can be delivered to the slide-out.
Next, you should check the battery and clear away any corrosion or make sure the battery is charged over 50%.
If the battery seems in good working order, you can then move to inspect the wiring. Follow it as best you can from the battery to the JST connection.
If you find damaged wires or the JST connection has come out of the white rectangular outlet, you will need to restore the normal connection.
Should all else fail, you might have to manually disengage the slide-outs drive motor and manually crank or push the stuck slide-out section into place.
This is absolutely necessary to safely drive your RV legally down the road.