RVs with retractable slide-outs are a very popular way to maximize the interior living space, while also giving you a more compact, streamlined rig while driving down the road.

You see them most often in fifth-wheel camper trailers and motorhomes. Though in recent years they have become increasingly popular in travel trailers.

There are even a few pop-up camper trailers that now have a retractable slide-out section built into them. 

Though just like anything with moving parts, it is entirely possible for an RV’s slide-out system to get stuck, breakdown or even fail at the worst possible time.

Chances are it might even happen when you are at a campground, remote campsite or RV campground that doesn’t have a mechanic with RV slide-out experience. 

If you happen to be at your intended campsite and you find your RV slide-out section simply isn’t responding, you might be able to manually extend it without engaging the electric components that normally drive it. 

How To Manually Set Up An RV Retractable Slide-Out

If you are at your intended campsite and you are hoping to simply set it up, without ruining your entire trip, you might be able to manually extend the slide-out section.

This is not the ideal time to be dealing with a problem like this, but you might be able to set up camp, and give yourself some time to troubleshoot the entire RV slide-out section. 

If you find yourself in this position, you might be able to use the following steps to manually extend the RV slide-out using the following steps. 

  • Step 1: Make sure to park the RV in a spot that is completely clear of obstructions. Then take the time to level the RV properly before attempting to open the slide-out.
  • Step 2: Take a close look at the RV’s house battery to make sure it is fully charged. Inspect the connections to make sure everything is hooked up tightly and there aren’t any corrosion problems preventing the electrical system from operating properly. If there are clear corrosion issues or a noticeably loose connection, make sure to clean and/or tighten the hardware.
  • Step 3:Press down and hold the In-Out switch that operates the RV’s power-retractable slide out system. If it does nothing, then you can turn to the manual override system.
  • Step 4:Locate the slide-out motor underneath the slide-out section. If you aren’t certain of where it is, you can refer to the RV’s owner’s which should have a diagram that notes the exact location.
  • Step 5:Carefully disengage the slide-out sections brake assembly from the motor. You can do this by using a screwdriver to remove the screws that directly connect the brake assembly to the motor itself. Just make sure to safely store the screws, as you will certainly need to use them again.
  • Step 6: Set the brake assembly aside, in some place safe and dry.
  • Step 7: Locate the crank extension. It should be on either the inside or on the outside of the frame near the RV’s slide-out section. If you can’t easily spot it, you should again be able to find it in the RV’s owner’s manual.
  • Step 8: Insert and attach the RV slide-out sections crank handle to the crank extension mechanism. If for some reason the crank handle isn’t available or was lost, you can improvise with a box wrench or a socket and ratchet.
  • Step 9:Turn the crank extension by hand to manually extend or retract the RV’s slide-out.
  • Step 10:Carefully reattach the brake assembly to the slide-out motor by reconnecting the saved screws. Make sure to securely tighten each one with the screwdriver. This will prevent the slide-out from accidentally moving.

If you can’t figure out what has caused the slide-out section malfunction by the time it comes to pack up camp, you can use these steps in reverse to retract the RV’s slide-out section for the long drive back home.

How To Troubleshoot An RV Slide-Out Problem

How To Troubleshoot An RV Slide-Out Problem

Okay, let’s say that you either managed to manually set up your campsite, or you spotted the problem with your RV’s power slide-out system and you are back home where you can try to fix it yourself.

The good news is, that there are indeed some things you can try on your own before you need to call in or bring the RV in to a professional repair service. 

Double-Check The Power Source

When you are at an RV park with shore power, the staff often plugs the RV into the power post or pedestal.

If the RV’s power retractable system runs off the shore power connection, a problem in the shore power system might be at fault.

This could be something as simple as a loose connection, a loose wire, a damaged plug or a larger problem with the RV park’s shore power system.

It could even be something as simple as a thrown GFCI that is preventing the circuit from completing itself.

Inspect The RV’s Circuit Breakers Or Fuse Box

These days most RV’s use circuit breakers, though there are still some older RVs on the road that have a traditional fuse box.

If a fuse or a circuit breaker connecting the power retractable slide-out system has burned out or thrown, then it could be preventing power from getting to the mechanical components. 

Check For Corrosion On Fuses Or Circuit Breakers And Clean

Acid accumulation and corrosion are a real concern with some older RV’s.

If your RV is older than 7 to 10 years, you might want to also double check the connections in the circuit panel for signs of corrosion.

Though this is something better done at home with the power off than at a rustic campground deep in the back woods. 

  • Step 1: Close all of the circuit breakers, including the main input breaker. 
  • Step 2: You then need to completely disconnect the 110VAC power from a power post or shore power connection. 
  • Step 3: At that point, you can carefully remove the electrical panel screws with a screwdriver and pull out the panel. 
  • Step 4: Carefully inspect the back for acid accumulation on the connector tabs and wire terminals. Clean with water blended into a paste with a teaspoon of baking soda. 
  • Step 5: Let all surfaces are dry before reconnecting everything and restoring the power.

Inspect The Power Converter

If the previous trouble shooting steps have yielded little to no results, then it might be the RV’s power converter. 

  • Step 1: Make sure to disconnect the 110 Volt AC power. 
  • Step 2: Visually inspect the RV’s power converter for signs of scorching or white flaky acid accumulation. 
  • Step 3: If you see obvious signs of a damaged or badly corroded power converter, you should contact the nearest, qualified RV repair technician.


While a problem with an RV’s power retractable slide-out can certainly put a damper on your vacation, there are still a few troubleshooting steps you can try to figure out, and possibly correct the problem.

In a pinch you might even be able to improvise a manual retraction or extension of the faulty slide-out section to still enjoy your vacation or at least drive home safely. 

If you do feel like you are in over your head, there’s no shame in calling in the professionals to help repair your RV’s power-retractable slide-out’s normal function.