I’m assuming that by clicking on this post that you own or are considering purchasing a fifth wheel. Whether you’re a full-time or weekend RVer, this information will be valuable.
Fifth wheel slide-outs, do require maintenance to keep them working properly. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer this guide will come in handy.
Although slides can be challenging even for the best DIYers. Never hesitate to have your fifth wheel serviced by a certified mechanic when necessary.
*Note: Always refer to your Owner’s Manual, this post is a General Guide for fifth wheel owners. I am not a certified technician or mechanic.
This guide will help you to identify and resolve common problems with your fifth wheel slide-outs?
Top 5 Common Problems With Fifth Wheel Slide-Outs
First, you need to determine whether your slide-outs mechanism is electrical or hydraulically operated?
Electric slide-outs center on an electric motor. The motor drives a gear system attached to your RV slide room. So, with the touch of a button, you can retract and extend your RV slide-outs.
Hydraulic slide-outs use the principle of hydraulic pressure. The pressure moves actuators attached at the end of the hydraulic line to move rams.
It is these hydraulic rams that move the slide-outs in and out of your RV.
Each slide-out operating system has its own unique problems.
Check out the following common problems with slide-outs on a fifth wheel.
- Faulty Gearbox or Motor
A faulty motor or gearbox could be the problem if your RV slide-out gear system is motor-driven. In such cases, if the motor is faulty or breaks down, then the mechanism will not work. If the motor-driven gearbox system is faulty, for whatever reason, your RV slide-out will not work.
- Overloaded Motor
Your RV slide may experience resistance as it moves in and out. This resistance will force the motor to draw excess current. This is because the motor is trying to compensate for the resistance by drawing more power.
In such a scenario, the electric motor may cause electric relays in your RVs’ circuitry to trip. This may also result in breakages or, worse still, your electric motor could get damaged.
- Shearing Drive Pins
The gear drive in your slide out drive mechanism has drive pins. Under excessive stress and strain conditions, these drive pins may experience shearing forces. Such forces may damage the drive pins.
- Valve, Pump or Hydraulic Line Failure
If your RV slide-out is hydraulically powered, problems may arise when the hydraulic pump or line fails. This is because, in such a system, the hydraulic pump triggers actuators and rams. So failure on any one of these components impacts greatly on the slide-out mechanism.
- Wear And Tear
Friction and heat affect your RV hydraulic lines over a long period of time. Breaks and leakages may develop in the line over time due to wear and tear, causing your RV slide mechanism to malfunction.
Why My Fifth Wheel Slide-Out Squeaks?
Cumulative road debris and rust can cause your slide-out to squeak. Wear and tear on your slide’s moving parts are usually caused by exposure to the elements and constant use.
Dirt and debris increase friction between the moving parts on your fifth wheel slide-outs. These factors contribute to the squeaking sounds you may experience from your RV.
If you keep the components of your fifth wheel mechanism clean and maintain them, you should have no problems. To stop your RV slide-out from squeaking, follow these simple steps.
- Extend your slide-outs on the fifth wheel.
- Use a wire brush to remove any debris, dirt, paint chippings or rust from your slide-out tracks.
- Clean out all the dirt and road debris from the tracks.
- Apply lubricant on the gears, tracks, and rails of your slide-outs.
- Try and retract and fully extend your slide-out a number of times. At this point, the squeaking sounds should have disappeared.
Lubricating your RV slide-out mechanism not only eliminates the squeaky sounds, but it also helps it work optimally. This way, you can extend the lifespan of your slide-outs on the fifth wheel and prevent impending breakdowns due to friction.
Do You Need a Tech to Repair Slide-Out Issues?
Before you pick up your phone and get a technician to sort out an issue with your fifth wheel slide-outs, check out the problem first.
Once you understand the nature of the problem, you will be able to decide whether you need help.
It could be a minor issue that you can sort out yourself. This way, you can avoid calling a technician and save your hard-earned cash.
If the problem with your fifth slide-outs overwhelms you, get help. Do not try to do repairs in such cases because you may end up doing more harm than good.
For instance, when you need adjustments to your vehicle’s slide-outs, you definitely need to engage the services of a professional.
There are intricate adjustments that need a trained, professional eye. Much as the process may be spelled out in your manual, nothing beats a trained eye.
If you own an RV whose slide-outs are hydraulically operated, you would be well-advised not to tinker with the system. Hydraulic pumps operate under high-pressure levels.
Any wrong move with your hydraulic system could spell disaster for both you and your recreational vehicle.
To avoid such mishaps, take your RV to the nearest professional service center when its schedule is due. A qualified technical team should be able to sort out any issues with your vehicle’s hydraulic system.
Can You DIY Slide-Out Problems?
If your slide-outs develop problems, there are some that you can easily sort out yourself. This depends on the magnitude of the problem.
Read your owner’s manual and make sure that you understand it. Ask around or consult with the many available recreational activity owners’ online forums for any clarifications.
This way, you will be able to establish which particular issues you can apply a Do It Yourself approach to.
Here are some examples of maintenance and repair tasks that you can carry out on your vehicle’s slide-outs.
You need to lubricate your slide-outs and maintain it that way. The moving parts experience wear and tear which may be aggravated when there is a lot of friction between the moving parts.
Lubrication reduces friction between these parts and can extend the lifespan of your fifth wheel slide-outs.
Check your recreational vehicle’s operating manual so as to establish which type of lubricant to use for your slide-outs.
- Regular Cleaning
Dirt, debris and cumulative grime may gum up the works on your RV slide-outs mechanism. To clean dirt and debris from the tracks of your slide-outs, you need to clean them out.
If possible, clean them out every now and then to prevent dirt accumulating over time. This will prevent major complications in the future because, as the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure.
- Spot Checks and Regular Inspection
As far as maintaining your slide-outs, proper spot checks and inspection are quite important.
It is important that you check your fifth wheel reservoirs, in case you have hydraulic fifth wheel slide-outs.
The system may have a leak somewhere if it indicates a low oil level as it is based on a zero loss design.
Check along the entire length of the hydraulic line to identify where the leak is. On identifying the leak area, replace the entire line. Engage the services of a professional to advise you on what to do.
Check your battery output in case you have an electric fifth wheel slide-out system. Your vehicle’s slide-out motor may fail or get stuck halfway while retracting because of a weak or dead battery.
Your slide-out seals are quite important. Check them regularly and when you come across any worn out seals, replace them immediately. Check your seals for damage, dryness or debris. Tears along your slide-out seals will also warrant replacements.
Can My Fifth Wheel Slide-Outs Be Adjusted?
Your slide-outs can be adjusted depending on the circumstances. You can have them adjust either vertically or horizontally. These adjustments on your RV slide mechanism are important to ensure that it slides out evenly.
In case the bottom of your RV slide room is scraping the ground, it may need adjustment. Both of your RV slide-outs could be misaligned and this calls for a professional adjustment.
However, as they say, do not try this at home. Leave Your slide-outs adjustments to the experts. If you feel that the change is minor, and you feel like getting your hands dirty, check out your RV user manual.
Having slide-outs on your recreational vehicle is a great idea if you love spending time in it. They help create more space and comfort. This will only work out if you maintain and your slide-outs mechanism. Always ensure that it is in perfect working condition.
At least you now have an idea of the common problems with fifth wheel slide-outs. Be observant and always check your slide-outs. This way, you will be able to spot a minor problem and nip it in the bud.
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