How bad could it possibly be to store your camper with the slides out?
Around the world, many RVers ask themselves this question. To store or not to store. After all, it costs more effort to store them, right? Well, sure. Initially, that might be true. But over the long run, it’s a far better idea to put them right back to where they come from.
You should not store your camper, for extended periods of time, with the slides out. Over time, water, dirt, and grime will accumulate on top of them. This will wear down the seals of your vehicle, leading to leaks and costly breakdowns.
Here’s everything you need to know about storing your camper slides:
How Do Camper Slides Work?
It is a system that uses a small motor to slide a portion of your travel vehicle in and out of its mainframe. When the slide outs are tucked, your vehicle will look like a uniform box from the outside. However, when you pull them out, your RV will look like a box that has extra boxes popping from its sides.
Slide outs are these extra boxes and are provide additional space when your vehicle is parked.
It not only ensures comfort but gives you more room to store your belongings. Having one gives you extra space for storage, relaxing, and living.
And you can maximize their benefits by installing different slide outs, including opposing ones, multiple ones, and full wall slide outs. With a well-planned bedroom, for instance, you can have enough space for a king or queen bed and a room for closets or drawers.
Additionally, a slide out kitchen area accommodates more appliances and offers more countertop space that is needed by families planning to get away for some days.
Should You Store Your Camper with Slide Outs?
Now, everyone can use some extra storage space. However, if you don’t need it, there’s no reason to purchase a slide out. But, if you have one already or you’re planning to buy one, one of the questions you’ll have is if it is safe to leave the slide outs when storing your RV.
The answer is yes and no. While many people retract the slides in, there’s no harm leaving them out in most cases. Not that they offer extra space, which ensures that you are comfortable in your “home.”
Therefore, if you are using your RV, it may be wise to leave the slide outs. However, some instances may not be favorable to leave the slides open. For instance, during winter experts completely discourage RV owners/renters from leaving the slides out. Why?
Excessive snow weight can damage the slide out mechanism.
Unless you’ll always be around to clear the snow off from the roof of the slides, you should retract them. If their working mechanism is damaged, it may be difficult to bring them in.
Slides that have slide topper awnings could severely get damaged with this weather. Weather seals could crack and get damaged when they are exposed to extremely cold temperatures. When these seals crack, they let in moisture to your living trailer, which can damage its contents. And it could be worse with an unleveled trailer.
During summer and when you are using your camper, you can leave the slide outs open and enjoy the extra space they provide. However, even in this season, it’s always best that you leave them in if you aren’t using your vehicle.
When you aren’t around, you risk exposing your roof to the harsh weather elements and intrusion. Therefore, it’s wise you retract the slides to ensure that everything inside stays clean and dry.
How to Care for Your Camper Slides
Slide outs require a fair bit of maintenance to keep them running smoothing. Note that when things get older, they need more care to keep them functional. And slide outs aren’t different.
However, to care for them best, you need to understand the type of slide out drive system you have. There are two types of slide outs systems; electric and hydraulic. Electric motors are used on small lightweight slide outs while hydraulic systems power large and heavy slide outs.
These systems come with various delicate parts that can malfunction. For example, the roller assembly moves the slide in and out. If it becomes unstable, it wouldn’t move the room evenly, and this can cause floor and seal damage, which can result in leaking.
Now, renting or buying an RV with a slide out isn’t cheap. Therefore, if you have one, ensure that you keep an eye on it to fully enjoy the extra space and comfort it offers. Here are a few tips tips:
1. Maintain tight seals of the slide outs
Loose seals can damage your walls, flooring, and insulation. Plus, they can let in insects or rodents. Therefore, regularly inspect the top and bottom seals of your slide outs to ensure that they are tight. Also, talk with your service provider to know what to look for when the seals are failing.
2. Store your slide outs closed during the winter
This will keep the weather from eroding the seals and debris from accumulating on the roof of the slide out. It is also advisable that you coat your seals before storage to prevent cracking due to cold temperatures.
3. Always listen and watch your slide out before operating it
If it sounds odd or moves slower than usual, stop and check to see what’s causing that. It could be that something has fallen between the camper wall and the slide out. A small problem can manifest into a larger one if not dealt with soon. If you’re unable to see what is making the slide out to behave abnormally, take it to the service center for realignment.
What to Do If Your Slide Outs Malfunction
A malfunctioning slide out is problematic as if it is open, you can’t get on the road. Plus, if it is stuck shut, one can’t access some parts of their vehicle. Additionally, broken slide outs can be dangerous to the safety of those inside your RV.
If your slide outs won’t open and you are on shore power, request the campground manager for a temporary power surge. This will power your slides to open. Alternatively, for slides that run on hydraulic fluid, requesting for more of it might help.
If your slide outs are stuck open, they’re poking out of your RV hence preventing you from closing the doors fully. Now, you can’t drive with the slide outs protruding as it will endanger other road users. Try to muscle them to deal with this issue.
However, don’t push too hard since the slide outs are designed to open and close automatically. Therefore, forcing them can damage their internal mechanisms. Simply, apply some force to push in and secure them to allow you to drive it to the repair shop.
However, if they won’t budge in, you should call a tow truck to get your RV transported to a mechanic.
How Much Does It Cost to Repair Broken Slide Outs?
Fixing slide outs is expensive. The average repair costs $500-$1700 per slide of an RV. For a fifth wheel or travel trailer, the prices are roughly the same. However, you’ll pay less for a truck camper or pop-up camper, about $1500 on average.
While it may be tempting to store your camper with the slides out – for the sake of ease and comfort – I do not recommend it.
Storing your slides properly will save you time, as you won’t have to shovel as much snow or dirt of your vehicle. You’ll also save money, because you won’t have to repair your vehicle seals as often, or pay for costly leaks and water damage.
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