7 Most Common 5th Wheel Slide-out Problems and How to Fix It


7 Most Common 5th Wheel Slide-out Problems and How to Fix It

Just like every other thing in life, 5th wheel slide outs will develop problems down the line. This necessitates regular maintenance practices on your slide outs.

This guide will explore 7 most prevalent problems with 5th wheel slide outs and how you could fix them.

  • Issues with Your Gearbox
  • Your Slide-out Can Suffer Battery Failure
  • 5th Wheels Slide-outs Can be Affected By Over-tight Jaws
  • Your Slide-out Could Be Wrought with Obstructions
  • Leaks Can Trouble Your Slide-outs
  • Slide-outs Experience Wear and Tear
  • Damaged Rail Systems Will Affect Your Slide-out

Take note that some of these issues may be beyond your technical expertise despite your enthusiasm to fix them yourselves. In those cases, instead of worsening the situation, it is more appropriate to consult a professional mechanic for repairs. 

7 Most Common 5th Wheel Slide-out Problems You Will Likely Experience

Issues with Your Gearbox

One of the most notorious issues with 5th wheel slide outs is the gearbox or the motor going faulty. Consequently, the slide-out mechanism would be compromised and wouldn’t work as fluidly as it used to.

Given this issue’s prevalence, we will take a more emphatic step-by-step guide to resolve this problem.

First, we need to get a better picture of the gearbox drive shaft. To achieve this, on the square shaft, get the retaining bolt off the sliding sheath. Next is sliding the sheath back into its position.

By now, you should be able to view the gearbox much better. The next thing is disassociating the leg from the motor assembly. This can be achieved by removing the plastic retainer. Precisely, this the retainer keeping the gearbox secured to the drive shaft.

Get the gearbox out of the drive shaft. You would need to transfer the shaft to the opposite leg. This way, it is much easier for the manual override driveshaft to slide out of its case.

There are situations where wire disconnection isn’t necessary. One of these is when your motor is furnished with ample wiring.

Should you insist on disconnecting the wires, ensure that you accurately mark them, so it is far less complicated to reference them. But if you are not disconnecting, you can go straight to resting your motor (along with the wires) on the compartment floor.

The next is separating the gearbox from the DC motor. You would only need to take off the two longer bolts among the four bolts connecting the gearbox with the motor. Replacement is necessary in the event a short bolt is replaced to sustain the intactness of the motor.

The subsequent move involves incorporating the motor assembly back into the driveshaft. This is attainable – similar to what we did before – by shifting the opposite leg shaft to the side.

After displacing that shaft, integrate the manual override shaft back into its casing. Consequently, you have to fit the driveshaft correctly with the gearbox’s center drive nut. 

To get the combination so far back into the plastic retainer, the drive shaft must be perfectly aligned –specifically its screw hole. Unless you want you to leverage the manual override wrench, you could trigger the landing gear switch to align the screw hole as directed correctly. It is essential to adjust the leg length before you attempting the reattachment of the leg drive shaft.

There are cases where the motor could have been slightly displaced in the course of the coupling – or you even consciously moved it to aid the process of fitting the leg to the gearbox – it is crucial to synchronize both legs. It is appropriate the two legs are equally long.

Next, you would get the retaining bolt perfectly fitted with the opposite leg drive shaft. If religiously followed, this set of procedures should get your faulty gearbox or motor restored.

If the problem in the slide-out persists, it is important to seek a professional mechanic’s services. Most likely, some other persisting issues could be behind the malfunction of the slide-out.

Your Slide-out Can Suffer Battery Failure

Given that the 5th wheel slide-out mechanism terribly needs power, battery failures can be pretty catastrophic. In such cases, it becomes difficult for your slide-out to retract when needed automatically.

However, the good news is that manufacturers have been smart enough to furnish their 5th wheel slide outs with a backup mechanism.

This is called the manual override. Understandably, the manual override system varies across the different types of 5th wheels and slide-out designs.

A considerable fraction of those slide-outs equipped with DC electrical slide systems (precisely 12 volts) leverage motor brakes whose disengagement becomes necessary in case of battery failure.

Other slide-out motors are supplied with extended hex drives. This way, with a hand crank, you can readily work the room as you like it in or out.

For some other common electrical slide design type, it would be necessary to disconnect the motor from the drive track. This is achievable by physically dislodging the motor.

Hydraulic systems are distinct from such electrical systems. Typically, hydraulic systems – which are more complex and powerful – leverage a hydraulic pump outfitted with a bypass valve.

For the room to be closed appropriately, albeit manually, the hydraulic pressure needs to be appreciably suppressed. You can get this done by creating space when you open the bypass valve.

5th Wheels Slide-outs Can be Affected By Over-tight Jaws 

Problems could pop up with your 5th wheel slide out if your jaws are overly tight. This would disrupt your slide-out mechanism, typically related to an expanded space between the trailer and the 5th wheel.

This excessive spaciousness is even dangerous as there is a significant risk of your trailer dropping off with the road’s increasing ruggedness or bumpiness.

More than that, the unstable connection between the trailer and the jaws of your 5th wheel will cause bumping, eventually leading to wear and tear of the jaws.

Your Slide-out Could Be Wrought with Obstructions

Most slide-out failures can be from issues as trivial as obstructions from external objects. In fact, when if your slide-out fails, your instinctive response should be checking the path of the slide-out for any possible wedges between the RV’s body and the slide-out.

When these obstructions occur, you could sense the mishap from the sound of the motor. This sounds as if the motor is terribly struggling to work.

When your slide-out fails to recede or extend upon pressing the button (or when you hear that weird motor sound), take a moment to scrutinize its paths. Are there are any obstructions wedged in?

If you find any foreign object (stray branches are most notorious for this obstruction), you have to take them off immediately before the problem deteriorates further like overloading the motor unit. 

Leaks Can Trouble Your Slide-outs

Typically, when you buy your 5th wheel from a dealership, the slide-outs are furnished with seals. Inevitably, deterioration will happen down the line, causing leaks.

Leaks on their own will not directly affect the fluidity of the slide-out movement. However, with time, such leaks would affect how protected the inside of your slide-out is from atmospheric elements.

Ultimately, there would be a damaging accumulation of moisture in your slide-out regardless of it being extended or not. This would, in turn, further damage the slide-out.

When you start noticing such leaks, act quickly, and restore the integrity of the seal. A new sealing solution would be more appropriate to keep your slide out more optimally protected from outdoor elements, which could eventually turn problematic.

Indeed, there is a broad spectrum of sealants in the market today that can get the job done correctly.

Slide-outs Experience Wear and Tear

As a moving mass, it is almost natural that your slide-outs experience wear and tear. Undoubtedly, as you use your 5th wheel, heat and friction would affect it – especially the hydraulic lines.

With such sustained heat and friction, your slide out would start malfunctioning due to consequent leakages and breaks. Slide-outs utilize slides and gears to move across its metallic path efficiently.

Given that slide-outs involve metals working with mental joints, it is crucial to maintain a periodic lubrication arrangement to reduce possible friction, which would be devastating to the mental parts.

There is no definitive lubrication regimen as it mostly depends on how frequently you use your 5th wheel. Just make sure it is regular. This would go a long way in preventing a possible buildup of ice in parts of the slide-out or finding yourself with sheared parts.

Aside from lubrication, stabilizers are an efficient way of reducing consequent slide-problems from wear and tear. Today, many 5th wheels are outfitted with such supports that reduce wear and tear in the slide-out majorly by lessening the sag. These are basically adjustable support bars designed to sit on the ground.

Such stabilizers are made from steel materials with designs aimed at reducing the bouncing effect when you are camping, enhancing the support the weight of the slide-out. No significant technical experience is required to use these stabilizers.

Damaged Rail Systems Will Affect Your Slide-out

It is only expected that your slide-out’s smooth functioning will be significantly disrupted if its rail system is damaged in any form. There are several incidences where the rail system could get warped. This will make it difficult – if not totally impossible – for your slide-out to move regardless of whether every other part is working well. 

Damaged rail systems could also prompt misalignment of the slide-out. This makes it unsteady and distorting its levelness, relative to the ground position. Of course, this is not a nice event.

What could trigger such twists or bends in the rail system? The most common cause could the unhealthy presence of external objects in the slide-out’s path. A thorough inspection is therefore needed to rid the rail system of any obstruction.

Will My Slide-out Work Without Battery?

Yes, your slide-out can work without a working battery. Manufacturers know your battery wouldn’t always be there for you. Incidences of battery failure or your battery simply being dead would occur.

Well, that wouldn’t be the end of the world for you nor your slide-out as the slide-outs work in three ways in the absence of your battery. First, you have the option of resorting to your generator to power the slide-out room.

Secondly, you could get on your truck running and from the truck’s derivable power, move the slide-out. Lastly, there is the ready option of shore power, which you could get your camper plugged into to power your slide-out.

In some distinct camper designs, you can manually operate your slide-out say when your battery is dead. Those kinds of systems could come with a T-assist handle that aids you in moving the slide.

How Much Weight Does a Slide-out Hold?

It is essential not to overload your slide-out. Ideally, your 5th wheel slide-out can capably hold a weight of 600 lbs without experiencing any disruptions in its everyday workings. 

When buying 5th wheels, it is crucial to watch out for the maximum weight holding capacity.

This would determine the RV’s compatibility for your camping needs or to better plan your loading when going on a camping trip. A slide-out can typically carry a sofa, dining stands, and beddings.

Can You Drive RV with Slides Out?

Fundamentally, it is not ideal to drive your RV about at high speed if your slide-outs are extended. First, you would pile unavoidable stress on the slide-out mechanism due to the consequent torque on the frame and the slide-out itself.

Also, it is unsafe for fellow motorists when you drive around with extended slides. If they even mistakenly clip the slide-out, you could expect significant damages to you and the motorist’s vehicles.

If your slide-out is giving you issues, it is advisable to resolve it instead of just jumping on the road with the slides pulled out. This is not a holistic repair per se, but you are just manageably squeezing the slide-out back enough for you to drive it to the mechanic.

We must state here that when trying to force your slides back in, you shouldn’t apply excessive force as this could harm the slide-out’s internal makeup.

Nonetheless, there wouldn’t be much risk if you choose to drive your RV around (with extended slides) at low speed around the parking lot. At least, there are far reduced chances of damaging stuff.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix a Slide Out?

Understandably, the repair cost of a slide-out could vary depending on the magnitude of the problem at hand, regarding the technicality of the issue. Also, prices could vary depending on the personal evaluation of the mechanic. 

In the same vein, prices will also differ if replacement materials need to be procured. Nonetheless, on average, you can budget anywhere from $500-$1,700 to repair your slide-out.

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