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4 Steps for Lubricating Your RV Slide Out

RV slide out

An RV slide out is a popular feature that can easily enhance the square footage in your camper’s living area. Since the slide out extends and retracts, it’s important to keep these mechanical parts moving smoothly. To help you out with this DIY maintenance, RV Trader is breaking down the four steps for lubricating your RV slide out.

1. Figure Out the Type of Slide-Out System

The type of slide-out system equipped in your RV will vary by make, model, and year. By knowing what type of slide out you have, you can better identify the parts you’ll need to inspect and lubricate. Read your owner’s manual to help you determine the specific type of slide out you have. Here are a few common slide-out mechanisms:

Cable Slides

Cable slides are lightweight but do a great job of supporting heavy, deep slides. These are often used in smaller travel trailers and fifth wheels. This is the most reliable system and doesn’t often encounter corrosion issues.

Rack and Pinion Slides

Rack and pinion slides are one of the most common systems in RVs. Pinions spin over the racks, along the bottom of the slide, to extend and retract. Since this system is heavier, it requires periodic lubrication to function properly.

Schwintek Slides

Schwintek slides are best used to move lower loads and shallow slides, such as a sofa or closet, and can fail when carrying extra weight. This system uses worm gears and rails that are mounted to the top and bottom to roll the slide in and out.

Hydraulic Slides

Hydraulic Slides are used primarily in kitchens and living rooms. This system uses a motorized hydraulic pump, controlled by valves, and hydraulic fluid to move the slide in and out. While this system can move faster than electric slides, it can also be more complex and even fail due to excessive heat or wear on its parts.

2. Inspect the Slide Components

Before you begin, perform a quick inspection of your slide-out components. Keep a close eye out for the following:

  • Damaged parts
  • Loose fasteners
  • Loose or damaged electrical connections
  • Loose or damaged pulleys
  • Hydraulic leaks
  • Excessive wear on tracks
  • Shredded cables

You can also operate the slide to make sure it’s extending and retracting evenly. Listen closely for grinding, squealing, or any other uncommon noises.

3. Clean the Slide

Slide components can be exposed to dirt and other grime while you’re on the road. Before you lubricate, clean these components, such as the cables, racks and any exposed gears, with a damp rag. Part of this cleaning may include sweeping the roof to remove any debris from the top of your slide.

You’ll also want to inspect and clean the rubber seals around the slide that are important for weatherproofing your RV. These require a specific type of rubber seal cleaner.

4. Lubricate the Slide

Next, you’ll want to lubricate the components that you just cleaned, along with any other moving parts. You may have to extend your slide, depending on the system you have, to reach all the components necessary. Make sure you use a quality RV slide lubricant that will provide lubrication without attracting grime. 

Be sure to spray a light, even coating of lubricant. Be careful not to use too much and drip the excess onto your RV’s surfaces. To prevent overspray, you can also spray the lubricant on a rag first then wipe down the slide components.

Many manufacturers recommend cleaning and lubricating your slide out at least twice a year, or more depending on where and how often you use your RV. Be sure to check your owner’s manual to understand all the specific parts you’ll need to clean and lubricate, as well as how often, for your specific RV model.

Maintaining your slide-out system should be part of your routine RV maintenance. While you don’t have to lubricate your slide as often as you handle your camper’s other maintenance, you should make a habit of routinely inspecting the slide-out system for damage or excessive wear. 

If you love the extra space a slide out provides, be sure to follow these tips to keep your slide moving smoothly for all your travels. And, if you’re looking for a rig with one or more slide outs, browse the nationwide inventory of new and used RVs for sale on


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Arielle Patterson
Arielle Patterson

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