RV industry salespeople will tell you motor home, fifth wheel and travel trailer “ RV slide outs” are the greatest invention in recent history for the RV industry. They may be right as slide outs provide a transformation on the inside of a RV.

I have four slides on my fifth wheel and I love them but anytime there are positive attributes negative ones also go along with it. I must admit the first multi-room slide out I saw which covered twenty to twenty-five fee on a large motor home sent a shiver up my spine. What a nightmare!

The nature of the systems themselves invites a host of electrical, mechanical and logistic challenges. I get many questions on slides, so here are some basics. Slide out Mechanical Drive Systems –Electric or Hydraulic

Electric Motor Driven

  • Gear driven electric motor drives a gear system.
  • Used more on smaller and lighter slides.
  • Work adequately when not overloaded (from engineering standpoint and yes not all are engineered correctly.)

Weaknesses of Electric Slide Outs

  • Motor/gear box can go bad.
  • Can shear drive pen in main gear drive mechanism.
  • Motor can become overloaded ( excessive amp draw) from drag in the slide causing “broken” or “relay” to trip.


  • Used primarily on larger and heavier slides.
  • Can use one motor/pump assembly to power more than one slide.
  • Mechanically more complex than their electrical counter parts.

Weaknesses of Hydraulic Systems

  • Possible failure of pump, valve or hydraulic line.
  • Hydraulic lines are particularly susceptible to wear, friction, heat etc. Can develop leaks or breaks in the lines themselves.
Design Challenges of RV Slide Outs

  • One would hope the drive systems themselves would be enough to be concerned about but no such luck. The physics alone of moving a thousand to two thousand pound room can be daunting

  • One thing to look for is the vertical stance of the slide as it moves in and out. All slides move over have the some type of roller assembly at the outer wall but the slide should maintain its stability (with little tipping in or out) as it moves in and out. Poor stability can damage the floor and can affect the slides ability to seal.

Slide Out Seals

Imagine you are sitting in your $400,000 motor home one afternoon, look up, and spot a bright ray of sunshine shooting across your motor home. You immediately search for the source of this ray of light and almost shallow your tongue. You jump up and make a b-line for the upper corner of the opposing slide, peer into the corner and are almost blinded by a bright ray of sun shooting in between the corner slide seals.

It may sound funny but I assure you it wasn’t to the owner as he described it to me. Sealing slide outs is a major challenge – especially in the extended position. Chances are good if you spray wash your motor home, fifth wheel or travel trailer with the slide out… you will, get water inside. Achieving a watertight seal around the entire slide may be one of the most challenging aspects in sealing today’s slides.

On new and used RVs, ,b>prospective buyers should carefully inspect top and side seals. You need to understand how the seal is supposed to work, how it is working and the prospect of how long it will continue to work years of use. If you are left shaking your head you probably, don’t want to buy this RV.

In reality, the areas around your slide can be the most open area of your motor home, fifth wheel or travel trailer. Water, light, varmints, insects, etc can get if not properly sealed. Every RV owner who has slides should be aware of these issues, which I have just addressed.

Slide Out Topper Replacement Fabric.