Knowing what to do when the RV slide goes out but not in is a skill all RVers must possess. The issue could be as simple as an insufficiently charged battery or as complex as a hydraulic leak. Regardless of the cause, you can troubleshoot the problem and perform the correct fix.
And if all fails, you can always manually retract hydraulic slide out. Please read on.
- Possible Causes of Slide Out Retraction Issues
- Troubleshooting and Fixing the RV Slide Out
- 1. Inspect the RV, Including Its Position Relative to the Ground.
- 2. Assess the “house Battery.”
- 3. Inspect the Circuit Breaker and Fuse.
- 4. Check the Electrical Wires Connecting the RV Slide-out Motor to the Power Supply.
- 5. Assess the JST connector.
- 6. Test the RV Slide-out Activation Switch.
- 7. Reset the RV Slide-out.
Possible Causes of Slide Out Retraction Issues
Like any mechanical component, RV slide-outs are not immune to defects, failures, and other issues undermining their operation. The following reasons might help explain why your RV slide out won’t come in.
1. Battery Issues
Standalone RVs (i.e., motorhomes, truck campers, and camper vans) have two battery types: one for starting the engine (so you can go have fun with your family) and another (the “house battery”) for running the different electrical gadgets in the motorhome (including the slide-out).
The “house battery” might not have sufficient charge, helping explain why the RV slide-out will not retract. Corroded battery terminals can also impede the flow of electricity from the battery to the slide-out. Or, it could be dead (having no charge).
However, a “dead battery” will not run other DC-connected appliances either, and the slide-out will not extend.
2. Concerns with the Fuse or Breaker
A sudden surge of electricity can cause the fuse’s thin wire to break or the circuit breaker to flip. Although it’s a safety mechanism, a blown fuse can cause slide out issues. It’s a similar story with a tripped breaker.
These electrical devices are “bridges” between the wires supplying electricity from the mains to the slide-out. If they “break” or “trip,” electricity won’t flow.
3. Wiring Issues
Electrical wires have very thin strands protected only by an equally-thin rubber sheath. Normal wear and tear can remove the covering and expose the tiny cables, causing a short circuit when they contact metal. Sadly, constant RV slide-out movements can hasten wire deterioration.
Unfortunately, critters can also wreak havoc on these components. Rodents can chew on the cable sheath, scratching the wires or breaking the strands altogether. These wiring issues can account for an RV slide out stuck in its track.
4. JST Connector Issues
A Japanese Solderless Terminal (JST) is an innovative solution for many DIY electricians and hobbyists. RV slide-outs have JST wires connecting the motor to the battery or power source.
Unfortunately, these connectors can detach, cutting the electrical supply to the RV slide-out.
5. Problems with the Slide-out Activation Switch
Like light switches at home, the RV slide-out toggle lever can malfunction. The most likely culprit is friction-related wear and tear.
You cannot operate the RV slide-out with a broken switch because electricity will not flow and complete the circuit.
6. Obstructions in the Slide Track
Twigs, small rocks, accumulated debris, and other objects blocking the RV slide-out tracks can cause the mechanism to stop.
RV slide-outs have sensors that detect resistance to movement. The mechanism automatically stops slide-out action to prevent damaging the slide-out motor and its gears.
7. Hydraulic Leak
This problem often accompanies pump and motor failure, though it can also occur by itself. If your slideout operates through a hydraulic mechanism, a shortage of fluid in the reservoir typically indicates a leak that prevents slideout retraction.
Troubleshooting and Fixing the RV Slide Out
Understanding the causes of problems with RV slides not retracting allows camper owners to troubleshoot and fix the issue systematically. Here’s how.
1. Inspect the RV, Including Its Position Relative to the Ground.
We recommend doing this step before inspecting the battery and other electrical components. Sometimes, the only reason your RV slide-out doesn’t retract is an object obstructing the tracks.
Inspect these areas for anything that might prevent the slide-out from moving. Remove the offending objects and ensure correct draw bar alignment. You might also want to clean the grooves to ensure the slide-out moves flawlessly.
Assess your motorhome and how it sits relative to the ground. Is it level? For example, an RV tilted to one side might make the slide-out (on that side) unable to retract. Activating your RV’s leveling system or parking the motorhome on even terrain should address the problem.
2. Assess the “house Battery.”
Look at the battery terminals, especially the positive post (the red one), and assess for corrosion, abnormal dirt accumulation, and other unwanted contaminants.
Remove the battery connectors and clean the terminals with baking powder paste and a small brush. Reattach battery cables and test the RV slide-out.
Suppose the RV slide-out still doesn’t budge, get a multimeter and assess the battery’s charge. Recharge the battery if its capacity falls below 50%. If that doesn’t solve the issue, you might have to replace the “house battery.”
3. Inspect the Circuit Breaker and Fuse.
Suppose the battery holds a charge and its terminals are clean, but the RV slide-out still doesn’t retract. In that case, inspecting the fuse and breaker should be next on your list.
Inspect the fuse to see if the thin filament is intact. If not, replace the fuse with another with the correct amperage rating.
Check the breaker switch because it might be off. Flipping it back ON should restore power to the slide-out motor and allow you to retract it.
Unfortunately, if the breaker continues to trip, we recommend hiring a professional RV electrician to assess and diagnose the problem. Short circuits might occur anywhere in the motorhome’s electrical system.
4. Check the Electrical Wires Connecting the RV Slide-out Motor to the Power Supply.
You can troubleshoot an RV slide-out that doesn’t retract by checking its wires’ integrity. This trick is easy if the cables are accessible.
Unfortunately, some modern RVs place electrical wires discreetly throughout the motorhome. Assessing these cables might be challenging unless you remove the panels or conduits protecting them.
Check the wires for signs of wear, breaks, or damage. You can replace the problematic sections by splicing new wires, bridging the damaged portion. An electrician can help you if you’re unsure or not confident.
5. Assess the JST connector.
We recommend checking the JST connector as you assess the electrical wires. Sadly, locating this device can be challenging on some RVs. The manual should help you determine its placement.
Determine if the JST connector is continuous with the outlet port. Pull the connector and plug it back into the port if not. Otherwise, you might want to manually “reset” the RV slide-out to move the JST connector and outlet port closer.
6. Test the RV Slide-out Activation Switch.
This trick works if your RV has multiple slide-outs. You can remove the problematic slide-out switch and swap it with the toggle lever of a functioning one.
You can buy a new RV slide-out activation switch and replace the defective unit.
7. Reset the RV Slide-out.
If none of the “fixes” mentioned addresses the RV slide-out issue, you can try resetting it. So, how do I reset my RV slide out?
Most RVs have a manual override or a mechanism (a T-assist handle) for extending and retracting the slide-out without relying on electrical power. You can use this tool to “reset” the RV slide-out.
Disconnect electrical power to the tip-out by unplugging the JST connector or flipping the breaker switch to OFF. Check your RV manual for the manual override’s location. Most RVs have this device adjacent to the slide-out motor.
Insert the T-assist handle into the motor’s gear mechanism and crank it slowly to retract the RV slide-out. Re-establish power to the RV slide-out and flip the switch. Check if resetting solves the issue.
Several reasons can explain why an RV slide goes out but not in. It could be a simple slide track obstruction or an issue with the RV slide-out electrical system.
Regardless of the cause, troubleshooting and fixing a motorhome slide-out that doesn’t retract is crucial. After all, you don’t want to drive your vehicle on roads and highways with its slide-out extended. Doing so is unsafe for you and other motorists.
“Hi, I’m Francis’ husband—Calvin. Our story began with our shared passion for traveling. I have had a career journey for over 11 years at Ford Motor Company, where I took on the role of BMS SW Process Engineer.
Together with my wife, I have dedicated countless hours to exploring every nook and corner of the world. Ten years living in an RV may seem long, but time seems to fly by when I’m doing what I love with the person I love.
Like my wife, I hope to help you see the beauty of traveling off the beaten path by sharing insights into this lifestyle. In addition to my corporate roles, I also launched our website – Outdoorbits, in 2015 and continue to contribute my knowledge and skills to the present day. And I’ll be completely honest with you—no hiding the truth or sugarcoating the possible challenges.
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