Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club. Today he discusses an RV slide room.
I have a 2011 Cougar Lite 5th wheel. The slide does not have enough power to push out or bring in the slide without me climbing underneath and putting a portable power drill on the manual shaft that drives the slide in or out. The power drill is not enough by itself to move the slide. You have to have someone on the switch while operating the drill or it will not move. Is it a power problem or a motor problem? Can I start by checking the voltage at the motor? What should the voltage be? Can I hook a “hot” 12v wire directly to the motor and see if it is an RV battery? How do you check the battery? Thank you in advance. —Stephen
It could be several things such as you indicated with 12-volt power and the motor. But the mechanism/slide room could also be out of alignment, or the gears might need lubricating.
The first thing I always tell owners is to level and secure the coach so you are not twisting the chassis/foundation and therefore adding resistance as the room tries to come in and out.
Add a battery booster
Next, add a 12-volt battery booster to your house batteries to see if this helps. You don’t need to wire it directly to the slide motor. You just need to make sure you have at least 12.6 volts to the rig. This is a very common issue with lead-acid and even AGM house batteries, as they get sulfated if not properly charged with a multi-stage charger. They look good with 12.6 volts. However, the minute there is a load applied, they drop like a rock and don’t provide enough power to run things, especially a slide room!
Plugging the unit into shoreline power should also provide a boost if the converter is supplying proper power. You can put a multimeter on the battery/s and push the button and see what voltage is present.
Now let’s take a look at the slide motor and mechanism
To provide more specific information, we need to know what mechanism is being used. There are several different types that have something similar to what you described. If it’s a hydraulic slide, the fluid needs to be checked and topped off. However, since you indicated you can attach a cordless drill to the shaft, I assume it’s a gear-driven slide mechanism similar to the one shown here but with a shorter accessible shaft.
Check with your slide mechanism manufacturer to see what recommendations they have for lubricating any of the components. The Lippert version recommends lubricating the bearings and gear with 3-in-one oil, but not the gear rail. Some also recommend a silicone spray lubricant at pivot joints. Any resistance in the mechanism will require additional force or amp draw on the motor, which it might not be able to handle.
And as for the motor itself, you should be able to put on an amp meter and verify if it’s within the specifications outlined in a service manual. Again, if you can provide the make and model of the mechanism, we can get that information. Lippert has great documentation available on their website. Since it’s a 2009 and over 12 years old, it could also just be getting weak. Make sure you check all wiring and connections as an improper gauge wire could also be an issue.
Check to verify room is aligned
And finally, check to verify the room is properly aligned side to side and top to bottom. A room that is out of alignment can also cause resistance and create this situation. You should be able to measure the gap from the side of the slide to the sidewalls. Check underneath to make sure the room is still rolling on whatever helps it slide across the floor – whether it’s rollers or a plastic “show”. Also, check to make sure the slide room itself is not starting to sag or bow underneath.
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