Answers to questions about RV Repair and Maintenance from RV expert Dave Solberg, author of the RV Handbook and the managing editor of the RV Repair Club. This column appears Monday through Saturday in the RV Travel and RV Daily Tips newsletters. (Sign up for an email reminder for each new issue if you do not already receive one.) Today Dave discusses a problems with a Schwintek slide out.
I’m on my second fifth wheel, a 2021 model. My first had one Schwintek slide in the bedroom. My current trailer has the same small Schwintek slide in the bedroom plus a large Schwintek slide for the kitchen side of the trailer. I had a minor problem with the Schwintek slide in my first trailer. But I’ve had nothing but constant problems with both Schwintek slides in my current trailer, especially the large kitchen slide. The trailer has been to the dealer three times (it’s there right now) just for the Schwintek slide problems.
I’ve lost two months of use of the trailer so far. Looking at the comments on various RV forums, there are tons of owners struggling with Schwintek slide problems, especially with the larger and heavier Schwintek slides. The techs at my dealer tell me that they would never buy a trailer with a large Schwintek slide in it based on the frequency and severity of the problems that they encounter with the Schwintek slide system. But LCI and RV manufacturers don’t seem to have any problem with continuing to use the Schwintek slide systems.
I wonder what your experience and thoughts are regarding this issue. What should an owner do? I hate to sell a new unit that I otherwise really like just to get away from the larger Schwintek slide. And, it’s hard now to find units that do not use the Schwintek in the larger slides. —Terry
This has been a hot topic over the past several years since the Schwintek mechanism is one of the most widely used systems in slide rooms. No one pretends there were not some issues in the early stages of the product, as the original plastic gears used did not hold up to the rigors of the room moving up and down during transit and other issues. The mechanism first came out in smaller bedroom and single love seat slides. Manufacturers started using it in everything without engineering additional rollers and such. I have had several conversations with Winnebago engineers as well as the Lippert Components Inc. (LCI) technician who literally lives at Winnebago. They are seeing very few issues when the system is used correctly!
Three major issues that can cause failures in Schwintek slide outs
There are three major issues that cause failures in the Schwintek mechanism.
1. Low battery voltage. This is #1 as the motors work off the house batteries and if they are sulfated, they may show a full charge of 12.6 volts, but the minute you push the button and the motor draws amps, it plummets to below 11 volts and the motor will not operate even if you are connected to shoreline power as the converter typically does not kick in until the voltage drops below 50% amp hours. Otherwise it would boil the battery if left on at 13.6 volts constantly. I have recommended using a battery booster to verify if this is a problem several times. It’s amazing how often it has been the issue.
2. Synchronizing. When you bring the unit in or out, leave the button depressed for a couple seconds after it reaches the end of the cycle. This will synchronize the rails and provide a smooth transition in and out.
3. Level and stabilize the rig. If you do not have the rig level and stabilized, the chassis can twist. That means the floor twists, which means the sidewall can twist. Now you have resistance on the room trying to go in and out.
So no, I would not be afraid to purchase a unit with a Schwintek mechanism as long as I kept it clean and did the proper lubrication to the gib and coupler, as was covered earlier in an Ask Dave question.
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Dave Solberg worked at Winnebago for 15 years developing the dealer training program, as marketing manager, and conducting shows. As the owner of Passport Media Creations, Dave has developed several RV dealer training programs, the RV Safety Training program for The Recreation Vehicle Safety and Education Foundation, and the accredited RV Driving Safety program being conducted at rallies and shows around the country. Dave 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, a one-stop go-to online resource for RV enthusiasts.