Lube your slideout?


By Chris Dougherty
Chris Dougherty is a certified RV technician. Here is a letter he received from a reader while he was serving as’s technical editor.

Dear Chris,
We own a 2011 Coachmen Mirada 29DS. The DS means that it has double slides: one for the bedroom, and the other for the living area. How often do I need to lubricate the slide mechanism and what should I use to lubricate them? —Craig

Dear Craig,
When it comes to slideout mechanism lubrication, as a rule I refer people to their manual first. Here’s why: Depending on the mechanism manufacturer and system model, the factory recommendations change. The living room system included in your coach, I believe, is a Lippert 2×3 hydraulic slide system. From Lippert’s own manual:

“System Maintenance
“The Lippert Hydraulic Slideout System has been static tested to over 4,000 continuous cycles with out any noticeable wear to rotating or sliding parts. It is recommended that when operating in harsh environments (road salt, ice build up, etc.) the moving parts be kept clean and can be washed with mild soap and water. No grease or lubrication is necessary and in some situations may be detrimental to the environment and long term dependability of the system.

“Mechanical Maintenance
“Although the system is designed to be almost maintenance free, actuate the room once or twice a month to keep the seals and internal moving parts lubricated. Check for any visible signs of external damage after and before movement of the travel trailer. NOTE: For long-term storage: It is recommend that the room be closed (retracted).”

There are LIP Sheets (Lippert’s technical directives published for the technicians are affectionately called LIP Sheets) for different systems that direct the owner/technician to clean the system with soap and water, and if it squeaks to optionally apply a “light coat of oil.”

Some other manufacturers do not even address the issue in their technical publications. When I downloaded the owner’s manual for your coach from Forest River’s site, they also did not address the issue.

That said, here are a couple of things to keep in mind, in my opinion:

A happy RV (or slide mechanism) is a clean RV. All moving mechanical systems or devices work best when cleaned. As many slide mechanisms are exposed to the open road/underside of the coach, keeping mud, dirt and debris off them is essential.

IF you are going to lube the system, use a non-attracting lubricant, perhaps with a rust preventive of some type for the steel surfaces. I like to spray the bolts down too, so if I have to loosen them at some point I can. If I see wear on steel parts, I’ll lightly lube them with a slideout lube, again commercially available, like Thetford’s slideout lube.

The slideout seals should also be maintained. There are commercial products available that protect them from UV degradation, etc.

There are plastic guides under many slides that can attract dirt and debris. While hard to get to, if you peel back the seal across the bottom you can visualize them and make sure nothing is trapped in there like pet toys, socks, shoes, kitchen utensils etc.

Keep an eye on the slide box bottom and the carpet or flooring on the main floor of the coach. If you notice scraping damage, then the slideout needs adjustment and/or repair. This should be addressed immediately to avoid further damage. Sometimes screws come loose, or there are screws protruding from the bottom of the box causing damage. Sometimes it’s a mis-adjustment, or the guides were installed improperly at the factory.

As for frequency of maintenance, it depends on how much you use your coach, but I like to maintain my slides at least twice a season, and I’m in the habit of visualizing things with a beverage in my hand from time to time, to see if I notice anything amiss … fun and productive! Of course I also keep my eyes open when I’m washing the coach, and I clean the wheel wells and mechanism as needed.

Lastly, bedroom slides are often enclosed, and require little if any maintenance. The seals should be cared for and beware of obstructions. Squeaking and poor operation may dictate the need for some cleaning and lubrication, but I would refer you to the manufacturer of that mechanism for direction.

##RVT768 ##RVDT1246

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1 year ago

While you should check your owners manual for all your maintenance needs and if you have questions, call the manufacturers Technical support line.

In most cases, if it deals with slide mechanisms, these are usually designed and bulit by LIPPERT Components. There are several other manufacturers that make slide out devices. Our RV has Lippert Hydraulic and the Schwintech (spelling) mechanical slide. Plus, we have a Cable Slide, which is made by someone else.

The BIG Take Away from this is doing routine and regular maintenance. Excercising the Slides regularly also helps. And you should only use a Silicone Based Lubricant for slides and seals and it should be a DRY lubricant. Never use OIL! Oil is a patroleum product that will collect dirt and dust and reduce the slide mechanism’s efficiency and in some cases cause it to stop working completely. Oil will also breakdown rubber seals and parts. You should NOT use WD 40 on slides either. It to is a Patroleum based product. You should only use WD 40 on squeaky hinges!

To maintain these systems properly, you will have to do the NASTY and crawl up under the RV and have someone else run the slides in and out. Of course if the slides are enclosed and you don’t feel comfortable working on them, you will have no choice but to take it to the Shop and have things looked at.

mike neely
1 year ago
Reply to  Jeff

Read the manual before taking Jeffs advice. My Lippert through frame slideout manual says I need to use 10w-30 motor oil to lubricate the slide mechanism and where to apply the oil. And the technician who did some adjusting also gave the same advice (basically follow the manual)

1 year ago

Thanks for the good information. This is why I’m a happy reader.

Lori Schulz
4 years ago

We own a 2010 Big Horn 5th wheel. This past few months the 2 slides for the living room are stopping when opening or closing them. If I wait about 20-30 seconds and then hit the button, they will finish opening/closing. We have had no problem, so far with the kitchen or bedroom slides. We use our unit mainly for summer camping, but last year we did travel cross country for 3 months. We are hoping to travel again starting in Feb for 3 months or so. Any idea what could be causing this?

Mike Roberts
4 years ago
Reply to  Lori Schulz

Check out the Heartland Owners Forum, search for 50 amp circuit breaker. You have a 50 amp circuit breaker that opens, then automatically resets in a few seconds. It’s a common problem. I’ve already had to change mine on my 2014 Big Country.

Tom Gutzke
1 year ago
Reply to  Lori Schulz

Most slideouts use a solenoid to provide the high amperage needed. A wire from the battery goes to the solenoid and then from the solenoid to the motor. A low amperage wire is used to activate the internal switch. Some RVs have them exposed to the elements. Check the connections on the solenoid. If corroded replace the solenoid – a fairly easy task. They are not very expensive. You can also clean the connections. The corrosion will reduce the current draw causing the solenoid to overheat and shut down for 30-60 seconds. Been there; done that.