By Chris Dougherty
Chris Dougherty is a certified RV technician. Here is a letter he received from a reader while he was serving as RVtravel.com’s technical editor.
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
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 owner manual:
“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 buildup, 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.
“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 misadjustment, 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.