Wednesday, September 27, 2023


Avoid disaster: Make sure your RV is level before retracting slides

I am usually very careful about making sure the RV is level. I even have an extra battery-operated level to put on the floor to double-check even when the auto level thinks the motorhome is level.

However, one day as we slowly were sinking in the soft mud, despite mighty blocks under the jacks, I got lazy.

We were leaving the next morning so how bad could it get? Short answer: really bad. We got ready to leave the next day and all the slides came in easily, except the one on the downward slope. It is the slide with cabinets, dining table, residential fridge, microwave and the stove. The whole slide is about twelve feet long. Needless to say, it is heavy.

A level RV is important for slideouts

As I pressed the button to bring it in, it slowly, I mean despairingly slowly, moved from side to side, got up the incline and made a scraping sound. It was in, we left, and I didn’t think about it again.

Until the next in-and-out maneuver. I thought the scraping sound was rubbing against a picture frame so I removed that. The next scrape I heard I assumed was the molding. I removed the molding.

Our next stop was a Tiffin Rally where we just knew the techs would fix it. They immediately knew the reason and said we had pulled the slide in when it was leaning too far downward. This is why it’s so important your RV is level. They couldn’t fix it. It needs three enormous jacks to hoist it back into position and get it square again. They can only do that at the factory.

So the molding is clamped behind the driver’s seat and the picture is in the closet waiting for a trip to Red Bay, Alabama. Each time I bring it in I hold my breath and double- and triple-check level. Lesson learned.



Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon
Nanci Dixon has been a full-time RVer living “The Dream” for the last six years and an avid RVer for decades more! She works and travels across the country in a 40’ motorhome with her husband. Having been a professional food photographer for many years, she enjoys snapping photos of food, landscapes and an occasional person. They winter in Arizona and love boondocking in the desert. They also enjoy work camping in a regional park. Most of all, she loves to travel.


  1. As one of my old bosses used to say: “RTFM – Read The Fine Manual!”. As stated by others, many motorhomes require the slides to be out BEFORE it is leveled. I am disappointed to see “experts” state either way as a cardinal rule.

  2. Very Bad generic advice on operating slides in an RV – owner needs to READ owners manual – many Rvs slides are supposed to be only operated when the rv is in travel mode – especially motor homes with air bag suspension systems. this is the third time I have seen this incorrect guidance in this news letter over the last 5-10 years.

  3. Not all manufacturers are the same. I know that Newmar and Entegra diesel pushers say to extend and retract at ride height. That is because of their “flush mount” slides. This means aired up and jacks up as well. It can be a little annoying to have to start the engine to “air-up” before bringing in slides.

  4. i have a 2017 Forest River 34QS. It automatically levels most of the time, but I do have a “bulls eye level” that I’ve used in 3 M/H’s that I check before I deploy the slides. I know from experience that the kitchen slide will be lower on that side a couple of inches so I manually bring that side up before deploying. it probably doesn’t matter, but we like it level so the darn refer door stays where you put it. We used to  boondock all the time, but not so much anymore, but we still do!

  5. Hmmm, each manufacturer has specific instructions on how to level and setup and unlevel and take down your rig. I follow those instructions. We never have parked in soft spot and we don’t boondock so sinking has not occurred to us except one time in Florida. We did have to use 6×6’s to hit hardpan before jack kept sinking into ground, left them in the ground when we left. I usually check level several hours after initial setup as hydraulic system has cooled and some changes might have occurred. I tweak as necessary.

  6. Another possible lesson: don’t buy a rig with a floor plan that puts heavy (or mechanically critical) stuff in a slide . . .

  7. The lessons best learned are those hardest learned. I feel your pain. I try to have all 4 slides on our Phaeton checked and lubed if needed once a year- usually in the spring.


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