Last updated on December 5th, 2022 at 10:29 am
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When it comes to RVing, it is always useful to have more space than less. But how can we design RVs to suit our needs in such a small space?
This is where slide outs come in, also known as pop outs. These wonderful RV inventions allow us to fit a lot of great living space onto a small frame.
But sometimes slide outs don’t look or seem very secure. This is why we have slide out stabilizers as an option for those RVs that don’t seem like they can handle the weight of a slide out.
But what exactly are slide out stabilizers, and are they necessary for you and the overall life of your rig?
It may surprise you, but slide out stabilizers are not necessary to own and use on your RV. The newer the RV, the less likely you are to need them. In fact, slide out stabilizers may even damage your new rig!
What are Slide Out Stabilizers?
You may have already heard of RV stabilizers or jacks but what exactly are slide out stabilizers? Slide out stabilizers are single pole designed stabilizers meant to go underneath of your slide out and offer support for the various amounts of weight that will be on the slide out.
These stabilizers are often purchased separately and after you have driven your RV off of the sales lot. The poles are not connected to your slide outs and are easy to assemble and disassemble. These single pole stabilizers may not seem very strong but many are capable of withstanding hundreds or even thousands of pounds of weight.
Slide out stabilizers are often sold in packs of two for a reasonable price. However, given their ease of use and affordability, why don’t more people use them?
Let’s take a look at why you may or may not need slide out stabilizers for your RV.
When are Slide Out Stabilizers Necessary?
If you haven’t noticed very many slide out stabilizers while you’ve been camping, it may not surprise you to hear that slide out stabilizers are not always necessary. However, some of you may find them useful and necessary depending on your rig.
Slide out stabilizers are often necessary for older RVs, especially RVs with manual slide outs or pop outs. Of course it will depend on your individual rig, but you may want to consider slide out stabilizers if you have manual pop outs on a vintage rig.
Slide out stabilizers are designed to support the pop out, which allows you plenty of peace of mind should you have a shaky slide out. If any of that sounds like your situation, I’d suggest picking up these Camco stabilizers which are designed to support up to 5,000 pounds per stabilizer. That means you should have your slide out covered, no matter what’s going on in it!
Slide outs often have very important parts of your RV located in them, such as seating areas, bedrooms, and even portions of the kitchen. Ensuring these areas are well supported is a good idea for any RV owner.
If you’ve ever taken your older rig camping and felt nervous looking at your crooked or leaning slide out, slide out stabilizers may be a good idea for you. It can extend the life of your slide out mechanism, should the stabilizer be used and set up properly.
Slide out stabilizers are also very useful in wind storms or other events that lead to a lot of shaking in your pop outs. You will notice significantly less shaking in these moments should you choose to set up a stabilizer, and it may lead to a better experience inside your RV.
However, there are many RVers and many RVs that do not recommend using slide out stabilizers. Why might this be? When might slide out stabilizers be unnecessary?
When are Slide Out Stabilizers Unnecessary?
As RVs have grown in popularity, the technology that is used within them has grown as well. RV slide outs have come so far from their mechanical grandfathers from back in the 70s. If you see an RV with a slide out or pop out in this day and age, no doubt it is all electronic and requires fairly little maintenance.
If you have a newer RV, you may not need to use slide out stabilizers. In fact, using slide out stabilizers may do more harm than good. If your rig has slide outs that are all electronic and automatic, you may not ever have to think about supporting them!
Most all new RVs have slide outs that are self-supporting. The slide outs are expecting the amount of weight that is usually present when you go RVing, such as many people standing or sitting in a slide out at one time.
Therefore, they are built to handle thousands of pounds without the need for an additional stabilizer. Like I said, we’ve come a long way from the old vintage rigs of the 70s! But how might a slide out stabilizer damage your RV?
More often than not, a slide out stabilizer will damage your RV due to user error. However, new RVs do not require pop out stabilizers, and the added pressure caused by the stabilizers can sometimes have adverse effects.
The most common damage caused by slide out stabilizers is popped or damaged tires. The pressure from the stabilizers can force unexpected weight shifts and pressure changes onto your rig’s tires. This means that, while you feel secure and supported in your slide out, your RV’s tires may be suffering for it!
It is highly recommended not to utilize slide out stabilizers should your rig be tilted or crooked in any way, with the weight unevenly distributed. Slide out stabilizers are not designed to shift with the rest of your RV, which can lead to slide out damage. It can also lead to structural damage to the rest of your RV.
Having a device constantly pushing up on your slide out, no matter how settled your RV is, can also lead to gapping between the bottom of the pop out and the rest of your rig. Your slide outs are easily lifted, especially by stabilizers, and lifting these delicately balanced mechanisms can lead to a large gap in your RV, large enough for rodents and other critters to sneak inside!
If you own a new rig and are unsure if you should purchase slide out stabilizers, I highly recommend checking with your RV’s manufacturer. They should have no trouble telling you whether or not they recommend slide out stabilizers, and this should help you with any potential damages before they occur.
How Many Slide Out Stabilizers Do I Need?
If you believe your RV needs slideout stabilizers, it should be fairly simple to figure out how many stabilizers you need to purchase. The first thing you need to do is determine how many pop outs you would like supported.
Once you have this number, chances are, you don’t need more than one stabilizer per pop out. So if your RV has three slide outs, you would purchase three stabilizers. Most slide out stabilizers are capable of holding up thousands of pounds, so one stabilizer centered underneath your slide out should do the trick!
However, if you are still unsure whether or not one will be enough, all you need to do is a little bit of math. If you are able to obtain the weight of your slide out on its own, this number will be very useful in determining how heavy of a stabilizer you need to purchase.
Starting with the weight of your slide out as a base, add in the weight of how many people could possibly be occupying the slide out space in one particular moment. Plus, don’t forget any luggage, groceries, or other dry goods that might be in the slide out at the same time.
Once you have calculated this number, shopping for a slide out stabilizer should be easy. Setting it up should also be fairly simple, but let’s go over that together.
How Do I Properly Set Up My Slide Out Stabilizers?
No matter the age, your RV is a delicately balanced machine. Setting up your slide out stabilizers should be easy in theory, but it is important to pay attention to your overall camping surroundings when doing so.
If your rig is parked on grass, gravel, dirt, or anything other than sturdy, reliable asphalt, you need to pay attention to your slide out stabilizers. This is where most slide out stabilizer damages occur, and you may consider not setting up your slide out stabilizers in certain locations.
Let’s say, for example, that your RV is set up on grass. If you get your pop out stabilizer set up, but it decides to rain that day and the ground gets wet and muddy, your RV will settle deeper into the mud. But will your pop out stabilizer settle at the same rate? Chances are, no, it will not.
So what does this mean for your slide outs? The most probable cause of slide out damage is when your stabilizers remain stable but your rig does not, leading to extra force occurring underneath your slide out.
This leads to, more often than not, a pushed up slide out, one that does not operate the same as before. The worst case scenario could be that the slide out stabilizer forces the slide out off of its track, leading to an expensive repair and potentially you being unable to push your slide out back in!
While this sounds like an RVer’s worst nightmare, there are ways to properly set up a slide out stabilizer so that you are less likely to encounter these issues. Following your slide out stabilizer instructions from the manufacturer is always a good idea.
If you are at all worried about the unevenness of your campsite or even the ground material you are parked on, many RVers would say not to use your slide out stabilizers. Unless you are setting your RV up for a very long stay, using them may cause more harm than good!
I Have a Brand New RV…Do I Need Slide Out Stabilizers?
You may be wondering if you need to use slide out stabilizers on your newer rig. If your RV is newer than a decade or even two, you should have no trouble using your pop outs without stabilizers.
This is because most newer RVs are designed to handle the weight of whatever might be placed inside the pop out, including hundreds of pounds of supplies and people! RV manufacturers assume you will be using the slide outs frequently, and have accounted for the extra estimated weights.
However, you may still want to consider using slide out stabilizers on your newer RV if you are staying in one location for a long time. You may also consider using these stabilizers if any of your pop outs shake a lot more than is comfortable.
Setting up your stabilizers properly and on solid ground will most likely not lead to too much damage. However, it is very important to weigh the pros and cons of slide out stabilizers, especially if you own a newer RV. Your warranty may not cover the damages!
Will My RV Warranty Cover Slide Out Damages?
If you use slide out stabilizers on your newer, warrantied RV, you may encounter some trouble should the stabilizers damage your slide outs. Many RV warranties will not cover damages to slide outs caused by aftermarket stabilizers. Why might this be?
This is most likely because most modern RV manufacturers assemble slide outs with stabilization in mind. If you modify the way your RV is manufactured, your warranty will be voided. This is unfortunately what happens often with slide out stabilizers.
While the manufacturers may not always be able to tell that a slide out stabilizer is what caused the damages, it is often assumed that is the leading cause of slide out damages. For this reason, many RVers don’t utilize slide out stabilizers and won’t ever, given that a warranty will cover repairs otherwise.
Your RV warranty is important to maintain should you own a newer RV. Warranties cover a lot of damages and repairs that quickly add up should you need many of them! This is why many RVers don’t use slide out stabilizers.
How Can I Maintain my RV’s Slide Outs?
As with most any piece of your RV, consistent maintenance is required to extend the overall life of your rig. Your slide outs are no exception to this rule. However, in the grand scheme of RV maintenance, your slide outs should be fairly simple. Here are some tips and tricks to keep your RV slide outs operating smoothly!
- Lubricate your slide out mechanisms. While this maintenance should only be done once every so often, inspecting your mechanical parts should be done whenever you operate your slide outs. Your RV’s manufacturer should have some good suggestions for lubrication products, but definitely check out this three-in-one option that I recommend. Many RV professionals recommend a dry lubricant, especially for routine maintenance checks.
- Ensure your mechanisms are free of debris. Keeping your slide outs clean will be most of your maintenance problems. Inspecting the delicate mechanisms and gears for any dirt, damages, or debris such as bugs will be necessary to ensure the life of your slide outs.
- Check your slide out seal. The sealing on any RV, anywhere, is one of the most important pieces of your RV puzzle. Water is an RV’s worst enemy, especially when it comes to slide outs. Maintaining your slide out seal is important, so pay attention to any damages, including the seal drying out.
- Have a professional perform annual maintenance. This of course will depend on how often you use your RV and if you have a warranty, but it is always a good idea to have a professional look at your rig. They know what sort of damages to watch out for, and they will no doubt ensure your slide outs are in good working order before you decide to hit the road again!
Whether you have an older RV or a brand new one off the lot, using slide out stabilizers has been known to cause more harm than good. However, you may find them useful in certain situations. Just make sure to use them properly, and take care that you don’t void your RV’s warranty in the process!