Last updated on July 3rd, 2023 at 12:32 pm
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When it comes to RVing, it’s 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 what exactly are slide-out stabilizers, and are RV slide-out stabilizers necessary?
RV slide-out stabilizers aren’t necessary to own and use on your RV. The newer the RV, the less likely RV slide-out stabilizers are needed as slides are designed and built to hold a significant amount of weight on their own. Stabilizers may be beneficial for older rigs, with manual and potentially weaker RV slide-outs.
Sometimes slide-outs don’t look or seem very secure, and this is why we have slide-out stabilizers as an option for RVs struggling to handle the weight of a slide-out. More often than not, this is the case for older RVs that need a bit of TLC!
Are RV Slide Out Stabilizers Necessary?
Typically, most RVs with slide-outs won’t need the addition of stabilizers as they tend to already have the mechanisms in place to support a substantial amount of weight. My retro travel trailer needed plenty of upgrades when I first bought it, and it’s no surprise since it has been used for a good few decades!
It’s normal for older RVs to need a helping hand, and therefore RV slide-outs may actually be necessary for vintage rigs. For the most part, though, RV slide-out stabilizers aren’t necessary and can cause issues if used incorrectly.
If you’re not entirely sure if your RV needs stabilizers, I’d recommend contacting your RV manufacturer for some advice and peace of mind before you jump straight into a purchase.
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 your slide-out. They offer support for the various amounts of weight they are expected to handle, as demonstrated in the video below:
These stabilizers are often purchased separately and after you have driven your RV off 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 whether RV slide-outs are necessary 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 helpful depending on your rig.
Helpful For Older RVs
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.
RVs Requiring More Support
Slide-out stabilizers are designed to support the pop-out, which provides 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. This means you should have your slide-out covered, no matter what’s going on in it!
Crooked Or Leaning Slide Outs
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, the addition of stabilizers may be a good idea for you.
They can extend the life of your slide-out mechanism, should the stabilizer be used and set up properly. They’re 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 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’s 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’s all electronic and requires fairly little maintenance.
New RVs Don’t Need Stabilizers
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!
Many RVs Have Self-Supporting Slide Outs
Almost 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. As 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?
Stabilizers May Damage 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!
Slide Out Stabilizers Unsuitable For Unlevel RVs
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.
Stabilizers May Cause Gaps
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 slide-out 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 at 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 To Use Slide Out Stabilizers?
So, you have an older rig with slide-outs and it needs some extra support… time to grab some slide-out stabilizers! There’s a lot of information around about these pieces of kit, and although they definitely aren’t suitable for every RV, they do have a time and place.
Using stabilizers correctly is the safest way, and will help limit damage to your rig from improper use. During installation, I would recommend taking things slow and steady, as it’s not worth rushing the process only to cause damage that will need repairing in the future!
1. Find Level Ground
Parking on a level spot can sometimes be a nightmare! But just as it’s wise to store your RV level, finding firm, level ground to park on when using slide-out stabilizers is vital. If the ground is soft like mud, and shifts unexpectedly damage may occur as the RV will move but the stabilizers may not!
If it’s proving near-impossible to find stable, even ground, it’s a good idea to use something solid such as a wooden panel to give the stabilizer a bit more support from the ground up.
2. Open The Slide Out
It’s time to open the slide-outs on your RV! As I said before, it’s worth taking things nice and slow and lowering the risk of damage. This will be a good time to visually see how level the RV is and work out if you need to move to a different spot or not.
3. Use The Slide Out Stabilizers
Following the given instructions, insert the stabilizers under the metal support section of the slide-out and make sure it doesn’t shift onto the material or canvas part of the slide. Watch out for any wiring or other parts that can be easily damaged by the stabilizer.
4. Extend Stabilizers
Once the stabilizers are in place, get ready to extend them so they can give the slides the support they need! It’s vital to extend the stabilizers so they gently press against the metal underside of the slides. Although everyone will probably want to give you a hand at this point, it’s best to keep the whole family out of the RV, or at least away from the slide-outs whilst you’re getting everything stable and in the right place.
5. Check Back After 24hrs
After everything is firmly in place, leave the RV for a day or so to allow the slide-outs and stabilizers to settle. The ground might shift or the stabilizers may move, so it’s best to give everything 24hrs to settle. Check how level your RV is and if the stabilizer is still in place, supporting the slide-outs.
Tips For Using Slide Out Stabilizers Correctly
No matter the age, your RV is a delicately balanced machine. Setting up your slide-out stabilizers should be easy in theory, but it’s important to pay attention to your overall camping surroundings when doing so.
Park On Suitable Ground
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.
Be Cautious Of Rainy Weather
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!
Follow Stabilizer Instructions Carefully
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.
Avoid Using Slide Out Stabilizers On Questionable Ground
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 Slide Outs?
As with almost 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 The 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 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, damage, or debris such as bugs will be necessary to ensure the life of your slide-outs. Along with fixing any leaks in the slide-outs if you find any.
Check Slide Out Seals
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.
Use A Professional For Annual Maintenace
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 not always be the wisest thing to do. However, you may find them useful in certain situations if you have an older rig with weak slide-outs. Just make sure to use them properly, don’t void your RV’s warranty, and store your slides correctly in the off-season.