Pro Tips For RV Slide Out Maintenance

Performing RV slide out maintenance on a regular basis will save you thousands of dollars in RV slide repairs. And it doesn’t matter what kind of rig you own. Slide out rooms can be found on many kinds of RVs. Even smaller travel trailers are often coming with slide outs now. Essentially, a slide out allows you to open up the interior of your RV and make it feel so much more roomy inside.

Motorhome with RV slide outs
RV slide outs can dramatically expand the room inside your RV

But to get that extra room, the manufacturer has to cut a large hole in the side of the RV. Then they put the slide out on a mechanism that moves it in and out as you wish. And to keep water and debris out of the RV, slide seals or gaskets are put in place all around the slide. It all actually works surprisingly well. But if you don’t maintain your RV slide outs, serious problems can develop. And some of these problems can cost thousands to fix and repair.

RV Slide Out Seals

The rubber seals or gaskets that surround the slide-out can be referred to by any number of names. Some call them a wiper seal, sweeper seal or flapper seal. But they all do the job they are intended to do. They are your first line of defense against having the elements seep into your RV, especially water. Replacing the seals on a single slide out can cost $1000 or more. So it makes sense to keep them in good shape.

There are any number of products for slide out seal conditioning. The primary function of these products is to keep the rubber seals supple and prevent them from drying out. And they also need to provide protection against UV damage from the sun. Ultraviolet damage is what slowly breaks down these seals more than anything else and they become brittle. At that point it is easy for cracking to begin which allows moisture to seep into the RV.

I like to use a product that has been especially formulated for protecting rubber and vinyl seals and gaskets. It’s called 303 Aerospace Protectant. It is very easy to apply and will immediately improve the look and feel of your slide out seals. It is also a very high quality UV inhibitor. So regular application of this product should keep your slide out seals in good shape for a very long time. Applying the product on the outside of the seal and between the seal and the slide is all that’s needed.

Keep Your Slide Out Seals In Place

One of the most common problems I see with slide out seals is that the seal doesn’t completely flip into place when the slide is out. This can leave the seal looking odd in that some parts of the seal wiper is in place and others aren’t. This also isn’t the best way to prevent water intrusion either. It’s only when the seal lies perfectly flat against the slide out that the best water prevention takes place. So how do you manage to get the entire seal to flip out and lie flat when the slide is extended?

One way is to physically flip it into place by hand using a ladder. But this is time consuming and carries an element of danger on the ladder. But one of the best solutions I have found is to use furniture bumpers to do the job for you. Simply place about 4 – 5 of them in the middle of the slide out spaced out equally along the height of the slide. Then when the slide goes in they flip the wiper in and when it comes out they flip the wiper into place when the slide is extended. It’s a simple solution that doesn’t cost much money and saves lots of time and effort. You can check out these self-adhesive furniture bumpers on Amazon below.

RV Slide Out Lubrication

There is one other area of the RV slide out that needs lubrication and care. And that is the tracks where the slide moves in and out mechanically. These metal tracks can become filthy and and even rusty over time. And that is when you will hear loud groans and noises as the slides move in and out. Of course, this puts more pressure on the slide out motor too. So lubricating the tracks of the slide out will help make the whole slide mechanism last longer and work better.

For this job, I like to use the 3-in-1 product called “Slide Out Silicone Lube”. I find that it works very well for this purpose. There are other products that also do a fine job. Whatever you use, just make sure that it does not leave a slick or gummy residue behind. If so, dirt and grime will be attracted to it and can even make the slide out tracks worse than before. Lubricating the RV slide out tracks a few times every year will keep them in good working order though. You can read more about the 3-in-1 product that I use below. It’s in the green can. But they also make other great lubrication products for window glass and rubber seals too. You can check them all out below.

I hope these tips on how to maintain your RV slide out seals and tracks has been helpful. If you follow the suggestions provided, you should get good use and long life from your RV slide outs. Please comment below and tell us about your experiences with RV slide out maintenance. Or maybe you have other suggestions on how to care for your slide outs. We would love to hear from you!

As always, have safe and happy travels my friends!

The Best RV Air Compressor For Your Rig

One of the most important components of an RV is its tires. After all, that is your connection with the ground when you are traveling down the highway. So you need to pay even more attention to your RV tires than you normally do to the tires on your car. And this means that you need to determine what is the best RV air compressor for your particular rig. And then use that compressor regularly to keep your RV tires inflated properly. So let’s take a look at the RV tire inflators that I recommend for your consideration.

12 Volt RV Tire Inflators

There are several manufacturers of 12 volt portable air compressors on the market. And many of them are not very well-made. But there is a brand of 12 volt RV air compressors that is widely regarded to be the best by many RV owners. That is the Viair brand. They are known for their quality of build and their smooth, capable function while in use. And they hold up to regular use well.

Viair makes 4 different tire inflators for the RV market, depending on what kind of RV you have. For Class B RVs, the model 89P works great and comes with a 20 foot hose. If you have a towable RV, the model 300P works well and comes with a 30 foot hose. For Class C RVs, the model 400P is the best choice and comes with a 60 foot hose. And finally, for Class A motorhomes, the model 450P does the job very well and also comes with a 60 foot hose.

The idea with making so many models is to be able to offer these units at the size and price point that fits your RV. Of course, you can always buy a larger Viair model than is recommended for your rig and it will work fine. And this might be a good strategy in case you might sell your current RV and buy something larger.

All Viair models come with clamps to attach to your battery as a power source and plenty of hose for your RV size. They are all lightweight and easy to use. And some RVers I know of have even mounted their Viair compressor permanently in their rig and hooked it up to their 12 volt power system. Just click on the images below to get more information and specs on the Viair product line for RVs:

Viair 89P RV air compressor
Viair 300 P RV air compressor
Viair 400P RV air compressor
Viair 450P RV air compressor

120 volt RV Air Compressors

While Viair clearly makes the best 12 volt air compressors for RVs, some RVers choose a 120 volt model instead. In fact, one of the most popular RV tire inflators is a pancake-style compressor made by Porter Cable. One drawback to this style of RV air compressor is its size and weight. If you have a smaller RV it may not be the best choice for you and a Viair unit may work much better. But for those who have ample storage space, these smaller pancake compressors can be very versatile.

In fact, the versatility of these compressors extends well beyond their use as just tire inflators. Since they are true 120 volt air compressors, they can often be used for small repair and remodel jobs around the RV. They can easily run most air-powered tools and that can be very useful in such situations. But they are also very competent RV tire inflators too. Since they can produce up to 150 psi, that will allow you to inflate almost any size RV tire easily. But unlike the Viair models, you will also need to get the hose and connections needed to inflate your tires.

Of course, as mentioned, these compressors run only on 120 volt electricity. And this means that you will either have to be plugged into shore power or use a generator to operate them. But if this is not an issue for you, the cost of one of these air compressors is very attractive. In fact, they can be much less expensive than the Viair compressors mentioned above. I personally use one of these units myself for its overall versatility and power to inflate my motorhome tires quickly. Click on the link below to learn more about the Porter Cable air compressor. And you can also see what others have said about it as well.

My recommendation

In my opinion, if you choose an RV air compressor from one of those in this article, you can’t go wrong. Any of the Viair models will be a good purchase. They will be light and efficient but will be limited only to inflating tires. If you choose a pancake compressor, it will take up more room. But it is also more versatile and can be used for other projects around the RV. But all of these air compressors are well-reviewed and have stood the test of time.

So I hope this information has been helpful for you. Having the right air compressor is important as you learn to maintain and care for your RV tires. Have safe and happy travels my friends!

Correct RV Tire Pressures For Every Rig

There is endless discussion about RV tire pressures in the online RV forums. There are almost as many opinions about it as there are RVers. But what I am going to share with you in this article is what you need to know about tire safety. And safety is a big factor when we talk about RV tires. The bigger the rig, the more important you monitor your tires and use the correct RV tire pressures for your tires.

This subject really is no joke because your RV tires are the only connection you have with the ground. And if you suffer a blowout while driving, it can be a dangerous and scary situation. So lets find out how you can determine the best RV tire pressures for every rig out there.

RV tire pressures gauge

What Is The Correct Tire Pressures For Your RV?

You will hear a lot of thoughts about what the correct RV tire pressure should be for every rig. Some will say to just go by what is printed on the tire sidewalls. Some say to ignore that and use the tire charts usually found inside the RV. Others have a general idea of what tire pressure they like to use and think it fits everyone else as well. So what is the correct air pressure to use in your RV tires?

The truth is that tire pressure is most accurately determined by the load placed on them. The most correct RV tire pressure is the one where it takes into consideration the weight that is being placed on that individual tire. And you might think that RVs have their weight evenly distributed between the axles, but that is often not the case. And very often the RV owner has used their storage unevenly too. So more weight may be on one side of the RV than on the other. And the only way that you will know that is to weigh the rig and find out.

How To Weigh Your RV

So how do you find out how the weight is distributed in your RV? Many people take the RV to a truck scale like CAT scales found at Love’s truck stops. Or they may use another method that weighs the weight on each axle. This is certainly better than nothing and will give you a good picture of what your axle weights are.

But the most accurate weights for tire pressure are determined by weighing the RV at each tire position separately, instead of just using the overall axle weight. That’s because RVs are not very balanced vehicles to begin with. And then people start putting their cargo in the storage areas without thinking about weight distribution. So the weight on a tire on the left side of one axle can be very different from that on the other side. Only by weighing the rig at each tire position will you know that.

There are two main companies that weigh RVs at each tire position and you usually find them at RV rallies across the country. The two top companies that do this properly are Escapees Smart Weigh and the RV Safety Education Foundation (RVSEF). But Escapees Smart Weigh does have some permanent locations where you can get your RV weighed properly too. Here is a link to those weigh centers.

How To Find The Correct RV Tire Pressures

Once you have the accurate weight that is on each tire, now you can determine the correct tire pressure. To do that, you make use of the tire manufacturer’s tire inflation chart. It will tell you the correct tire pressure for the weight that particular tire is carrying. These charts can be easily found online by just Googling the the tire manufacturer and model of tire on your RV.

The general rule of thumb is to use the tire pressure for the tire with the most weight on that axle. In other words, one tire on the axle may have 3000 pounds on it and the other may only have 2000 pounds on it. So use the tire pressure for the tire that has 3000 pounds of weight on it for both tires on that axle.

What To Do If You Haven’t Been Weighed Yet

So now you know how to establish the correct RV tire pressures for your rig. But what do you do before you get weighed properly? The fail safe approach to tire pressure in this case is to run the tires at their maximum cold air pressure. This figure will be listed on the tire sidewall.

If the tires on your rig are the size and rating that your RV manufacturer recommends, this is a safe tire pressure. This maximum cold pressure for the tire is appropriate for the maximum weight that the tire could safely carry. As long as you are within the safe load limits of your RV, the maximum tire air pressure will be fine. The ride may be a little stiff, but it will be safe.

This is because the main enemy of RV tires is heat. And under-inflation is what causes heat to build up in the tire. If you are a little over-inflated for the weight, that should not present much of a safety issue. Also, keep in mind that the maximum tire pressure is cold pressure. This is before the RV has been driven anywhere. As you go, the tire pressure will exceed the cold pressure limit as the tire warms up. And that is fine. The tire manufacturer has built the tire to be able to safely do that.

But be sure to get your RV weighed properly as soon as possible. Then use the tire manufacturer’s tire pressure guidelines for the weight on each RV tire. That is the best and most accurate tire pressure for any RV rig. I hope this primer on determining the correct RV tire pressure for your rig has been helpful. As always, have safe and happy travels my friends!