What Are RV Slide-Out Stabilizers (And Do You Need Them)?
RVs all have stabilizers of some sort. Stabilizers, and the tongue jack in the case of travel trailers, help support the RV. Without them, the RV rocks and shakes every time you move.
When we set up an RV, we level it, put out the stabilizers, and open the slide-outs. When an RV is parked, the majority of the weight is on the axles. So what supports the RV slide-out?
Slide-outs are designed to support themselves and in most cases are capable of doing so. However, there are some situations when additional slide-out support might be needed.
Most slide-out stabilizers are very similar in design and construction. They are steel, adjustable supports with a solid flat base. The top has two lips to prevent the support from slipping out from under the slide.
Steel pins provide multiple locking positions for the telescopic main body. The main adjustment is made with this locking section. The final adjustment, however, is made by a treaded section connected to the top support. Lightly take some weight and secure the stabilizer by making small adjustments. You don’t want to put unnecessary upward pressure on the slide.
As with the stabilizers on the corners of the RV, these are not meant to take all the weight. Added support to prevent movement is their purpose. Once in place, having a reminder by your slide switch is a good idea. Closing the slide with stabilizers in place could cause damage.
Where do RV slide-out stabilizers go?
RV slide-out stabilizers are used in pairs and placed under the slide-out in contact with a solid part of the slide room. Supporting the slide using the floor is not acceptable because you will damage the floor of the RV.
Your slide will have steel supports underneath that will fit between the edges of the stabilizer tops. Look for solid steel supports for placement. Remember there is no significant weight being taken here; it’s only for stabilization.
Other areas and things to avoid include hydraulic cylinders, the teeth of slide racks, wire cables, and the perimeter of the slide room. Use only solidly attached steel framing and place the stabilizers as far out on the slide as possible.
Do I need RV slide-out stabilizers?
I’ll say this about slide-out stabilizers: they are pretty cheap, simple to use, and store easily. With that being said, most people don’t need them. Stabilizers are a strange accessory in the way that some people swear by them while others have never seen them or strongly advise against them.
If you camp sporadically through the year, or only camp for short stays, stabilizers are not a must-have. Smaller RVs with shorter slides or slides that are not as deep as the regular ones also don’t benefit much from stabilizers.
In newer RVs, removing any weight from the slide can actually be harmful. Removing downward pressure from the slide can compromise the seal, allowing water to enter the RV. The following suggestions are geared towards older RVs where slides may benefit from extra support.
Many RVs have long slides that extend a few feet from the RV, and these can benefit from the extra support. A large slide is heavy, and although it is designed to extend and support itself, the slide can take its toll on the RV over time. This is especially true for slides with couches and dinettes. Here people are continuously plunking themselves down, causing more strain on the supports.
Full-time RVers with a stationary setup as well as seasonal campers can also benefit from stabilizers. Being in an RV for months or permanently with the slides out can be tough on the supports. A set of stabilizers is cheaper than repairing a slide.
RV slide-out stabilizers, as with all RV stabilizers, require a solid base so they don’t sink into the ground. To provide a solid, level footing, wooden or plastic jack supports should be placed underneath. Once in place, adjust until they make contact with the slide-out support and then snug in place.
RVs built from the early 2000s are likely better off without slide-out stabilizers. Anyone using their older RV full-time, or for more than just weekend trips, can certainly benefit from a set of RV slide-out stabilizers.
There are tons of RV accessories to choose from and spend your money on. Older RVs that are being used for long periods are more suited for slide-out stabilizers. One bonus of this accessory, however, is that if you switch RVs, you can take it with you.
Forums such as iRV2.com and blog sites like RV LIFE, Do It Yourself RV, and Camper Report provide all the information you need to enjoy your RV. You’ll also find brand-specific information on additional forums like Air Forums, Forest River Forums, and Jayco Owners Forum.