Leaving Your RV Slides In or Out: Should You Do It?

Leaving Your RV Slides In or Out: Should You Do It? 1

RV Slides provide a lot of value to you because they give space and maximize the amenities of an RV. For instance, a bedside slideout can give well-needed walking and storage space for closets, drawers, or whatever to make your sleep comfortable. Other slides, whether in the kitchen or the storage area, also make your ordinary RV into an amazing one. However, many RV owners leave the slides in, while some leave it out. Thus, it begs the question which of the options is appropriate.

Should you leave the RV slides in or out ? No, you should refrain from leaving the RV slides out because it can be damaged by weather, collisions, drafts, and pest infestation. Most floorplans do not involve slides because of weight distribution.

Certainly, there are also advantages that RV slides provide. However, these advantages are not enough to offset the drawbacks that come with leaving your RV slides out. These drawbacks can cause significant long-term damage to your RV. Nevertheless, it is best that you are informed of both the advantages and disadvantages of leaving your RV slides out.

The Advantages Of Leaving The Slides Out

It would be better to start the discussion with the numerous advantages of leaving the RV slides out. The most obvious and predictable of these advantages would be the benefit of having extra living space, after all it is the main purpose of having slides. 

Another obvious advantage would be the benefit of having more amenities whether it be in the kitchen, bedroom, or sala. Other advantages of leaving your RV sliders out include extra storage area, comfort and ease, and additional windows for better ventilation.

Leaving the slides out in the open can also be comfortable because you do not have to worry about closing it constantly. This is because the popping mechanism of most slideouts is often slow and time consuming.

Additional Space For Your RV 

The very essence of RV slides is to provide additional space to the RV owner whenever the need for it arises. By popping the slides out, usually by motor, hydraulics, or electricity, the RV owner acquires additional space. The slide in and out speed may be horrendous but it still provides that precious space that every RV owner desires.

Having additional space is very valuable to any owner or person who lives in an RV, camper van, trailer trucks, or tiny houses. To a person who lives in an ordinary spacious house, the value of that little additional space provided by slides may not be much. But for RVers and people who live in mobile houses, it provides comfort, fun, and additional leg room. 

The reason why extra space is important to RVers is due to the fact that they are often on the road. That additional square footage literally and figuratively adds breathing space, especially when you have a family, pets, or a lot of luggage tagging along with you.

The degree or level of benefit in having additional space depends on what type of RVer you are. For instance, if you travel a lot, especially in spacious places like beaches, seaside roads, or nature parks, then you probably won’t be dying for the additional space.

However, a seasonal traveler or perhaps a RVer who camps for relatively longer periods, may actually be enjoying the additional space. For instance, a RVer who goes out during the hunting season would be thankful for the additional space to store their hunting gear. 

More Amenities To Maximize The Experience

A well-planned and designed slide out can turn a king-sized bed into a king-size bed, with extra walking space. It may sound unimpressive but having extra-walking space around your bed adds comfort and better functionality to an otherwise boring bed shoved into the corner. 

Furthermore, an RV bedroom would normally have amenities like humidifiers, closets, drawers, heaters, and other appliances that make your sleeping area comfortable. RV slides can provide that additional space for such appliances.

Aside from the bedroom, RV slides out for the kitchen area are also common because clutter is quite common and cumbersome in the kitchen. A well placed RV slideout can make room for your refrigerator, oven, freezer, or perhaps others like gas tanks and water tanks. 

No one wants to have a tight and cramped up kitchen area given that it is the most dangerous area of the RV. Knives and other kitchen items can easily be misplaced, dropped, or tossed around, if not properly secured. A flying knife or a burning hot kettle is not something you want to be anywhere near you.

Other amenities that can benefit from the RV slides being left out in the open would be TVs, gas/electric fireplaces, entertainment systems like PC sets, and small furniture. These are amenities that are normally present in ordinary houses, not in mobile houses, but with RV slides you can have them on the road!

Extra Storage Goes A Long Way

Normally, a person would have to buy a long RV to have additional storage space. But with RV slides, one can have additional storage space without buying a long RV. It is like having a long RV but not really a long RV.

One would wonder why having a short RV is ideal, the reason is that short RVs are easy to maneuver, drive, park, and overall manipulate. However, shorter RVs do not provide the same wider and longer space that a long RV would provide. With slides being an option, you get the best of both types of RVs, with newer problems but that’s for later!

A normal vehicle would rarely need larger storage space, unless you use your SUV for transporting goods. But RVs need that storage space because it is basically the RVers home while on the road. Things like generators, emergency supplies, clothes, gears like bicycles, fishing poles, etc, often eat up this space, and they sometimes barely suffice.

Other Advantages With Leaving The RV slides Out

Most RV slides have windows on it. This means that by popping the slides out and leaving them out would provide additional windows to your RV. More windows help in providing better ventilation and air circulation in and around the RV. Trust me, you do not want your RV to smell like cramped up laundry.

RV slides are intended by the manufacturers to bring comfort to the RV owner. In most cases, popping the slides takes time and effort, and so leaving them out on longer periods reduces the stress in constantly popping it in and out. 

These advantages are good and all but they do not override the severity and extent brought about by the disadvantages of leaving your RV slides out. These disadvantages greatly outweigh the aforementioned advantages to the point that they do not seem to be worth it!

Extreme Weather Can Damage Your RV Slides

First of all, leaving your RV slides out for long periods of time while being exposed to the elements can damage your RV slides and the RV itself. For instance, during snowstorms an RV slide might be damaged by the accumulating snow falling on it. The snow can damage the sliding mechanism and cause you to spend unnecessary expenses in repairing it.

Aside from the snow, in cold climate areas the low temperature could literally freeze the slide mechanism of the RV. Although there are some RVs that are properly sealed, the risk of the cold penetrating increases for how long the RV slide is exposed. Furthermore, once those seals freeze over, you cannot just close the slides because it may rip apart.

Aside from the cold weather, torrential rain can also be a burden to your RV slide being left out in the open. The force of the rain can cause some leaks to penetrate inside if given enough time. This is the reason why veteran RVers would often advise the newbs to test the seals first with a water hose to check how well the seals were placed.

Strong winds can damage not just the RV slides but the RV itself. Normally, an RV is just like any other land vehicle, it is structurally designed to not be aerodynamic. But when those RV slides are popped out, the winds can drag the RV and cause some problems. Some RVers have experienced strong winds lift the RV up due to the popped slides.

In southern states and countries where temperatures soar to scorching levels, leaving the RV slides out can also cause damage to the RV. Although the seal won’t freeze in hot temperatures, the heat can cause the rubber seals to stick and rip apart if suddenly moved.  

Leaving The Slides Out Exposes The RV To Collisions

When you are parked with the RV slides popped out, other vehicles can accidentally hit and cause massive damages to your RV. For instance, if you are parked or camped in an area, another vehicle might accidentally back into your RV slide.

Physical collisions, especially with other vehicles, can cause more damage to your RV than any harsh weather can ever cause. In RV parks, RVs are often parked side-by-side and so the possibility of collision greatly increases. 

Furthermore, there are other drivers that will not be expecting your RV to have an RV slide popped out. During the night when visibility is very low, there are truck drivers who will just casually ram a RV slide because they weren’t expecting it to be there.

In RV parks, parking space is not usually abundant. This is especially true due to the rise of people engaging in RV and Vanlife. Leaving the slide outs in the parking space when the area is cramped up could very well be an accident waiting to happen. 

Maintenance Is A Costly Dilemma

Leaving your RV slides out can hasten the recurring need for maintenance. The slides, like any other functional part of the RV, would need maintenance the more it is being used. To make things worse, the maintenance for RV slides tends to be quite burdensome and complicated. 

Slideout Seal Maintenance

Slideout Seal maintenance is the first priority when doing maintenance over your RV slide. An RV equipped with slide outs would be lined by rubber seals to prevent dust, dirt, snow, debris, and other elements from entering the RV. The seals are normally durable but there are instances when leaks caused from wear and tear go unnoticed due to constant usage. 

However, seal maintenance is the easiest and most affordable aspect of RV slide maintenance. Remember to always clean your RV slides to prevent dirt from building up, especially if the slides are left out for long periods of time. After cleaning and washing the seals, you will have to constantly lubricate these seals to aid the sliding mechanism and prevent unwarranted damages.

If you were not leaving the slides out or perhaps were sparingly using them, the lubrication of the seals would normally be infrequent, just about twice or thrice a year. But when you leave them out in the open, you will have to clean and lubricate at almost once a month or sometimes once every two weeks, depending on the environment.

Thus, if you plan to leave your RV slides out in the open, then you should prepare at least $30 for seal protectant and around $10 for the slideout lubricants. Depending on how long you use the slideouts, you could see yourself spending around $40 every three (3) or four (4) months for seal maintenance only. 

Your RV Slides’ Roof Need Maintenance

Just like your RV slide’s side parts, the roof of the RV slide also has a built-in cover to protect it from damage due to the accumulation of dirt, dust, leaves, and other debris. However, by leaving the RV slides out in the open for long periods, you are hastening the deterioration of the roof and its cover.

The roof cover is typically made up of fabric. This fabric won’t stand a chance against accumulated dirt or snow due to the fact that the slides were exposed for too long. Fortunately, a little bit of effort and time in cleaning and clearing the roof and its cover can minimize the damage.

Luckily, you won’t be spending significant dollars on slideout roof maintenance. Nevertheless, the effort and time you have to allot in cleaning the roof may burden you. The worst case scenario would be neglecting to clean it up and thus cause problems later on. A damaged roof would cause you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in repair expenses.

Mechanical Components Need Maintenance Too!

The mechanical components of your RV slideouts usually do not need maintenance. However, leaving the slide outs for long periods of time would necessitate maintenance. Since you are not a mechanic or an expert on mechanical stuff, you should pay attention to the mechanical components of your RV slideouts.

When the slides are left out for too long, dirt, dust, or any other debris can enter the mechanical components and cause serious problems. A harmless leaf that falls inside could damage the whole thing.

The Slides Are Not Properly Insulated

Yes, the slideouts are insulated but they are not as insulated as the rest of the RV. Thus, when you leave the slides out in the open, eventually air will penetrate into the RV. So if you happen to camp in a cold climate state or perhaps in the hot southern states, you are not going to be fully in control of the inside room temperature.

If you think cold drafts or heat waves are a problem, then you won’t be happy if you knew that the crevices that some RV slides have can be an entrance door for rodents, bugs, insects, or any other vermin. Ask any RVer, rodents are a problem numero uno!

Weight And Balance

Leaving your RV slideouts in the open for too long could tilt the natural balance of the RV. For instance, if one side of the RV gets too heavy the whole RV could become unstable. An unstable RV could be very dangerous, especially in sloped areas. 

Furthermore, if you overload a slideout the whole slide mechanism can malfunction. You do not want your RV to be “off-kilter” because of the imbalance caused by the slideouts. 

Pest Infestation Can Be Troublesome

Going back to the vermin problem, having them accidentally enter the RV through the slide is one thing. But having them infest the RV slide itself is another whole level of problem. Leaving the RV slides out in the open for long periods of time exposes the cracks and crevices of the sliding mechanism to pest infestation.

This problem is even more common with RVers who camp for months in nature parks, forest reserves, and other areas where trees are abundant. In humid places, cockroach infestation is within the realm of possibility. Cockroaches are known to slip and enter thin crevices and they will definitely love the warm air pockets inside the RV slideouts. 

If you are not afraid of bugs and cockroaches, then you probably won’t worry about them accidentally living with you. They would just be a nuisance, but whether you hate bugs or not, you wouldn’t want spiders and other poisonous or venomous vermin entering the RV.

Aside from the unwanted presence of bugs, having them infest the RV slideout can cause significant damage. They add unnecessary pressure to the components of the slideout which can cause it to malfunction. Oftentimes than not, we rarely notice them slowly infesting the RV slideout.


To summarize things up, it is true that you will enjoy certain advantages when leaving the RV slides out. These advantages are often very valuable to an RVer, especially the added space it offers. They make the life of the RVer comfortable, complete, and easy. It also gives the RV more amenities which could open up more possibilities for the RVer, such as fishing trips due to the added space. However, these advantages are greatly outweighed by the disadvantages that come with leaving the RV slides out in the open, especially for long periods of time. The bottomline of these disadvantages is that it exposes the RV to unnecessary damage and hastens the natural wear and tear of the RV. RV slideouts are admittedly valuable but with the disadvantages that come along with it, the best case scenario is to only use them when necessary. Of course, the sliding mechanism is not that instant but hey, you have plenty of time!

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