We recently published a complete guide to the RV slide-out. We covered the pros and cons of slides in general. But one of our readers pointed out that our post didn’t mention anything about RV slide locks. (Thanks, Michael!)
In his comment, Michael mentioned that slide-out locks seem to be a controversial topic, and he’s right about that. Some RV owners feel they’re essential, while others think they’re completely unnecessary.
We fall somewhere in the middle, and we decided that the topic deserved its own post.
What is an RV Slide Lock?
Slide locks (also known as lock arms or travel locks) are designed for use on a slide-out room, primarily to help keep it fully retracted during travel.
The purpose of RV slide locks is actually two-fold. While Their primary function is to prevent an RV’s slide room from being able to extend while you’re driving or towing the RV down the road, they also help maintain a tight seal between the slide-out and the side of the RV.
A travel lock/slide lock essentially allows you to drive to your destination with confidence, knowing that your slide-out rooms are fully and tightly secured as you move down the road.
Protecting the slide with a lock maintains the integrity of the external water and dust seal on your slide, ensuring that your RV will be clean and dry on arrival at the campground.
For example, if you were on a long road trip and your slide popped out, even very slightly, (to the point where you might not even notice it), not only could the slide be damaged from flexing, but dust and water could enter your RV. It’s important to maintain the external water and dust seal, and the locks help do that.
Are There Different Types of RV Slide Locks?
RV slide locks are generally either manually operated or automatic.
Manual slide locks are typically bars that are extended/locked between the inside of the outer RV wall and the inner edge of the lip surrounding the slide-out.
The following examples of manual slide locks wedge between the inside of the RV wall and the inside lip of the slide-out while the slide is retracted.
To use this type of slide lock, you’d rotate the shaft clockwise to tighten it and counterclockwise to loosen it. This allows you to adjust the lock to the appropriate length for your rig’s slide-out.
When you reach your destination, you simply remove the locks from each side of a slide-out (two per slide-out – one on each end) and extend the slide. The locks can be stored away until you prepare to hit the road again.
- Item Category: Auto Accessory
- Item Trademark: AMERICAN TECHNOLOGY
- KEEP YOUR SLIDE-OUT LOCKED - During travel, use the RecPro Slide Lock to help maintain the integrity of your slide-out's external water and dust seal....
- PROTECT AGAINST WATER & DUST - The RecPro Slide Lock helps protect your RV against the elements by keeping your slide-out locked during travel. The...
Automatic slide locks mechanically or electrically extend to perform the same task, ensuring that the slide-out doesn’t come out when it shouldn’t.
The lock arms on our RV’s slide-outs are automatic. Since we have four slide-outs, we have 8 automatic lock arms (again, one on each side/end of each slide.
Automatic power slide-out locks generally come pre-installed on an RV as they did on our motorhome.
Do My RV Slides Need Slide Locks?
Well, most RVs don’t come with slide locks, and for the most part, they seem to fare just fine without them.
If you ensure that you’ve properly and completely retracted the slide room before driving/moving, you’ll likely be just fine as you travel.
However, slide locks are helpful to ensure that the slide is, and stays, 100% retracted. And as noted above, they also help to create a tighter seal against the elements when the rig is being driven/towed.
While we’d be hard-pressed to suggest that all rigs with slide-outs “need” slide locks, we’ve read about RVers whose slide mechanism failed, allowing the room to extend during travel. Slide locks are a backup safety system to prevent that from happening.
How to Use a Slide Lock
A slide lock/travel lock needs to be sized for the depth of your particular slide-out.
To obtain the proper dimensions, you’ll need to measure the depth of your slide-out, which is best done when the slide is retracted.
Measure the distance from the inside of the outer RV wall to the inside edge of the slide room lip that seals against the outer wall when the room is extended.
Be absolutely sure to remove or retract your slide locks before extending your slide.
Failure to do this could damage the lock, the slide, your RV’s walls, and/or the slide mechanism.
Does Your Rig Have Slide Locks?
Did your rig come with slide locks (manual or automatic)? If not, have you bought manual locks to protect your slides as you travel? Have you (gulp) ever had a slide-out extend while driving?!
We’d love to hear where you stand on the slide-lock issue. Drop us a comment below.
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