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Schwintek Slide Troubleshooting Tips: Fixing Common RV Slide-Out Problems

RV slide-outs can make a small space feel more like an apartment or villa. A crowded kitchen can open up to include a dining area and lounge space where you can entertain or have family game nights. A tiny bunkhouse can expand with room for the kids to play on the floor with trains or blocks. One of the most commonly-used slide systems is the Schwintek.

However, it’s not without problems. These problems occur pretty frequently. Let’s look at some troubleshooting tips so you can get your Schwintek slide system working again on your next camping trip. Let’s dive in!

Lippert (Schwintek) H-Column Review & Slide Lubricant -- My RV Works

What Is the Schwintek Slide System?

The Schwintek slide system is one of the most standard systems for smaller, lightweight slides. It uses worm-like gears and motors to retract and extend the slide-out room. You can easily identify this system when you look at the exterior of the slide-out. There’s a rack at the top of the slide-out and a rack at the bottom. The motors that turn the gears are inside on both sides of the slide-out.

This system is also called an in-wall motor system, as the motors are mounted inside the wall and drive the gears. Originally the system was hoped to work on all slides and be installed on very large units; however, it was quickly determined not to be strong enough for large slides.

RV slide-out
The two end slides have the schwintek system, note the gears on the side of the slides.
This was one of the first major repairs we had to do on the road. We ended up replacing most of the system, including the tracks and gears.

Who Makes the Schwintek Slide System?

Like many RV components, Lippert – or LCI – makes the Schwintek slide system. You likely have other Lippert parts throughout your RV as it’s a significant supplier of RV parts. Lippert makes chassis, axles, entry doors, ramp doors, leveling systems, and more. The company also owns other brands like Furrion and Curt.

Pro Tip: Learn more about the ins and outs of RV Slide-Outs: Get Enormous Space, But At What Cost?

What Are Other Types of RV Slide Systems?

Generally, you should only use your Schwintek slide system in smaller, lightweight slide-out rooms. There are other RV slide systems capable of handling larger, heavier slide-outs. These include cable-driven systems, rack and pinion systems, and hydraulic systems.

The cable and pulley slide-out systems have an electric motor like the Schwintek, but they don’t use gears. As the name suggests, this system uses sets of cables and pulleys to move the slide-out. The rack and pinion systems use an electric ball screw actuator. The teeth of the pinion catch the teeth of the rack to move the slide-out.

Finally, the hydraulic slide-out systems can usually handle the longest and heaviest of slide-outs. A motorized hydraulic pump extends and retracts the slide. If the RV has more than one slide-out, they all move at the same time and require only one motor.

RV slide-out
A slide-out system can ensure you have the extra space you need in your RV.

What Are the Advantages of Having RV Slide-Outs?

RV slide-outs create more interior space. This is the main pro to having at least one slide-out. Instead of eight feet of space from one wall to the other, you might have 10-12 feet. Opposing slide-outs can double the size of a room. For example, in many fifth-wheel floorplans, the living area is substantially larger when slide-outs on both sides of the room extend. In some of these units, it creates space for 6-8 people to sit.

More space can also make your RV feel more like home. Larger units may have residential appliances, a kitchen island, or an extra wardrobe because there is more space due to the slide-out rooms. In addition, you have more storage because of an extra closet or pantry. All these features can make your RV feel like a tiny home on wheels.

What Are the Disadvantages of Having RV Slide-Outs?

However, with the pros also come the cons. When you’re traveling, you might not reach certain parts of your RV when you retract the slides. If it’s time to stop for lunch and you want to pull into a travel center to make sandwiches, you might not reach the refrigerator because a slide-out has closed off that space.

Another disadvantage of having RV slide-outs is the maintenance. More moving parts means more preventative maintenance. But even with proper care, you might have to pay for repairs when a motor burns out or a cable breaks. Slide-out repairs can be expensive.

A final disadvantage is having to be more selective with your campsites. When you have slide-outs, you must ensure your rig not only fits lengthwise but widthwise in the campsite. Do you have enough room for the slide-outs to extend? When you pull up, have you left enough room so your slide-out doesn’t hit the shore power pedestal? These are things you must pay attention to when getting into a campsite.

schwintek slide system on fifthwheel slide
You will have to complete regular maintenance on your RV slides to keep them in peak working condition.

Common Schwintek Slide Problem: There’s No Power to the Motors

The Schwintek slide system is notorious for its failures. It’s one of the cheapest slide systems, which is why many brands still use it. But it doesn’t come without problems. If you have this slide system, you might encounter a day when there’s no power to the motors. This could mean there are loose electrical wires or burned-out motors.

Troubleshooting Tip:

RVs take a beating when they go down the road. It’s likely at some point, a wire will come loose. Check the wires at the controller to ensure they’re secure. If you’ve checked the wires and still can’t get power to the motors, they’ve likely burned out. This typically happens when manufacturers install the Schwintek slide system on slide-outs that are too large or heavy for this particular system to handle. Unfortunately, if this is the case, you’ll need to order new motors and set up an appointment to install them.

Pro Tip: Bigger doesn’t always mean better. We uncovered The Case for Downsizing: Why a Smaller RV Might Be Right for You.

Common Schwintek Slide Problem: The Slide Gets Out of Alignment

Another common problem with the Schwintek slide system is the slide getting out of alignment. This means one side moves at a faster rate than the other side of the slide. Sometimes one side will move while the other side will completely stop. This causes binding and twisting, which can damage the slide walls and surrounding RV wall.

First things first, watch your slides as they move. If one side starts moving and the other stops, stop moving it immediately!

Troubleshooting Tip:

When this twisting happens, you’ll need to resync the motors. To do this, you’ll completely retract the slide. Extend it a few inches and bring it back in again, holding the button down for several seconds once you fully close the slide-out. You should hear the motors both come to a stop. Keep holding the button for a few more seconds. You must do this repeatedly until the motors sync up with one another. Once they do, you can extend the slide like normal.

Can You Override the Schwintek Slide Motors?

You might override the system if everything else fails. Locate the controller, which is usually in the pass-through storage. There’s a gray button on the controller that you’ll need to press six times. You may need a tiny screwdriver for this step. On the seventh time, hold down the button until the red and green lights start blinking. Then try to open or close the slide-out. 

Unfortunately, if you have burned-out motors, overriding the system won’t be helpful because the motors won’t operate. If you can’t make the motors sync up, then overriding the system will allow the motors to move the slide in and out even though both sides of the slide won’t move at the same time.

When to Call for Professional Help

If you can’t get the motors to sync up, it’s time to call Lippert for help. A technician may walk you through other steps to try to get your Schwintek slide system working properly again. You’ll need to find the controller, as the technician will probably ask you to read any error codes.

If you have burned-out motors, you’ll probably need a professional to install them unless you are very handy. If your RV is under warranty, let the manufacturer know the problem immediately. They’ll probably have you contact your local dealership to schedule an appointment for a diagnostic test and to order the correct parts.

Other common problems with the slide system are stripped gears, worn track guides, and even damaged tracks. Many times the damaged components need to be replaced if any of these problems occur. Unfortunately these are common problems, so common one company is building stronger replacement parts.

Schwintek on small slide
When used on small slides the system is generally quite reliable, large slides are problematic however.

Vroom: The New Kid on the Block to Rescue You From Your Schwintek Slide Problems

If you’re tired of the Schwintek slide system problems, you aren’t alone. Many RVers have discovered a new company. The founder is an RVer who was fed up with the problems he was having with his new Tiffin motorhome.

Because he had a background in mechanical engineering, the owner built a slide-out system to replace the poor Schwintek slide system. As a result, he created Vroom Slide Systems. This system is similar in design to the original schwintek but it has been redesigned with stronger components in all the areas that regularly fail.

Closeup of VROOM schwintek fix
The Vroom system was designed to fix the common problems with schwintek slide systems.

It’s unfortunate that RV owners have to deal with these problems at all, but it’s great that an RVer came up with a solution to help other RVers. RVers no longer have to cross their fingers and hope the slide-out goes in or out correctly. Its quite a bit of work but you can install the Vroom slide system in a day, and you’ll be off making memories once again.

You can contact Vroom to schedule an appointment, but you’ll wait several months. There’s a long wait list and very few locations where they can do the installation. It’s also pricey at around $5,000. But for many RV owners, the price and wait are worth it to have peace of mind and less stress.

Pro Tip: Before you start driving away from your RV campsite, make sure you know Can You Move an RV With the Slides Out?

Problems With Your Schwintek Slide? Vroom Slide Solution!

Get Your Schwintek Slide Working Again So You Can Enjoy Your Camping Adventures

You might be able to fix some Schwintek slide-out problems on your own. These may delay your camping adventure for a few minutes, but they won’t cost you any money. On the other hand, burned-out motors, gears grinding because of twisting, RV walls bowing because of misalignment, and other problems can be costly and hugely inconvenient.

Try these troubleshooting tips the next time your Schwintek slide system fails. When you’re fed up with the problems, consider installing a Vroom slide system.

Have you ever had problems with the Schwintek slide system? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

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About Tom Morton

Tom, a Pacific Northwest native, is our technical genius. Born in Washington and raised in Alaska before settling in Michigan. He's the man who keeps our operation running, both figuratively and literally.

With a background in Electrical Engineering, Tom specializes in RV solar systems and lithium batteries. He made history as the first documented individual to use a Tesla battery module as an RV battery. Tom has personally assisted countless RVers with system installations and has educated thousands more through his videos and articles.

Cinematography is another of Tom's passions, showcased in his work on the Go North series. You can see his camera skills on display in The RVers TV show on Discovery Channel and PBS where he also stars as a co-host.

Tom's mechanical expertise extends beyond RVs to boats, planes, and all things mechanical. He's renowned for taking on maintenance and repair projects single-handedly and is often spotted underneath RVs, making him the technical backbone of our endeavors.

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Rich

Sunday 10th of September 2023

My problem is top to bottom on a schwintek slide system. The top goes all the way in but the bottom sticks out about 1-1/2 inches. Can't seem to get much help with this scenario.

Teresa

Tuesday 29th of August 2023

We have 1172 Lance truck camper with a hand crank for dinette slide but no crack for our rear slide recently we have had problems with the retract button on the lippert LCI remote what are solutions to our problem,

Mortons on the Move

Friday 17th of November 2023

The rear is the schwinteck system and cannot be manually cranked. You will probably need a new remote, but if you find the controllers for the slide there will be manual operation buttons on it.

Avery

Saturday 1st of July 2023

So unnecessarily wordy that it appears to assume absolute ignorance of most readers. “What is a slide out”? Really unnecessary.