Can You Move a Travel Trailer or RV with the Slides Out?

Towing or moving a trailer with the slides out is a bad idea for a number of different reasons. It can cause thousands of dollars in repairs and it is also very dangerous. Experts and travel trailer owners both agree that it is absolutely imperative that you close your slides before towing.

Read on to find out the risks and downsides of towing with the slides out.

Why would someone tow with the slides out?

Someone may want to tow their vehicle to a shop or out of the wilderness with their slides out if they break while on a trip and become inoperable. Most slides today have an emergency operation or backup to retract them in case of something wrong so you don’t have to drive with them open.

Towing with the Slides out on a Travel Trailer is Dangerous

Your RV is too wide for the road with the slides out

When you tow a trailer with the slides out, the trailer becomes too wide. It takes up too much space in a lane and has the risk of hitting other vehicles alongside you. When the slides are out, it makes it impossible for you to see behind you using the side mirrors. Average travel trailers are 8 feet wide, which expands by two or three feet once the slides are out. This makes the trailer illegal to drive on the road because the legal limit is 8.5 feet.

Poor Aerodynamics

Trailers and vehicles are specifically designed to be aerodynamic to maintain balance and reduce the amount of wind resistance. Increased wind resistance means lowered gas mileage. The average trailer will reduce the vehicle’s gas mileage by seven miles per gallon. The gas mileage would lower even more if the slides were out because it would be blocking the wind from smoothly gliding over the trailer.

Cause an Accident

Another risk of leaving the slides open while towing is that it can throw off the balance of the trailer or RV, increasing the risk of trailer sway and chances of an accident. This will make the vehicle turn and cause an unexpected steering force. If the force is strong enough, it will overcome the amount of friction between the tires and the road. This could lead to a catastrophic crash that flips the vehicle or disconnects the trailer from the vehicle.

Damage Towing with Slides Out Could Cause

It can Damage the Slides

Even moving your trailer a small distance can ruin the slides because they are not made to endure the stress of the entire trailer moving for any distance. Towing the trailer with the slides out poses a very high risk of bending the slide out rails which can cost thousands to repair PER slide. They can even be completely destroyed in the case of a severe accident. The average cost of slide repair is anywhere from $500-1700 per slide. Even something as small as a minor bend in the RV slide can cost hundreds to fix.

The leverage that would be applied to the hardware when bumping down the road would be 100x that of the trailer sitting still. This could potentially rip the slide out off of the RV while towing.

Sructural Damage to the RV

When you apply too much pressure and stress to the RV slide out, the rails that support it can be bent. When this happens, the slides come out of alignment and can be severely damaged. This is a very common issue with trailer owners, even without towing them with the slides out.

If you have a slideout topper installed on your slide out, if you tow your vehicle with the slide out then chances are it will rip off with any wind resistance while towing and cause permanent damage to the side of your RV or travel trailer.

Will Cause Permanent Leaks

If the slideout is out, there is a risk of a leak occurring. Leaks can occur at any time, regardless of towing, although they mostly happen due to worn-out seals. These should be replaced every two years but can be completely ruined if towing while the slide is out. In the case of a rainstorm, water can easily leak through to your trailer if the slides are open. Closing the slides will protect them from wind resistance and the weather as you are towing it.

In addition, electrical systems are exposed when you have the slides out. If you are driving down the highway with the slides out, too much stress on the slide can break the exposed slide-out motor or fuse. If you are using a hydraulic system to move the slides, this can cause a leak that will render your slide immobile.

Interior Damage

A lot of travel trailers come with slides already installed in them. In these types of trailers, the kitchens retract back as the slides are extended. When the slides are closed, the cabinets and the refrigerator are pushed up against the main floor of the trailer and the cabinets and refrigerator are unable to be opened. This ensures that objects in them will not come flying out during travel. While this does not ensure that every cabinet is closed in the trailer, it shows that towing with the slides closed is the safest and most logical option for protecting your items and trailer.

To conclude, it is very important that you close the slides on your trailer before moving it even a couple of feet. There are a number of different things that can go wrong if you fail to do so, like damage to the slides, accidents with other vehicles, trailer sway, and a decrease in gas mileage. Closing the slides is just one of the safety measures you should take before moving your trailer and should be at the top of your to-do list before hitting the road.

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