Are RV Slide Locks Necessary?

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An RV with an RV slide lock parked on the side of a road

Have you ever heard of RV slide locks? If you don’t own a motorhome with them pre-installed or have never had a slide-out malfunction, you may not even know these accessories exist. 

So let’s look at what slide locks do, their benefits, and where you can buy them. Then you can decide if slide locks are necessary or just another accessory you can leave behind. Let’s dive in!

What Are RV Slide Locks?

RV slide locks keep the slide in during travel. No one wants a slide to go flying out around a sharp mountain hairpin curve. Slide locks prevent this disaster from happening.

They also keep the slide and seal tight so no moisture gets inside the RV when it’s closed. Another way to ruin a camping trip is if it comes out just enough to allow water from a rainy day to enter the RV.

Water damage is an RVer’s worst nightmare. If you use them, you put one on the top and bottom of each side of your RV slide. 

What’s the Difference Between Manual and Automatic RV Slide Locks?

Manual slide locks look like bars that act as a wedge between the inside of the rig’s wall and the inside lip of the slide-out. You can buy these from places like Amazon or Walmart.

RecPro RV Slideout Lock | RV Slide Lock Prevents Slideout from Opening in Transit (13-23") Gray
  • KEEP YOUR SLIDE-OUT LOCKED - During travel, use the RecPro Slide Lock to help maintain the integrity of your slide-out's...
  • PROTECT AGAINST WATER & DUST - The RecPro Slide Lock helps protect your RV against the elements by keeping your...

To use a manual slide lock, rotate the shaft until the length is where it needs to be for your sized slide-out. When you arrive, you can remove and store them until you leave.

On the other hand, automatic slide locks come built-in and pre-installed by the manufacturer. When retracted, these locks automatically lock the slide in place and keep it from moving during travel.

What Are the Benefits of Having RV Slide Locks?

The biggest advantage to having RV slide locks is the peace of mind they give owners during travel.

You don’t have to worry about the slide accidentally extending or moisture getting in between the edges. These locks ensure your slides remain tightly retracted.

Now, should slide-outs extend during travel? Not at all. But slide systems fail, not often, but sometimes. So slide locks work as the backup plan to prevent a travel day nightmare.

If you travel with children in a motorhome, slide locks can also be a good idea. You won’t risk a slide extending due to a child accidentally hitting the button.

An RV with an RV slide lock parked at a campsite

How to Use RV Slide Locks

Manual slide locks must fit your particular slide-out. There is no one-size-fits-all tool. The depth of your slide-out determines the length of your lock. When the slide is retracted, measure the depth of the slide from the inside of the RV wall to the edge of the slide wall lip.

For example, if you have a slide-out with a sofa, likely the depth of that slide-out isn’t the same as the depth of your wardrobe slide-out. The lock for that one will need to be longer to reach the RV wall and the slide wall lip to ensure that it can’t move during travel.

Automatic slide locks come pre-installed, so you don’t have to worry about measuring or ensuring they’re a particular size. You also don’t have to worry about removing them when you extend your slide upon arrival. 

It’s very, very important that you remember to remove your manual slide locks before extending the unit. If not, you risk severely damaging your slide, wall, and lock.

Pro Tip: Not all RV slides are the same. See what the different RV slides are and how they work.

Where Can I Buy RV Slide Locks?

RV supply stores like or RecPro will have slide locks. Other stores with RV accessories, like Amazon or Walmart, will also sell them. 

Typically, slide locks range from $35 to $65, depending on the length and brand. So if spending $200 to gain peace of mind while you drive is worth it, go check out the options. Just make sure to buy four for each slide. 

Can I Build My Own RV Slide Locks?

If you’re on a tight budget or like DIY projects, you can build your own slide locks. The design is quite simple. You need a metal or wooden dowel rod and rubber caps for both ends. 

The rod needs to be at least 1 inch thick to ensure stability. Simply cut the dowel rod to fit the depth of your slide-out and wedge it between the wall and your slide on your next travel day. 

Keep in Mind: Do you know why people put Pool Noodles on Their RV Slideouts? Click the link to find out the reason!

Do I Really Need RV Slide Locks?

But the question of whether or not slide locks are necessary remains. If the manufacturer installed them, great. But for the most part, you don’t need slide locks.

If you like precautions and additional safety measures, then by all means, add some slide locks to your Amazon cart.

If you’ve experienced a slide-out malfunction, you’ll likely fall into that camp and choose to have slide locks at all times. But if you take care of them with proper maintenance and fully retract them when it’s time to travel, it’s unlikely that anything will happen.

Which side of the debate about RV slide locks do you fall in?

Last update on 2024-06-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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