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Maintaining the electric power steps on your RV is extremely important. Without them, you’re going to have a hard time getting in and out of your RV, unless you always carry a set of portable RV steps or a step stool around, which can be cumbersome.
If you don’t learn how to maintain RV electric steps, you could be on the hook for an expensive repair if they fail entirely. A few simple DIY maintenance tasks will save you money and the hassle of repairing or replacing faulty steps.
Step 1: Make Sure Steps Are Fully Extended Before Use
You should never put any weight on a step that is not extended and in a locked position. You’ll know your steps are fully extended when the motor has stopped running. Then they are ready to use.
If you use your RV’s electric steps while they’re still moving it can result in the weakening of joints that hold the steps together or a broken step entirely. Both of these will eventually present a significant fall risk for you and anyone else entering or exiting your RV.
Step 2: Use Your Handrail
Most RVs are equipped with some sort of handrail to help you maneuver up and down your steps. Use this handhold to minimize the risk of a fall when going in and out of your trailer.
If your unit comes with a small handle that you find difficult to use, you may consider installing an extended handrail to help you maintain your balance while using RV steps. We recommend a handrail that is attached to the side of your RV rather than to the screen door.
Step 3: Make Sure Your Steps Are In Before Driving
Never assume that your electric steps are in before driving your RV or towing a travel trailer. Check that your steps are completely retracted and the motor has shut off. This step should be part of your checklist in a departure RV walkaround after packing up camp. Then, check again right before driving.
Leaving steps extended while driving is one of the most common ways that RV steps get damaged. Additionally, extended steps pose a risk to other drivers on the road.
Step 4: Clean and Lubricate Steps Regularly
Cleaning your electric steps should be part of your regular post-trip cleaning checklist, especially if you’ve been somewhere muddy, salty, or snowy. Make sure your steps are extended completely and then give them a good scrubbing to remove leftover road debris that can cause the formation of rust.
Additionally, the joints and hinges of your RV’s electric steps should be greased and lubricated approximately every 30 days. This helps to reduce corrosion and keeps your steps extending and retracting smoothly.
You can do this using a lubricant for RV joints. Ideally, look for a dry film silicone spray, a waterproof lubricant, or something like white lithium grease. To be clear, general slide-out lubricant is not recommended.
Step 5: Use Step Supports
This isn’t a mandatory maintenance task, but it can extend the life of your RV’s electric steps. Over time, the weight placed on your steps as you go in and out thousands of times takes a toll.
By using step supports, you distribute the stress between the steps and the supports. Step supports can also make using your electric steps safer. They’ll be less likely to flex or bend, which may reduce your risk of losing your balance if you forget to follow step #2. Just make sure you remove any step supports before retracting your steps to prevent damage.
You can find step supports alongside other RV stabilizing jacks at Camping World.
Troubleshooting RV Electric Steps
If the electric steps on your RV aren’t working as expected, here are some tips to help you troubleshoot:
Check The Power Switch
If multiple people are going in and out of your RV, the power switch for your steps can easily get turned off accidentally. This switch is usually next to switches for interior and exterior RV lights, so it can get bumped and power off your steps.
When the switch is in the On position, your steps should automatically open and close when you open and close your RV door. If that’s not happening, the first place to check is the position of the step’s power switch.
Check For Obstructions
After that, you may need to bend down to thoroughly check for obstructions that might be preventing your steps from operating normally. Obstructions to the gears and hinges on or around your RV steps can prevent them from extending or retracting completely.
Many RVers add aftermarket carpet wraps or step rugs to improve the tread on their electric steps. While these products are great for improving step safety, they must also be regularly inspected and maintained. If they come loose, they can become entangled in the step mechanism and prevent your steps from retracting completely, in addition to creating a tripping hazard.
In addition, it’s possible for your steps to become damaged while driving. Common causes include rocks being kicked up and damaging step components or accidentally brushing a curb as you’re driving your RV.
When you check for obstructions, also inspect the components of your RV’s electric steps for damage.
Check The Motor and Step Switch
When operating normally, you should be able to hear the step motor operating. If you can’t hear it, start by tracing the wires from the steps to your RV battery and check for loose connections, mangled wires, or blown fuses.
If everything looks normal there, check the wires and mechanisms of the step switch to ensure it is working properly. This will require the use of a handheld multimeter and we recommend checking your RV’s owner’s manual for details on proper voltage readings for this component.
When It’s Time to Call a Pro
If you’ve found significant damage to your RV’s electric steps, it’s time to consult with an expert about repair or replacement options.
Aside from that, it’s worth getting a second opinion whenever you’re unsure about your troubleshooting findings. Things like interpreting questionable multimeter readings or determining whether a removed obstruction has compromised the safety of your steps are best left to trained professionals.
If you need further assistance, Camping World technicians are standing by to answer your questions and assist you when maintaining electric steps on your RV. We want your home away from home to be comfortable and safe.
Find a Camping World Service Center near you or call 866-419-6485 to speak to a service representative.
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If you’re still learning the ins and outs of RV maintenance, check out our downloadable RV ownership and maintenance booklet!
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