How To Fix An RV Awning that Wont Extend or retract (Stuck Awning)

How To Fix An RV Awning that Wont Extend or retract (Stuck Awning)

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In this article, we will check various issues related to awning not extending and retracting. Having an awning that is stuck in the middle can ruin your camping experience. Its time to pack and leave, and suddenly you are not able to retract it fully.

You can’t just drive with an awning half way flapping in air. You need to get it rolled back to the rail. In such a scenario one can use emergency manual override and get it rolled back. Many people are unaware of this until they are in that situation.

At that point in time its important to get it rolled back and then later, you can get to the root cause and fix it. Lets start troubleshooting steps for an electrical awning that wont extend at all.

Awning wont extend

Having an awning extended is essential during rain or when the sun is shinning bright. It helps in keeping the RV cool. Not able to extend it when you reach at the campsite can make you go nuts.

Lets see how you can troubleshoot this issue and figure out what can be wrong. You will need few tools like multi meter, drill, screw driver and so on.

Lets check this step by step:

First scenario is when you turn it ON inside the coach and nothing happens. It wouldn’t stretch out or you cannot hear anything from the motor.

If this is the case then the issue could be at three places.

First with your motorhome battery supply or wiring.

Next, it could be the wiring in the awning that passes through its arm. And finally most likely it could be the motor itself that has an issue.

If there is no clicking or even starting sound of motor, the supply isn’t reaching or the motor has gone bad.

Check Motorhome or coach wiring/supply

To start with you have to open the awning little bit with emergency re-tractor method. By doing this you will be able to access the wiring connection easily. Otherwise it will be difficult to access and test the wiring connection.

You can use drill to do that, in some case you can use wrench to position on the hole and rotate until it starts extending. Make sure you open it to around foot or so. Just enough from the roof/wall to access the wires.

Then, locate the point where the coach wiring connects the awning wiring.

Next, you have to disconnect the point. Make sure you take all care while doing this. Disconnect the supply when doing this to avoid any electrical hazards.

Once that is done, turn ON the supply back as we have to check on the voltage.

Make use of voltmeter and check the voltage at the point on the coach side. If it shows 12V then everything is fine with the coach wiring and supply.

Next, connect the awning end of the wiring to the battery supply and see if the motor runs and operates it. Change polarities of the battery connection to the wire and see it retract or extends. If it does not, then you need to look for your electric awnings wiring and motor.

Issue With Awning wiring

fifth wheel with its awning extended
fifth wheel with its awning extended

Next, is to check if the awning wiring is fine or not. There can be issue with the wiring if its too old.

There could be a cut that’s preventing the supply from reaching the motor. A bend in wiring specially in an old wire could also prevent the supply.

Rodents could have eaten up the wires during storage. Water dripping over a long period of time can also have an effect. Since its on the outer side there are many things that can happen.

Verify it visually but you have to check the voltage at the motor end to confirm on this. Get to the motor using a ladder and open it up. Unscrew the panel box and access the point where it makes the connection.

Remove the connection and test the voltage at that point. You have to connect back the wiring connection at the awing wiring and coach wiring before you do this step, otherwise you wont have the voltage.

Check the reading on voltmeter, it should read around 12.4 volts. If it does not then the problem lies with the awning wiring. Remove the wire and get it replaced.

If it did show 12 V then that means the awning wiring is fine and the issue lies with the motor.

Motor gone bad

Locate the supply connection terminal on the motor and connect it with the battery supply wires that you will have. By doing this, the motor should start to operate and extend or retract the awning.

If that does not happen then the motor has gone bad. There can be several reasons for that, and a repair man should be able to check on that. In most cases, you may have to replace the motor which wont be costly to do.

When you connected the battery to the motor observe if it gave any clicking or starting sound. If it did then it could be something that can be tried and repaired. If it didn’t then chances are its gone bad and will need replacement. Either ways check with service personnel if the motor can be repaired.

Next, remove the motor and get it repaired or buy a new and fit it back.

Electric Awning will not extend if the motorhome engine is running

At-least in our motorhome this is the case. The awning wont be extending if the motorhome was in running state. That’s the standard behavior i have seen in most cases. Its to prevent it from accidentally extending across the roof when you are traveling

So, check and turn off the motorhome engine before you press the button on the panel to extend the fabric.

Most of you will know this but if you are new then be sure you aren’t doing this. In travel trailers or other tow-able RVs this wont be the case though.

When the awning gets stuck

truck camper with its awning extended
truck camper with its awning extended

We already saw troubleshooting steps when it wont extend. Same also applies when it wouldn’t close. And even when you have an awning that gets stuck in the middle. However in this case the scenario could be different.

But, mostly your troubleshooting will be same. The reasons could vary.

Before we see how to get to the root cause, what are your options when it gets stuck?

You can get it fixed or repaired there and then, but it may not always be possible to do. When you are about to pack and go back, repairing the electric awning with the steps we mentioned above may not be ideal as it will take time and you may not be able to get it fixed.

Next option is to retract it manually. Electrical awning can be operated manually as well.

In many cases you have the manual override at the outer end of the assembly where the motor is placed.

The motor wont be that big and therefore is placed at the extended end of the awning. In some cases, it can be at the motorhome end of the setup.

Just locate the motor and remove the cap. There will be screw that goes into the roller from the motor. You have to rotate it using a drill to make the awning extend or retract.

Manual Override Steps

In some cases the manual override will be near the motorhome end. There will be cap in front end which you have to remove to access the rotating hole. Make use of screw driver to remove the cap. You may have to use little force to loosen it and then remove it.

Then locate the hole that has a rod passing that covers the awning fabric on it. You have to use a socket wrench to put it inside the hole and rotate it clockwise to get the fabric rolled over the rod. It could operate otherwise as well, just check what happens when you rotate it clockwise, else you may have to try the other way round.

Read : How to Protect your RVs awning

Rotate the wrench until fabric totally goes in. There will be some gap left when you are done rotating it. This gap for putting the cap back in-there.

Next, put the cap back and press it with force and try tapping in gently to put it properly. Then screw it back. You are done with retracting the electric awning manually.

Check and Fix Later : You obviously will have to check on the awning later for the reason why it didn’t close back. But, when you are about to leave the camping site or in the middle of camping that’s the emergency thing you can do.

To troubleshoot the cause follow the steps I have listed above.

When the awning wouldn’t retract evenly

Many a times we have seen this issue with our shade where-in it wont retract fully and its part lies outside on one end. It remains crooked and wont go inside fully. There can be many reasons why that can happen.

First reason could be the shifting of the fabric on either end.

The shade attaches to the rail at the top of coach and it may have shifted on any one side. The fabric need to be exactly in between the two arms. If the fabric is shifted on the rear end or front end, the fabric is going to roll crooked or unevenly.

To solve this issue make sure the screw that goes in the railing is not loose. If it is loose then tighten it back and make sure the fabric is placed exactly in the middle, evenly. If its new awning then there is possibility that it was not installed properly.

The second reason could be the fabric itself going bad.

The fabric itself could have gone bad due to rain water soaking or stretching. The acrylic fabric on awning can get stretched due to multiple reason, when you extend or retract it.

There is not much you can do in this case other than replacing the fabric.

Also, the arms need to be parallel to each other. They should be perpendicular to the walls or rails.

Final thing to check is to measure the awning fabric. It may not be same on either sides and may be uneven which will cause it not rolling back fully.

Most quality ones from reputed manufacturers like dometic, lippert, carefree, camco will roll back evenly in most cases. Try and buy a standard popular piece out there, don’t go for a cheap one as you may end up having a stuck awning. Its normally seen that a proper maintenance will keep the awning in good condition.

G. Yoganand

A RV enthusiast who spends countless hours researching and learning various things related to RV camping. He believes in spending time doing Outdoor activities.
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