How to Fix an Electric Awning That Won’t Extend

Having problems with an awning that won't fully extend? We've done quite a bit of research to come up with a few solutions that might help you solve your problem.

When it comes to camping, is there anything better than an electric awning? Okay, we admit that you could probably think of a few things that are better. However, most campers will agree that just pressing a button and allowing the motor in an awning to do its thing is utterly magnificent.

What happens when your electric or motorized awning starts to have some issues, though? Specifically, what are you supposed to do if your electric awning won’t extend? At that point, we guess you should just sell your camper or RV and let it be someone else’s issue.

No, we’re kidding, please don’t do that. For starters, an electric awning can be fixed and, secondly, it just feels greasy to sell something that you know is not functioning perfectly. Don’t worry, we’re going to break this down for you, and it all starts with attempting to determine what the issue is.

Your electric awning won’t extend…but why?

Ah, yes, in order to figure out how to fix an electric awning (and really anything, for that matter) you first need to understand and determine what the heck is wrong with it.

After all, if your electric awning isn’t extending when you’re telling it to, there may be a few different reasons why.

Lack of power

We’re not sure if this is going to be the easiest fix, but your electric awning won’t extend if it doesn’t have enough power to do so. Sounds simple, right? Indeed, the concept is quite simple, but what are some of the reasons why a lack of power may be in play?

Wires that are either loose or bad: Everyone just loves to deal with wiring, are we right? To determine if the problem is in the wiring, here’s what you can do. Unplug the awning motor and then connect the wires to a 12V power source. If the awning begins to extend just fine, an electrical issue (or an issue with the switch) is the culprit.

A bad battery: If the battery isn’t supplying enough power, problems are going to arise. With the use of a voltmeter, this is going to be one of the best ways to gauge how much power the battery is producing. If the readout is normal, this isn’t the issue.

Mechanical components are broken

Okay, so it may not be an electrical issue and may simply be an issue with one or more than one of the mechanical components of your electric awning. After all, even though it’s motorized, mechanical components are still used for everything to operate. However, pinpointing the specifics here can be quite tricky.

Probably the best way to analyze this is to manually override your awning. If your electric awning won’t extend even after you override it, you may have one or more mechanical issues going on with it. From there, it might be best to have a professional take a look at it.

Oh, and as to how you’re supposed to manually override your awning, this video here gives a great demonstration of the process.

YouTube video

A video is worth a thousand pictures, are we right?

The motor may be failing

Okay, so if you attempt to connect a 12V source to your motor and nothing happens, it may be time to replace the motor. As you might expect, this is going to be one of the costliest features of an electric awning to replace.

It can vary based on different factors, but you can expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $700 for a new motor. What’s nice, though, is with some motors, retractable arms will actually be included in the price.

Quite honestly, if you have no interest in inspecting the issue of your awning not extending yourself, you can always call around your local RV shops (or close to local) to see what their rates would be for inspection.

Plus, if you really don’t know what you’re doing and really don’t know why your electric awning won’t extend, this prevents creating further issues by attempting to solve the problem yourself. In other words, it’s never a bad idea to just let the experts take care of everything.

Some general tips for maintaining your electric awning

When it comes to motorized and electrical devices, there’s only so much you can do to keep them functioning properly. The same goes with your electric awning as it’s only going to last for so long, and there’s only so much you can do to keep it in tip-top condition.

Regarding dealing with the motor and other electrical components, there’s really not much you’re going to be able to do. With that said, there are plenty of maintenance tips and practices that you can keep in mind if you buy an electric awning.

Use a guard or protectant to protect your awning from the weather

Inclement weather and the sun can cause the fabric of your awning to fade and crack quicker than you want it to or even expect it to. While there’s no way to ensure that the awning will last forever, you can at least invest in a protectant or guard solution to help keep the sun and weather at bay.

Now, there are many different products on the market that you can use for this. Heck, your local RV shop may even have some good protectants that you can use if you’d rather just go straight to the source.

Wash your awning at least a couple of times a year

Given the fact that your awning is pretty much always at risk of getting dirty while it’s extended, it’s best to clean and wash it at least a few times a year. Cleaning it from dirt, leaves, sap, and other types of debris can keep it looking good and fresh.

Additionally, mildew and mold can build up on awnings, and it’s definitely best to rid them of that. Not storing the awning while it’s wet and allowing it to dry is a good first step in avoiding the growth of mold (it can’t grow without moisture, after all).

As far as cleaning your awning, most of the time, the simple use of a garden hose will get the trick done. More intense cleanings will require mild soap and a soft brush. A garden hose can then be used to rinse off the awning in the instance a little scrubbing is necessary.

Lubricating the mechanical components

We mentioned earlier that your electric awning won’t extend because some of the mechanical components may be damaged or broken. To help prevent this from being a possible issue, it’s best to lubricate your power awning.

In fact, the owner’s manual of your awning may even tell you what type of lubricant to use and what to lubricate. Lubrication of the arm joints, the adjuster thumb screw, the exposed piston rod, and even the slide groove can be nice to employ. Keeping components such as this lubricated is just good practice to help keep them functioning properly.

Retract it when it’s not in use

It’s quite amazing what the sun can do regarding damage. It’s essential for our survival, yet it can also prematurely ruin and damage certain things such as your electric awning. Due to this, it’s best to just keep it retracted during times when you’re not using it.

It can be easy to just leave it extended for hours on end. While we’re not saying it’s necessary to retract it and then extend it every single time you aren’t underneath of it, you can still monitor times where it’d be okay to not have it extended. A good example is if you are a full-time RVer, as there will definitely be times where you don’t need it extended.

Final thoughts

If your electric awning won’t extend, it’s either going to be an electrical issue, an issue with the motor, or a mechanical issue. You can troubleshoot the problem in the various ways listed in this post, but it also may be easier to just have a professional take a look at the issue.

Not all hope is lost as the issue could be as simple as replacing a specific mechanical component or as complex as having the motor itself replaced. Do you want to know something else that can become a problem when owning an electrical awning (or even just a manual one)?

How about when the fabric needs to be replaced? Yeah, that sounds like a pretty daunting task, huh? Well, here’s the good news. We’ve also created a guide on that and show that in 10 simple steps, you can replace your RV awning fabric.

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Tyler Jones

Tyler is much like a swiss knife. Even though he has a degree in Computer Science, he knows almost everything there is to know about camping. He has been writing for HeadlessNomad since 2021 and has contributed with over 100 articles. If you have an outdoor-related question, then Tyler much likely knows the answer.