Pop-Up Camper Won’t Go Down? Here’s What To Do


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Pop-up campers are a popular choice amongst those who want to enjoy camping without making a considerable investment in an RV. They’re easy to tow around to different areas for camping and require little to no effort to set up and take down. However, there are times when it’ll get stuck and need a little extra work to take down.

If your camper won’t stay up, check this article.

To fix your pop-up camper when it doesn’t go down, you’ll need to make sure the camper is fully prepared to be let down. Then, take down roof supports and tuck excess canvas in. Next, attempt to crank down your camper, and lastly, troubleshoot any issues and it should go down without any problem.

Throughout this article, I’ll explain in more detail how to fix your pop-up camper when it doesn’t go down. You’ll also learn how to troubleshoot if other issues are causing your trailer to malfunction.

For more personal tips about RV, van life, and sustainable lifestyle, check my resource page here.


Make Sure the Camper Is Fully Prepared To Be Let Down

If you’re having trouble lowering your pop-up camper, more often than not, the problem stems from a part not being taken down or stored correctly. It’s important to do a quick look and walk-through to ensure you put everything away correctly to prevent any trouble.

Make Sure to Zip Up All of your Windows

If you have benches with cushions on them, they’ll either need to be removed or lay completely flat so that they won’t be in the way. If the cushions are still up when putting the camper down, the mattress won’t be able to slide into the correct place.

Remove the Camper Door

The doors for pop-up campers will typically come with heavy-duty velcro, and it’s easier to take the door off with it shut rather than opened. Unvelcro the door from the sides and then lift it out of the tracks. There should be a spot on the ceiling the door will clamp to for storage.

Make Sure You Take the Sink Down Correctly

The process for taking down your sink differs between campers, so make sure you’re familiar with it before doing so. Some campers have a handle you pull to bring the sink down, while others have bars that you need to drag out of the way.

Put the Beds Away

Storing the beds is another process that differs from camper to camper. On some models, you have to pull the beds into the trailer manually. However, other models have a pole you unlock and lay flat on the mattress. After that, you pull down on the headboard until the bed completely contracts.

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Take Down Roof Supports and Tuck Excess Canvas In

To avoid fabric snags and jams, make sure you tuck any excess exterior canvas inside. You should also completely remove the door and put the step in the correct spot during this time.

At this point, you should be ready to crank the camper down.

While not all pop-up campers have roof supports, many models do. These supports are also inconspicuous, so they’re really easy to miss when putting the trailer away. Before cranking down the camper, make sure you take down the roof supports if your camper uses them.

Attempt To Crank Down Your Camper

During this step, make sure you only crank little by little. As you go, continuously tuck in canvas fabric that falls out of place. Stray material that isn’t put away can get damaged and torn. 

Once you’ve cranked the camper down, latch everything according to the location of the latches on your trailer to keep everything in place.

If you see a slight gap between the roof and the bottom, tuck any stray fabric in again. If the issue persists, you may need to push down manually on the top and latch. 

However, you should only do this if there’s a small gap. Forcing the top down when there’s still too much space can cause severe damage.

Troubleshoot Any Issues

With all of this in mind, there are times when other issues are causing your pop-up camper not to close. If this is happening to you, there’s a chance it could be a problem with your camper’s driveshaft and whiffletree.

The whiffletree of a camper helps the drive shaft open and close the pop-up camper, which you’ll find underneath the vehicle. The whiffletree’s location makes the part susceptible to critter damage.

To fix the issue, you may need to replace your driveshaft, but to get it taken down for the moment, follow these steps:

  1. Take off the drive shaft cover. You’ll find the cover at one end of your pop-up camper. You’ll need to remove the surface to get to the driveshaft to lower the top.
  2. Investigate the pop-up’s whiffletree. The whiffletree is the long metal rod located underneath your pop-up camper that connects to the drive shaft. If you notice any animal nesting or debris, clear it out of the way.
  3. Crank the drive shaft with pliers or channel locks. Connect your pliers or channel locks to the first ring of the drive shaft, and then crank it. The drive shaft may give you trouble, and it may take a few tries before the pop-up camper comes down.
  4. Replace the drive shaft if necessary. If you find the issue reoccurs, you’ll likely need to replace the drive shaft.

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For a visual demonstration, check out this video:

If this isn’t the issue, the problem may be with the cables and pulleys. To check for cable/pulley issues, look where the cable system is and put any loose cables back onto the correct pulley. This is a common issue amongst older campers when being towed longer distances.

You may also find that the cables are simply caught in the pulley system. If that’s the case, you should use a lubricant to loosen them up.

Final Thoughts

When your pop-up camper refuses to fully close, it can cause a lot of frustration and worry. Normally, the issue stems from simple missteps, like forgetting to pull the kitchenette sink down or fully retract the camper’s mattresses.

The most important thing you can do to avoid this situation is to double-check you’ve stored all the necessary components before closing. By following the steps I’ve laid out here, you’ll prevent your camper from giving you any issues later on.

Martin

As an independent traveler, I try to share my positive and negative observations about van life as well as tips and tricks to make your life on the road easier. I travel and work in my old RV and would greatly appreciate a coffee from you if you find my content useful.

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