As a modern day, travel-savvy, and world-wise RVer you deserve to enjoy your vacation free of lopsidedness. A tilted RV can be very uncomfortable, can cause safety hazards, and even cause your refrigerator to stop functioning. Avoid these headaches with the right RV leveling system. Knowing you need a leveling system for your RV is a far cry from knowing what kind of system is the best RV leveling system for you. Leveling blocks, leveling jacks, leveling ramps, jack pads, wheel chocks, hydraulic leveling systems, stabilizer pads, stacker blocks— the list of leveling-related jargon goes on and on. With so many available options, it can be hard to pick out the right one for your RV, so here is an overview:
Many RVs come with factory-mounted leveling jacks. These jacks can be hand-crank, electric, or hydraulic (see the section on Hydraulic Leveling Systems below). Jacks are great for making small adjustments to the levels of your RV, but RVers with this type of system generally carry wooden or plastic leveling blocks to make any additional adjustments that may be needed. Experienced RVers generally choose plastic leveling blocks because they are affordable, lightweight, and easier to transport than wood. But more on that later.
Often, RV trailers, such as travel trailers or fifth wheels, come with electric or hand-crank jacks installed that can be lowered until some of the weight of the trailer is supported by the jack. These are only designed for leveling and not for lifting the RV. To maintain this kind of jack, be sure to always raise them up before pulling away. If you pull away without storing the jacks, they could be torn off. Additionally, if you don’t store the jacks completely and leave them hanging down, they can collect debris and dirt that will hinder their ability to fully extend and retract. You should also clean and grease them regularly.
Hydraulic Leveling Systems
Hydraulic leveling systems are the most common leveling method for motorhomes. If your RV did not come equipped with a leveling system, they can often be installed later on. A hydraulic leveling system is generally stronger than a hand-crank or electric system and is usually controlled via a panel of buttons near the driver’s seat. Using the leveling system in conjunction with jacks (the kind that you would use to change a tire) can be enough to get the motorhome off the ground if necessary.
When using the hydraulic leveling system, it’s important to lift an entire side or an entire end simultaneously. If individual corners of the RV are lifted independently, this can cause twisting and possible structural damage to the RV. Be aware of the surface you are using your hydraulic levelers on. Concrete is best, but softer terrain won’t support the weight of the RV. The jacks could leave a depression in asphalt, for example, if the temperature is high, and if the terrain is really soft, like dirt, the jack will simply sink into the ground. The underlying surface must be solid. Maintain your system by occasionally checking to make sure there is sufficient hydraulic fluid.
Leveling Blocks & Ramps
If the slope of your campsite is so drastic that hydraulic, electric or crank jacks can’t get the RV level, it’s time to use leveling blocks (these can also be known as jack pads, stabilizer pads, or stacker blocks). Leveling blocks can also be used to prevent jacks from sinking into softer terrain. Each variety of leveling block has pros and cons. Jack pads, even higher end ones, can be too thin to offer enough height, too flexible to retain their shape, and can slide on each other when stacked. Our favorite are plastic, stackable leveling blocks like the above from Level-Trek. They can also be snapped together in such a way that they create a ramp. Be sure to check the weight of your RV against the weight limit of the blocks as plastic blocks aren’t always strong enough for heavier RVs.
Using wheel chocks in addition to leveling blocks and ramps is also generally a good idea. Wheel chocks keep your wheels from rolling off leveling blocks. This Jumbo Wheel Chock can be used with Level-Trek leveling blocks. Even if you are using jacks, it’s a good idea to chock your wheels to keep your RV from rolling off the jacks and causing damage to the jacks or your RV.
Leveling systems are a lot less complicated than they seem and can range from very inexpensive solutions like leveling blocks to more expensive, but more convenient and stronger systems like hydraulic leveling systems. Need to repair or install an RV leveling system? Looking to pick up some leveling accessories? The Guaranty RV Travel Center carries a wide range of chalks, scissor jacks and power gear leveling systems at www.shopguarantyrvparts.com or in the RV Travel Center. Our expert service and parts advisors can help with major repairs and often can perform same day installs.
Top Photo: Adam Baker