As an RV owner, I’m sure you had your fair share of time working with uneven ground. After all, the RV park is likely on natural ground, and it will be challenging to find a flat and level spot. And nothing worse than unhitching, setting up camp to realize that you are not level. In this post, you will discover a way to level your camper without needing to re-hitch your entire rig to get it level.
Let’s first talk about the issue, and that is the side-to-side unlevel camper. I think you will agree with me that the front-to-back uneven ground is no issue…right. Just retract your stabilizer bars and move your tongue jack up or down. Simple! But what if your side-to-side is uneven? That is when we all curse camping and look for some simple way to level the camper without moving it.
Whether you have a travel trailer, recreational vehicle, or 5th wheel, having a comfortable and level rig is essential. So don’t worry; this post will show you how to handle that uneven ground and get your camper back to level.
First, let’s understand the essential equipment needed to make this happen quickly.
A scissor jack comprises two sets of steel arms connected by four pins set in a cross pattern. The components are combined with bushings at each pivot point which helps reduce friction as the jack is operated. A crank handle is attached to one end, which turns an internal screw thread that pushes upwards against the lower set of arms and causes them to go apart, extending the upper stage of components up into whatever it’s supporting.
A scissor jack is likely to have come with your tow vehicle. This is what I call the “in case of emergency” jack. It’s not the best choice, but if you need it, it will work.
A typical bottle jack consists of two components: an external cylinder filled with hydraulic oil and an internal piston connected to a lifting arm. When you pump the handle on top of the cylinder, it pushes down on the piston, which forces oil into the bottom chamber and lifts whatever is attached! As more pressure is applied through pumping, more power is generated, and heavier objects can be raised. Just release tension from the handle valve to lower them back down again.
I do suggest having a bottle jack in your camper or tow vehicle. This terrific (and cheap – around $30) tool can get you out of many situations. And leveling your trailer is one of those situations.
Wheel chocks are placed behind the tires of any vehicle parked on an incline or need to be held steady. When two wheel chocks are placed directly behind each tire, it creates a wedge effect that keeps the vehicle from rolling away. The wedges lock together to form a secure barrier that won’t allow the tires to move unless the wheel chock is removed.
Wheel chocks are one of the best ways to ensure your travel trailer stays precisely where you left it. Especially as you try to level your camper, you will need to keep the tires as secure and stable as much as possible.
RV stabilizer jacks are a necessary part of the recreational vehicle experience. Whether you’re taking your RV out on the open road or just parking it in your driveway at home, stabilizer jacks can help ensure your rig is secure and stable.
Stabilizer jacks are adjustable legs that attach to the trailer frame near its corners. Each jack has a crank handle attached, which allows you to lift or lower the leg until it makes contact with the ground. By extending these legs and adjusting them until they’re evenly spaced and level, you can ensure that your RV stays balanced and secure no matter where you park it. This keeps your RV from rocking due to bumps in the pavement or strong winds, making for a more comfortable experience inside when things outside get bumpy!
Remember, these are “stabilizers” and not “lifting” jacks. A stabilizer jack is not designed to carry the weight of your camper. It’s only meant to stabilize movement by securing more to the ground. Using your stabilizers as a lifting jack can cause damage to the jacks and your camper.
How To Raise Your Camper
Now that we have the equipment sorted let’s proceed with leveling without moving the camper.
First, determine the low side. Since we will be “lifting” the camper, we will need to know which side to lift.
Also, if you can, retract your slides and awning. Even though you are not moving your travel trailer, retracting your slides to keep your trailer balanced, like traveling down the road, is still a good idea.
Secure all tires and wheels. Using your favorite wheel chocks, make sure the wheels are secure—especially the non-lifting side. The tire is your primary contact with the ground, and ensuring they are secure and won’t roll is just good safety.
Next, raise your stabilizer bars. Since you will be moving the camper up and down, the stabilizer bars need to be retracted, not hindering the camper’s ability to move up and down.
Get your bottle jack (or scissor jack from your tow vehicle). You will be placing the jack on the “frame” of the camper. We often think to jack up the trailer on the axle because it’s lower to the ground. The axle lift is not recommended because it is not as secure as the frame, and the suspension moves as you raise the camper.
If you need blocking to get the jack to the correct height, go ahead and get some leveling or wood blocks. You want to install enough blocks to have about a 4″ to 6″ lift on your camper.
Proceed to lift your travel trailer slowly. As you lift, you will hear creaks and groans from the trailer. This is normal, but keep checking that the tires and the tongue jack are still securely placed on the ground.
Once you jack up to the point of the camper being level, raise the camper a little more, about an inch or two. Now place your leveling pads or blocks under your tire.
If you feel you added all the blocking you need, go ahead and “slowly” lower the jack, so the wheels are now resting on your blocks. You will notice that the suspension moved the camper down an inch or two. So if you are still not level, go ahead and repeat, knowing there is some play due to the suspension.
There you go! Your travel trailer should now be level, and you didn’t even have to move it.
You can quickly level your travel trailer without moving it with some essential equipment, such as a bottle jack. Once the tires are secure, and stabilizer jacks are retracted, jack up your frame just enough to allow your leveling block under the tire.
Tony is an avid camper and RV traveler. He fell in love with camping on his first RV trip with his wife over 25 years ago. Tony loves sharing lessons learned and tips about RV maintenance and safe traveling.