Thursday, June 1, 2023


Ask Dave: Why do my hydraulic leveling jacks crack and pop at night?

Dear Dave,
We have a 2016 Navion View with the HWH levelers making cracking and popping sounds, after leveling, throughout the night. What do you suggest we do about this problem? Thank you. —Steve, 2016 Navion View

Dear Steve,
You either have a Winnebago View or an Itasca Navion, which is the sister company of Winnebago Industries. They are identical units, all at 24’ length on the Mercedes cutaway chassis. In 2016, Winnebago was transitioning away from the Itasca brand. When I looked at the brochure archive, both have the Winnebago logo on the overhead outside, although on the side they say either View or Navion.


In 2015, the brochure shows the Itasca logo on the Navion and Winnebago on the Video. It’s odd that 2016 had Winnebago on both and the units look identical.

In either case, according to the brochure and the parts list on their site, neither unit came with hydraulic leveling jacks standard or as an option, which is typical of the smaller Class C units. I would imagine they were either installed as an aftermarket item by Winnebago Customer Service or by the dealership.

According to the HWH website, they recommend the 725 series for those, and they should look like this:

Inspecting the hydraulic leveling jacks

The first thing I would do is visually inspect all the hydraulic leveling jacks to make sure they are connected properly and securely. These are bolt-on applications and could have a loose bolt or broken one. You can go on the site and view an installation PDF and see for yourself all the bolts, brackets, cross members, and connections—which are plenty. Make sure all of these are connected properly.

Do you hear any cracking or popping when initial pressure is applied during retraction? If yes, you should be able to isolate where it is coming from such as the chassis frame, jack housing, or the actual jack shaft. If it seems to be chassis-related, it could be a weak or broken weld on one of the outriggers. Winnebago purchases the cutaway chassis that has the cab and frame rails going to the back and they weld a series of outriggers for the foundation. If the pressure of the jack leveling the rig twists the frame slightly, it could give a popping or cracking sound. If that is the case, I would suggest contacting Winnebago’s Owner Relations Department to get some assistance, as I believe they have a 3-year structural warranty.

If there is no cracking or popping during retraction, you will need to pay close attention to the circumstances at the time you hear them through the night. Is it when you are walking around, which would put additional pressure on one jack, bracket, or part of the chassis? What is the temperature? Temperature changes can cause materials to expand and contract. Especially cold weather can cause a pop now and then. Is it windy? That could also shift the rig slightly. I would anticipate this to be a very difficult condition to isolate, if there doesn’t seem to be a pattern.

Check levels of hydraulic oil

Next, verify there is the proper level of hydraulic oil in the reservoir and it is the correct blend. If you are operating in cold temperatures, HWH recommends synthetic oil that is available through HWH. All four hydraulic leveling jacks should be retracted when checking the oil level.

Foreign materials such as tar, road salt, and other items can get on the jack cylinders and deteriorate the shaft and seals. HWH recommends cleaning with soap and water, rinsing off, then drying with a microfiber towel. It could be air in the hydraulic line that allows one or more jacks to shift slightly inside the cylinder or bad seals. Does the unit drop slightly when the noise happens?

This model is a “kick-down” type jack and has springs that bring the jack back up for retraction. Check to make sure the springs are not binding, broken, or hitting anything. I would also recommend spraying the spring and connections with CorrosionX®, which is one of the best rust inhibitors and lubricants on the market.

If the cracking and popping is in the jack housing itself, you will need to contact HWH or a qualified service center for further assistance.

 You might also enjoy this from Dave 

Why does my trailer “snap, crackle and pop” on turns?

Dear Dave,
I just upgraded from a bumper pull to a Forest River Sabre 36BHQ 5th wheel. I’ve noticed a lot of popping and metal-to-metal sounds coming from the suspension on the trailer, but only during turning. It “pops and moans” whether they’re mild or sharp turns. Is there something I should be worried about? —Erik

Read Dave’s answer

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and the author of the “RV Handbook.”

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Dave Solberg
Dave Solberg
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club. He has been in the RV Industry since 1983 and conducts over 15 seminars at RV shows throughout the country.


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Mike Stanbro
7 months ago

One more thought on the popping issue. I believe the length on the jack’s extension affects the likelihood of popping. A jack that is greatly extended has more fluid in the cylinder that will expand and contract with temperature. Reducing the extension length with a leveling block may help. Andersen makes ‘Jack Blocks’ that many 5th-wheel trailer owners use to decrease the length of their stabilizer jacks which is claimed to improve stability and, possibly, reduce popping. Just an idea, I have no personal experience with that product.

Mike Stanbro
7 months ago

Popping is likely due to thermal contraction of the hydraulic fluid due to cooling temperature overnight. The contraction, though slight, allows the pistons in the hydraulic cylinders to retract a bit. The popping occurs as their is friction between the piston and the cylinder so the piston doesn’t move until there is sufficient contraction of the fluid and internal pressure to overcome the friction. Then the piston drops just a bit and you feel it. The reverse is likely when the temperature rises during the day.

As a previous commenter stated, Lippert recommends replacing a portion of the existing hydraulic oil with an “anti-stiction” additive. Refer to the bulletin the commenter referenced.

In my personal experience, the anti-stiction additive helps but does not completely eliminate the popping. The greater the temperature deltas between day and night, the more likely you will experience popping.

7 months ago

Our Fleetwood Discovery pops occasionally but it’s not getting out of level. Nothing moves! It’s related to the levelers but I’ve never been able to isolate it. It might do it once every five minutes or 50 minutes or never. Nothing regular. I was reading a forum comment on draining and replacing the fluid every three years, so I thought I’d tackle this on next spring.

2017 Discovery

Rock & Tina
7 months ago

Lippert recommends replacing a quart of your hydraulic oil with anti-stiction fluid to cure this popping. See Lippert bulletin 0925 for the approved fluids and procedure.

Bob p
7 months ago

Dave is Johnny Robot helping you write your answers. You state these are spring return but in the answer you ask do you notice noise when retracting under pressure. Lol

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