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Defeat the slope! RV leveling tips from the experts

This week I spent some time with some HWH® Corporation leveling techs and learned much more about our levelers than I had known previously. I got some helpful tips from them and thought I’d share them with you.

Safety first!

  • Never work under an RV or change tires using leveling jacks to lift it.
  • Make sure the area is clear before raising or lowering jacks.
  • Don’t build a mountain of blocks to try and level!

Maintenance

While little maintenance is needed, several methods were mentioned to keep the jacks clean, particularly in dusty conditions.

  • Spray the lift cylinders with WD40 and wipe off periodically.
  • Spray lift cylinders with a mix of Dawn and water but don’t wipe off.
  • Our RV manufacturer recommended spraying the jacks with silicone, but HWH does not.
  • Check the hydraulic connections near the pump for any leaks or seepage.
  • Wires can corrode – double-check the connections.
  • Use a wire brush to clean rust on springs and paint if desired.

Exercise

Just like exercising the generator, it is important to exercise the jacks once a month by retracting and extending them.

Pop goes the jack!

We had loud pops underneath the motorhome while in Arizona last winter. Pops enough to shake it! I called the RV manufacturer and they thought the solenoid needed replacing and told me how to check which jack was the issue.

  1. Level the RV.
  2. Crawl under enough to draw a line in marker at top of the jack cylinder on all four jacks.
  3. Check daily to identify which jack is moving. It may take several days.

Temperature changes and hydraulic fluid

The pops stopped once we got to Minnesota. Turns out it was not the solenoid.

  • As temperature changes the hydraulic fluid expands and contracts.
  • Expansion and contraction can slightly raise or lower the jacks.
  • In extreme temperature swings, the jacks can literally “pop” and shake the motorhome. In the almost-50-degree fluctuation from morning to night here in Arizona, there was a lot of contraction and expansion going on!

Storage

  • It is okay to store the RV with the jacks down, but you must still exercise them once a month.

Leveling

  • It is recommended to use no more than a 2” board under the jacks. Don’t build a mountain of boards to level the RV. We are sometimes forced to use a couple of 2” boards on unlevel sites, as the jacks will only lift so far. But that is not recommended.
  • Do not leave tires in the air and axles hanging. Place boards under tires in extreme conditions and manually lower jacks to rest on the boards.
  • Slides in or out when leveling? This is always a point of discussion. The best advice is not from forums, Facebook or even this wonderfully informative website. It is from the RV manufacturer. Read the manual and follow the sequence they recommend.
  • Auto level again after slides are out, if needed. Our motorhome’ s jack tech recommended leveling with the slides out as needed as the motorhome settles and jacks retract slightly.
  • Double-check if the level feels “off” with a level gauge and manually adjust if needed. This is the gauge I have used for the last eight years and am really happy with it.

Sensor

  • The leveling sensor, usually near the hydraulic pump, can be adjusted.
  • Refer to instructions in manual or online.

Perfectly level

Forget about it! It is not going to happen. The levelers are designed to be within a 0.5 – 0.7 degree tolerance. If they went for a zero-tolerance, the auto levelers would be working all day to get to the impossibly perfect level. Campfires and s’mores would never get going!

Related:

Level your rig like a pro – without messing up your suspension

##RVDT1632

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Tom
3 months ago

Hmmm… My owner’s manual says to not extend the jacks to more than 6 holes showing on the side and to use blocks under the jacks. I either need to use about 6” of blocking, both front and rear, or let all of the air out of my tires, in order to have the jacks reach the ground without getting a stroke error (you are out of jack extension range, we’re shutting down).

Secondly, you should not use WD-40 on rubber. If you have hydraulic jacks, are the seals not rubber?

I don’t know that the advice provided is good in all cases so, “buyer beware”. You’re on your own when accepting free advice.

Marsha
3 months ago

When doing your research and posting your article, please specify what type of unit you have; e.g., travel trailer, motorhome, or pop-up trailer, etc. My travel trailer does not have “leveling jacks.” And I know that. But newbies may not and become confused reading this article.

Traveler
3 months ago

When you check your level, what are you checking on? We’ve debated each trailer( manual leveling jacks) for stove, refrigerator, counter or bathroom door?

Tommy Molnar
3 months ago
Reply to  Traveler

We use the floor primarily, with a level. The bathroom door is the “door-o-meter”. Lastly, we check the bubble level sitting on a shelf in the fridge. It doesn’t have to be ‘perfect’.

The “door-o-meter” keeps us informed as to whether we’re shifting or sinking. Hey, it works.

Traveler
3 months ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Thanks- so we’re doing it ok.

Bob M
3 months ago
Reply to  Traveler

When I check different surface in my travel trailers. I can’t find a uniform flat surface. Weather it’s the floor, countertop or refrigerator. I just try to get it level with in the ballpark like my old German deceased friend would say.

Bob p
3 months ago

We were in a resort 2 years ago in Dade City, FL on a lot that was so far off level they brought 10 2X12 boards for us to level with. That comes out to 7.5” plus the extension of the jack. Our front wheels were off the ground 5”. Never stay there again.

Tom
3 months ago
Reply to  Bob p

You might want to try putting the blocking under the tires, before you activate the jacks.

Wayne Caldwell
3 months ago

After i get our trailer level with the 4-corner leveling jacks I’ll extend the slideout. I also leave them down until the slideout is fully retracted. I raised them one time at an uneven site and had to manually bring in the slide as the electric motor assembly couldn’t do it. Not saying it’s right or wrong, just the way I’ve been doing it for the five years we’ve owned this 20 year-old trailer.

Bill
3 months ago
Reply to  Wayne Caldwell

On most trailers the jacks on the corners are for stabilizing, explicitly not leveling. Check your manuals or the trailer manufacturer for clarification.

Bill T
3 months ago

“Auto level again after slides are out, if needed.” Only if you want to risk twisting the sidewalls and causing the slides to jam. No thanks.

Greg Surratt
3 months ago

“The levelers are designed to be within a 5-7 degree tolerance”
I hope you missed a decimal point. 5 (Five) degrees works out to 42 inches difference front to rear on a 40 foot RV. 0.5 (Zero point five) degrees is an acceptable (but noticeable) 4.2 inches.
The Lippert system on my class A and the Bigfoot system on my fifth wheel both throw errors when tilted more than a couple of degrees.

Bob p
3 months ago
Reply to  Greg Surratt

Well she’s a journalist, so she’s entitled to some error.

Bill
3 months ago
Reply to  Bob p

What’s your point?

Kaeleen Buckingham
3 months ago
Reply to  Greg Surratt

Maybe corrected between the time you read and it and when I read it? It say .5 – .7.

David Telenko
3 months ago
Reply to  Greg Surratt

Actually you missed the decimal point!! “The levelers are designed to be within a .5-.7 degree tolerance.” Just saying!
Snoopy

Retired Firefighter Tom
3 months ago
Reply to  Greg Surratt

It looked like a decimil point on my computer – .5-.7″ . It would have been better if it had been writtes as 0.5″ to 0.7″ to avoid any confusion. I had to look really close to see the “.”

Admin
RV Staff (@rvstaff)
3 months ago

Thanks, Tom. It was corrected by the writer after it was brought to her attention by our astute readers. I’ve just gone in and corrected it to “0.5 to 0.7” to make it more clear. Have a great day! 🙂 –Diane