Stabilizer jacks are not for lifting your RV

7

Steve Savage submitted this article to RVtravel.com when he was a Master Certified RV Technician with Mobility RV Service.

Most travel trailers have a stabilizer jack on each corner, and fifth wheels normally have one on each rear corner. Why are they there? These jacks are intended to keep your camper from bouncing on the suspension when you move about inside. Please! They are not designed to lift your camper.

Properly using stabilizer jacks means they are snugged up, but not more than snug. To do more than going to the snug point means you will ruin your jack in short order. If you want to lift your camper, use bottle jacks and support it in multiple places.

As you will quickly discover, if you have not already done so, frame rails and travel trailer frame rails in particular are not entirely rigid, and ratcheting up the jack will often distort things enough so doors stick or, in some cases, slideouts bind.

It really boils down to common sense. Components that are used in the manner in which they are intended will give many years of service and require replacement far less often. Save your money and your frustration — use your equipment the way it was intended.

##RVDT1315

Subscribe
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

7 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Earl Balentine
3 months ago

Stabilizer jacks are not for lifting your RV: From what I understand is that when the electric stabilizer jacks come in contact with the ground only proceed one more second on the power button. Don’t make the mistake I made one time. I had my rear electric stabilizer jacks on the ground and then realized that my from jacks on my 5th wheel wasn’t level, it was too low. So I push the button and brought the nose up a little. What that did was to put more weight on my real stabilizer jacks. I should have brought the rear jacks up off the ground and then readjust the front jacks to level maybe a hair higher and then put the rear jacks back down.
With the added pressure on the rear jacks after raising my front jacks, my rear jacks got stuck and the motor kept timing out on me. In the end I damaged my rear jacks and they had to be replaced at a cost of about $800. Needless to say I was a lot more careful about making sure my 5th wheel nose wasn’t to high before putting my rear jacks down. BTY: it was just an over nighter and my 5th wheel was still connected to the truck which is what left me nose high and I was trying to compensate for the nose high by lifting the rear little more than usual and adding too much pressure on the rear jacks.

J.R.
3 months ago

Throughout the years I have seen many types of RV’s with their tires completely off the ground. I once saw a class a with it’s front tires about 10+ inches off the ground with the blocking under the jacks at a angle that rivals the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I carry a 2 foot level, several sets of the LEGO style blocks, large wooden 18” square blocks also large plastic shims (like the ones used by tree cutters to keep the gap open) to level my pads and some plastic chocking for the wheels. At no time do I let my tires to be unsupported. The tires are outboard of the jacks and give more stability than jacks alone.

Rory R
3 months ago
Reply to  J.R.

The situation you describe is dangerous, but leveling jacks on a class A are not like stabilizer jacks on a travel trailer. They are much sturdier, in fact I have seen on more than one occasion, a class A DP owner use his leveling jacks to change a tire. Manufacturers probably would have a stroke if they saw that, but it worked with no damage.

Richard Hubert
3 months ago
Reply to  Rory R

For Class A leveling jacks – all manufacturers explicitly state that those jacks are not to be used to lift the vehicle for maintenance work or tire changing, but I believe they do so mostly for liability reasons more than anything else. Most tire shops I have witnessed like to use an RVs leveling jacks to change tires because it is a quick and easy way to lift the RV axle high enough for a tire change. But they would not put a technician under the RV without at least also putting jack stands under the axle as well. Same for myself – even when working on an automobile I would never crawl under it if just supported by 1 jack. But for simply changing a tire the 1 jack included with the vehicle is fine.

Same for my RV. I have parked for days & weeks with my front tires completely off the ground in order to level the RV. The leveling jacks held it up just fine. But I made sure the rear tires were in contact with the ground as they are locked by the parking brake along with the wheel chocks I place under them as well.

arlene monnar
3 months ago

is this the same with the leveling jacks on a class A motorhome? asking for a friend (jk). another question, i have seen some class A with the tires off and the motorhome resting only on the leveling jack. this does not seem right to me, but i’m new to rv’ing and not sure?

Rick Sorrenti
3 months ago
Reply to  arlene monnar

The common error owners make is they don’t understand that these are stabilizing arms…not lifting arms

Ralph Pinney
3 months ago

This can’t be told enough. I don’t know how many times I have heard someone using an impact driver for an extended time trying to get his trailer level. Leveling blocks under the tires and the tongue jack on a TT or the landing gear on a 5th wheel are the proper way.
Additionally, the leveling systems seem like a good idea. Our rig does not have that. However, I’m not in any hurry to get one. That is a complex system that has many points of failure. The RV manufacturer’s undoubtedly use the cheapest components available. I’ve seen numerous rigs myself in Campgrounds or even Wally World parking lots stuck because one or more of their jacks will not retract. I”m just old school I guess, and operate on the KISS principle.
Regards