Use your RV levelers to lift a tire off the ground?



By Russ and Tiña De Maris

One of the biggest “helpers” that Class A motorhome owners often have is a good leveler system. At the push of a button or two, their rig is soon leveled up and stable, ready for an overnight, or weeks, without fussing with blocks, jacks, and the in-and-out of the cab that other RV owners are accustomed to.

But here’s a question that sometimes pops up: When leveling, is it OK to get a wheel or wheels off the ground? It’s another one of those loaded questions, with people lining up across the fire pit, shootin’ irons ready to blaze.

What creates the controversy? It’s often a matter of, “I’ve been RVing for years, and I’ve had one or more tires off the ground and never had a problem.” Of course, there are plenty of other RVers who bring their own stories to the table. “I have spring-type jacks and once did lift the rear (one side) off the ground while leveling. My motorhome rolled backwards at least two feet. Since I had my hand on the control, I released the jack and luckily suffered no damage, but it scared the stuffing out of me.”

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Stuffing stories aside, there are valid concerns about raising your motorhome tires off the ground. There is admittedly a bit less stability without tire contact, maybe that’s not an issue for you, particularly if you have your “sea legs.” On the other hand. improper lifting can adversely affect frame and coach dynamics. Can you imagine having your rig’s windshield “popping out”? It has happened.

There are other concerns. For example, if your coach leveling system kicks down and retracts to the rear, if your rear wheels are off the ground, and if for some reason your coach loses stability, you can fall forward “off the jacks,” or even backwards, mashing the jacks in the process.

WHAT ABOUT PARKING STABILITY? If your rig’s parking brake is based on locking up the rear wheel, jack up the rear wheel and you may lose your braking ability altogether. Having a single rear wheel in contact with the ground won’t necessarily guarantee a safe “parking brake” situation. Add a bit of ground unevenness, and you can imagine your coach sliding off the levelers with unwelcome consequences.

One RVer suggests to those who would wonder if they could safely get a wheel or more off the ground consider three factors. First, what does the leveler manufacturer say? Do they rule out taking a wheel off the ground? Next, what does the motorhome manufacturer dictate on the same question? Finally, what about the issue of the parking brake, as we’ve already talked about?

Sure, there are plenty of RVers who will say, “Sure, the manufacturer says don’t take a wheel off the ground, but they’re just covering their posteriors.” Maybe so, but how badly will you scrape your posterior if you take that wheel off the ground and your rig slips?


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Our front is lower than the back and most RV parks are not level, so often the front needs to be raised a lot. We carry boards to put under them. We will raise the tires up higher than needed, put boards under, then lower the rig back down. That way the rig’s weight is still on the boards.

Dick and Sandy near Buffalo, NY

In most cases, with the jacks in the down position for leveling and any tire(s) is off the ground, it is only the shock absorber that is holding up the axle and your rig. That in itself is not what the shock is made to do and you are extending the shock beyond .its normal range. You may end up over extending the shock(s) and loose their intended performance. Or at worst the shock will fail causing the axle to fall and then you are in real trouble.

Yes there are times when you are in a bad site that requires the tire(s) to be off the ground to be level. Been there done that. However, in that case, I carry leveling blocks (plastic and wood) to put under that tire(s) to support it thus the weight of the axle is still supported by the tire, axle and shock combined. Yes it is a pain to do but rather that then damaging our rig or replacing worn or failed shocks.

Gregory Illes

For sure, getting the REAR wheels in the air is a much more serious consideration than unloading the front wheels. For this reason, we try to park in the “downhill” direction, where only the fronts need to be raised.
Having the rear wheels solidly on the ground, with transmission in Park and parking brake set, is a reasonably safe way to prevent “rollaway” problems.