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What is the best jack, and where to put it, to change a tire on a travel trailer?

Dear Dave,
Would you use a bottle or floor jack to replace a tire on a travel trailer? Also, where is the correct place to locate the jack to lift the trailer to change the tire? —Charles, Forest River Rockwood RS20 travel trailer

Dear Charles,
This has been a source of debate for many years; however, most agree that placing any type of jack on the axle is not recommended. The best type of jack and the placement depends on the type of unit you have and the frame or chassis. You did not give the model year of your trailer; however, I did find the 2022 owner’s manual and there is no reference to placement of the jack.

In past years and with other products I have seen recommendations in the owner’s manual or with a label on the side of the rig. If you have tandem axles, many owners use a drive-up ramp and put one wheel on it and the other is suspended. This does require storing the ramp in a large compartment.

Some manufacturers’ recommendation for placing the jack

Typically I have found that manufacturers recommend placing the jack point on the frame forward of the axles, as this is typically reinforced with the tongue. My preference is a floor jack, as it is more stable. However, it is much larger and harder to store. Plus, it depends on how much ground clearance there is between the frame and the ground. Some floor jacks will not lift high enough to get the tire off the ground. In this case, a bottle jack would be best, as you can use blocks of wood to get the height needed, but it is recommended to use jack stands as well.

This brings up a good point of discussion. It is important to research where the recommended jack point is by contacting the RV manufacturer and decide what type of jack would be best in your situation. You don’t want to have a blowout on the road and discover the jack you have is not capable of lifting your rig. Also find out what type of tire iron you need and have that on hand.

Some owners’ recommendation for placing the jack

I have also had this discussion with several owners throughout the years that have been placing a jack at the shackle point on the axle. Some even suggested this does not add any more weight raising the rig at this point than what is normally on that shackle when the unit is on the ground. I do not know of any “documented” evidence of this. And just because owners have done it in the past doesn’t mean it’s recommended.

I cannot find an RS20 model. However, I believe it is a 20’ unit and most likely is not very heavy. Since you only need to lift one side high enough to get the wheel off the ground, you probably can use a 2-ton jack, whether it is a bottle or floor jack version. Weigh your rig on a CAT Scale after it is loaded with all cargo and fluids. This will provide the information for you to do the math on what weight is on each side.


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Jim Johnson
23 days ago

Dave briefly mentioned tire irons in his answer. I would like to reinforce that thought. Make sure your means of loosening/tightening lug nuts works not only with the wheel on the axle, but with the spare (often on a bumper mount). Our travel trailer’s spare tire mount uses two standard studs (nice that I have spares) along with standard lug nuts.

I have an extendable tire iron that came with sockets to fit multiple nut sizes. Worked great on the mounted wheel. But because the spare studs were used on the thinner steel of a bumper tire mount, the sockets could not reach the lug nuts. Problem solved with a deep socket to fit the travel trailer’s lug nuts. Glad I discovered this before I had a flat on the road.

Gary Stone
24 days ago

Keep in mind with a bottle jack: if you’ve pulled over to change a flat there might not be enough room to get a 10”-12” bottle jack under the frame on the flat tire side due to tire compression. Haven’t had to test that out yet.

Thomas D
24 days ago

Dexter axles says do not lift on axle. On mine if you lift on frame I run out of lift before tire is off ground. I use a 20 ton bottle jack under the axle. In 20 years everything still good. Obviously haven’t bent axle or surrounding parts.
Nor carrying a ramp along . Space is short as it is.

Trent
24 days ago

A bit pricey (worth it though) but you can’t beat the SafeJack. They even have an RV package. There are numerous options though…on up to 20 tons for high-clearance jacking.

https://safejacks.com/products/6-ton-rv-jack-kit

Steve H
24 days ago

I have had to put the spare tire on both a travel trailer and a fifth wheel multiple times. Both trailers had torsion axles, not leaf springs. In every case, I made a ramp of leveling blocks, then pulled the trailer onto the ramp (after slightly loosening the lug nuts on the flat tire). This left the flat tire sufficiently off the ground to replace it with the spare. No jacks needed.

Snoopy
24 days ago

I’m with Dave as to read the specific jacking instructions for your unit that came with it, didn’t or can’t find that information. Get in touch with the manufacture of your unit & ask! Good to know before you need it when you get a flat!
Thanks
Snoopy

Bob
24 days ago

One thing not mentioned is the use of a jackstand. Hydraulic jacks, whether a bottle jack or a floor jack can and will lose pressure the worst possible time. And always chock the wheels on the opposite side.

Tom M
24 days ago
Reply to  Bob

Actually jack stands were mentioned.

Bob p
24 days ago

I have always placed the jack under the spring/axle connection point as this is where the weight of the trailer is placed on frame. A bottle jack place at that point will raise the tire/wheel high enough to change it. That plate is usually 5/16”-3/8” thick depending on trailer weight.

Gil
24 days ago
Reply to  Bob p

I’ve used this same jack point when jacking my TT. I also use a 12T bottle jack, kinda overkill for a 3500# TT, lol!

Rick Myers
24 days ago
Reply to  Bob p

Same here

Tommy Molnar
24 days ago
Reply to  Bob p

Me too. I haven’t had to change a tire yet, but if the trailer sits for a long time I will lift the tire just high enough to spin it around.

STEVE
24 days ago
Reply to  Bob p

I use a 12 volt battery powered scissor jack in the same location. A bottle jack might not fit if the tire is flat.

Snayte
24 days ago
Reply to  Bob p

I do the same thing. The one time I tried to jack from the frame actually bent the bottom of the frame. These frames are not designed to support all or part the trailer weight from a single point. Is that not the reason they tell us to not use the stabilizers to level the trailer?

Jack
24 days ago
Reply to  Bob p

I do the same Bob & had an axle perch adapter connected to the bottle Jack to more evenly distribute weight & make the connection there more secure. Other than that I’ve fabricated my own version of a trailer aid lift ramp that thus far has never been used but was tested.

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