Saturday, September 30, 2023


What is the best jack to change a trailer tire, and where do you place it?

Dear Dave, 
I have seen multiple articles on how NOT to jack up a RV trailer to change a flat, but none on how it SHOULD be done. Certainly it isn’t in the user manual for either of our RV trailers. I know it differs between multi-axle and single-axle trailers. And there’s a lack of information on what tools should be on-board to change a tire. RV trailers often come with a spare tire, but, unlike a car or truck, nothing else. In short, what are the best practices? —Jim, 2017 Keystone Cougar 33SAB and 2022 Gulf Stream 189DD

Dear Jim,
This has been a great topic for debate as long as I can remember, starting back in the mid-1970s working at my local Standard Oil full-service gas station. This was back when we pumped the gas and washed the windows. We had several travel trailers that would get tires fixed. I lived in Forest City, IA, which was the home to Winnebago. So we also changed and fixed tires on their early travel trailers, and motorhomes when they quit making trailers.

The old school method depended on what type of trailer you were working on and the type of jack. Older trailers with wood framework or thin metal perimeter steel had to be lifted with a jack on the axle closest to the wheel. However, with newer torsion axles, several manufacturers such as Lippert do not recommend lifting by the axle as you will bend it. They recommend using the frame, as well as in most cases with a trailer.

However, one owner posted a response from Forest River that stated to lift the unit on the axle just behind the backing plate, which is the reinforced metal coming off the axle connecting the spindle. This area also has bolts and nuts for the brake plates and other items, so I don’t know that it would be the best location. Also, since the axle is round, it is not the most secure point to put any kind of jack that does not have a curved plate, especially a bottle jack! I’ll get into that later.

Lippert technical service sent this response.

Good morning, David.
Thank you for the inquiry.  We would never advise to use the axle or suspension to jack the trailer up. I’m going to link a video that shows changing out the hub to show you our suggested procedure. We do advise to reach out to the manufacturer for their specifications as well.

What did Keystone say?

Here is the response I got from Keystone Technical Service, which they claim is in the owner’s manual.


  1. Use emergency flares, reflective markers, and/or road cones when near a road or highway.
  2. Block the wheels on the opposite side from the tire you wish to change to prevent accidental movement.
  3. Position a hydraulic jack on the frame close to the spring hanger. (Never attempt to use a stabilizer jack to lift the RV.)
  4. Prior to raising the RV loosen the lug nuts ½ turn.
  5. Raise the RV until the tire clears the ground.
  6. Set a jack stand under the frame just to the rear of the tire being changed.
  7. Follow the Wheel Nut Torque and Wheel Reinstallation instructions provided in this section.

Why no jack, tools, or information?

There are several reasons why I believe there is no jack, tools or information supplied. I believe it comes down to three issues: liability, cost, and aftermarket sales. I think the legal department in most RV manufacturing companies came from military censors in World War II. You can’t tell someone how to light LP appliances, hook up a trailer, or even drive due to the potential liability.

Every manufacturer wants their unit to be the cheapest sitting on the lot. Since not everyone can agree on what would be the best jack, wrench, or tool, they don’t put anything in standard—most buyers never notice it. That is, until they get into the F&I (finance and insurance) room and find out they need all the other stuff like hoses, filters, surge protectors … and the list goes on. Most dealers make a very good additional profit after the sale!

According to the specs, your Cougar weighs just over 8000 lbs. and can carry another 2000 lbs. So that means you would need a jack that can lift maybe half of that or less which is a 2-ton jack. You can find cheap bottle jacks that will handle that weight. However, they are not very safe due to the small footprint at the bottom and flat rounded pad at the top. Imagine how busy the legal department would be if these were put in trailers!

My favorite is the floor jack, as it has four wheels and is much more secure. However, it is much larger and takes up more storage space, not to mention the cost. Since there are so many choices and opinions, it would be difficult to list one that everyone likes. Plus, most owners of the larger rigs don’t want to try and change a tire due to the weight and difficulty, so they just get roadside service and have someone else do it.

To reiterate, I believe that in most cases, there is no jack, tools or instructions due to liability AND cost!

 You might also enjoy this from Dave 

More on this topic:
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

Read Dave’s answer.

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

Read more from Dave here


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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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Jack W
1 month ago

I use a bottle jack and a Bottle Jack Buddy axle adapter thingie. Works fine for me.

1 month ago

Dave, thank you for a clear and honest answer to why NOTHING is included regarding wheel changes. Manufacture liability and resulting insurance together with a plethora of eager and hungry attorneys do affect so much of what we buy today.

George Thaxton
1 month ago

My wife and I use leveling block ( 2 sets to get the height needed ) and a 12 volt impact tool to loosen and remove the lug nuts then tighten them slightly. I also carry a torque wrench to tighten to specs followed by retightening at appropriate intervals. Beats having to wait for roadside service which may not be available in the areas we travel.

1 month ago

Personally I found the Anderson Rapid Jack to be the best answer for our 5th wheel double axle. Super easy to use, light weight, low cost and easy to store. I’ve used it one time so far and as long as you have the other tools required it’s a fairly easy job. Even for a 78 year old.

Bob Mac
1 month ago

Did anyone notice in the Lippert video that he wiped the grease off the axle then put it all back together with no grease? Hmmm… far will he get?

1 month ago

I fabricated an axle perch adapter for a bottle jack. It consists of a 2” piece of pipe with a 3” axle perch welded to it. ( the exact size of my campers axle) The pipe fits over the jacks cylinder with the perch centered between the u bolts of the axle.
If someone could explain why this would be a problem because the axle is already going down the road sitting on a similar size axle perch.
I’ve found the people that actually write the “rules “ don’t ever actually do this kind of work.
I also have a fabricated ramp jack as some may have seen posted on the rv facebook groups

Miles Olin
1 month ago

In my experience the tandem axle tire ramp works best. Loosen the lug nuts on the tire to be changed before moving the good trailer tire on the ramp. Once the tire to be changed is off the ground replacing the tire is easy. That is if no other complications arise. No Jack necessary. My ramp is secured in the bed of my truck. Fortunately I’ve not had to use it other than helping friends.

Steve H
1 month ago
Reply to  Miles Olin

I changed flats on both of my torsion-axle Rockwood trailers–TT and FW–using leveling blocks and ramps to raise the good tire and lift the flat off the ground. No more difficult than leveling the trailers and never had to carry a jack. Also used the same method at a Discount Tire store in Las Cruces to replace all four tires the FW was too tall to fit in their bay. No one at the store had seen a trailer lifted that way!

Roger V
1 month ago

I carry a spare, but intend on waiting for Roadside Service to come with their floor jack. I have all the tools, both power and manual, that I would need, and could still probably do it at age 68, but it would only as a last resort. Say, 100 miles from nowhere in a blazing desert with no cell signal. Happened to a friend of mine with no spare, and he only eventually got help thanks to his satellite communicator. Total time on the side of the deserted road – 23 hours.

1 month ago


What do you think of the “Trailer-Aid “Plus” Tandem Tire Changing Ramp”?

It only works on tandem axle trailers. You drive one wheel onto it and it lifts the other one off the ground.

Warren G
1 month ago
Reply to  Irv

We have used our leveling blocks on our tandem axle as you have described and it works fine. Need to remember to loosen the lug nuts first, and final tightening when back down.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago

And of course, everyone stops at 10, 25. and 50 miles to check torque on the wheel you just changed . . . 😀

Jim Johnson
1 month ago

Thanks Dave! You reinforced my thoughts about the way to do this in the field; which is where I expect most flats to happen. I will add that I generally put a ‘larger than the jack’ wood base under the bottle jack AND a piece of wood just outside the spring shackle between the jack and the frame. This will distribute the jack pressure over a slightly larger part of the frame, and jack often slightly indents the wood making the jack less likely to slip.

1 month ago

With regards to #2, is it necessary to block the wheels on the opposite side when TT is still “hitched” to your tow vehicle? I totally agree when it’s not.

Jim Johnson
1 month ago
Reply to  G13

If still attached to the tow vehicle, I would recommend setting the parking brake. Just putting the transmission into Park still allows the tow vehicle to rock and could cause the jack to dislodge. At that point wheel chocks are the belt to suspenders, but still a good safety measure.

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