Dear RV Shrink:
I know you are not a mechanic, but we have a mechanical and mental problem combined. Our motorhome is only two years old and already we are noticing a repetitive problem with our hydraulic leveling jacks. They take forever to retract right when we are ready to leave camp.
It seems one goes out every season. It doesn’t fail completely, it’s just slow to respond. We end up having a whole pot of coffee while we wait for a single jack to retract. My husband makes a joke and says we should have the service center put coffee in the hydraulic line. I am more serious about the issue and think it is annoying, expensive and possibly a ripoff.
The service center is now a regular stop every season to have a unit replaced. Is this normal? Is a slow retracting jack a way of RV life? I want to let one go until it actually fails, but my husband insists on having it repaired each time.
Please shed some light on our annual pilgrimage to the land of levelers. —Tilted in Trenton
I don’t want to sound like a medical doctor because we all know I am just a guy pretending to be a shrink, which pretty much makes me a quack. That said, I think your problem could be much like a person that goes to the doctor with a difficult issue to diagnose. The doctor is going to do something while you’re there so that you feel satisfied and he gets paid.
If you show up regularly at the leveler repairman shop, they will probably do the same. I have no idea what system you have, but I can tell you from experience that most need constant exercise and maintenance. Same as your body.
We experience the same issue with our system, which is hydraulic with spring assist. If your system is similar I would suggest experimenting a bit. It could save you some time and money.
Make sure your leveler shafts are kept as clean as possible. Dirt and debris can cause enough resistance to slow jack retraction. Another less expensive fix might be new springs. I usually buy a set (2) each year and replace just one at each of the two slowest acting jacks. Springs fatigue with constant stretching.
I have also designed a simple bar I carry to apply pressure to a slowpoke jack on a cold morning when I don’t have time to drink coffee while it slowly decides to put itself away.
You want to speak softly to your jacks, but carry a big stick. —Keep Smilin’, RV Shrink