How to Properly Level Your Towable RVby Contributor
One of the first things we do as RVers after we arrive at the campground is to level our RVs. Most RV campsites do have perfectly level pads, but sometimes you do not have this luxury and therefore you need to level your RV yourself. Some RVs come with self-leveling systems and feet, which extend down and self level the vehicle. Unfortunately, not all RV's have such exotic features.
This how-to focuses on the steps necessary to properly level a towable RV, such as a fifth wheel or travel trailer.
Buy two levels from Wal-Mart, Camping World or local a RV outlet. One should be large enough to read from the cab of your truck (see image). The other level can be smaller. You will also need a carpenter's level you can use temporarily to insure the trailer is level before attaching the two permanent levels.
Using a level driveway at home or other level concrete slab is the easiest way to get your RV level. Using the carpenter's level, ensure the RV is level before affixing the RV levels.
Install the large level wherever you want on the front of your RV as long as you can see it from the driver's seat of your tow vehicle.
Install the small level on the side of the trailer where you can watch it as you operate the tongue jack or landing gear.
If you have a single axle trailer, the commercially made plastic leveling ramps are the best solution for you. They are inexpensive, lightweight and durable. They are simple to use and provide up to 3" of side-to-side leveling.
If your trailer has two axles, you will need three lengths of 2 x 8 wood with no knots or cracks. The length of first board is determined by measuring the distance between the axle hubs and adding about 18 to 24 inches. The board should be long enough to allow each tire's footprint to be completely on the board with a little fudge factor so you will be able to stop the rig before rolling off the back of the board. How well you can control the rig when backing onto the boards will determine the actual length of that first board. The second board should be cut 5" longer that board one. Board three should be cut 5" longer that board two.
Now find a campsite and determine where in the campsite you want to park the trailer. Ideally you will want to find the most level area of the campsite and place the trailer there. However, there are many reasons why you may want to park the trailer somewhere that is not level.
Position the trailer where you want it. Watch the large level on the front of your trailer as you position it. Sometimes it's only a matter of a foot or two whether the trailer is level or not. If you can find a level spot close to where your want to park the trailer, maybe close is good enough if it means you don't have to get out the leveling boards. If the large level on the front of the trailer indicates the trailer is level, great! You're done. Otherwise continue to the next step.
Using the leveling boards you made before your trip, place one or more in front of or behind the LOW side tires.
Drive onto the board(s) and recheck your level. Repeat this adding or removing of boards as needed. (After you've done this a procedure a few times you'll be able to tell by the level how many boards you need.) This method results in the trailer being parked as much as three feet from its original position. If that works for you, great. But if you want to be level in the original spot, follow Step 11. Otherwise, skip to Step 12.
Alternative leveling method: 1. Using the leveling boards you made before your trip, place one or more beside the LOW side tires. When using more than one board, stack them as a ramp so the wheels roll up the boards one at a time. 2. Drive the rig forward or backward enough to clear the board(s). 3. Position the board(s) in the tire tracks. Now follow Step 10.
When you are satisfied with the side to side level, you can chock the wheels and detach your tow vehicle.
Use the tongue jack (travel trailer) or landing gear (fifth wheel) to adjust your front to back level. Look at the small level you affixed to the side of the trailer and ensure the bubble is as close to the middle as possible.
When you are satisfied that your trailer is reasonably level, then lower any stabilizers to the ground to reduce rocking and bouncing. Wood blocks or plastic leveling blocks can be used under the jacks to avoid sinking of the jacks in to the ground.
- check Many RVers, especially old timers, may tell you that the RV has to be perfectly level in order for the refrigerator work correctly. In the old days, this was the case. But manufactures changed the design a little to make leveling less critical. Unless your RV refrigerator is twenty years old, it only needs to be reasonably level. The rule of thumb is that if the RV feels comfortably level to you, then it is level enough for the refrigerator.
- close Always chock the trailer wheels before detaching the trailer from the tow vehicle. This will ensure the trailer cannot roll in the event there is a slope front to back.