If you are just making your first steps in the world of RVs (recreational vehicles), the function and purpose of many devices on RVs could be completely unknown to you. That’s why today we answer the question…
What are leveling jacks used for?
Leveling jacks are used to keep your recreational vehicle perfectly level when parked. They are designed to raise any or all corners of the RV and carry its weight instead of the wheels. They will typically be either automatic/motorized or manually operated.
But, there can be a lot of confusion about these devices, and sometimes they are confused with some other ones that have a similar function. So, let’s get on with the details.
RV Leveling Jacks Defined
As we’ve said above, they are devices that are used for raising any or all corners of an RV so it would be perfectly level when parked. They are designed to carry the full weight of the recreational vehicle, and because of this, should never be confused with stabilizer jacks.
There are different types of leveling jacks, and we will explain them later in this article, but the common thing for all of them is that they are serving the same function.
Leveling jacks are not the only method used for keeping your RV level, but they are the best one. They come equipped on mostly high-end RVs, and for many mid-range models, they are optional equipment that dealerships can add.
For trailers and motorhomes that do not have them, there are many aftermarket solutions that can be added after purchase.
Reasons for Leveling RVs
The most obvious reason for leveling an RV is comfort. Simply put, it is very uncomfortable sleeping on a bed that is inclined, and also just sitting on a sofa that is not level can really spoil the enjoyment that RVs provide you with.
Things like cooking in a recreational vehicle that is not level could be practically impossible. Another reason to have your RV leveled when parked is the proper function of various appliances that are or can be installed in it.
For example, the gas absorption fridge types need to be level to function properly and optimally, many AC units can be less efficient if not level.
But also there are the slide-outs. To have them extended, your RV must be perfectly level, otherwise, one of its sides will be heavier and make them unsafe and unstable.
And while talking about the slide-outs, there are also things in your RV that can slide out when it is not desirable. Content of your storage compartments can fall out if the RV is not level.
RV Leveling Methods
Leveling RV can be done in more than one way and each of them has advantages and disadvantages. They are:
- leveling blocks
- leveling jacks
Leveling blocks are the simplest way to level your RV, the most basic option is the DIY wood blocks. With some tools and a bit of skill, you can cut them out from a larger piece of wood.
The advantage of them is that they are very inexpensive, but they have a flow that they offer you quite limited ability to level your RV.
Besides them, there are many types of manufactured leveling blocks. They are relatively inexpensive but suffer from the flaw that you can raise the RV only in fixed increments, usually of half or one inch. Which could prevent you from setting your RV perfectly level.
But, there are also leveling jacks. While they are the most expensive option, they provide the best leveling capability and are a solution that will allow you to have the RV perfectly level every time.
RV Leveling vs Stabilizer Jacks
Very often people confuse leveling and stabilizer jacks, especially because a type of leveling jack looks practically indistinguishable from a certain type of stabilizer jack. While they both sit under an RV, they are doing different things.
Stabilizer jacks are used to make your RV stable when parked, particularly when you are walking through it or it is windy weather. They are not designed to carry the full weight of an RV.
Instead, they should be just touching the RV’s underside, and when it starts to lean on any side provide the resistance to that motion, thus stabilizing it.
Leveling jacks are designed to raise a corner or side of the RV and make it level. For this, they are able to get all four wheels off the ground and carry the full weight of the RV.
Besides keeping your RV level, when it is up in the air its suspension can’t compress because of the movement inside of the RV, and so it is also stabilized.
Types of RV Leveling Jacks
There are two main types of leveling jacks, based on the way they operate. These are the hydraulic jacks, that use the hydraulic pressure inside of the piston to move the RV up or down.
They can be operated either manually or automatically, and controls are most often found near the driver’s seat in motorhomes or near the doors and other controls in trailers.
The second type of leveling jack is the manual type. Most common are the scissor jacks, which you need to manually raise and lower. These are very similar to scissor stabilizing jacks, but are made much more robust, and are rated for much higher loads than stabilizing jacks.
In case you use the stabilizing jacks for leveling your RV, they can very easily buckle under the load.
Just knowing what is what, is not enough, so here are some tips for using leveling jacks:
- Manual or crank-up jacks are not designed to hold the full weight of most RVs, at least one wheel must be on the ground.
- It’s best to raise one end or one side equally to avoid twisting the RV.
- The best surface for leveling is concrete, asphalt and tarmac can get soft in summer. When parked on a soft surface use wood blocks or planks to increase the contact surface and prevent sinking.
Knowing the purpose of various devices on your RV will allow you to get the most out of them by actually using the advantages they provide. So, what are leveling jacks used for is something you should know.
They are used to raise a side or end of your RV when parked on a sloped surface. This is important because your comfort and proper and optimal function of some appliances depend on your RV being level.
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Erick is a freelance writer and outdoor enthusiast. Growing up in Nairobi Kenya and now calling Glasgow, United Kingdom home. Sipping on homemade spiced swahili tea and enjoying a good book is his idea of bliss.