A Beginner’s Guide to RV Leveling Systems

One of the first things you’ll want to get familiar with after getting an RV is the RV’s leveling system. Having a properly leveled RV makes a huge difference in comfort and functionality when you’re parked.

How RV Leveling Systems Work

There are two main types of leveling systems found on most RVs today:


  • Most common system
  • Uses hydraulic or electric jacks mounted to the frame to raise and lower the RV
  • Usually 4-6 jacks strategically placed to lift each corner/side

Leveling Blocks

  • Stackable plastic or laminated blocks placed under tires
  • Also called Lynx Levelers or Camco Leveling Blocks
  • Raise one side of RV to make it level side-to-side

Both jacks and blocks aim to get the RV as level as possible, making living inside much more comfortable. The fridge will work better, counters will be flat, and you won’t feel like you’re sleeping on a slope.

Operating Hydraulic Jacks

If your RV has hydraulic jacks, operation is pretty straightforward:

  • Extend: Use the leveling controller inside the RV to hit “Extend”. This sends hydraulic fluid to the jacks and extends them down against the ground.
  • Retract: Hit “Retract” to release the hydraulic pressure and allow the jacks to rise up.
  • Auto Level: Pushing “Auto Level” runs a sensor check and automatically extends the right jacks to get the RV level side-to-side and front-to-back. This gets you set up quickly!

Make sure jacks are fully retracted before moving the RV. Driving with extended jacks will rip them right off!

Operating Electric Jacks

Electric jacks use motors instead of hydraulics:

  • Extend: Hold down the “Down” switch to run the motors and lower the jacks. Release once level.
  • Retract: Hold the “Up” switch to run the motors in reverse and raise the jacks for travel.
  • Auto Level: Initiate auto-leveling to have the system automatically extend the right jacks.

Avoid extending more than one electric jack at a time – it can overload the motors.

Using Leveling Blocks

Leveling blocks add some manual labor, but work just as well. Here’s how:

  • Park the RV where you want it.
  • Put chocks under the tires that will stay on the ground.
  • Place stacks of blocks under the tires on the low side – add/remove blocks until that side is level.
  • Stack blocks in pyramid shapes to make ramps if needed to get tires on top.
  • Never stack blocks higher than their rating – usually around 8-10 inches max.

Make sure to tear down all block stacks before driving away!

Troubleshooting RV Leveling Systems

Stuff happens when you’re living the RV dream. Here are some common issues and fixes:

Hydraulic jacks won’t extend/retract

  • Low hydraulic fluid – refill reservoir if needed
  • Faulty solenoid valve – tap with hammer to unstick spool
  • Broken hydraulic hose – inspect hoses and replace

Electric jacks make grinding noise

  • Dry/seized jack – grease screw shaft
  • Debris in screw shaft – inspect and clear debris

Auto-level not working

  • Bad sensor connection – check/clean sensor contacts
  • Unplugged controller – ensure controller hooked up
  • Blown leveling fuse – find/replace blown fuse

Uneven tire wear

  • Jacks not fully retracting – inspect jacks and adjust as needed
  • Suspension issue – have suspension inspected

RV shakes when leveling

  • Unstable jack location – try small reposition or blocks under jacks for support

As with any system, regular inspection and maintenance goes a long way.

Leveling on Unlevel Campsites

Not every campsite is guaranteed to be a pancake flat pad. Here are some tips for getting level on challenging sites:

  • Use blocks liberally – more blocks can help you step-up or ramp a tire onto a high spot.
  • Try a new spot – shift left/right and see if another spot helps. Moving just a few feet can sometimes help.
  • Add plywood pads – use plywood sheets under jacks to prevent them from sinking.
  • Rock/chock wheels – wedge rocks or blocks under “high” wheels help add extra lift.
  • Unhitch tow vehicle – removing weight off hitch can allow extra lift from the jacks. Re-hitch after leveling.
  • Partially extend slideouts – extending slides partially can help lift the low side. Fully extend once level.
  • Sleep diagonal – if all else fails, just plan to sleep corner-to-corner so you don’t roll out of bed!

With some creativity you can get level on all kinds of terrain. The key is taking it slow and methodically adjusting, checking, and repeating until you’re dialed in.

Top Brands to Look For

Some RV brands really excel at leveling systems and controls. Here are a few to keep an eye out for:

  • Lippert: Solid scissor jacks and Ground Control auto-leveling system. Fully automatic and reliable. Part of many brands.
  • Bigfoot: The highest leveling capacity and smooth operation. Used by Heartland.
  • HWH: The premium hydraulic jack brand for diehard RVers. Manual or full auto operation. Found on high-end coaches.
  • Lynx Levelers: The original stackable leveling blocks. Super durable and lightweight. Great for manual leveling.
  • Camco Leveling Blocks: Budget-friendly blocks made in sturdy molds. Get the job done for less.
  • BAL: Auto-leveling jacks and tech for many major brands. Fully automatic extension and retraction.

Beyond the jacks and controls, the RV frame itself makes a big difference. Look for reinforced leveling areas and protected hydraulic lines.

Leveling Safety Tips

Leveling your home on wheels takes some getting used to. Make safety a priority with these tips:

  • Use jack pads. Place solid pads under jacks to prevent sinking or tipping.
  • Chock wheels. Secure chocks on all tires staying on the ground.
  • Clear debris. Make sure nothing will interfere with lowering jacks.
  • Level side-to-side first. This provides the most stable base.
  • Work on fairly flat ground. Avoid extreme angles or slopes.
  • Take it slow! Adjust a little at a time, checking frequently.
  • Use an A-frame level. This helps identify low spots and when you’re fully level.
  • Have help spotting. An extra pair of eyes helps everything go smoothly.
  • Retract before moving. Prevent catastrophic damage by stowing jacks before driving.
  • Exercise jacks regularly. Cycling jacks every trip keeps things lubricated.
  • Inspect equipment often. Catch any loosened bolts, damaged hoses, or leaks before they become problems.

Staying safe out there means arriving home with everything working just like when you left. Taking a few precautions goes a long way.

Leveling Made Easy

Leveling your RV is a crucial camping skill that takes some practice to master. With hydraulic jacks, stackable blocks, and a little mechanical know-how, you’ll be dialing in perfect RV levels in no time. Getting comfortable with the process now will pay off big time down the road. Once you get your leveling routine nailed down, all of your future trips will start off on the right foot – even if the campsite itself might not be!

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