Adding Auto-Leveling to Jayco Travel Trailers

If you’re like me, your back isn’t what it used to be and cranking those stabilizers down by hand can really do a number on you after a long day of driving. That’s where auto-leveling comes in handy!

Why Add Auto-Leveling?

First thing’s first – why even bother adding auto-leveling at all? Well, there’s a few great reasons:

  • Save your back. Like I said before, cranking those stabilizers down manually can really wear you out over time. Auto-leveling allows you to push a button and let the system do all the work.
  • More stability. Auto-leveling systems use electronic sensors to make sure your rig is perfectly level. More level = more stability. No more rolling out of bed in the middle of the night!
  • Quick setup. It only takes about 60-90 seconds for an auto-leveling system to level your trailer. Much faster than doing it manually. More time for the important things, like enjoying your destination!
  • Peace of mind. With auto-leveling, you’ll always know your trailer is stable and level. Takes the guesswork out of setup.

Auto-Leveling System Costs

Of course, convenience comes at a price. Auto-leveling systems for travel trailers range from around $2,500 on the low end, up to $4,000 or more for higher-end systems. Installation will also add $500-1000 or so to the cost.

That’s not chump change, but in my opinion, it’s worth it for the back-saving and ease of use. Think of it as an investment that can really improve your RVing experience.

When shopping around, Bigfoot and HWH are two top brands to look at. Both make high-quality systems designed specifically for the size and weight of travel trailers like Jaycos. I’ve used both and been impressed with their operation.

Installation Considerations

Okay, so you’ve decided to take the plunge into auto-leveling. Next up is getting it installed properly. This isn’t really a DIY job – the systems integrate with the trailer’s electrical and hydraulics, so it’s best left to experienced pros.

Most RV service centers can handle the install. It takes 5-10 hours, so expect a labor fee around $100 per hour on top of the system cost. It’s not cheap, but worth it for the long-term benefit.

Make sure to ask whoever does the install:

  • Are additional hydraulic jacks needed? The system needs 4 solid contact points to work right. Some trailers only have 3 jacks from the factory.
  • How is the control panel wired? Having it built into your main control panel is convenient. Opt for clean wiring through the walls if possible.
  • Can the tech walk you through basic operation? Take notes so you know how to troubleshoot any issues.
  • Are extra glycol or hydraulic fluid needed? Top off any systems to ensure proper operation.

Follow their maintenance tips to keep your new auto-leveling system running smoothly for years on end!

Using Auto-Leveling Safely

You’re all set up with a shiny new auto-leveling system – amazing! But before you hit the road, it’s important to understand how to use it safely. These high-tech systems are powerful, and you don’t want to rely on them completely.

Here are my top tips for safe operation:

  • Clear the area. Make sure no people, pets or objects are under or around the trailer when leveling. Those hydraulic jacks can pack a punch!
  • Use jack pads. Place quality pads under each jack to prevent sinking and slipping, even on soft ground.
  • Level side-to-side first. Always make sure your trailer is level left-to-right before front-to-back. This prevents rocking and stress.
  • Check tire contact. Visibly check that all tires remain in solid contact with the ground when leveled. Lifting tires can lead to accidents.
  • Use stabilizers. Once leveled, place manual stabilizers down for extra support. Don’t rely solely on the jacks.
  • Monitor occasionally. Visually check that the trailer remains level during your stay. Don’t just “set it and forget it.”
  • Unhitch carefully. When ready to go, raise the jacks carefully one at a time to prevent frame twisting.

Following the manufacturer’s instructions and using common sense goes a long way in using auto-leveling safely. Take your time, be cautious and enjoy the benefits!

Weighing Your Jayco Properly

Here’s a quick but important tip when adding auto-leveling: take the time to weigh your Jayco properly. Know the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and maximum weights for the axles and tires.

Then load up like you would for a trip and take it to a truck stop scale. Weigh each axle and the total trailer. This lets you dial in the auto-leveling system with the proper weight ratings.

If you’re overweight, the system may struggle to level correctly. And you don’t want to be running overloaded – it leads to all sorts of mechanical issues and can be downright dangerous. So take the time to weigh and load your Jayco right. Just a little preventative maintenance goes a long way!

Troubleshooting Auto-Leveling Issues

Like any complex system, auto-leveling can occasionally have its share of hiccups and quirks. But before you panic or call in the pros, there are a few basic things you can check yourself to troubleshoot issues:

System won’t turn on:

  • Check the fuses and breakers related to the auto-leveling system. Often a similar place as slide-out or landing gear fuses.
  • Inspect the wiring connections leading to the control panel. Vibration can loosen things over time.
  • Make sure the battery is fully charged. Auto-leveling draws a lot of power.

Jacks won’t lower:

  • Check hydraulic fluid level. Top off if needed.
  • Bleed any air from the hydraulic lines by cycling jacks several times.
  • Inspect hydraulic pump and hoses for damage or leaks.
  • Verify jack power connections are clean and secure.

Not leveling properly:

  • Run through the manual leveling process. Don’t rely fully on auto-level.
  • Make sure the sensor is clean. Mud or debris can throw it off.
  • Auto-level works best on fairly flat and solid surfaces. Move to a better spot.
  • Adjust jack placement to get better support. You may need a larger base.

Don’t force the system if something seems off. The components are robust but still need care. With some patience and troubleshooting, you can solve most minor issues that pop up.

Final Thoughts

Well there you have it – everything you need to know to add auto-leveling to your Jayco! It’s definitely an investment, but being able to instantly level your rig is so, so nice. Just being able to push a button after a long day’s drive is the best feeling ever. No more cranking and guessing!

Anyhow, safe travels out there! Hopefully you found this guide helpful. Let me know if you have any other topics you’d want me to cover related to RVing.

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