How to Use RV Auto-Leveling Systems Effectively

As experienced RV’ers ourselves, we totally get it – these systems seem super complicated at first. But have no fear, we’re here to walk you through everything you need to know to get the most out of your RV’s auto-leveling system.

An Overview of RV Auto-Leveling Systems

Let’s start with the basics. An auto-leveling system uses electronic sensors and hydraulic jacks to automatically level out your RV by raising and lowering each corner. Most systems have around 4-6 jacks located on the frame near the wheels. Fancy ones even have jacks under the hitch!

There are a few different auto-leveling system manufacturers, but Lippert and HWH are two of the biggest names. Some of the key features you’ll find in auto-leveling systems include:

  • Touch screen control panel – This lets you activate the auto-level process and shows information during the leveling. Some have buttons or switches instead of a touchscreen.
  • Automatic and manual operation – Auto-level will function on its own, but you can also manually control the jacks.
  • Jack sensors – These determine when the RV is level and signals the jacks to stop moving.
  • Emergency stop – If needed, you can stop all jack movement immediately.
  • Jack retraction – When it’s time to hit the road, the jacks can retract fully for travel mode.
  • Tongue jack – Many systems also have an automated hitch jack to raise or lower the hitch.

Pretty cool right? Now let’s get into the details on how to use these fancy systems to their full potential.

Preparing to Auto-Level Your RV

You don’t just back your RV into a site and immediately start auto-leveling without thinking. Well, you can potentially, but it may not end well! Here are some best practices to follow first:

  • Pick a spot – Choose a level, sturdy site to park your RV. Check the ground for dips or holes where jacks may end up. Soft ground or slopes are no good either.
  • Disconnect the tow vehicle – Your RV needs to be detached from whatever’s towing it before leveling.
  • Put out the stabilizers – Most RVs have manual stabilizer jacks around the perimeter. Put those down first before using the auto-leveling system.
  • Turn on the system – On many models, you need to turn on the auto-leveling system with a switch or button before it will operate. Listen for a hydraulic pump running.
  • Set the parking brake – Important! Make sure your parking brake is fully engaged before leveling your home on wheels.

Once your RV is prepped, you’re ready to let that fancy system work its magic!

How to Auto-Level Your RV

Here’s the foolproof process to auto-level your RV once you’re set up and ready to go:

  1. Press “Auto-Level” – On the control panel, press the button to begin auto-leveling. The system will take over from there!
  2. Responder beeps – You’ll hear a series of beeps from the control panel as the system checks itself out.
  3. Jacks deploy – Next, the jacks will slowly extend and contact the ground one at a time. A nearby buzzing sound means jack movement.
  4. RV lifts and levels – Hydraulics will raise each jack in an attempt to get the RV perfectly level. This may take 2-5 minutes.
  5. Auto-leveling completes – When your RV is level, the jack motors will stop. The panel will signal completion with a distinct chime or “done” message.

That’s the basic auto-level sequence! It’s easy as 1-2-3 once you get the hang of it. Now let’s go over how to interpret the control panel and master your specific system…

Understanding Your Control Panel

Every auto-leveling system has a control panel to operate the jacks and monitor the leveling process. While they vary between manufacturers, some indicators are common:

  • Jacks down – Icons on the panel show which jacks are currently extended and in contact with the ground.
  • Active jack – This displays the jack currently moving up or down during the leveling sequence.
  • Directional arrows – Indicate which jacks need to move right, left, forward, or back to achieve level.
  • Level status – “Level” or green indicators mean level state achieved. A red indicator means the RV is out of level.
  • Error alerts – Codes or messages indicating a sensor problem, low hydraulic fluid, jack timeout, or other error.
  • Manual operation buttons – Allow you to extend and retract each jack individually.

The best way to learn your system’s panel is to watch it carefully during the first few auto-leveling sequences. Note which icons light up for each jack’s movement. Over time, you’ll intuitively understand exactly what the panel is displaying.

Tips for Mastering Your RV Auto-Leveling System

With a little practice and experience, you’ll quickly get the hang of auto-leveling your RV. Here are some pro tips we’ve learned over the years:

  • Update your system – Manufacturer software updates may add features or fix bugs. Keep things current.
  • Understand the manual jacks too – Learn how to operate the jacks individually from the panel in manual mode.
  • Carry leveling blocks – Keep some sturdy blocks on hand to level one side of the RV if needed.
  • Watch the panel carefully – Pay attention to the indicators during each auto-level sequence.
  • Use a spotter outside – Having someone outside watch the RV and jacks is smart the first few times.
  • Take it slow – Let the system work at its own pace and don’t rush the process.
  • Re-level occasionally – Auto-level again if you move around a lot inside or stay parked for weeks.

Follow the basics we outlined, personalize the process for your particular RV model, and you’ll be auto-leveling like a pro in no time!

When to Use Manual Leveling Instead

While auto-leveling is ideal on fairly flat, even sites, there are times when it’s better to level your RV manually:

  • Extremely uneven sites – The system can only compensate for so much of a slope or uneven ground.
  • Low overhead clearance – Tree branches or other obstacles can interfere with the lifting process.
  • One low side – It’s faster to just put a block under one low corner vs. auto-leveling everything.
  • Precise hitch height – The auto-hitch leveling can’t always get your hitch to the exact needed height.
  • System issues – If you encounter any errors, jack problems, or other electrical issues.

The good news is that most auto-level systems also allow you to manually control the jacks from the same control panel. There’s usually an “up” and “down” button for each jack. So when needed, you can simply level things yourself.

Troubleshooting Auto-Leveling Problems

Even the most advanced RV gadgetry can act up sometimes. If your auto-leveling system encounters errors, here are some troubleshooting tips:

  • Check fault codes – Most panels display error codes that can point to the specific problem. Look these up in your owner’s manual.
  • Try auto-leveling again – A simple system reset by turning it off and on again will resolve intermittent errors.
  • Ensure jacks fully retracted – Jack position sensors may show a fault if the jacks didn’t fully retract after the last use.
  • Look for hydraulic leaks – Jacks may not move properly if you have low fluid levels due to a leak somewhere.
  • Test in manual mode – Use the panel buttons to manually extend/retract each jack and see if one is stuck or non-responsive.
  • Inspect electrical connections – Look under the RV for any damaged wires or loose plugs on each jack.
  • Reset the system – Some panels have a full system reset function that can get things back on track.
  • Call for service – If you can’t resolve a recurring error yourself, have your dealer inspect and repair the system.

With some basic troubleshooting, you can fix a lot of common auto-leveling issues yourself. But when in doubt, always reach out to the pros for assistance.

Auto-Leveling Your RV in 6 Practical Steps

Let’s review the full process for successfully leveling your RV step-by-step:

Step 1: Scout and Prepare the Site

  • Pick a flat, debris-free spot to park with adequate space all around the RV for the jacks to extend.
  • Disconnect from your tow vehicle and put down the manual stabilizing jacks.

Step 2: Activate the Auto-Level System

  • Turn on the auto-leveling system power via a button or switch on the panel.
  • Set your parking brake for safety before leveling.

Step 3: Start the Auto-Level Sequence

  • Press the “Auto-Level” button on the control panel.
  • Listen for beeping sounds as the system verifies jack positions.

Step 4: Monitor the Jacks During Leveling

  • Watch the jacks slowly deploy and contact the ground one at a time.
  • Observe the panel for the active jack icon moving up or down as it levels.

Step 5: Let the RV Complete the Leveling Process

  • Wait until the panel signals completion with a solid or flashing “level” indicator.
  • Confirm the RV feels level inside and no jacks look obviously over-extended.

Step 6: Re-Level Occasionally If Needed

  • Redo the auto-level sequence if the RV shifts significantly from movement inside.
  • Consider re-leveling every couple weeks during long-term stays in one spot.

Take your time, follow the directions, and let the system work its magic! It may take a little practice, but soon you’ll be a pro at using your RV’s awesome auto-leveling system.

Buying an RV with an Auto-Leveling System

If you’re shopping for a new RV, you may be wondering whether paying extra for an automatic leveling system is worth the cost. From our experience, the answer is usually yes!

Here are some key benefits that make auto-leveling systems worth the money:

  • Total convenience – With the push of a button, auto-leveling allows fast, hands-free RV leveling after a long day of travel.
  • Precision – The system uses electronic sensors to get your RV perfectly level, better than the human eye.
  • Stability – Auto-leveling ensures a solid, stable base for your RV’s slide-outs, appliances, and cabinets to operate smoothly.
  • Ease of use – Once you learn the system, auto-leveling is simple enough for anyone to do without straining your back.
  • Resale Value – An auto-leveling system will likely increase the future resale price when it comes time to sell or trade your RV.

Of course, there are some downsides to weigh as well:

  • Higher cost – Auto-leveling systems do increase the RV purchase price by thousands over manual jacks.
  • Maintenance – The jacks and electronics require care and occasional repairs that standard jacks don’t need.
  • Weight – The equipment adds a few hundred pounds of weight to your RV’s base specs.
  • Not totally necessary – Manual leveling is always an option for RV’ers on a budget or who enjoy the hands-on process.

Our advice? If your budget allows, definitely consider upgrading to include an auto-leveling system on your new RV. The benefits outweigh the downsides for most traveling families, couples, and full-timers who love the ease and precision of automated RV leveling.

When buying an RV, you generally don’t get to pick the specific auto-leveling system brand installed from the factory. Those decisions are up to each RV manufacturer and which company they partner with. But if you ever need to replace an RV leveling system down the road, it helps to know the major players.

We recommend considering these top auto-leveling system brands:

Lippert Level-Up®

As the leading RV component supplier, Lippert auto-leveling systems come standard on many RVs from manufacturers like Grand Design, Jayco, Heartland, and others.

Key Features:

  • Simple touchscreen control panel
  • One-touch full automatic leveling
  • Manual jack control capability
  • Wireless SmartJackTM App for monitoring and control

HWH® Computerized Leveling

The HWH brand has been around for decades and supplies their electronically controlled hydraulic leveling systems to RV makers like Tiffin, Newmar, Entegra, and more.

Key Features:

  • Full digital electronic auto-leveling
  • User-friendly LED panel with error codes
  • Independent manual jack operation
  • Millions of cycles proven longevity

Bigfoot® Hydraulic Leveling Systems

Bigfoot is another trusted name that has smart leveling systems installed on many larger Class A diesel motorhome brands including Fleetwood, Monaco, and Thor Motor Coach.

Key Features:

  • Automatic and manual touchpad operation
  • Simple one-button auto re-leveling
  • Programmable user memory height presets
  • Emergency stop and manual override capability

MOR/ryde® REAS Suspension Leveling

MOR/ryde takes a different approach with an air suspension compressor and valve system that levels your RV by inflating air bags under the frame rather than jacks.

Key Features:

  • Automatic electronic air leveling system
  • Works independently or with RV jacks
  • On-board air compressor and tank
  • Wireless remote control operation

No matter which brand ends up on your new rig, following our tips will help you master RV auto-leveling. Just remember the key steps, watch those jacks go to work, and enjoy the convenience of push button RV leveling!

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