Keeping Your RV Level and Steady with Proper Leveling System Care

One of the most important things to keep in mind for a smooth camping experience is making sure your RV is properly leveled when you park. This isn’t just for comfort – a level RV is also essential for proper operation of appliances and fixtures.

Having an automatic leveling system installed makes getting your RV perfectly horizontal quick and easy. But like anything mechanical, the system needs proper care and maintenance to keep everything running right for the long haul. Consider this your guide to keeping your RV’s leveling system in tiptop shape!

How RV Leveling Systems Work

Before we get into maintenance, let’s review the basics of how these babys operate. There are a few different automatic leveling system brands and types, but they all work on the same general principle.

The system uses electric motors to extend and retract leveling jacks on each corner of the RV to lift and lower that corner until the entire vehicle is level side-to-side and front-to-back. Think of it like an automated version of placing blocks under the wheels of a wobbly table.

Sensors tell the system when the RV is level, and everything is controlled from a central control panel, usually installed in an interior wall. Most systems have an auto level function that does all the work for you at the touch of a button.

Now let’s get into how to keep everything adjusted and oiled up!

Inspect and Lubricate Leveling Jacks

The most important maintenance task for your leveling system is to regularly inspect and lubricate the jack mechanisms. This prevents corrosion and wear to ensure smooth, trouble-free operation.

Get into the habit of performing a quick visual inspection of all the jacks each time you use your RV. Look for any debris, dents, cracks or damage. Remove any mud or other gunk buildup with a stiff brush.

Every few months, lubricate the jacks by spraying a penetrating lubricant like WD-40 into the inner jack tubes through the access points. This keeps the internal mechanisms sliding freely. Extend each jack fully when lubricating to make sure you hit all the surfaces needing love.

Also check any pivot joints on scissor jacks and keep them greased up with an all-purpose automotive grease.

Watch for Leaks in Hydraulic Systems

If you have hydraulic leveling jacks, it’s important to periodically inspect the hydraulic cylinders and hoses for any dampness or leaks. Left unaddressed, leaks can lead to jack failure down the road.

Check around the cylinder rod and fittings for any evidence of fluid. Also look along the hose lengths for wet spots. If you find a leak, try tightening the fitting. But if that doesn’t solve it, have a dealer service the damaged component.

To help prevent leaks, use hydraulic fluid formulated for RV leveling systems, which handles temperature fluctuations better than standard hydraulic oil. Change the fluid as recommended by the manufacturer.

Keep an Eye on Wiring

The wiring running from the central control panel out to the jacks takes a lot of physical abuse. It gets crushed, bent, tugged on, and generally mistreated.

Inspect wires periodically for any damage. Look for loose, corroded or broken connections, bare spots in the insulation, and pinched or cracked wires. Even minor cuts in the insulation can allow moisture penetration and corrosion.

Have any issues repaired or damaged wires replaced immediately to prevent system failure. Proper wiring is key to reliable operation.

Clean and Protect the Control Panel

The brains of the entire leveling system is the control panel. Keeping it clean and protected will help prevent problems.

Use a soft cloth to gently wipe down the panel when it gets dirty. Spray on a mild cleaner and wipe it away – avoid anything too harsh.

Be very careful not to allow moisture into the interior of the panel. Even a few drops can cause corrosion issues over time.

If the panel is installed in an exposed spot, consider fashioning a little awning above it help shield it from rain and road spray. Maybe hang a small towel for quick cleanups before operating the controls.

Look Out for Faulty Angle Sensors

To know whether the RV is level, the system relies on angle sensors – one for side-to-side leveling and another for front-to-back. If these fail, the whole system can malfunction.

Signs of a faulty angle sensor include the RV not reaching level properly or the jacks retracting unevenly. Sometimes tapping the control panel can temporarily fix errors if a sensor is flaky.

Replacing failed sensors requires disassembling part of the RV floor. Have a dealer technician handle this if you suspect issues with the angle sensors.

Change Hydraulic Fluid Regularly

This mostly applies to hydraulic leveling systems, but it’s an important maintenance task. Hydraulic fluid breaks down over time. Old, degraded fluid can damage valves and cylinders.

Every 2-3 years, have a professional drain the system and install fresh fluid. Use only the type of hydraulic oil specified by the leveling system manufacturer.

Whenever having the fluid changed, it’s a good idea to replace the hydraulic filter as well. This removes any accumulated particulate and keeps things flowing smoothly.

Extend Jacks Fully When Parked

Here’s a simple maintenance habit – always fully extend the jacks when parked, whether you’re leveling the RV or just stabilizing it.

Fully extending the jacks prevents them from seizing up from disuse. It also keeps wear even by using the jacks through their full range of motion rather than just partway.

Make it part of your arrival routine – hit the “extend all jacks” button right after parking until they top out. Your leveling system will thank you!

Use Jack Pads to Avoid Sinking

Park your RV on soft ground like loose dirt or asphalt on a hot day, and the jacks can actually sink right into the surface. This puts added stress on the jacks.

Carry some jack pads for the jacks to rest on if needed. These are just sturdy plastic or metal discs that provide a solid base. They help keep the jacks stable and prevent sinking.

Plywood can also work in a pinch. Just cut squares a little bigger than the jack footings. You want the jacks sitting fully on the pads, not halfway on and halfway off.

Have Dealer Perform Annual Inspections

While you can handle much of the basic maintenance yourself, it’s smart to have your dealer’s service department perform a thorough inspection and tune-up annually.

The techs will check and adjust everything like fluid levels, wiring, seals, sensors and connections. They also have specialized tools to safely inspect hydraulic components.

The small upfront cost of an annual inspection can prevent expensive repairs down the road. And give you confidence heading off on new adventures!

Use Care When Operating System

How you physically operate the leveling system also affects its longevity. Here are some tips for proper use:

  • Avoid “riding” jacks – Don’t continually extend and retract the jacks to rock or tilt the RV when parked. This strains components.
  • Retract before moving – Never pull the RV with jacks extended even partially. Fully retract first.
  • Check ground clearance – Make sure adequate clearance around jacks before extending. No obstructions.
  • Use safety lock – Engage the hydraulic cylinder safety lock before towing.
  • Level side-to-side first – Better stability.
  • Go easy on angles – Don’t try to level on extreme slopes. Stay under specs.

Emergency Troubleshooting Tips

Hopefully regular maintenance keeps things running smoothly. But occasionally an issue may arise on the road. Here are some troubleshooting tips:

  • Low battery? Check battery voltage. Auto-leveling draws a lot of power. Recharge or connect shore power.
  • Bad ground? Ensure the system is properly grounded to the RV frame. Loose ground wires are common.
  • Hydraulic leak? Visually inspect jacks, cylinders and hoses. Attempt to retract jack with leak & shore power to return fluid to reservoir.
  • Manual override? Many jacks have a manual override to retract in emergencies. Consult the user manual.
  • Debris in jacks? Carefully clear any obstructions with long-handled brush.
  • Recalibrate? Do the “zero out” calibration procedure per manufacturer instructions if jacks behave erratically.
  • At an angle? Use load stabilizer pads under tilted tires for support until repaired.
  • When all else fails, call for help! Most mobile RV repair services can get you back up and running.

Taking proper care of your RV’s leveling system will keep it performing consistently and minimizes the chances of getting stuck off-kilter. A little attention and preventive maintenance goes a long way.

Check the manufacturer documentation for any specific maintenance recommendations. And don’t be afraid to have a professional mechanic inspect the system if anything seems off.

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