Picking the Best Auto-Leveling System for Your Fifth Wheel Trailer

Congrats on scoring that shiny new fifth wheel trailer! Those gigantic homey trailers-on-tires are a total dream for devoted RVers like us. But if you’ve hauled a fifth wheel before, you’re aware that getting the massive beast perfectly flattened at your campsite can be super tricky. Taking the time to choose the right auto-leveling system for your specific trailer can save you massive frustration and sore backs down the line!

As someone who’s been RVing for years, I’ve tested a ton of auto-levelers and gotten my fifth wheel stable on all kinds of uneven terrain. Through trial and error, I’ve figured out which features are must-haves and which just add complexity without much benefit. Here’s my two cents for selecting the perfect auto-leveling system to keep your fifth wheel solid at any campsite or parking area.

Why Auto-Leveling is So Helpful for Fifth Wheels

Before jumping into specific products, let’s review why auto-leveling tech is so useful for fifth wheels:

  • Saves your back. No more crouching, bending and eyeballing to get your trailer situated perfectly. Auto-levelers handle the hard work for you.
  • Levels rapidly. The best systems can stabilize your camper lickety-split, many in under 60 seconds once installed. No more waiting around and tweaking.
  • Makes uneven ground no biggie. Auto-levelers constantly check and tweak to account for dips, lumps and rough terrain. You won’t have to fret about waking up slanted!
  • Makes unhitching easy peasy. A perfectly flattened trailer means you can detach from the tow vehicle with total confidence without the trailer shifting.
  • Prevents water system troubles. When leveled right, water doesn’t accumulate incorrectly and stress plumbing. Appliances also work optimally.
  • Supports trailer for living. Auto-leveling stabilizes trailers for comfy living without bouncing or movement. Some even actively support slide-outs.

The key is finding the ideal system with the capabilities you need at a price you can swing. Let’s look at popular options…

Hydraulic vs Electric Auto-Leveling

The first big decision is hydraulic vs electric operation. Hydraulic systems use fluid pressure to run leveling jacks, while electric systems use motors and gears. Here’s the lowdown:

Hydraulic auto-levelers

  • Powerful, speedy leveling even on bumpy ground
  • Can retract jacks rapidly in under a minute
  • Level fine with low battery juice
  • Pricier upfront but equipment lasts forever
  • Heftier and take up more storage

Electric auto-levelers

  • Lower upfront cost to purchase
  • Lighter and take up less space
  • Easy DIY installation
  • Level quickly on normal terrain
  • Require adequate battery power
  • Long-term durability varies

I personally like hydraulic systems because they’re basically foolproof and fast. But electric systems work great too if set up correctly. Either method crushes manual leveling by a mile!

Top hydraulic systems are Lippert Ground Control and HWH Quadra-Level. Leading electric systems are Lippert LCI ONE Control and Equalizer Auto-Level.

Jack Configurations

Auto-leveling systems come in different jack setups to stabilize trailers in various ways:

  • 4-point systems use two side-to-side jacks near the front plus two jacks near the rear. This is the most common design and offers excellent stability.
  • 6-point systems add two mid-chassis jacks for even more solid leveling and support. This setup distributes weight evenly. It’s often on giant fifth wheels.
  • Tripod systems use a grouping of three jacks per side. The two forward and one rear jack on each side allow leveling of trailers with multiple axles or extra-long rear overhangs.

Make sure to get a system matching the jack points already on your fifth wheel. 6-point and tripod systems often require welding new jack mounts if your trailer doesn’t have them already.

Control Interfaces

Today’s auto-leveling systems are packed with smart features. But all that tech is useless if it’s a pain to operate! Here are some control interface choices:

  • Basic push button operation is common. Easy to learn but can get tedious entering multiple commands.
  • Touchpads simplify the process with menu-driven controls and step-by-step instructions. Very intuitive.
  • Smartphone apps allow wireless control from your phone or tablet. Very handy but require connectivity.
  • Automatic and one-touch systems radically simplify operation. Just hit a button and auto-leveling does the rest!
  • Remote fobs let you extend and retract jacks without wires from outside the trailer. Super handy when hitching or unhitching.

Give interfaces a test drive before you buy to ensure you like the usability. With regular use you’ll quickly get the hang of it!

Safety Features

Since auto-levelers actively move your trailer, safety should be top priority when deciding. Look for these reassuring capabilities:

  • Automatic jack retraction when moving locks the jacks in place. Prevents drivable mishaps.
  • Outrigger detection pauses auto-leveling if the system detects the tongue jack or stabilizer jacks are still out. No more mangled jacks!
  • Tilt and motion sensors halt the process if the trailer starts tipping.
  • Audible alarms notify you of errors so you can jump in.
  • Manual operation as a backup gives you full control when necessary.

Don’t accept anything less than a system with rigorous safety testing and anti-crushing protection. Your investment – and personal welfare – depends on it!

Other Factors to Mull Over

Here are a few other considerations when selecting the ideal auto-leveler:

  • Weight capacity should equal or exceed your actual loaded trailer weight. Don’t just go by GVWR.
  • Price can vary a lot from $1,500 to $4,000+ depending on capabilities. Set a firm budget and stick to it.
  • Installation difficulty – can you DIY or will pro help be required? Account for costs.
  • Power needs – will the system draw more than your RV battery, solar, alternator, etc can provide?
  • Warranty – good systems come with at least 1 year of comprehensive coverage.
  • Customer support to guide you through any snafus. Video tutorials are super helpful!

Take the time to carefully assess your needs and choices before deciding. An informed purchase will serve you well for many years without headaches!

My Top Auto-Leveling Picks

Okay, you probably want to know what I personally like right? After years of trying all kinds of systems, these are my current faves:

Lippert Ground Control 3.0 – The latest version of this hydraulic workhorse gets my longest fifth wheel flat in under 60 seconds. The automatic one-touch Level-Up is brilliantly simple.

Equalizer Auto-Level – For electric, this system is hard to top. It handles rough sites and steep slopes with ease. The touchpad and smartphone app make it super convenient.

HWH Quadra-Level – An excellent option for diehard hydraulic fans. The master control panel with status screen makes operation practically goof-proof.

Any one of those systems will eliminate the pain of manual leveling and get even the biggest fifth wheels level with zero effort. You really can’t make a poor choice!

Time to Upgrade Your Camping

Well I hope this overview assists you in choosing the ideal auto-leveling system for your own fifth wheel. Holler if you have any other questions!

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