Tips for Using RV Leveling Systems Safely

Leveling your RV is one of the most important parts of setup at a new campsite. If your RV isn’t level, you can run into all sorts of annoying and even dangerous problems. From cabinets that won’t stay closed to refrigerators that don’t operate right, getting your RV level makes a big difference in how livable it is when parked.

Leveling also helps prevent accidents and damage. If your RV is off-level, doors can swing open on their own, dishes can slide out of cabinets, and you’re more likely to take a spill walking around inside. No fun!

Choose a Solid Campsite

The first step is picking a good spot to park and level your RV. You want a site that’s as flat and level as possible to begin with. Here are a few things to look for:

  • Avoid major slopes or hills. Check the ground on all sides of the site.
  • Make sure the ground is firm and packed. Soft, muddy areas can sink when you level the RV.
  • Don’t park near ditches, holes, or depressions. They can tilt your RV off-level.
  • Check for levelness across both directions. You want the site to be flat both side-to-side and front-to-back.

Take a quick walk around the site to inspect the ground. Bring along a small level tool if you have one. This will help identify any major uneven spots.

If the site has obvious slants or dips, it’s best to pick a different spot if possible. Starting on very unlevel ground makes it harder for your leveling system to do its job.

Use Leveling Blocks Under Tires

Once you’ve parked in your chosen spot, the next step is to put leveling blocks under the RV’s tires. These are placed in pairs under the tires to lift one side of the RV higher to make it more level.

Leveling blocks help minimize the amount of work your automatic leveling system needs to do. Your jacks won’t have to extend as far to achieve level, which is safer and easier on the equipment.

Make sure your blocks are rated to handle the full weight of your RV. Stack multiple blocks if needed to build up the right height. Place them carefully centered under the tire tread.

Ideally, your RV should be close to level just using the blocks alone before you even extend the jacks.

Check Your Jack Pads

Before operating your leveling system, inspect the jack pads underneath the jacks. These are the round or rectangular pads the jacks extend down and push against to lift the RV.

Your pads need to be in good shape to work properly and avoid damage. Here’s what to look for:

  • Make sure pads are clean with no debris stuck to them. Remove any rocks or sticks.
  • Check pads for any cracks or gouges. Smooth, intact pads grip better.
  • Replace badly worn or damaged pads. Pads are inexpensive and wear out over time.

Take a quick peek under the RV to check all visible pads. Having sturdy jack pads helps ensure stable, even lifting.

Use Your Leveling System

Now comes the fun part—using your RV’s automated leveling system! Here are some tips for safe, effective operation:

  • Read the manual first. Every system is a little different. Know your specific procedures.
  • Clear the area. Make sure no one is under or around the RV during leveling. Keep pets safely inside.
  • Use the level indicator. Most systems have a panel inside showing you when the RV is level in each direction. Use this to level front-to-back first, then side-to-side.
  • Level in smaller increments. Don’t try to force a big adjustment all at once. Level gradually to allow the RV to settle slowly.
  • Listen for odd noises. If you hear banging, grinding, or squealing, stop leveling and investigate. Something is wrong.
  • Watch your panels. If panels pop open or slide during leveling, the RV is tilting too much. Level in smaller increments.
  • Use stabilizers last. Your jacks do the heavy lifting to level the RV. Stabilizers just keep it from rocking once leveled.

The key things to remember are take it slow, listen for problems, and don’t over-adjust the RV’s angle drastically. With a little practice, you’ll get comfortable operating the leveling system smoothly.

Check Level Inside the RV

Once the leveling system says you’re leveled, always double check it inside the RV. Here’s how:

  • Let the RV sit for a few minutes first. It can settle slightly after leveling.
  • Verify leveling in both directions with your own small level tool. Check the floor and counters.
  • Open cabinet doors and dishwasher. Make sure they seem to operate as expected.
  • Eyeball the refrigerator. Use a level on top if needed. Make sure it’s close to level so the fridge cools properly.
  • Look for anything askew that seems off. Pictures tilted on walls? Drawers not closing quite right?

Don’t assume your RV is perfectly level just because the system says so. Take a quick walkthrough inside to confirm. Make any minor jack adjustments needed.

Use Levels Regularly

I like to recheck my RV’s level throughout my stay at a campsite. Here are some good times to verify:

  • After the RV has sat leveled for a few hours. It can settle more over time.
  • If the ground beneath seems soft or wet. The jacks may have sunk in slightly.
  • After anyone has rocked the RV. Kids playing inside or people getting in and out can tilt it.
  • After a storm or high winds. Gusts can push the RV out of position.
  • If doors, cabinets, or drawers seem off again. A sign the RV may be out of level.

Don’t be shy about releveling your RV as needed. It just takes a few quick jack adjustments. Periodically checking your levels helps keep things dialed in.

Watch Out For Lean Issues

In some cases, an RV may develop a lean to one side that can’t be totally fixed by leveling. This is due to the suspension settling unevenly over time.

If you’ve leveled side-to-side but the RV still seems to tilt, the frame itself has shifted. This can happen after years of use and travel.

In that case, you’ll need to look at adding suspension enhancement systems to lift and re-center the frame. This gets beyond just the leveling jacks and requires pro help.

But for a simple lean issue caused by unlevel ground or shifting, releveling is typically all you need. Just be aware true frame settling can happen eventually on older RVs.

Unhitch Properly From Your Vehicle

Whenever you detach your RV from your tow vehicle, it’s important to follow the right steps:

  • Chock the RV wheels first so it can’t roll back. Engage the parking brake as well.
  • Lower the rear stabilizers only to take weight off the hitch, not to level.
  • Disconnect wiring harness and breakaway switch cable.
  • Release the weight distributing bars or sway control latches if used.
  • Finally, unlatch the hitch mechanism itself.

Doing this in the wrong order can release the RV to roll before it’s stabilized. Always make sure the RV is blocked in place securely before disengaging from the vehicle.

The same rule applies when re-hitching—stabilize the RV before attaching to the tow vehicle.

Watch Your Step

Once your RV is leveled and stabilized, there’s one more major precaution to take—watch your step!

It’s easy to trip over leveling blocks or stabilizer jacks if you’re not paying attention. When walking around the exterior of a leveled RV, keep an eye down for tripping hazards.

Same goes for inside—step gingerly until you learn where your leveled floors and counters may be uneven. Taking a fall inside an RV can lead to injury or damage.

RVs can create all sorts of new step height differences and awkward angles when leveled. Keep your wits about you and take care entering and exiting until you acclimate.

Have Proper Gear On Board

Having the right gear along makes RV leveling much easier:

  • Leveling blocks – Sturdy interlocking blocks provide thick stable bases under your tires for lifting.
  • Pads – Carry spares for when your jack pads develop cracks or wear out. Check them pre-trip.
  • Level tools – A small level is essential for double checking level inside the RV.
  • Chocks – Wheel chocks immobilize the RV before unhitching from your vehicle.
  • Gloves – Protect your hands when handling dirty leveling blocks.
  • Flashlight – Seeing under the RV in low light requires a bright flashlight. LED is best.

Adjust Your Route As Needed

One last quick tip—keep your RV’s leveling needs in mind when choosing camping spots or routes. Some examples:

  • Opt for flatter, paved sites if available to make leveling easier.
  • Avoid steep grades or off-camber roads that could leave you tilted.
  • Don’t take tight corner sites that can be hard to level perfectly.
  • Check site pad dimensions so your RV fits with room to work.

A little bit of trip planning goes a long way in picking sites suited for your rig. Scope out spots in advance when possible. By learning your leveling system, choosing flat sites, and taking it slow, you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

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