New to RVs? One of the first skills you’ll want to master is leveling your unit. Beginners, whether using a motorhome (type A, B, C) or a towable trailer, may be tempted to avoid the leveling process, but to do so is to create potential problems. Devices in your unit that require pumps or compressors require level to properly operate. Your refrigerator for example, cannot function if the level of your RV is off. Water tank sensors also don’t read properly and doors and cabinets will not close properly. More importantly, devices can leak fluids causing damage, and, if you have slide outs, an unlevel camper can put undue stress on the slide out mechanisms. Finally, an unlevel RV can be a nuisance, making sleep more difficult because you slide in the direction of the lean.
But if you work on the skills necessary to level your unit, you’ll be able to quickly, comfortably, and safely complete the process and get down to the fun of camping. Here’s what you need to know:
Auto-leveling: Some RVs are or can be equipped with auto-leveling devices that make the process much easier. But even with auto-leveling, there are things you should know:
- Try to park so that the RV is as level as possible with the front wheels of the vehicle positioned on the downhill slope. This is important because the rear wheels are locked in park and should be in solid contact with the ground (so that leveling is done by raising the front wheels).
- Place your jack pads, assuring that they are not on icy or slick surfaces where they might slip.
- Use your auto-level system by looking at the sensor light switch, which will indicate the low points. Press the corresponding button to raise that wheel to level.
Manually Leveling a Motorhome: Some motorhomes will not have auto-level systems and will require you to level the unit manually. To do this you will need a level, blocks to raise the wheels (you can also use lengths of 2 x 6 wood), and wheel chocks. While a carpenter’s level is great for the process, you can also find apps for your phone that will allow you to use it as leveling device, such as WoBLR, LevelMate, Camperset, Motorhome Level App, and Camper Leveler (WoBLR and LevelMate, require additional hardware that is installed in the camper).
- Begin the process as you would with auto-level, by parking the RV on the most level spot with the front wheels on the lowest area.
- Place your level on a flat surface (table, countertop, etc.) close to the center of the unit, measuring both the right to left level and the front to back level.
- If both front to back and right to left level are off, you may be able to raise only one wheel. If front to back is off, you’ll need to raise both front wheels. If right to left is off, you’ll need to raise both driver’s side wheels or both passenger side wheels.
- Position your blocks on the wheels that need to be adjusted.
- Pull backward or forward onto the blocks as necessary (it’s good to have a spotter to help you with this process).
- Be sure the vehicle is in park and the brake is set. Then recheck your level. Adjust as necessary by adding blocks. It is not recommended to use more than two blocks (better to find a flatter space).
- Once the vehicle is level, place chocks on both sides of unraised wheels.
Leveling a Towable: The process for leveling a towable is similar to manually leveling a motorhome, but with a towable you will begin by leveling left to right.
- Position your trailer on as level a spot as possible. Do not detach from the towing vehicle and be sure the vehicle is in park with the brake engaged.
- Start by checking the left to right level of the trailer.
- As with manual process for motorhomes, position blocks on the wheels that need to be raised (either driver’s side or passenger’s side).
- Pull trailer onto the blocks, park tow vehicle (brake on) and repeat the process until level.
- Once level left to right, position the wheels chocks on both sides of tires that are not raised. This is important to prevent trailer from rolling away!
- Now check front to back level and use the landing jack to lower onto blocks until level is achieved.
- Lower stabilizers and be sure that all have equal pressure applied.
Written by Ivan Young in partnership with IMS Bolt maintenance tools and supplies.