Stuck with a Manual RV Leveling System
Stuck with a Manual Leveling System?
Every week we take a look back at the RV Doctor Gary Bunzer's answers to your tough questions. He has been providing insight into troubleshooting, repair and preventative RV maintenance since 1968.
Besides Using Blocks, Tell Me about Manual RV Leveling...
Gary, I just purchased a 32-foot RV, my first RV. Unfortunately, it does not have any type of RV leveling system. Leveling must be done manually. How do you do this? I know it’s done with blocks, but that’s all I know? How do you know when it's level? — Bob D., Bloomsburg, PA
The RV Doctor's Orders
Great question, Bob! Some RVers might be shocked to know that not every coach comes equipped with automatic levelers, in-motion satellite reception, a dozen televisions and two bathrooms! Some coaches are equipped with just the basic accouterments; plumbing, electrical systems and propane appliances. Everything necessary to fully enjoy the RVing lifestyle, just not as "fancy" as some. In fact, prior to the genesis of leveling "systems," every RVer had to manually level the RV. Obviously for general comfort, for doors and cabinets to swing and close properly, but most importantly, for the absorption refrigerator to function correctly. Anyone still have their little round bubble level?
RV Leveling Blocks Are Still the First Step in Manually Leveling an RV
The process is to run the tires on the low side of the coach up on ramped blocks. Many are homemade from wood but alternate materials like plastic are also available in the RV aftermarket. If you want to spend some money, there are some really nice modern options out there. The key thing to remember about leveling blocks is that it is vital to support the complete footprint of every tire that is raised.
So it kinda involves guessing just how much to raise the low side or corner. Run the tires up on a block, check the level of the refrigerator evaporator or freezer shelf, add or subtract boards or blocks to get the unit level from side to side and front to back.
RV Open Road contributor Melissa Popp describes the exact tools and steps needed to manually level an RV in detail in her post, 4 Tools & 5 Steps to Leveling Your RV Travel Trailer, so I won't go too into detail here. Please read her advice.
Next Step Are Your Manual RV Leveling Jacks
On a towable RV, the front to rear adjustment is easy enough to manipulate with the tongue jack or landing jacks, but, without the help of technology, it's trial and error. And with a motorhome, there are any of four "corners" that might need to be raised to get the rig properly leveled. In the past, it has definitely been trial and error at best. Now the good news!
You Can Add RV Leveling Technology, Even Auto-Leveling, to Many RVs
There are several products available in the RV Aftermarket that will make leveling your RV less "manual." These range from small leveling devices that attach to side of an RV to phone apps that can assist you with accurate leveling of your unit.
If you're looking to make your RV leveling experience more automatic and less manual, Lippert offers several options in a range of price points. For example:
- The Power Tongue Jack is just that. It will alleviate hand-cranking your maual RV jack.
- The Smart Jack™ adds hitch height memory and automatically retracts and extends to the original hitch height with just the push of a button.
- If you really want to up your leveling game, the Ground Control® TT Kit will get your travel trailer to full auto-leveling, completely eliminating the manual leveling process.
- Have a motorhome or fifth-wheel? Lippert offers other automated RV leveling systems as well.
- Or, if you want to keep your costs low but still make leveling a little easier, the Quick Drop® Tongue Jack uses a power drill and 3/4" socket head to eliminate hand cranking.
So Bob, I'd suggest you take a look at what's availble and see what best fits your needs and budget. There's nothing wrong with completely manually leveling your RV. A lot of people still do it that way. But, there are plenty of options to reduce the work you have to do and get you ready to enjoy camping that much faster.
Let me know what you decide?
All effort is made to ensure the correctness of Gary’s responses; however, not all responses will apply in every instance. Some situations may mandate a visual inspection and further hands-on testing. It is imperative that if you choose to follow any instructions or procedures outlined in The Doctor’s Orders column, you must first satisfy yourself thoroughly that neither personal nor product safety will be compromised or jeopardized. If you are in doubt or do not feel comfortable about a procedure, do not continue. Simply call your local RV service facility and make an appointment with them. Remember, the advice, recommendations and procedures offered by The RV Doctor are solely those of Gary. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions, procedures and recommendations of Lippert, this publication or any of its advertisers.
See Lippert's Full Line of Powered Leveling Systems, Jacks & Stabilizers
Lippert has a range of leveling and stabilization solutions to upgrade every RV set up. Our industry-leading components make it faster, easier, and simpler to set up your RV and campsite. From one-touch, automatic leveling systems to power stabilizers and stabilization accessories, there's something here for every type of RV.
Pictured: Smart Jack™
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