If you’re a first-time RVer, you might still be anxious about getting your trailer on the highway. Our advice? Just do it. As long as you’ve done the necessary precautions, you’ll be alright.
Another cause of concern among those using travel trailers for the first time is how to level their trailer when they get to their campsite destination. This is understandable but don’t worry. It’s actually quite easy. Read on and we’ll teach you how.
Why does your travel trailer need to be level?
But first, you have to understand why you have to level your travel trailer in the first place. Leveling your trailer means you put it in a level position at all sides – front to back and side to side. Leveling is required for your safety.
- Minimize stress on your RV’s structure and frame. This will reduce the stress on various areas of your RV. Take note that an RV is designed to be level. If you don’t put it on level position, you would be causing damage and other long term issues on your trailer and that would mean additional expense for repairs and replacement. Some parts may not function properly when your trailer is uneven. The doors may pop open even when locked or wouldn’t open when you want to open them.
- Reduce stress on your slide outs. Slide outs depend on a level frame to function properly. If your trailer is uneven, it would accelerate wear and tear as you force the components to accommodate the slide outs. It would be a very expensive problem if your bracket gives in because of this.
- Keep the interior secure. The areas that you should be looking out for are the door frames, cupboards, plumbing, and chassis. Use blocks and stabilizers to keep the interior of your trailer securely in place and intact.
- Safety of your refrigerator. You’ll need your trailer to be level for your fridge to function properly. RV fridges are prone to catching fire when the ammonia or water solution inside the fridge cannot flow properly. You don’t want the heat from your fridge going inside your camper so make sure it is leveled properly.
- Accuracy of your tank readings. When your RV is not level, you won’t be able to know exactly how much you have in your tank. The sensors might show that you have more or fewer liquid depending on the slope. You might also not be dumping your trailer the way you should if your trailer is uneven.
- Your comfort. Imagine staying in an unlevelled RV. You’d be out of balance and uneasy all the time. It would be hard to sleep. And you don’t want your things rolling around or slipping off.
So, better keep your camper leveled for your comfort, safety, and ensue the durability of your RV.
Things you need for leveling your travel trailer
These are the tools you’ll need for your trailer leveling.
Pieces of wood as your leveling system. Always have 2x6s or 2x8s in your trailer kit. The wider the better. These will serve as your leveling blocks. They will go under the wheels of your trailer and will help level the sides of your RV.
You can also use another piece of wood as a wheel chock. This is cut at an angle so that you can chock them on your tires perfectly.
There are also upgraded versions of these on the market if you like. Just look for RV leveling systems, leveling RV blocks, and wheel chocks.
Carpenter’s level. Although your RV comes with a bubble level, it always helps to have a carpenter’s level that you can put on different areas of your RV to check your leveling. Use a carpenter’s level with a magnet attached to the side to help you know if your travel trailer is already level or not. You can put this on different parts of your RV that you particularly want to check if they’re levelled.
These are basically all you need in leveling your travel trailer. Nothing fancy. But then again, there are upgraded versions available in the market so you can just check them out. They come in different sizes and packs to suit your leveling needs.
You can also include a stabilizing jack and jack pads in your kit. Some RVers also swear by using a commercial jack stand. This will reduce the pressure on the tongue jack and also saves time for campers because they don’t have to wait until the tongue jack hits the ground. But this is not really essential for leveling your travel trailer and it’s a matter of personal choice if you will include this in your equipment kit.
Always have these on hand to make leveling a travel trailer easier.
Here are 5 simple steps on how to level a travel trailer.
Step 1. Find out the need for leveling.
There will always be a natural slope of the ground unless you’re in an RV park where the ground has already been leveled for users.
Find a nice level area to park or at least one with minimal slope. Avoid parking in a significantly uneven site as this could be dangerous especially for first-time RVers. Just find another site to level your trailer.
Here’s how you can level your trailer on a slope.
Visualize the site where you want to level your trailer. This is helpful in determining the need for RV leveling and saves you the effort and headache of backing your trailer only to find out later on that it’s a very challenging slope.
Consider also where everything is located such as your power and slide when you choose a spot for parking your RV. How far do you need to go to hook up to an electric outlet? Do you have enough space to lay out the slide outs of your travel trailer properly?
Step 2. Level your travel trailer from side to side.
When you’ve already found a spot in your campsite and successfully backed your trailer, it’s time to check if you’re level on the ground. Your RV’s bubble level can help you with this.
It’s also advisable to use your carpenter’s level to determine which side you’re leaning to. This is important because sometimes it may seem that you’re already level to the ground but when you check with your tool, you’ll find out that you’re slightly leaning on one side. We’re trying to eliminate this to avoid causing stress on any side of your travel trailer.
There are some who insist on leveling by sight but experienced RVers know better. That’s why it’s best to always have a leveling tool on hand and not just rely on your RV bubble level.
Where do you put the levels on a travel trailer?
Your blocks or levels are used for leveling your trailer from side to side.
For example, when you find out that you’re leaning on the driver’s side, you can use your wood pieces or leveling system to help level up that side. Mark the area you want to level then adjust your wheels and drive over those pieces of wood or blocks when backing to level your driver’s side with your passenger’s side. This will keep your trailer balanced from side to side. Check your carpenter’s level again to confirm your position.
Another tip is for you to put the wood pieces or leveling blocks right against the wheels so that you can just pull over them until you reposition your trailer.
This is how you maintain your RV level from side to side.
3. Chock the wheels of your trailer.
Put another piece of wood that’s cut at an angle to chock the wheels. Putting wheel chocks is a very important safety move. It will also ensure that your effort for repositioning your travel trailer is not wasted.
Make sure you chock the wheels both in the front and in the back so that they will stay in place and not move forward or backwards.
4. Unhitch your travel trailer from the tow vehicle.
When you’re already levelled from side to side, you can unhitch your trailer from your tow vehicle. Move your vehicle forward so that you can begin adjusting the level from front to back this time.
5. Check that the trailer is still level
Find a nice, flat surface which is the center point spot of your RV to check your leveling. Again, your carpenter’s level can help you determine if your front or back side is higher than the other.
If your front area is higher, you can lower the nose of your jack a couple of inches and then check your level again if it’s aligned with the back of your RV. If your front area is lower, you can adjust your jack higher until your trailer is level from front to back.
A tip for those whose travel trailers that have wastewater tanks located at the middle or back part of the coach: It is better to have your front side slightly higher than the back. This will help in draining of the plumbing more efficiently while you’re using the trailer.
Some people would stop at this point and then begin stabilizing their trailer. But it is always a good idea to check the level for RV in other areas as well.
For example, find a nice center spot on your kitchen floor to check if it’s level to the ground. Check it from front to back and side to side to make sure you’re truly level. Reposition as needed if not. Use leveling blocks as required. Your leveling system and stabilizing jacks will help you with this.
It’s pretty much simple and easy but it takes time especially when you’re on uneven ground, you have to dig on one side or put some blocks on the other to be able to get the best position.
Final step: Stabilize your travel trailer.
When you’re sure everything’s level on your travel trailer, you can begin to stabilize it to maintain a secure and rigid position on the ground so that you can move inside your trailer comfortably.
Lower your stabilizer jacks in place so that you can secure your travel trailer in your preferred campsite. Take note that stabilizer jacks are not meant to fully take on all of the weight of the trailer. They just act as support to your wheels so that they can fully support your travel trailer.
A good rule of thumb is to let your stabilizing jacks go halfway so that they can provide a solid support for your trailer. Don’t use them beyond this to maintain adequate balance while inside the trailer.
Just a reminder, if you’re traveling with kids or pets, keep them away from the trailer while you’re leveling a travel trailer and you’re not yet done stabilizing to avoid any accidents.
Please always be cautious when RVing! Follow these steps for your safety.
Once the stabilizing jacks are properly in place, you’re done! You can do a final check by going around your trailer. Double check the chocks on your wheels.
Proper leveling and stabilizing could take around 10 to 15 minutes. There’s no need to rush. Safety should always be your priority.
What is the best way to level a travel trailer?
The best way to level your RV trailer is by using a level tool to help you determine if your RV is level to the ground. Don’t just rely on your sight because our eyes can deceive us.
When you’re satisfied with the level and stability of your travel trailer, then you can sit down, relax and enjoy your camping adventure.