When you walk around inside your RV, does it rock or roll; feeling like your on a boat? This is due to your motorhome or camper not being parked on solid ground or not being level. But, if you know how to stabilize your RV, you can eliminate the shake, rattle and roll as well as level your RV properly.
I admit, the first weeks after moving into our former first fifth wheel, I thought I got a bad case of vertigo. Ironically though, it. was anytime Dan would move around inside our RV while I was in there as well.
However, I found it peculiar that it would go away the instant I left the fifth wheel. Or, when Dan was not walking around in our RV. It didn’t take long for us to figure out that feelimng wasn’t all in my head. It was because our fifth wheel toy hauler was not stable or on solid ground. It was floating almost like a boat on the water.
However, our concerns weren’t only about me getting land-sick. But also, we experienced some of RV components not operating correctly or as efficiently either. So, after a bit of research, we learned that we needed some sort of stabilization to anchor our RV to help keep us on an even keel.
To help other RVers, we put together this guide to show how to stop these land yachts from rocking and rolling and how to stabilize your RV while parked.
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How to Level and Stabilize Your RV – Tips and Tools
Why stabilizing and leveling your RV is important
Ensuring your RV level is important to keeping your RV properly aligned and RV components working the way they are intended.
For example, if your RV is not level, your propane refrigerator may not operate correctly or to fullest efficiency. This also will cause your RV refrigerator to wear out faster.
But more importantly, by not properly leveling your RV, your refrigerant lines could develop a pin hole that could lead to appliance failure or could develop into a fire hazard.
Fuel and Gas Lines
As well, your propane gas lines for some RV components and hydraulic lines for slide operation are contingent on proper leveling. For motorized RVs, engine fuel lines could also become an issue.
RV Holding Tanks
Your RV’s tank sensors will not register their capacities correctly. Depending on the slope of how your RV is parked, your tanks’ sensors may give inaccurate readings; either more full or more empty than they really are.
This can also affect how your black tank and gray tank drains. If your RV is leaning more towards the right or passenger side of your coach, it may hinder proper drainage and not allow your gray and black tanks to empty.
RV Frame and Structure
But one of the most important reasons to keep your RV level is to alleviate stress points in your RV; especially fifth wheels and travel trailers who’s frames are subject to more flex.
In other words, keeping your RV level will ensure everything stays plumb and in line; from fluids and fuel flowing as they should, and components operating to specs. Quite literally, just like a boat, keeping everything an even keel (including the peas on your plate!) will help extend the life of your RV.
Reduce Your Load
Many new(er) RVers don’t realize that unnecessary weight affects every facet of operating and even parking your RV. So, knowing how to stabilize your RV through weight distribution will help.
You don’t want is for your RV to be top heavy. So, pack your heavier gear and items in the lower portion of your RV. Utilize your basement cargo bays, storage areas and lower cabinets for your heaviest items.
Only store super lightweight items such as linens, blankets and lightweight seasonal wear in the overhead cabinets. Also, remember to concentrate 60% of your RV’s weight forward of your trailer front axel.
Using a mobile towing scale will help keep you more in tune with your RV’s GVWR vs. actual weight of your RV with contents in it. And, properly distributing the weight inside your RV will help as well.
Seek Level Ground
I realize finding a totally level campsite may be easier said than done. It’s common, especially in the mountains or hilly regions of the country, to have to manipulate how your RV sits level on the ground surface.
Here are some surface issues that can affect your RV’s stabilization and how level your motorhome or camper is:
- Tree roots
- Loose sand or gravel
- Packed mounds of dirt
- Frost heaves
- Tire ruts
- Uneven or broken asphalt or concrete
- Permanent obstructions
So, if you have a choice of campsites, pick out the campsite or where you’re going to park your RV that has the best ground surface but also the most level.
Install and use your RV automatic leveling system
Everyone knowns that RV automatic leveling systems aren’t cheap. However, these auto levelers are the cream of the crop when it comes to properly leveling your motorhome, fifth wheel or travel trailer with just a touch of the button.
Auto leveling systems are the ultimate way to help mitigate forward-to-back and side-to-side rocking of your parked RV. Auto levelers also can help stabilize and/or level your RV when parked on uneven ground.
Depending on the age and technology upgrades of your fifth wheel or travel trailer, if equipped with an auto leveling system, it may have the front leveling jacks behind both, front and back axels.
For bigger fifth wheels and travel trailers over 35′, they may have two extra leveling jacks mounted in the middle of the outside frame.
Automatic leveling systems can be programmed to level the whole coach on it’s own; almost like a gyroscope. Or, you may fine tune using individual adjustments to each leveling jack. Any which way, auto leveling systems take the stress out of trying to figure out how many leveling blocks you’ll need for each side to level your RV.
Install leveling jack pad stabilizing protectors
Jack pad stabilizing protectors, also known as RV SnapPads are an important essential for those motorhomes, fifth wheels and travel trailers that have auto leveling system jack pads.
RV SnapPads are permanent slip on shoes made of recycled rubber that fit snuggly over your leveling system’s jack pads.
Because of their material being rubber, they grip the ground surface disallowing your RV to literally shift underneath the jack pads.
They’re surprisingly inexpensive considering the job they perform. And, they don’t need a professional installer. In fact, we installed them easily on both our fifth wheel and motorhome in less than 20 to 30 minutes.
For in-depth information, different sizes for all RVs, and our product evaluation, check out our RV SnapPads: Protect your RV Leveling Jacks
Minimize your RV leveling jacks height
All of our suggestions mentioned prior in this article, there’s one really beneficial way to alleviate rock and sway of your parked RV is to keep your RV’s center of gravity low to the ground.
However, one point to keep in mind, the higher you extend your leveling jacks, the less stability your RV, especially travel trailers and fifth wheels, will have.
By lessening your leveling jacks’ rise extension, your RV will be more stabile. Keeping your RV lower to the ground will help minimize teetering even to the tiniest fraction.
Keep reading as we’ll share more tips about stabilizing your RV using your RV auto leveling system in conjunction with leveling blocks.
Extend your RV stabilizer power jacks
Stabilizing jacks are different from RV auto leveling systems as they are typically used just to minimize the rocking from front to back. They are typically mounted aft of the rear axel to add and provide stabilization for the rear of the coach. These are typically installed on smaller motorhomes, such as our Winnebago View, and lower end trailers as an OEM RV component.
Stabilizer jacks are designed to help prevent rocking movement of the camper. The high speed power stabilizers (below left) easily retract and extend with just a flip of a switch. In just a few minutes, your RV will be stable.
The scissor type manual stabilizer (below right) features 7,500-lb capacity which helps to keep your trailer level and stable. It can adjust from 4″-24″ as your situation requires. The bow-tie base steadies the jack on soft surfaces.
RV power stabilizing jacks are a more affordable way to upgrade to power stabilization and easily bolt-on to your RV’s existing frame than the automatic leveling systems mentioned prior.
Stabilize your RV using leveling blocks
Leveling blocks are those brightly-colored Lego-looking, plastic leveling blocks that you see under everyone’s leveling jack pads and tires. They are designed to allow stacking without them slipping off of each other.
There may be times where your RV may be parked on a steeper slope which exceeds your leveling jack’s range. Leveling blocks can add necessary height to your jacks.
If that happens, you may need to put them under your tires as well. Point being, all of your tires should always be touching the ground or something solid underneath them such as the leveling blocks.
They are essential for using under your leveling jacks, stabilizer jacks and your tires to help level your RV as well as help stabilize it. They can help counteract both, rocking front to back and side to side as well as adding stability to your coach.
Sometimes, auto leveling systems and stabilizers may lift one or more tires off the ground. This puts added stress by concentrating all of the weight of your RV onto your leveling jacks. This is not good for your RV’s frame, walls, windows and doors.
So, to avoid that, it’s necessary to place leveling blocks under your tires to provide extra stability and help balance the weight of your RV.
Or, you can make your own leveling blocks out of pressure treated wood. However, if you make your own, be aware of the added weight of the wood as they are much heavier than the leveling blocks mentioned above.
That said, when we owned our fifth wheel(s), Dan made a set of six leveling blocks using 2″x8″x12″ pressure-treated wood and decking screws. He made handles by attaching rope loops with heavy duty staples.
How we used our leveling blocks was simple. Once we positioned our fifth wheel into our campsite, we would first, place one leveling block under each of our forward landing gears (front two leveling jacks).
Then, we’d lower our landing gear jacks down enough to take pressure off of our fifth wheel hitch. We’d then disengage our hitch and disconnect the truck from the fifth wheel. Then, drive the truck forward enough to allow our automatic leveling system to raise or lower our fifth wheel.
Then, we would place leveling blocks under each of the other leveling jacks to add ground stability if needed. After which, we’d allow the fifth wheel to do it’s thing using the auto leveling system that was pre-installed on our fifth wheel.
There may be occasions when we’d need them to support our fifth wheel tires. We’d typically use the plastic leveling blocks mentioned above for under the tires.
Stabilize your RV using wheel chocks
To ensure our RV fifth wheel wasn’t going anywhere, even to the slightest fraction, we utilized simple wheel chocks.
We’d position the wheel chocks firmly against the treads of our tires; either in front of the front tires or one behind the back tires. This would prevent our RV from rolling forward or backward.
Wheel chocks like those below are a must-have especially when performing hitching pull test for those towable RVs.
There are other wheel chock options that may be more fitting to your RV or camper setup that helps stabilize your RV by preventing wheel rolls and wheel elevation.
Insert X Scissor Chocks between your tandem tires to stabilize your camper
An added assurance of keeping our fifth wheel from rolling forward or backwards, we’d install our X scissor chocks, also known as X chocks, between our RV’s tandem tires.
This ensured our RV fifth wheel wasn’t going anywhere, even to the slightest fraction, we utilized chocks.
Scissor chocks provide added stabilization and prevents tire shifts by applying opposing force to tandem tire applications
As opposed to other chocks, these X Chocks work with the tires’ natural movement instead of against them
RV scissor chocks also added a bit of theft prevention security. They take a special racket tool (included) to install and de-install them.
There are several varieties of wheel chocks.
Install JT StrongArm Stabilizers
We had JT StrongArm stabilizers installed on both of our fifth wheels because they truly did make a difference in stabilizing our RV.
Their bolt-on installation requires no welding. So, you if you’re somewhat mechanical, you can install them yourself. We had a set mounted on the front of our RV behind our fifth wheel’s forward landing jacks and on the rear leveling jacks behind our last tires.
Once we would park and level our RV, Dan would simply twist the handle to lock the stabilizers into place.
They eliminate annoying chassis movement and provide a rock-solid camping experience. These Strong Arms work with most jack applications
You should periodically wipe the arms with a clean cloth and water to remove any salt or debris and follow with a dry cloth when finished.
Always remember to disengage them first before raising or lowering your leveling jacks. Add that must-do to your RV departure list and RV setup list.
Upgrade your RV Entry Steps to enable better stabilization
Especially older campers, travel trailers and fifth wheels, the OEM door entry steps that come on your fifth wheel or travel trailer are suspended. So, each time anyone steps onto them, those inside will feel your RV jiggle.
When we owned our Landmark fifth wheel, we were given an opportunity to try out Torklift International’s GlowStep Revolution aluminum folding steps. Talk about a huge improvement! No more bouncing entering or leaving our RV. They, not only the support the steps for better stability and safety but also, grounded steps like these totally eliminate the shake of the entire fifth wheel or travel trailer.
Check out our video demonstration of how the GlowStep Revolution RV steps work:
If you prefer a different design of entry steps for your fifth wheel or travel trailer, look into the StepAbove RV Entry Steps by MORryde.
Install an RV Step Stabilizer Support
If you don’t want to shuck out a lot of money for new entry steps for your fifth wheel or travel trailer, you could instead, install step support mounts underneath your camper’s existing OEM steps.
These step support mounts tucks up securely under the bottom entry step when securing your steps for travel. When you deploy your steps for use, you simply flip it down to place the foot in contact with the ground.
Therefore, the step stabilizer keeps your coach from rocking or bouncing each time you step onto the steps. They also help prevent sag and wear on your steps. The step mounts can adjust from 8.5″ to 14″.
Stabilize your RV fifth wheel by using a king pin stabilizer
A way to stabilize your RV fifth wheel is by using a king pin tripod stabilizer. Although we’ve never used one of these stabilizing supports on either of our fivers, we’ve seen plenty of them supporting others’ fifth wheel king pins.
It features a tripod construction for easy set-up and concave pads to accommodate multiple heights.
Their function is to keep the front of your 5th wheel from movement when parked. Keep in mind, it is for fifth wheels that have a king pin height of 38-1/2″ to 50″. It has a certified 5000 pound load capacity.
Any major height adjustments can be made by moving the adjustable foot pads inward or outward. Simple minor adjustments are easy as just adjusting the lever.
This fifth wheel king pin stabilizer collapses for more compact storage.
Final Thoughts on how to level and keep your RV stabile while parked
Now, after laying all these RV leveling tips out, I know that all seems like a lot just to level and stabilize your RV or camper. However, if you commit to one or more of these methods, you will have minimal (or none at all) movement while your RV is parked. And you won’t be reaching for the dramamine either.
Another thing to keep in mind is if you park your RV for any length of time on soft ground (grass, sand or gravel), you may have to re-level your RV using the stabilization tools mentioned in this article. You may have to adjust your chocks, leveling blocks, StrongArms, your RV steps or even your auto leveling system after a hard rain, drought or sudden fluctuation in temperatures that affects the ground surface.
So, that wraps up our how to stabilize your RV with these helpful RV tips and tools. Lastly, as with any product we recommend or showcase in these articles, always research before purchasing. Make certain you get the proper equipment for your particular RV or camper.