There is nothing like experiencing different adventures outdoors, and the best way to do it is with your RV. Your rig will provide you comfort and luxury as you want while still able to go on day trips without the entire camper along for the ride. However, RVs will only work if they are perfectly leveled, which can be hard to achieve. Lucky for you, I’ve provided tips and tricks on how you can level your rig flawlessly.
Picking the Perfect Spot for Your RV
Picking the perfect spot is the obvious place to start. It will help if you work smarter and not harder. When it comes to campgrounds, spots are usually fairly level but not that perfect. With this said, you don’t want to find your rig falling to one side because the ground is not leveled.
Attempting to level your rig on wildly uneven ground is going to be a huge challenge, if not impossible, to do. Now, finding the right spot may require a bit of driving around and may not be the most convenient for you. However, spending some time to find the right spot will be well worth it in the end.
One way to find out whether a parking spot is leveled, you use a carpenter’s level to do so. Make sure to check the ground if it’s uneven before you unhitch your trailer. If you don’t have a carpenter’s level ready, you can use your smartphone instead. Most smartphones have apps available that act as levels, and you can measure if the ground is even or not.
Now, when the parking spot you found is almost level and needs some fine-tuning, you would have to level your trailer from side to side while it is still hitched to your tow vehicle. Once you are done with this step, you will then level front to back after hitching. I will talk more about the side to side and front to back leveling further in this article.
Prepare the Right Equipment for Leveling Your RV
Now that you have found the perfect spot for your RV, it’s time to prepare the tools you will need to level your rig. Some tools that you will need are bubble level gauges, leveling blocks, wheel chocks, and a good shovel. Lastly and the most important thing that you need is patience since leveling can be stressful after a long day’s drive.
The Bubble Leveler. No matter how good your balance and equilibrium are, you will need some mechanical means to make sure that your RV is leveled. Now, some RVers may think a carpenter’s level is overkill for travel, and the solution to that is to take a torpedo level with you instead. A torpedo level won’t take up too much space and works great as well.
For towable RVs, a pair of weighted ball levels or graduated bubble levels would be perfect to use. Make sure to attach a large level on the front of your rig where you can see it from your tow vehicle to tell whether you are level side to side.
Once that’s done, place the second one next to the control for your jack to view the level from front to back at the same time you operate the jack. This can either be on the tongue of your trailer or the side of a fifth wheel.
The best graduated bubble level that you can use is the Hopkins 08526. Unlike the traditional levels that usually fade due to UV exposure, this product will not fade over time. The markings in this tool will indicate the number of inches required to raise or lower your rig.
With the Hopkins 08526, you will also get optional screw holes or self-adhesive back for easy mounting while you are in the process of leveling your RV. Each pack comes in two, and it is very easy to use. You can buy the Hopkins 08526 on Amazon for $9.75.
The Sun Company Level Indicators and Inclinometers are the best product to buy for the best weighted ball levels. It monitors tilts from -10 to 10 degrees and has a brass ball that rides in special damping flued for smooth as well as accurate readings.
The brass ball indicators in the Saturn yellow tube provide higher visibility than other traditional bubble levels in the market. The numbers are engraved and hand-painted for easy to read display. The Sun Company Level Indicators and Inclinometers also have a shatterproof design. The slope indicator tube assembly is made from a flex tube, so you can rest assured that it will last you for years.
The levels have a piece of 3M VHB (very high bond) adhesive tape on the back. With this feature, you can easily mount this tool wherever and whenever. Aside from the adhesive tape, it also comes with two guide holes for screw mounting. Pair this tool with leveling blocks for the full trailer leveling system.
You can buy the Sun Company Level Indicators and Inclinometers in two packs on Amazon for $25.49.
RV Leveling Blocks. There are different sizes and varieties when it comes to RV leveling blocks. When the location site that you have chosen is not leveled, you will need graduated leveling blocks to raise the low side of the site. Leveling blocks can come in pieces of lumber that you can cut yourself, the stackable ‘Lego’ type blocks, or the curved pieces blocks.
When picking out your leveling blocks, you need to remember that you will need something for each wheel on one side. The blocks can be for either one single axles, two for tandems, or three for triples. Make sure to measure the space between your tires so that your levelers will fit in between.
The Andersen Hitches Camper Leveler Kit are curved pieces that you can use as levelers for your rig. You can easily level your RV in five minutes or less with this leveler kit. All you need to do is simply drive on the leveler until you feel your rig is leveled. Nothing is easier to use than this leveler kit; chock it, and you are done.
The Camper Leveling system works with any trailer with a maximum of 30,000 pounds with tires up to 32 inches in diameter. If your rig meets these requirements, then you will be able to use this leveler kit right out of the box. However, when you have dual tires or smaller spaces to fit the camper leveler between tires, you can trim them instead.
Trimming is simple and easy to do, and it will only take ten minutes or less to complete. When you buy this kit, and it doesn’t work for you, they will take them back and give you a refund. Now, you need only one leveler per axle on one side of the trailer. With this leveler kit, you don’t need to level both sides of your rig. You can just place the Andersen Hitches Camper Leveler Kit on the low side of your RV.
You can purchase the Andersen Hitches Camper Leveler Kit on Amazon for one ($39.99) or two packs ($159.99).
Chocks. Now, chocking your wheel is a crucial safety step to make sure your trailer won’t roll away once you unhitch. No matter how flat the site looks, it would be best to stabilize the wheels in case it is unlevel enough for your rig to roll. It is crucial when the wheels are on blocks since it’s natural for the trailer to roll off.
Shovel. Bring a good shovel along with help with leveling your RV. However, don’t try this in a campground, but it will come in handy when you are boondocking. It will be easier and safer to dig out in front of the RV tires on the high side than placing down blocks on the low side.
Once you’ve dug your hole or holes, you can pull forward and watch the high side drop into the holes. On the other hand, when the site is exceptionally uneven, it is best to use blocks on the low side as well as holes on the high side. Make sure to fill in your holes once you leave the site.
Patience. This is the number one and crucial requirement when it comes to leveling your RV. Tension may arise when you finally get to your campsite and haven’t yet opened the doors. Make sure to be patient with yourself and the people that you are with. When you get it wrong and have to start over, ensure to take your time and don’t lose control.
With these, requirements you are sure to level your rig in a snap!
Number of Blocks You Need to Level Your Rig
If you are new to the RV world, it can be tricky to determine how many blocks you will need so that your RV will be leveled. Since there is no hard number to this, smaller imbalances tend to need one block, while more significant imbalance, you will need two blocks.
When you need more than that, it is best to find another place with a more level surface. With a few practices and experiences, you will start to understand better how much adjustment your RV will need when it is unleveled.
Level Side to Side First
When you are leveling your RV, it is a pretty simple process and gets easier with experience. Now, when it comes to leveling your RV from side to side, it can be a little trickier than leveling front to back. Of course, the difficulty of leveling a rig would depend on how uneven the campsite is.
Here, it is time for your bubble leveler to shine. While pulling into the site, make sure to keep an eye on the level to see if you can find a naturally leveled spot from side to side. If you have found one, stop, get out, and look around to see if that particular spot is workable for leveling.
Now, if you are close enough to the power or water pedestal and sewer and good enough space to leave room for your truck, then you are good to go. If you are not that lucky, which most times you’re not, get your rig to the spot you want and stop for a moment to reassess.
Pulling forward to your leveling blocks is easier than reversing to it. Get out of your RV and set your leveling blocks right in front of all your tires. This should be on the low side of your rig, and then push the leveling blocks with your hands or boot to ensure they are firmly against the tires. When you have enough clearance behind you, back up another foot, then stop.
Once you have done this, slowly pull forward and watch the bubble once more. Keep advancing, but slowly, until the bubble shows level. For proper settling, pull ahead about another inch or two. Now, with your previously low wheels, it will just be a hair higher than level.
At this time, get out and chock your wheels for safety before you unhitch your rig. Your trailer will try to move a tiny bit when you are done, but the chocks will prevent any major movement. Finally, you are done with the hard part of leveling your RV!
Next, Front to Back
Before proceeding to this step, you need to make sure that your rig is unhitched. Once everything is set, lower your landing gear for a fifth wheel or tongue jack for a travel trailer. This way, the nose is high enough to separate from the hitch. When the site is very uneven, you might want to add some blocks beneath the jack first for safety and not worry about leveling yet.
When you have decoupled from the hitch, it’s time to pull your truck far enough forward to create some working room. Once you’ve done this, you are now set to level your RV. You always have to remember that you are already leveled side to side because of the blocks that you have placed on the last step.
At this point, all you need to do is raise or lower your front gear or jack to fine-tune that height until the second bubble shows that you are leveled from front to back. As mentioned above, this is the easiest part of the leveling process.
Tips for Using Factory-Installed Auto-Leveling System
When using the factory-installed auto-leveling system, it has four or six-point levelers. With a simple push of a button, the hydraulic jacks will automatically deploy so that they find the perfect level for your RV. The look and feel of the factory-installed auto-leveling system are like magic.
Once you push the button and the controller deploys, each of the jacks adjusts its level until your RV is perfect. Make sure to do this before you deploy your sides, and ensure no one goes into the trailer just yet. The reason for this is when you enter, and your rig might bounce around and could confuse the controller.
When it’s time to hit the road again and leave, just press the memory feature of the auto-leveling system, and the nose will rise to the same level as it was when you pushed the auto-level. Once this happens, it is at the right height for you to back right in and hitch your trailer to your tow vehicle.
If you are using this method, you always have to pack a gallon of automatic transmission fluid (ATF) and zip ties. In case there is roadside debris or erratic tire blowout severs your hydraulic lines, the jack won’t operate. This means that you will not be able to unhitch from your rig.
Here it would be best if you used the zip ties to kink the severed line and then replace any lost fluid with ATF as a stopgap until you get proper repairs.
Another tip that you might want to keep in mind is to avoid drastically unleveled campsites where the trailer is pointing uphill. The front leveling jacks won’t retract far enough for the auto-level function to work. You will have to override the system and manually level your RV.
When initially unhitching your trailer, it will raise the front of the trailer, so the nose is above level and not pointing downhill. Auto-leveler systems won’t work well when the initial state of your trailer is pointing downhill. Here, you might want to use blocks under the jacks. The memory function will only work if the nose is higher than the horizon.
LevelMatePro for A No-Hassle Leveling
If you are the type of person that cannot handle the work and frustration of placing the bubbles, the LevelMatePro is the best tool that you can use. It will display your rig’s orientation on your smartphone and/or Apple Watch. This way, you don’t have to look over your shoulder at the bubble to see whether your rig is leveled or not.
Now, this isn’t the same as auto-leveler, but the system will replace your bubble levels. With the LevelMatePro, there is an on and off switch that provides complete control over the battery life. This means that you don’t have to worry about running out of battery since you have control.
The LevelMatePro is entirely based on a smartphone app with great new features. It works with RVs, travel trailers, and fifth-wheels that drastically reduce the setup rather than doing it manually. This tool also enables dynamic site evaluation before you park in the campsite to an accurate of 0.1 degrees.
LevelMatePro+ is also available, and it has a three times larger battery than the original one. It also has a micro-USB port for externally powering devices but not for recharging.
The LevelMatePro cost $144.99, and the LevelMatePro+ cost $179.99; both are available on Amazon.
Stabilizing Your RV Tips
Now that your travel trailer is all nice and leveled, you need to make sure that it stays that way even when you are inside it. Most travel trailers, fifth-wheels, or toy haulers usually come with stabilizing jacks. Stabilizers are not used to level your rig but to make sure that it is in place.
Plenty of newer rig models have dedicated stabilizing jacks. You can use a different jack that’s not built-in, or you could look into a permanent stabilizing jack that you can install to your rig. It is best to place sections of two by ten boards under your stabilizing jacks, especially when you are on asphalt or earth.
Never Use Your Stabilizer Jacks for Leveling Your RV
The stabilizer jacks are only there to stop the movement created by people walking and moving about inside your RV. They are not designed to bear the weight of the trailer plus the people and belongings inside it. When using the stabilizer jacks to level your trailer, it will damage the jacks and will twist the frame.
When you doubt this, you can try to open one of your cargo doors near the jack and put a lot of weight on it. If the door is hard to open or doesn’t open at all, you will put too much weight on the stabilizers, and you will be twisting the frame.
You have to remember that your wheels and suspension can bear the weight of your RV, but the stabilizer jacks cannot.
Leveling an RV With the Slide Outs
If you have slide-outs on your RV, you don’t want to extend them until you have secured them in place, which goes for a motorhome or a travel trailer. Save taking out the slide-outs until you have confirmed that the balance of your rig is on point. Also, make sure to check whether your blocks and wheels are secured, as well as the stabilizers are ready to go.
Having said this, there are exceptions to this, especially when you are using an automatic leveling system. Now, on some models, the auto system is already calibrated even when the slides are out. Make sure to check your rig’s capabilities in the owner’s manual before attempting this step.
Leveling your RV will take a lot of patience, especially when you are doing this for the first time. You will need to check different angles of your RV to see if everything is leveled. However, with the proper equipment and a dash of patience, you can rest assured to level your rig perfectly. Remember, the critical step is to find the right location, and that would be even enough parking space for your trailer. Happy leveling, RVers!