camper not level
RV Travel 101 camper set up on a site that is not level along lake at night with a fire. Learn how to level RV before it is too late.

Learn How to Level Your Travel Trailer Before You Do Damage

Did you know that if your travel trailer is not level you can do some damage to your travel trailer? To level your RV correctly involves leveling blocks and a level. Many people (including us) start out thinking that the stabilizer jacks can be used to level but this is so wrong. The stabilizer jacks are meant just for that- stabilizing. We learned that the hard way when we jacked them up so high that the wheels of our camper came off the ground and we ended up doing some damage to our travel trailer. We finally learned how to level the right way but had to replace our refrigerator and a door because of our mistake. Please learn from our experience so you dont have the same issues.

Our Travel Trailer Leveling Mistake That Cost Us a New Refrigerator

Turns out we have been pretty lucky so far and the campgrounds we have visited have all had fairly level campsites. We never thought about how we would level the camper if we had to- until WE HAD TO. We arrived close to dark, hungry, tired and ready to settle into our weekend. As we came around the corner and got the first sight of our home for the weekend, we were very happy. It was a large site along the lake and a pull thru which was a nice surprise. We got to work unhooking the hitch, putting the jacks down, hooking up the electric and water. I went inside to turn everything on and realized right away that that camper was so unlevel I felt like we would roll right out of bed at night. It really was so bad that I had trouble standing up. Okay, no worries we would just get it level with the jacks right?

The Completely Wrong Way to Level an RV

We went to work cranking the stabilizing jacks a million times trying to get the camper level. We got it somewhat level from front to back, but the back left was way too low, so we jacked that scissor jack up so much that the back tire left the ground. Success!! It was level enough that we didn’t feel like we were going to end up falling out of bed so that seemed good enough. It was really about comfort and not safety at that point, obviously.  The camper seemed stable enough, so all was good.

Incorrectly Leveling Our Travel Trailer Ruined Our Refrigerator

We went inside and tried to settle in. it really did not seem completely level, but we were tired and tried to ignore it. Plus, the refrigerator wasn’t working correctly so we needed to figure out what we were going to do about keeping the food from spoiling. Dangit! We just wanted to start our weekend fun. We wen back outside and adjusted the jacks one more time and decided to just be okay with how it was.

The weekend went well, and we did not roll out of bed, but the fridge never really worked correctly. I figured we would worry about that for the next trip.

As we were driving home, I thought I remembered reading something about refrigerators not working if the camper is not level, so I did a little research and realized how wrong we were in our approach to leveling our camper.

Turns out that a camper that is not level can cause damage to a refrigerator. RV fridges don’t use compressors but use a chemical reaction flowing sodium chromate through the pipes. If the camper is not level the chemicals can gather, pool and settle which can cause blockages and weaken the fridge in as little as a half an hour. Oh great!

The Correct Way to Level an RV

So now that we know what not to do, lets talk about how to properly level your camper so that you don’t do any damage.

First, when you arrive at your campsite check to see how level it is. If it is not at all level you might be better off asking if you can move. But there may come a day when you just have to take the uneven site and make it work. Leveling your RV is not hard, but you do need to be sure you have a few very important items with you. Go ahead and order these now and always have them with you. The last thing you want to do is arrive at a campground late to a site that is crooked and have no where to move and not tools to help you get level. I wish we had known about these things the weekend that we ruined our refrigerator.

ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE ITEMS FOR LEVELING YOUR CAMPER

I am very sorry for shouting but this is important……

Okay, first you need some leveling blocks. From what I have read the Tri-Lynx Leveling Blocks are the easiest to work with

You will also need a mounted level if your camper does not have one. Or to make things so much easier, we have the LevelMate Pro Leveling System. This system is amazing! You install it in your RV and then download an app that will tell you instantly how level you are. It will tell you in inches how much you need to go up or down and then use the leveling blocks. Each leveling block is an inch so it really does not get any easier than this!

Level Camper from Side to Side First

You need to level your camper from side to side while it is still hitched to your town vehicle. You will level front to back later.

If one side of your camper is lower than the other, place RV leveling blocks under the tires. These blocks allow you to raise your RV one inch at a time and are wide enough for your tires to sit on safely. If you use blocks that are too narrow, you risk damaging the belts on your tires. You can make a “ramp” in front of the tires on the downhill side and slowly pull up on them.

Leveling blocks under RV tires to help level RV one inch at a time.

Now Level Your RV from Front to Back

Once you have your camper level from side to side you will level from front to back. Before you do anything else chock your wheels to keep them from rolling. Then unhitch from your tow vehicle.

Use the front leveling tongue jack to level your camper, not the stabilizing scissor jacks. The stabilizer jacks are meant for just that- “stabilizing”. They will take some of the pressure off the trailers suspension and helps keep it from bouncing when you move around inside. Never extend them so much that your tires are off the ground. You run the risk of damaging your frame if you do.

Leveling with Blocks Takes a Little More Time But Worth It

I really wish we had taken the time to learn about how to properly level our travel trailer before we needed to know how to do it. I hope this helps you avoid the same mistake. Leveling with the blocks will take a couple of time to get used to but will keep you from buying a new refrigerator or worse.

More Info About How to Set Up and Hook Up Your Trailer At Campground

When we first started traveling with our trailer, we were so new that we had no idea how to hook up the electric, sewer lines and water the first time we arrived at a campground. If this is you too, I have written a step by step guide on exactly what to do: http://www.rvtravel101.com/how-to-hookup-rv-at-campground/

Happy Camping!

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