Many buyers believe that once you’ve taken the plunge and purchased a travel trailer, you’ve gotten the hard part out of the way.
While that’s true in a sense, your job is far from over. You’ll still have to learn how to level a travel trailer properly, even if you never take it out of your driveway.
When a travel trailer isn’t level, it can cause problems that are difficult to live with. Not only will you feel as if you’re living in a sinking ship, the appliances won’t run properly if the unit is sitting off-kilter.
Fortunately, leveling a travel trailer is fairly simple once you know what you’re doing. Here’s a primer to help you get started.
How To Level A Travel Trailer The Right Way
What You’ll Need
Before you make your first attempt, you should arm yourself with the following equipment:
- Sturdy blocks or a stand for your jack
- Tire chocks
- Leveling blocks or wedges (see Options For Side To Side Leveling, below
- RV bubble levels (these might be included on the exterior or interior of your rig)
- 4 wood scraps of uniform size and thickness
Whenever you head out on a camping expedition, make sure you bring all these things along. They should be the first things you pack before loading any other gear.
Check the owner’s manual and inspect the travel trailer to see if the bubble levels are included. If not, you’ll have to purchase them yourself at a home improvement or camping supply store.
The Leveling Procedures
1. Find A Suitable Spot To Park Your Camper.
It’s a good idea to practice at home before taking your new travel trailer on the road. For some, finding a spot that’s large and flat enough to accommodate the rig might be a challenge, but the knowledge you’ll gain will be worth the effort.
The good news? The spots you’ll find at most campgrounds and RV parks are fairly level to begin with, making your job that much easier. You might have to back the trailer in for prime positioning, so this is another technique you should practice at home.
When you’re positioning your RV for leveling, there are several factors to consider:
- Solar panels—If your travel trailer has solar panels installed on the roof, you’ll want to park in a spot that allows them to get as much direct sunlight as possible.
- Refrigeration—Conversely, try to keep the side that houses the refrigerator out of the sun. If this side gets too warm, the fridge will have to work that much harder to remain cool, especially in warmer climates.
- Visual Appeal—You bought a travel trailer so you could enjoy the great outdoors, so try to position it in a way that affords you a prime view.
- Neighbors—If you’re new to RVing, you should know that it’s considered taboo to park with your door facing a neighbor’s door. This is especially true if you’re boondocking (camping off the grid), where you have plenty of options when it comes to the positioning of your rig.
Obviously, it might not always be feasible to satisfy all these criteria at once. Think about your priorities before choosing a spot, and plan accordingly.
If you can’t find a spot that’s perfectly level, don’t worry. It’s still possible to level a camper on slightly uneven ground. Check out this video demonstration for tips.
Once you’ve chosen the perfect spot and positioned your camper accordingly, DON’T unhitch the trailer yet. The first stage of the leveling procedure (side-by-side leveling) has to be done while the trailer is still attached.
2. Leveling From Side To Side
If the levels aren’t already installed on your rig, test them on the tongue jack before finding spots for them on the front and side of the trailer. Alternatively, you can put one in your fridge, but you’ll have to run in and out of the camper frequently during the leveling process if you go this route. We’ve found that it’s far easier to keep them outside.
Use the levels to determine which side of the RV is lower. You’ll need to set up your leveling equipment on this side.
Options For Side To Side Leveling
As we mentioned earlier, you have two choices when it comes to this part of the leveling procedure.
The Wedge Method
Wedge systems are available at camping supply stores, as well as big-box outfits such as Walmart. Andersen is our preferred brand, but any similar product (usually branded as “levelers”) should work just fine.
Once you’ve identified the tires that need lifting, position the wedges in front of each one.
Next, get in your tow vehicle and slowly drive forward. It helps if you have a second person standing outside to tell you when to stop. If you’re performing the operation alone, it will take a lot longer, as you’ll have to keep stepping out of the vehicle to check on your progress.
It may also be necessary to pull backward slightly in order to correct your position. Having a partner makes this process go much more smoothly.
Once you’re satisfied that the trailer is level, you’ll need to chock the leveling wedges to ensure that they remain in place. It’s also a good idea to chock the tires on the other side, just in case. Even if the terrain appears to be flat, you should never assume that the trailer will remain in place at all times.
Now that the trailer is level and secure, it’s safe to unhitch.
The Block Method
To begin, place your leveling blocks in front of the tires on the lower side. They can also be placed behind the tires, depending on the positioning of the trailer. Use your judgment as to how many blocks you’ll need to even out the rig.
Drive your towing vehicle slowly forward (or backward, if the blocks are behind the tires) until your tires are sitting atop the blocks. Have your partner check to see if the trailer is level, or get out and check for yourself.
If the trailer isn’t level, you’ll have to either add more blocks or take some away to compensate. Drive off the blocks, adjust them as needed, and repeat the process until you’re level.
When you’re satisfied that the unit is level, chock the wheels on the opposite side and unhitch the trailer.
You don’t have to purchase any fancy equipment to use this method. It’s possible to create your own, using ordinary blocks of wood. This technique will work in a pinch, but store-bought blocks are more durable and reliable than the DIY versions.
Wedges Versus Blocks: Which Is Better?
In case you couldn’t tell from our instructions, we find the wedge method to be quicker and easier than the block method.
Even with the help of a second person, the block method usually involves a lengthy trial-and-error process. It usually takes three or four tries before the trailer is level, and don’t forget that you still have the front to back process to deal with. If you have a choice, go for wedge levelers over blocks.
3. Leveling From Front To Back
After unhitching the trailer, shore up your tongue jack by placing a block or stand underneath it. Alternatively, you can use a wheel dock, available at camping supply stores.
Place the level in the door of your camper so that the ends point to the front and back. Adjust the tongue jack as needed, lowering the camper until you’re level. If you don’t know how to do this, check the owner’s manual—it’s usually fairly simple.
Next, position your 4 wood scraps beneath the stabilizing jacks. If stabilizing jacks aren’t included with your travel trailer, you can substitute jack stands from an automotive supply store.
Carefully lower the jacks onto the wood scraps until they’re positioned firmly.
When your travel trailer has been leveled from side to side and front to back, you’re good to go! The process isn’t difficult, just slightly time-consuming. The more you practice, the easier it will be in the long run.
Best of luck, and happy camping!