How to Level a Motorhome with Hydraulic Jacks

Part of an enjoyable RV experience is making sure that everything goes smoothly. A large part of that is keeping your motorhome level during times of staying put. It’s very import to understand, and even practice, leveling your motorhome to reduce the chances of problems down the road. If you have a propane refrigeration system, keeping your RV level will ensure proper functioning. You also won’t have to worry about that swinging door banging your leg or face in the middle of the night. You’ll even sleep better! But is it hard to level a motorhome? Is this something that someone can do by themselves, or is it something that requires a whole team to get the job done?

Quick Answer

Using hydraulic jacks, leveling your motorhome can be done safely and easily.  Proper equipment is necessary, though, so be sure to have at least four hydraulic jacks. If your motorhome is towable, be sure to include wheel chocks into your inventory. Following steps in a sequential order is important as well, as skipping steps could result in mechanical errors, injury or even death. Leveling can be performed using both manual and automatic methods. Below is the basic breakdown for manual leveling using hydraulic jacks:

  • Start by leveling from side-to-side
  • Follow by leveling front-to-back
  • Check sides and lights for unevenness
  • Deploy last hydraulic jack for stability
  • Check lights again before shutting system off.

Being able to automatically level your motorhome makes this process faster and easier. Typical systems require only turning it on and pressing “auto-level”.  After leveling is complete, the system can be turned off.

Let’s take a deeper dive into both the prep work needed beforehand, as well as the steps to perform both manual and automatic motorhome leveling.

Steps to Level a Motorhome with Hydraulic Jacks

If you’re new to leveling your motorhome, don’t worry. Thanks to those who have gone before, us, these steps and guidelines will help give you the confidence to perform this necessary step over and over again, whenever adventure calls.

Safety First – Laying the Foundation

Just like your PE teacher went over the rules before you got to play dodge ball, your teacher went over the rules for your research paper, or your boss went over the ins and outs before letting you operate that fork lift, it’s important to prioritize doing a job safely.  Make sure you have everything you need before you get started. The owner’s manual can help determine all the supplies necessary for leveling your motorhome. Your safety, as well as the safety of those around you, is of the upmost importance.  Here are some things to keep in mind before you begin leveling your motorhome:

  • Make sure the area surrounding your motorhome is clear of any children or pets. While they may be curious as to what’s going on, innocent distractions can result in mistakes, which can lead to dangerous outcomes.
  • Survey your area and see that you are parked in the most level place possible.
  • If you have a motorhome that is motorized, be sure the parking brake is activated. Also, check that your transmission is either parked or in neutral.
  • If your motorhome has airbags, make sure they are completely lowered.
  • Inspect the locations where the jacks will be deployed. Is there debris or anything obstructive? Be sure to clear it out of the way.
  • Wet weather can make the ground difficult to work with; if the ground is softer than ideal, you can use jack pads, also known as loading blocks. Place these underneath your jack to help keep the jack from sinking into the ground, throwing off your whole leveling process.
  • If you have slide-outs, your manufacturer may recommend that they be extended before leveling.
  • If you have a diesel pusher you will want to make sure your motorhome’s front wheels are straight. This helps to ensure the tires don’t damage any body work as the airbags are lowered.
  • Lastly, remember that all tires should never be lifted off the ground completely. This can create an unstable and dangerous situation.

Alright, you have everything you need and are ready to start leveling! Now, are you going to go the manual route or the automatic? Let’s explore what they both entail:

Manual Process to Level a Motorhome

It’s true, automatic makes things so much better. But, if you or someone you know ever had a system failure or needed a recalibration, it’s good to know how to manually level your motorhome.  Remember all safety precautions during the leveling process. Let’s get started:

Step 1: Locate your Motorhome Leveling System – If your motorhome only has three jacks, check with your owner’s manual as the instructions may differ.

Step 2: Turn the Key to the “Accessory” position – This gives power to the leveling system. If your jacks are stowed, the “Travel Mode” light will turn on.

Step 3: Turn on the Leveling System – Under most circumstances, this is done by pressing the button on the top left corner. In many cases, pressing the bottom a second time will initiate the automatic system. If your motorhome does not have an automatic system, a diagram on the right side will help you. You will notice “up” and “down” arrows for each side and corner of the motorhome. Imagine looking at your motorhome from above.

Note: If you notice one or two lights that are on, this indicates the sides of the motorhome that are low. These will need to be raised in order to be level.

Step 4: Level Side-by-Side – You’ll want to start by leveling your sides first. Simply press the “up” arrow on the side where the light is on. Once the hydraulic jacks are deployed, you will see a red light appear on the side that you are leveling. This means that the jacks are being used and are no longer being “stowed”. Hold the button until the yellow light disappears; this indicates that side is now level side-to-side.

Step 5: Follow by Leveling Front-to-Back – press and hold the “up” arrow on the low side of the motorhome. You may notice the red jack light in one corner. You must continue to press the “up” arrow button until the red jack light on the other side appears. Then, the jacks will work together to raise the motorhome until the yellow “low” light disappears. Once the yellow light disappears, your motorhome is level from front to back.

Step 6: Check All Sides – It’s not uncommon for one side to light up as you level your motorhome from front to back. Simply press the “up” arrow on the low side until the light disappears.

Step 7: Deploy the Last Jack- only three jacks are typically needed to level your motorhome, however it is best practice to have all four jacks deployed to help stabilize your RV. Go ahead and deploy the last jack until you feel the jack begin to lift the motorhome.

Step 8: Check Lights – Double check to make sure that there are no yellow “low” lights that are turned on. Once your motorhome is level, you may turn off your leveling system and eject the key from the ignition. You’re all done!

Automatic Process to Level a Motorhome

Automatic leveling is as easy as 1-2-3. Below are the steps needed to automatically level your motorhome:

Step 1: Turn Leveling System On – This is done by pressing the “On” button. If your system comes with a display screen, you may see a message that states, “Not Level. Jacks: Up”.

Step 2: Level front-to-back – Push and hold the “Front” button, deploying the front jacks. If your motorhome is towable, this will lift the front while taking the weight off of the hitch of the tow vehicle.

                Step 3: Detach from Towing Vehicle – Once the front is lifted to the acceptable height, uncouple all connections from the tow vehicle. If you notice an orange light appear on any side of the system, this means that the motorhome is not level on that side and needs to be raised.

Step 4: Relocate Towing Vehicle – Drive the tow vehicle to another location, or at least far enough away from the motorhome to help assist the remainder of the leveling process.

Step 5: Press “Auto Level” button – If the leveling system is still turned on, press the “Auto Level” button on the control panel. This will initiate the jacks to begin the leveling process, starting from front-to-back. The motorhome will then be leveled from side-to-side. Several leveling checks will be completed during this process; simply relax and enjoy the show!

Step 6: Process Complete – Once the automatic leveling system is complete, the display screen may state, “Ready. Jacks: Down.”

Step 7: Turn Leveling System Off – Once you see the green light in the center of the direction buttons, you may turn the automatic leveling system off. They system may time out and turn off automatically if left alone after a certain period of time.

You see, leveling your motorhome is not as hard as you might think. All it takes is a little knowledge of the whereabouts of the systems, as well as basic safety concepts, and you’re good to go!

Maintenance: Keeping Leveling Jacks in Peak Condition

“If you take care of your things, they will take care of you.” How many times have you heard that growing up? Well, it’s true. Just as it’s important to keep your motorhome’s oil changed, tires rotated, and battery charged, taking care of the hydraulic jacks is essential.

Pumps: Make sure to retract the pump and piston when putting into storage. This takes strain off of the system, making it easier to use next time.

Storage: Store jacks on their base only; never on their side. This helps prevents potential leaks

Dust: Reduce dust and moisture exposure whenever possible. This will help keep clogs at bay.

Leaks: Inspect your jacks regularly. If any cracks or leaks are noted, make an effort to get the jacks repaired right away.

Clean: Clean your hydraulic jacks after each use. This will help keep dust attraction to a minimum.

Air bleeding: Change the oil in your jacks every now and then. Afterwards, it’s important to “bleed” any remaining air out. To do this, twist the pump rod counter clockwise. Then, pump the jack. Repeat about 30 times. Twist rod back into clockwise direction and pump jack as possible before releasing it. The air “bleeding” process is now finished.

Oil: Check oil levels; fill only when rod moves with difficulty. Make sure you fill the correct side, and in the correct spot. Don’t overfill the area; fill to the line and stop.

Ways to Make Leveling Easier

By far the easiest way to level your motorhome would be to use the automatic leveling system. However, if your motorhome doesn’t have one of those fancy devices, using these can help make leveling a breeze:

  • Stabilizers: pads, blocks, chocks, or anything designed to help keep your motorhome in place will make life better as you enjoy your RV experience.
  • Making sure the surrounding area is free of distractions and obstacles will provide peace of mind and an easier leveling experience.

We now live in the digital age, where information is everywhere and easily accessible. If you are more of a visual person and learn better from watching other people do things, there are plenty of YouTube videos that can help explain the processes, as well as give you visuals of what they’re talking about as they explain.

Best Leveling Jacks to Use

There are many different jacks that can be used to provide stability to your motorhome. Many of these may be found at hardware or RV retail stores, but some may only be found online. Based on research and company review, below are some of the best and why:

Libra Set of 2 RV Scissor Jacks: These have a wide bow-tie base, providing extra stability while leveling. They can adjust their heights up to 24”. They also come with a power drill. This can help making adjusting your jacks quicker.

Camco Olympian Aluminum Stack Jacks: Tthese jacks have a square base frame. They can hold up to 6,000 pounds, which helps when you have an oversized motorhome. The material is very durable and has a long lifespan, ideal for years of RV trips and adventures.

Lippert Components Power Gear Leveling Jack: This jack has a simple installation process, can lift up to 8,000 pounds, and has a hydraulic component.

Wrap Up: In summary, traveling by motorhome can be an exciting and memorable way to spend time with loved ones and the great outdoors. Thanks to hydraulic jacks, as well as both manual and automatic leveling systems, you will never have to worry about your motorhome being unstable or uneven again. Happy trails!

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