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How To Stabilize Your RV

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When you get to an RV park or campground, one of your first steps requires knowing how to stabilize your RV. Properly stabilized, your recreational vehicle won’t sway back and forth when the kids jump around inside after too much sugary dessert. 

Travel trailers are stabilized using jacks, fifth wheels utilize what’s called landing gear, and many motorhomes are equipped with leveling systems that both level and stabilize your RV. 

Remember, stabilizing jacks and landing gear are NOT meant for leveling your RV. Leveling an RV must be completed before stabilizing your RV and requires leveling blocks and the proper orientation of your tongue jack. 

So, before you learn how to stabilize your RV, watch this quick video on how to level your RV first. 

How to Level Your RV Right the First Time

Leveling your RV ensures your RV refrigerator and other sensitive appliances function properly throughout your stay. It’s your first step at a new campground, whether you’re traveling in a travel trailer, fifth wheel, or motorhome. 

How to Stabilize Your Travel Trailer

tt-how-to-stabilize-your-rv-10-2022 Photo by Camping World

After you’ve leveled your travel trailer, it’s time to stabilize it. For those of you with travel trailers, here are your basic steps to stabilize your RV: 

Ensure your wheel chocks are secure in the front and back of your trailer tires before disconnecting from your tow vehicle. Place jack pads underneath your stabilizing jacks. They provide a flat surface for your jacks to rest on rather than allowing them to sink or shift when they touch the ground.  Find your crank handle or utilize a socket adapter attached to a cordless drill (for manual jacks). Locate the Extend/Retract button on your unit (for power jacks).   Extend each jack until it makes contact with the jack pad below. Do not overextend.  Go back around to each jack to ensure it’s resting firmly so the pad cannot be moved. Proceed to extend any RV slideouts and set up the rest of your camp. 

If you’re camping for multiple days, check your RV stabilizer jacks after the first night. Things can shift and settle as you walk around inside, so you may need to extend them slightly further to stabilize your RV. 

How to Stabilize Your Fifth Wheel

5th-wheel-how-to-stabilize-your-rv-10-2022 Photo by Camping World

Hitching and detaching a fifth wheel RV is slightly different from a travel trailer. If you’re new to this practice, download this fifth wheel hitch checklist to ensure you don’t make the most common mistake that new fifth wheel owners make.

The landing gear on your fifth wheel will need to be extended to detach your unit from your tow vehicle. Fortunately, that landing gear is also what’s going to keep your trailer stable once your tow vehicle is detached. 

You’ll need to lower that landing gear onto leveling blocks to level your unit after lowering your tailgate and pulling your tow vehicle away. Fifth wheels offer both manual and electric landing gear, so consult your owner’s manual for proper operating instructions for your unit. 

Use a level on the floor inside your unit to find a level from front to back and left to right. After your fifth wheel is level, your final step to stabilize it is installing your heavy duty king pin stabilizer

How to Stabilize Your Motorhome

motorhome-how-to-stabilize-your-rv-10-2022 Photo by Voyagerix via Shutterstock

Motorhomes are different because they naturally have four tires that provide more stability than single or even dual-axle trailers. But they can still be stabilized using onboard leveling systems. 

Most motorhomes still need to be driven up onto leveling blocks to get closer to level before extending jacks. But, if your motorhome is equipped with them, hydraulic leveling jacks ARE meant to help you level your RV with the touch of a button. 

In doing so, you’ll be stabilizing your RV simultaneously. Just remember that your RV’s hydraulic jacks should never be extended to the point that your tires come completely off the ground. Doing so reduces your RV’s stability and places too much stress on the jacks. 

Tip: Most motorhomes require the parking brake to be set before operating the leveling system. Consult your owner’s manual for more detailed operating instructions to ensure the safety and stability of your motorhome. 

Whether you’re utilizing scissor jacks, landing gear, or an auto leveling system, proper operation is vital to their health and your RV’s health. With these instructions in mind, you should be able to stabilize your RV so it isn’t rocking when you walk around inside.  

Do you have any additional questions about stabilizing your specific RV? Leave a comment below and we’ll answer as soon as possible!


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