Tempting as it might be to just park up, put your wheel chocks in place and kick back with a cold one, there’s more to be done.
RV stabilizer jacks are key to making sure your RV is safe to occupy. Luckily they are quick and painless to use.
Take a few minutes to get them in place and then you can relax to your heart’s content. In fact, you’ll probably feel more relaxed knowing that your RV isn't going to tip at the first gust of wind.
Leveling Vs Stabilizing
Leveling and stabilizing are two important processes you need to do when you park up your RV. However, they are different processes and need to be completed separately.
Leveling is when you make sure your RV is on level ground front to back and side to side.
If your RV isn’t leveled, the internal systems and functions won’t work. They have safety features which stop them from being used if the RV is on uneven ground.
If you’re lucky enough to have a high end RV, you probably have an automatic leveling feature. This means that a simple push of a button is all it takes to get your RV flat.
The button tends to activate hydraulic lifts or jacks which right your RV. These jacks are not the same as stabilizing jacks.
If you don’t have a leveling button, then you have to do it the old fashioned way. This can include placing leveling blocks like these Camco blocks under your wheels. They pad out the uneven surfaces providing a flat, firm surface for your RV.
Stabilizing is a different kettle of fish.
The aim of stabilizing is to make sure the RV is supported so that winds and walking around inside won’t unbalance it.
Stabilizing jacks are normally built into the frame of your RV at each corner. If you have a cheaper model, you may not have pre installed stabilizers. You can get them fitted at a cost.
The stabilizing jacks extend down from the corners when you park up and basically act as legs for each corner.
Let’s be honest, the wheels are great and all, but they’re generally located in the middle and sides of the RV. If a lot of weight or force is applied to the corners of your RV it will bounce. The wheels don’t support the corners enough to prevent this.
Types of Stabilizing Jacks
There are two types of stabilizing jacks, automatic and manual.
Automatic jacks are found in newer and high end models. They extend at the press of a button.
Manual stabilizing jacks require a little bit more input from you. Don’t worry though, it’s not too difficult a task.
Using Manual Stabilizing Jacks
Follow these simple steps to get your RV stabilized in no time at all.
Park, level and chock your RV before attempting to use the stabilizing legs.
Use the hand crank that was supplied with your stabilizers. Fit it to the crankshaft.
Crank until the stabilizers touch the floor (or leveling block).
Repeat for each jack.
See? It really is a simple process. You can make it even easier by using a cordless drill with an appropriate head. Then it’s as simple as pulling the trigger.
One important thing you need to remember is that you shouldn’t over extend the jacks. Trying to drive the jacks into the ground might seem like a safer option but it will actually cause more harm.
Pushing the jacks into the ground can damage the crank mechanism and knock your leveling off. Once the foot touches the ground it’s done.
You don’t have to use stabilizer pads but they are handy in certain situations.
Stabilizer pads are made from hard plastic and can be placed between the jack foot and the ground. We personally use the same Camco Leveling Blocks from above to put our stabilizers on.
If you park up on soft ground, stabilizer pads can stop your jack feet from sinking into the mud. This not only keeps them clean, but saves you having to dig them up when you leave.
It also provides a firmer, more stable base for your stabilizers. Especially on slick or slippery surfaces.
When it comes time to leave, you need to retract your stabilizer jacks. You should never drive with your stabilizers extended. They will damage your RV if they catch or grind on the road.
Also, they can destabilize your whole rig if they hit or bump something as you drive. This can result in the RV jackknifing or rolling. It's just all-round bad news really.
Make sure you retract the stabilizers before removing the chocks and leveling kit. You do not want to be hanging around the back of an unsecured RV.
Buying RV Stabilizers
Your RV may not have built in stabilizers. This is not an issue, but you should buy some stabilizing jacks.
You can buy jacks which can be fitted to the frame or you can buy free standing jacks which fit under the RV.
Freestanding jacks tend to be cheaper because you don’t need to get the professionally fitted.
When buying stabilizer jacks, make sure you know the weight and measurements of your RV. Jacks have a load capacity that should not be exceeded. You will also need to make sure that the feet of the jack are the right size for your frame.
Some stabilizing jacks are marketed as having leveling capabilities. These tend to be stronger so that they can take the strain of the RV to level it off.
You should only use stabilizer jacks to level if they are designed to do so.
When using normal stabilizer jacks, you need to be careful not to over extend the jack. This can knock your leveling off. If the jack is not designed to level, then it may break or damage your RV.
Hopefully you now see why it’s important to use stabilizing jacks. It won’t take you very long, especially if you use a drill to extend them!
Once they’re extended you can relax with your beer and not have to worry about wearing your drink if the wind blows!