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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Difference between (and Necessity of) RV Stabilizing Jacks and Leveling Jacks


Anyone who has ever been camping in an RV has been there. Anyone who owns one has certainly been there. You pull up to your campsite, or to a location you’d like to camp at and park the rig. It shouldn’t take you much more than a few seconds to notice if the trailer or the camper is not level.

Let’s face it. The world, in general, is not level. There are more sloped grades out there than you could possibly number, and they’re tied to the enjoyment of camping. After all, the purpose of camping isn’t to find a large blacktop surface and hang out for a couple of days. It’s to get out there.

With that in mind, “out there” is made up of wilderness, and wilderness has slopes and grades. Now, when you’re backpacking and really roughing it, tolerating a night on a slope is no big deal. In fact, in a way, it sort of makes the whole experience that much better. The imperfections in the land bring you closer to nature.

This is not the case with an RV. Allowing your RV to rest on a surface that is not level is not the only problem you can have in camp, but it is one that will need to be addressed immediately. Before you can really enjoy your camping experience, you need to see that some of the following problems are addressed. 

The Problems 

So you pull up to a campsite or you get off the grid and stop on a gentle incline. Gentle or not, you could experience some serious problems if you allow your RV to rest on a surface that is not level for a prolonged period of time.

The first problem you’ll experience is, luckily, one that won’t incur any permanent damage to your RV or infrastructure. It’s just generally uncomfortable when you’re living on a slant. Think about it; there’s a reason that homes are built on level floors. People just aren’t made to roll around!

Comfort alone is not the only reason that an RV must not be allowed to remain on an off-level surface when at rest. There’s also the fact that your RV is a bit like a mobile home in the sense that it has furniture and accessories stored within it and throughout the closets and cabinets.

Similar to how airlines and bussing companies tell you to be careful when retrieving luggage after a trip because it could have shifted in transit, the same can occur to the items in your RV when it is off level. Imagine opening a cupboard only to have the contents clatter past you and onto the floor. That wouldn’t happen on a level surface!

So now we’re getting into what the issue is here; that being on an uneven surface for too long can result in damage, but this is just the beginning of the picture. This may be something of an esoteric fact, but believe it or not, you can actually cause permanent damage to your fridge if you store your RV on an uneven surface for too long. Anything more than a few degrees of incline can cause this damage.

Depending on the type of RV fridge you have, if it is operated on an uneven surface, water and ammonia can gather in the low areas of the lines. When this happens, the fridge will stop working. This is a best-case scenario, although the damage would probably be irreversible. In some instances, the fridge would not only fail but might also present a fire risk.

While you can cause permanent damage to your RV’s fridge if you operate it off of a level surface, that isn’t the only damage that you can incur. You’ll also have to be cognizant of the fact that allowing your RV to stay at rest in a slanted attitude puts a lot of stress on the frame and structure.

Much like buildings, RVs aren’t designed to rest off-level. It stresses a wide range of internal components of your RV when you park it on an uneven surface or a grade. In addition to the actual frame of the vehicle, you can cause damage to windows, door frames, internal fixtures, and even plumbing.

Finally, though this is more of an annoyance than a concern of permanent damage, camping with your RV off of a level surface has the potential to cause inaccurate fuel readings. That’s one final afterthought for you.

Now, accounting for all of that, there is a unique issue that some RVs face even when they are on level ground. Consider the following issue and reflect on whether or not you have ever experienced it.

Let’s say you’ve reached your intended campground and set up shop. You’re on level ground, so everything appears to be going by swimmingly. The only issue is that as you move around in the RV, it’s either swaying front to back or side to side. This is a pretty common issue encountered by RV’ers when their RV hasn’t been stabilized.

Moving around inside the RV, or just shifting the contents within, can cause an RV to sway or rock. This, however, is a separate issue from resting your RV on ground that isn’t level, and so has a separate solution.

The Solutions 

As you can see, there is no single issue here. Even when your RV has been parked and set up on level ground, you might still experience issues related to stability. That being said, you’re going to need an RV leveling system to solve one problem and a stabilizing system, like RV stabilizerjacks, for the other. While some leveling systems can be used to stabilize the RV, the opposite is not true and RV stabilizing jacks should never be used in an attempt to level an RV.

Let’s start with leveling. It has already been shown why this is a necessity in some situations, and there are a variety of ways in which you can solve the problem of being on a grade. Some RVs are built with a level system, which means you don't need supplementary levelers or supports. For the rest of us, there are a variety of other solutions.

The most basic solution for leveling an RV probably comes from leveling blocks, which can be used to provide a more stable and level surface for an RV. These are decidedly more low-tech than crank-handle jacks and other hydraulic levelers, but on the flip side, they’re easy to use, require no maintenance, and can never break down or need to be fixed. They’re the ultimate form of cost-effective, dependable leveling, even if they’re not as easy to use as some jacks.

In addition to these basic levelers, there are, of course, hydraulic jacks that, when coupled with a jack pad, can bring your RV back to level in short order, and easily at that. Though Bigfoot Hydraulic Jacks and Equalizer Hydraulic Jacks are more expensive than basic levelers, many of them have very adequate weight capacities and are also easy to use.

Now, leveling systems like these can bring your RV back to level and should serve to stabilize it. If you’re dealing with an issue of sway, when you might not need a leveling system but you’ll still need to bring along or install RV stabilizers or RV stabilizing jacks.

Whereas levelers provide both functions, RV stabilizers are solely intended to help the RV better respond to the movement within it so it is more secure on a level surface and doesn’t rock, sway or shift.

For the most part, the easiest and most approachable way to stabilize your RV is by utilizing stabilizing jacks. Here at RV Upgrades, we sell a number of different stabilizing jacks and tongue jacks, all of which can be used to stabilize your RV, provided they are rated appropriately and used with the proper associated equipment, such as jack pads.

Why Your RV Should Be Stabilized 

By the way, we went on at length about why your RV should be leveled but didn’t allocate an uncommon measure of reason to the matter of stability. While the need to stabilize your RV is not as imperative as your need to level it, it should be stabilized nonetheless, especially if it is subject to a lot of movement when parked.

If you don’t use stabilizing jacks, just like if you don’t use levelers, the first area of camping that’s going to take a hit is comfort. It’s not something you can’t learn to live with, but as you move around inside the RV it will sway and bounce. It’s a little unsettling and it can be prevented.

Then again, as you might expect, there is a much more material reason for the use of RV stabilizers, and just like leveling, it has to do with preventing damage to the RV’s structure and internals. Stabilizing your RV using a set of stabilizers, whether you use the RV’s inherent leveling system, a series of jacks, or even slide-out levelers, can help prevent damage to the structure of the RV. When used to their fullest effect, both levelers and stabilizing jacks can help alleviate wear and tear on your RV.

Just as we offer a large range of levelers and leveling accessories, we provide plenty of equipment for stabilizing your RV, including but not limited to tongue jacks, stabilizing scissor jacks, and much more. 

Why You Can’t Use RV Levelers and RV Stabilizing Jacks Interchangeably 

One thing that needs to be mentioned here is that RV stabilizing jacks and leveling jacks cannot be used interchangeably. As we have stated, some leveling jacks and other systems can be used both for stabilizing and leveling your RV, but the opposite situation is not true.

Stabilizing jacks cannot be and must never be used as leveling jacks. This is because whereas levelers are designed to shoulder the weight of the RV, stabilizers are not. RV jacks that are intended to be used as stabilizers don’t support the entire weight of the RV, just enough of it so that the RV or the camper doesn’t sway or rock back and forth.

Using a stabilizer as a leveler is a potentially dangerous situation and should be avoided entirely. With that being said, if you purchase an adequate set of levelers, these can potentially solve both problems for you. 

What Can You Do About It 

If yours is one of those that doesn’t come with a leveling system, then you’ll probably be looking for a solution like a set of leveling scissor jacks or a set of stabilizers or potentially even both, that way you’re prepared in any situation.

Just by bringing along a set of stabilizers or levelers to help you get your rig steady fast, you’ll be protecting your investment and making the most of your time on the road and in camp. Since you can’t use them interchangeably and a good series of levelers have the potential to provide the benefits of both, that may be the way to go. Just get in touch with us for additional information! 

Get in Touch with Us for Help 

Whether your unique situation would be best remedied with a set of distinct levelers and stabilizers or you should just get a set of levelers is up for debate, but if you need the input of those with experience we are never more than a call away.

Just give us a call anytime you want to learn more and we’ll fill you in. Plus, if you aren’t sure which direction to take or even which type of levelers or stabilizers will serve you best, we’d be happy to help you get to the bottom of it.

You can reach us via live chat on our website, but if you prefer the personal touch of a phone call just give us a ring at 866-332-7881. Let us know about your RV or your camper trailer, your budgetary concerns, and more and we’ll help you figure out what you should choose!

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