The ground never looks crooked until you try to sleep on it. If you don’t know how to level your fifth wheel properly, you’re in for many sleepless nights—or worse.
Repeatedly parking on uneven ground can destroy your RV refrigerator, since this appliance needs a relatively level surface to safely operate. But don’t worry, as long as you have stabilizing jacks, blocks, and landing legs, you can enjoy a comfortable level camping experience. Here’s how we do it in four easy steps.
How to level your fifth wheel
Shorter fifth wheels don’t seem to have as much of an issue when it comes to uneven campsites. At least that’s from my experience. For example, we never used leveling blocks during the seven years we owned a 24′ fifth wheel.
Crooked campsites just didn’t bother us that much. But when we upgraded to a 27-foot rig, everything changed. Today, if a parking apron is slightly uneven, we certainly feel it in our longer and wider RV. Moving to a bigger rig forced us to step up our game in order to enjoy restful nights and a properly working RV refrigerator. It only takes a few extra minutes.
Step 1: Find a level campsite
Checking for levelness seems obvious, but it’s often one of the first things we forget about when we’re tired. Before detaching the fifth wheel we do our best to see if the spot is (or isn’t) level. The exterior bubble levels on the RV are a first point of reference but we also step inside and place a carpenter’s level on the kitchen table.
Sometimes we’ll even remember to use the leveling app that came with our smartphone. If we think the site will work with some fine-tuning, we’ll proceed.
Step 2: Level from side-to-side while still hitched
Before detaching the rig from the tow vehicle, we’ll level the fifth wheel from side-to-side by maneuvering the entire rig around as much as possible.
Step 3: Raise the low side with leveling blocks
While still hitched up, we place RV leveling blocks underneath the tires on the downhill side of the trailer.
We simply use store-bought leveling blocks. They’re much easier than carrying around bulky homemade leveling blocks. They also allow us to raise our RV using measurable one-inch increments. Levelers are wide enough for most RV trailer tires.
Once the blocks are placed directly in front of the trailer tires, we’ll we slowly pull forward and onto them. Next, we’ll level from front to back.
Step 4: Use fifth wheel leveling jacks
Once our fifth wheel is parked on the blocks, we chock our wheels and unhitch. Our next move is to level from front to back, which we accomplish by raising or lowering our RV’s front leveling jack(s).
Once that’s done, we’ll extend the rear stabilizing jacks just enough to prevent rocking. But we don’t crank down too hard since our only goal in this last step is to take some weight off the trailer suspension in order to minimize interior bounce. When we’re camped on a soft surface like dirt, we’ll place blocks underneath the jacks for additional stabilization.
Once you learn how to level your fifth wheel it soon becomes second nature. As long as you can remember to stay hitched up before checking for evenness, you too can enjoy level campsites, restful nights, and a safely operating refrigerator wherever you go.
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Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.