On the Level
Longer, heavier chassis have given RVs increased carrying capacity and more living space, with multiple slideouts and full-wall slides even bath-and-a-halfs! New engine and transmission offerings in tow vehicles have increased towing capabilities, allowing RVers with towables to demand similar upgrades.
All these creature comforts require proper leveling and stabilization to deliver the promised benefits and prevent damage to the RV’s structure. A level, stable RV is also infinitely more comfortable to live in.
Types of Leveling Systems
An RV’s leveling system may be an integral part of the coach manufacturer’s design, and is based on the type, length and weight of your RV. The leveling needs of a popup camper are very different from those of a Class A motorhome.
High-end Class A diesel-powered motorhomes and bus conversions often come with a combination “air bag” suspension/ leveling system that provide a comfortable ride on the road and RV leveling on your site. Leveling with an air bag system is completely automatic, with air bags at the front and rear inflated or deflated as needed to level the coach. Most air bag suspension/leveling systems automatically check and re-level the motorhome periodically, using an onboard electric compressor. These dual-purpose systems also help reduce weight by eliminating the need for hydraulic jacks.
Many moderately priced Class A motorhomes come with a manufacturer-installed hydraulic leveling system. Some RVs have a combination leveling and slideout system that uses the same hydraulic fluid pump and reservoir for leveling and slideout extension. Hydraulic leveling systems use a combination of jacks and a hydraulic pump is used to transfer fluid from the reservoir to the jacks to lift and level the RV. There are three types of hydraulic jacks: the straight-acting jack that extends downward for leveling, the kick-down jack that stores horizontally for travel and kicks down and extends for leveling and the telescopic jack that uses two concentric straight-acting tubes. Kick-down jacks are ideal for lower-profile vehicles such as some Class C motorhomes, where space is at a premium above the chassis frame. The telescopic jack is a new innovation that provides the smaller storage advantage of the kick-down and the greater stability of the straight-acting jack systems.
RVers usually have a choice of automatic, semiautomatic or manual hydraulic leveler controls. The automatic model uses a computer-controlled sensing device to automatically actuate all four jacks to lift and level the RV. Manual and semi-automatic controls require the operator to actuate the jacks needed to level the RV.
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