Remember the good ol’ days when setting up camp consisted of stacking an assortment of wood blocks and planks under your wheels and driving up on them to get level? Then you had to go inside and look at a bubble level in the freezer (the most important spot to determine degree of level). Then repeat the process until the little bubble fit completely inside the ring of the bubble level.
One of the biggest “helpers” to the necessary leveling process today that Class A motorhome owners have is a good leveler system. At the push of a button or two, their rig is soon leveled up and stable, ready for an overnight, or weeks, without fussing with blocks, jacks, and the in-and-out of the cab that other RV owners are accustomed to.
But here’s a question that sometimes pops up: When leveling, is it OK to get a wheel or wheels off the ground? It’s another one of those loaded questions, with people lining up across the fire pit, shootin’ irons ready to blaze.
What creates the controversy? It’s often a matter of, “I’ve been RVing for years, and I’ve had one or more tires off the ground and never had a problem.” Of course, there are plenty of other RVers who bring their own stories to the table. “I have spring-type jacks and once did lift the rear (one side) off the ground while leveling. My motorhome rolled backward at least two feet. Since I had my hand on the control, I released the jack and luckily suffered no damage, but it scared the stuffing out of me.”
Stuffing stories aside, there are valid concerns about raising your motorhome tires off the ground. There is admittedly a bit less stability without tire contact, maybe that’s not an issue for you, particularly if you have your “sea legs.” On the other hand. improper lifting can adversely affect frame and coach dynamics. Can you imagine having your rig’s windshield “popping out”? It has happened.
There are other concerns. For example, if your coach leveling system kicks down and retracts to the rear if your rear wheels are off the ground, and if for some reason your coach loses stability, you can fall forward “off the jacks,” or even backward, mashing the jacks in the process.
WHAT ABOUT PARKING STABILITY? If your rig’s parking brake is based on locking up the rear wheel, jack up the rear wheel and you may lose your braking ability altogether. Having a single rear wheel in contact with the ground won’t necessarily guarantee a safe “parking brake” situation. Add a bit of ground unevenness, and you can imagine your coach sliding off the levelers with unwelcome consequences.
One RVer suggests to those who would wonder if they could safely get a wheel or more off the ground consider three factors. First, what does the leveler manufacturer say? Do they rule out taking a wheel off the ground? Next, what does the motorhome manufacturer dictate on the same question? Finally, what about the issue of the parking brake, as we’ve already talked about?
Sure, there are plenty of RVers who will say, “Sure, the manufacturer says don’t take a wheel off the ground, but they’re just covering their posteriors.” Maybe so, but how badly will you scrape your posterior if you take that wheel off the ground and your rig slips?