So, you and your partner finally decided to go on that RV trip you have been dreaming of and planning for months. Or maybe the two of you just agreed to live in an RV full-time. You did your research, and now you’ve bought a sweet rig for a reasonable price, have pimped it out, customized the hell out of it, and revamped the interior so that it would match your needs. Just as you begin to spend more and more time in your RV, you noticed that it shakes, rocks, and wiggles with every move you make. Now, this is a big problem, especially during the middle of the night ?.
How do you keep your RV from rocking? To be more specific, how do you keep your RV from rocking when it’s not supposed to. The answer to that is by using stabilizing jacks or a combination of leveling and stabilizing tools that would counter your movements, no matter where it originated inside your RV.
You must level your RV first before you stabilize – that is the rule. This will ensure that your RV’s fridge will work properly, your cabinet doors and drawers won’t swing open all the time, and you and your partner won’t feel like you’re going to fall off the bed as you sleep. This article will tackle some of the reasons why your rig might be doing the shake, rock, and wiggle dance, the primary solutions that most campers use, and some additional solutions if the basic solutions don’t work.
A Brief Intro As To Why An RV Rock (But Not In A Good Way)
Basically, all RV homes are built to rock, and the longer an RV is, the more it is bound to do the shake and wiggle dance. This shake, rock, or wiggle (whatever you want to call it) is mainly due to the fact that your RV is essentially a home on wheels that uses flexible spring suspension, much like the suspensions you see on your trucks and other vehicles. This flexible suspension makes your drive smooth, but it also causes your RV to shake when someone is moving around inside when you’re parked.
You Can Stop The Rocking Baby!
First of all, you can breathe easy because we are not going to be talking about “that” kind of rocking. However, if that kind of rocking is part of your problem, then some of the solutions discussed here may provide some solution.?
Shake It A Baby Now: Reasons Why Your Rig Shake
There is a long list of reasons why your RV is shaking in the middle of the night, even when it’s parked. It may be a late-night visit to the bathroom or a midnight snack kitchen visit (or that reason you are thinking). There is no need to get your panties in a twist because 90% of the time, the problems can be easily fixed. Check the reasons below and see if it coincides with your problem.
Check Your Tires, Your RV Tires.
Lugs that are not screwed on tightly may cause the forward and backward movement you feel while having a tire with not enough pressure will cause an up and down motion. If your tires are under-inflated, there won’t be enough pressure on your tires to counter your RV’s up and down movements. You’ll be basically engaging your springy suspensions every time you move inside your RV. No one really likes that, especially at night. On the other hand, over-inflated tires will not have enough give to counteract your movements and may also cause your RV to wobble during strong winds. So make sure that you check your tires regularly.
One of the replies I read in forums about stabilizing your RV had a very creative way of describing how tires can affect your RV stability. It goes like this, “Jacks are like foundations, tires are like rubber rafting in a swift river current.” I’m sure you get the picture.
Level It Up
Sometimes the rocking and swaying is present because you parked your RV on unlevel ground. So even if your stabilizing jacks are in place, if your RV is not leveled correctly in the first place, then you can expect a rocky boat baby.
Since I mentioned leveling your RV here, you must level first before you stabilize, and that you level from front to back first. This is often a mistake made by RVers and is one of the most common causes of a rocky rig. You can use leveling blocks designed explicitly for RVs or plain old wooden blocks if you prefer.
You can check if your RV is leveled by using a digital level specifically made for RVs or go the old fashion way by using a carpenter’s level (also known as the bubble method). If you don’t have both, another way is to take a soda can and lay it down on the floor of your RV and see where it rolls.
Wheel Chocks Are Not In Place
The thought of your RV rolling down the hill is cringe-worthy, which is why tire chocks or wheel chocks should be part of your RV essentials. This tool effectively prevents your RV from rolling forward or back, but what you might not realize is that this can also be an RV stabilization solution. Most often than not, RV owners found that the reason why their RV is so rocky is that their chocks have moved a few inches away from the tires. Many RVers have mentioned that the old fashion chocks do tend to slide from the countless forums I have read. So the best option is to opt for the RV specific wheel chock designs.
Stabilizing Jacks Are Not Properly Deployed
Most RVs have stabilizing jacks already built into the chassis underneath. These jacks are lowered down until it hits the ground to provide stability as it prevents both the vertical and lateral movement of the RV. Large RVs usually have four, one on each corner, while 5th wheels only have three. If these stabilizing jacks are not touching the ground or are not properly deployed, this could be the root cause of your wobbly RV.
Sometimes one of your jacks might not touch the ground even if it is extended all the way. RVers suggest using leveling blocks underneath the jack so that it would be able to provide better stability. On a 5th wheel, the landing gear also serves as a stabilizer for the front area, so it is crucial that you properly deploy this and use a kingpin tripod for additional support.
Note: The longer your RV is, the more stabilization is needed. This is the reason why there are different types of RV stabilizers.
Shake It Off: Location-Based Solutions
We’ve covered the common reasons why your rig shakes even when it’s parked. But what if your rocky world problem is location-specific. Like maybe you noticed that the rocking is more centered around the bedroom area. ? Kidding aside, if you do see that your rig sways more in certain spots as you move inside your RV, then here are a few pinpointed solutions you can try.
Center Of The Party, I Mean The RV
More often than not, when the rocking motion happens as you move around the center of your RV, the reason behind is the wheel chocks have slid out of place, or you need more chocks for your wheels.
I’ve seen chocks made from plastic, wood, as well as metal. Some work better than others, but their primary purpose is obvious; stop your RV wheels from rolling. I remember reading an article about a dog accidentally putting an RV into reverse and ended up backing the Class A RV into a lake. The RV was saved, but not until the whole back portion is turned into a bathtub. Yikes! That is a perfect example of why you need to put wheel chocks in place.
The best advice I can give you here is to find a chock that will not slide out of place (plastic chocks often do this), break (wood chocks is a candidate for this) even if you are dancing inside your RV. Forums suggest something heavy enough to anchor your wheel if you are going for the old fashion design or an X-chock that fits between your trailer wheels. It is best to put chocks in front and at the back of your wheels if you’re swaying towards the old fashion triangular design. Doing this will help with the forward and backward rocking in your RV.
The Slide Outs Of Your RV
The bigger your RV gets, the more slide-outs it will usually have. It is common to find your RV in a rocky position after you’ve engaged your slide-outs since you’re kind of shifting the center of gravity in your RV. The most sensible solution is to get a slide-out specific stabilizer. This tool will counter some of the movements you make while in the slide-out area. I cannot stress enough how important this is if your bedroom is located into one of the slide outs in your RV. ? So if you are planning some steamy night with your better half, you better be sure that your RV is stable enough for the both of you.
All Over The Vehicle (The Side To Side Dance)
There’s two types of movement you want to address, the lateral and the vertical. Lateral movement in an RV is the side to side movement, or the front and back swaying, and vertical is the up and down bounce. When you feel the movement all over your RV, it is more of the side to side lateral sway. To address this, you will need to put additional stabilizers on your RV other than the ones that come with your rig. I have seen countless videos saying that adding a couple more scissor jack RV stabilizers helped keep their RV from swaying too much.
If you plan to get rowdy in the bedroom tonight, consider purchasing additional stabilizing jacks for the whole of your RV, and if your bedroom is on any slide-out parts a slide-out specific stabilizer is recommended. We don’t want your RV rolling somewhere else while you’re doing your bedroom dance. That would be just hilarious.
By The Entrance Or At The Back Of The RV
Sometimes your RV entrance may need a little more help in supporting your weight when you enter and exit. There are instances when the movement you feel is more centered at the door of your RV; this means that you have to put extra jacks to help keep your door area more stabilized. More often than not, your trailer will have a floating footstep that will need some support so that you don’t inadvertently rock the RV when entering and exiting. Putting a stabilizer near that area will counter the movements you make as you enter and exit your rig. Some stabilizers are specifically designed to anchor your steps to the ground and therefore providing more support and stability to that area.
If It’s Rockin’ Don’t Come Knockin: Stabilize According To Your RV Type
Mainly, you can categorize stabilizers into two – the permanent systems and the cheaper options. Both will address your stabilizing RV needs, but the choice is pretty much up to you and your rig needs.
Permanent Stabilizer Systems
Permanent stabilizers are usually installed on larger and longer RVs, but there is a permanent stabilizer that can be bought for RVs that don’t have one. Add-on permanent stabilizers are recommended for towable rigs like trailers and other RVs that do not come with built-in hydraulic stabilizers, especially RVs with multiple slide-outs in place.
Permanent stabilizers do have an upfront install. You can ask your sales rep if they do installs, or you can install it yourself. The process is really not that complicated. Once this type of stabilizer is installed on your RV, the set-up takes less than a minute. This type of stabilizer provides the most stability for your RV. It helps in both the lateral and vertical rocking of your rig since it attaches directly to your RV frame. I’ve seen rigs that only use their permanent stabilizers and no other stabilizing tools because of how effective it really is.
As I studied the system further, I realized that permanent stabilizers form a sort of triangulated system that I mostly see on bridge construction. So this means that this triangular system provides stabilization by allowing the rig’s weight to create tension on the system that grounds your RV more effectively. This is the best option you can choose if you have the funds to spare. Your bedroom life will be much stabler with this system.
The Less Expensive Option
You can stabilize your RV if you prefer to go the cheaper option or think that your rig does not require the stabling power a permanent solution offers. Any of the RV stabilizing tools below will work for your rig, depending on what type it is
5th Wheel Tripods
All 5th wheels will almost always require a kingpin tripod to give stability around the front area of the RV. This tripod is positioned between the ground and your RV’s kingpin. It acts as a grounding tool that gives your RV more stabilization all over. Most 5th wheel trailer owners often suggest getting more than just a kingpin tripod to stabilize your RV because the kingpin tripod might not really cut it for you.
X-Chock On Wheels
What I love about wheel X-Chocks is the fact that it uses contracting forces to stop your wheels from doing what it does best, roll. Placed between your tires, the opposing force it creates on your wheels is a more effective way of stopping your RV from rocking back and forth, eliminating some of the lateral movement you feel. One more excellent point about a wheel x-chock is once it is properly placed, you don’t have to worry about it sliding out of place anytime.
Usually used to level your vehicle, jack pads can also be used in conjunction with your stabilizers, especially if you are parked on soft grounds. It works by distributing the weight that your wheels and jacks support on a broader surface, giving you more stability. You have to remember that your stabilizers are not designed to support the bulk of your RV weight. However, it does support some of your RV weight when you move around. The jack pads help the stabilizers distribute the load on a broader surface and prevent your stabilizers from sinking on soft grounds.
I’ve seen RVers use jack pads to keep their stabilizing legs from extending way too much. They say that this trick, not only keeps their stabilizing legs off the ground but also offers them better stabilization because the stabilizer legs support more weight on a certain angle.
Slide Out Adjustable Stabilizers
For bigger rigs with multiple slide-outs, the slide-out adjustable stabilizer seems to be a popular choice. It works just like your regular stabilizer but designed to address slide-out stabilization specifically. It is very easy to use, no assembly is needed and is mostly made from heavy-duty steel so you can really count on it doing its job.
It can easily be adjusted to the right height you need and also reduces sag on your slide-outs while providing stability. Very durable and can withstand harsh outdoor elements. The only downside is that it can only offer you vertical stabilization and not so much lateral movement control. Now, that’s a bummer! I know. I can hear that brain of yours thinking. There is a way to address the lateral movement, and that is by using another stabilizing tool – scissor jacks.
It’s pretty much additional stabilizing jacks and will work very much like the built-in stabilizing jacks on your rig. Putting additional scissor jacks is one of the first options RVers gravitate towards because it is pretty easy to put up and take down, plus it’s cheap. When you buy scissor jacks, it is ready to use, and even a ten-year-old can crank this baby up and down. Made of heavy-duty metal, it very much can withstand any form of weather wherever you are camping. Use this in conjunction with other stabilizers because this is effective in providing additional lateral movement stabilization.
Most RVers will use a combination of any of the stabilizing tools mentioned above. Some would have both a permanent stabilizer system and still use additional stabilizing tools to stop their rig from rocking and swaying.
It’s Time To Jack It Up! Common Stabilizer Jack Mistakes
I’ve watched plenty of videos and have read plenty of blogs about the most common mistakes RVers do during the first few times they go out camping, and one of the most common mistakes they make is stabilizer mistakes. So I compiled a few of the top RV stabilizer mistakes you could ever make.
Using Your RV Stabilizers As Jacks
I am putting this on top of the list because this is by far the most dangerous mistake you could ever make. If you use your RV stabilizers as jacks, you will damage it and maybe eventually break it if not careful. Let’s say you need to change your wheel, and you used your stabilizers to lift your RV—wrong move. Stabilizers are not meant to bear your RV’s load. They are not designed to take a lot of weight, period. If the stabilizer broke while you were changing wheels, then you can only imagine how disastrous this can be. You could get hurt, your RV may suffer damage too, and most of all, you can hurt other people and damage other vehicles who are just passing by.
Turning Your Stabilizers Into A Leveling Tool
Again, stabilizers are not meant to level; they are there to stop your RV from having too much lateral and vertical movement. If you use your stabilizers as a leveling tool, you are putting unnecessary weight on one or more of your stabilizer jacks. I’ve read stories of stabilizer jacks breaking because of this very reason, and so it is important to remember to use leveling tools like jack pads or leveling pads to level your RV. And keep in mind that you need to level first before you stabilize.
Thinking that RV Stabilizers Are A One Size Fits All Thing
Oh boy! This mistake is a costly one. You can end up buying the wrong stabilizers for your RV if you think this way. RV’s are built differently, depending on how long, big, and heavy your RV is, your stabilizing needs will vary from others. You also have to take into consideration how old your RV is.
The best course of action is to look at all the available options and pick the one that will address the specific problem you have. Of course, your choice has to be sensible and within a budget, but if you really want the best of the best, then go for a permanent stabilizing system and add other stabilization tools where needed.
So, be smart and look at your rig first, determine where you need stabilization more, and then look at the market options you have and decide what kind of stabilization tool you want. A combination of stabilization tools will most likely be your best option if you are not willing to shell out too much cash.
Not Fully Retracting Stabilizers Before Driving
You might be surprised at how often this mistake happens. Most RVers will make this mistake within the first year of their camping life, so you are not alone. This is pretty dangerous if you really think about it because if you are already taxing down the highway, your extended stabilizer might snag on something, break and fly up in the air. Consider yourself lucky if it did not hurt anyone or damage anything, but if it did, that would be a lesson well learned the hard way. Hey, at least it’s a funny story to tell around campfires.
Raising Or Lowering The RV When Stabilizers Are Down
This is a sure way to break your stabilizers. Again, this boils down to stabilizers are not designed to bear the load of your RV. If you raise your RV or lower your RV when your stabilizers are down, you are putting more weight on one or more of your stabilizers. I suggest that you be ready to whip that wallet out because you will be buying a new stabilizer for your RV sooner than you might think.
Living in an RV is pretty awesome, but there are a few key points you need to get right down to the tee, and one of them is stabilization and leveling. Once you’ve mastered both, your RV life will go much smoother, and you’ll be able to grind your way through the night without thinking if your RV will roll to a different ground. Kidding aside, knowing where to stabilize, what stabilizers to use, and where to use it will help you have a less rocky rig on your next camping trip.