You just bought yourself a beautiful RV, you’ve been on the road, and now you need to store it, and you want to make sure that you store it in the right way.
Whether you should store your RV with the jacks down really does depend on what kind of RV you have. It can relieve pressure on the tires and the suspension, but some RVers consider it unnecessary. On a level surface with the wheels chocked it should be good, and the jack just offers some extra stability.
First we are going to look at the different types of RV, because that term covers some very different kinds of vehicles with different setups, and then we are going to explore the different needs of each of these vehicles when it comes to storage, which is vital to understand to keep your RV looking and working great.
How Should You Store Your RV?
You are no longer using the RV, and you need to store it until the next time you take it out on the road. The need to do this is not just that you want to make sure that your RV stays in tip-top condition, but you also want to protect it from theft, and in some communities, you aren’t allowed to store it there.
Not all RVs are the same, so the storage considerations are not going to be the same. Below we are going to discuss the 3 main types of recreational vehicles. If you're not familiar with these classifications, check out our guide about the 7 types of RV's here.
Motorhomes get around under their own steam, meaning that they don’t need to be towed. They combine the living accommodation with the motor or vehicle that moves them around. They also break down into 3 different classes.
Class A is known as Integrated and is considered to be the most expensive and luxurious. They have a solid body where the driving area is integrated into the living accommodation.
Class B is called a Semi-Integrated or sometimes a low profile motorhome and is built the same as a Class C, without the berthings over the cab area.
Class C or coach-built has a caravan or trailer style body mounted on a trailer or truck chassis, and will usually have a double berth over the driving cab.
Should You Store a Motorhome With Jacks Down?
Whether you store your RV on jacks, when you are talking about a motorhome, it may depend on what class of motorhome you are talking about. If you have a Class B or Class C, then it may be more necessary, as these classes tend to need stabilizing jacks more in general use, so may need them more in storage.
Putting extended stress on your jacks may not be the best thing, but they should be pretty sturdy, and some people keep them down all the time when they are parked. You will have to judge whether or not your jacks are suffering from general usage or extended usage, and you can monitor the RV while it is in storage to make sure it is doing OK.
Any major issues with the tires or jacks should have hopefully flagged up in your regular check-up of the RV, and it is worth giving it the once over before you put it in storage.
Travel Trailer Storage
A travel trailer, known as a caravan in Britain, is designed to be towed by a bumper or frame hitch. They are usually somewhere between 19’ to 34’ long, and you are going to need an SUV or light to medium pick up truck to pull the larger models. The trailer is going to have between 1 and 4 sets of wheels.
As with motorhomes, there are sub-categories of travel trailer as well - you may be looking at pop-up campers, toy haulers and lightweight RVs. Generally, they are going to have a standard ball hitch.
Should you Store a Travel Trailer With Jacks Down
There is an argument that using the stabilizer jacks for this purpose is not using them as they were intended. If it is to take the pressure off the wheels and suspension, what happens when the tires lose pressure, and uneven pressure gets put on the jacks?
It definitely seems to be a personal preference. Some RVers are in areas where they get a lot of wind, or even when technically stored they like to occasionally use it, so it makes sense to keep the jacks down for stability.
Keeping in mind, that the tires going down is a problem that would affect the jacks, you can always make sure that you regularly check the tires to make sure they are staying inflated, which is probably not a bad idea to do even if you store it with the jacks up.
5th Wheel Storage
A fifth wheel, like a travel trailer, needs to be towed, and you are going to need a bigger truck to do it.
It gets its name from carriages that had a horizontal wheel on the front axle, allowing it to pivot, back in the 1800s. It carried over into the modern-day pick-up truck hitch, which is u-shaped, and into which the kingpin on the trailer fits.
It has an advantage over other trailers because it doesn’t sway so much, and because the hitch weight is over the rear axle of the truck, the weight of the trailer is better distributed, making the whole towing experience more stable.
Should You Store A 5th-Wheel With Jacks Down
There is definitely some disagreement on this point. There is a feeling that if the trailer is going to be stored for a long time then it may be wiser to use the jacks to do it, but that if it is a short period on a level surface chocking the wheels is sufficient.
The benefits of doing it are that it can take the weight off the tires and suspension, and the other thing is, it makes it harder to steal (not impossible, but harder).
Conversely, some people think that it is going to cause the tires to lose air and that it is going to end up putting all the weight on the jacks which they were not designed for.
5th wheels with auto-leveling use the front landing gear and 1 or 2 sets in the back to lift the 5th Wheeler to level it. They are designed to do this and leveling jack are not the same as stabilizing jacks.
How Do You Level An RV While In Storage?
If you have an auto-leveling system in your RV this is going to be a pretty simple process - you are just going to be pressing a button. This is going to be most common in a Class A RV.
You are going to need a few bits of equipment if you are going to be leveling the RV manually. First up make sure you have some blocks, and then make sure that you have a bubble level, and if you are working with a towable you are going to need wheel chocks, as they generally don’t have parking brakes.
Take that bubble level, lay it on a countertop, and check back to front as well as right to left, and then you can judge whether you have to raise or lower one particular corner to level out.
If it’s uneven front to back you are going to drive either the front or back wheels onto blocks. Left to right and you are going to raise the left or right wheels on blocks. With front and back, and left and right presenting a problem, you are going to raise the low corner on blocks.
With towables, you start left to right and then move onto the front to back.
The jacks definitely do offer stability, which is what they are designed for. A lot of people only use them when they are on the road and don’t like using them for extended periods of time when they are in storage, but you can offset any problems this might lead to by regularly checking your RV, which is not a bad idea anyway.
Is There A Weight Limit On Slide Out Jacks?
Yes, if you buy the jacks separately they are usually going to provide you with their weight capacity limits, and if you are not sure about the ones that come with your RV, you can contact the manufacturer with the VIN number and they should be able to tell you.
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How To Level a Motorhome with Hydraulic Jacks
Friday 17th of September 2021
Hi Jacob my question for you today is do I leave the jacks down in the front and at the back on my 5th wheel to winterize it. I had a camper before and all jacks had to be up for winter storage. Thanks
Wednesday 15th of April 2020
I like how you mentioned that if you are going to store your 5th-wheel RV for a while then you should put the jacks down. I have always wanted an RV but I have been afraid of not knowing what to do with it if I have to store it. If I get one, I'll make sure to put the jacks down whenever I leave it in storage somewhere.
Wednesday 15th of April 2020
Thanks for leaving us a comment, Franklin. We're glad you found this post useful. Be sure to check out our other RV-related content for more good information!