Published Date: July 4, 2022
An RV or recreational vehicle is great for camping, long-distance road trips, and weekends away. They are essentially a camper on wheels. One of the most important elements or items of an RV is stabilizer jacks, which help keep the RV stabilized and level on even the most uneven grounds. There are many RV stabilizer jacks to choose from, so let’s look at each and how they work.
What is a Stabilizer Jack?
A stabilizer jack is a metal jack that extends from the RV to the ground. They are generally made from strong, durable metals like aluminum or steel that do not buckle under the heavy weight of an RV or camper.
Great for camping, they can be used on both level and uneven surfaces and carry a different weight capacity depending on the RV stabilizer jack you choose.
Why Use a Stabilizer Jack?
Stabilizer jacks are used to provide stability and absorb any movement caused by walking around in the RV. They provide a good connection between the RV and any ground surface. RV owners can choose between manual or automatic stabilizer jacks, which should only be used once the vehicle has been leveled.
The Best Stabilizer Jacks for your RV
There are as many as 10 types of stabilizer jacks available. The main difference between the jacks are:
- The maximum load they can handle
- Automatic or manual
Let’s look at some of these stabilizer jacks in relation to the differences above.
Scissor stabilizer jacks
These are the most common types of stabilizer jacks available and are used by most manufacturers. They are available in different weight ranges, the most common being 5000 lbs and 7500 lbs.
Scissor jacks are a manual type of jack and require manual release and setup. You might need a handheld power drill to tighten and loosen bolts.
But do not fret; they are easy to use and can be set up in mere minutes by loosening a bolt, placing the RV stabilizer jack in position, and tightening the bolt again. Take care not to tighten the bolt too much, as this puts too much weight on the jack itself.
A manual scissor jack is among the cheapest and can be found at any hardware store and added to your RV.
Electrical Stabilizer Jacks
As the name suggests, these are electrical and automatic, allowing the RV owner to release their stabilizer jacks at the push of a button. Electrical jacks can easily hold up to 10,000 lbs and provide excellent stability to any RV or camper.
Electrical stabilizer jacks run off the RV’s 12v power source but have the option to be switched over to manual operation in the case of a dead battery. This makes them convenient to use.
These jacks are not the cheapest and cost more than common scissor jacks. They, too, are available at a hardware store but require professional installation by someone with electrical wiring knowledge.
Hydraulic Stabilizer Jacks
Hydraulic jacks are the number one jacks to use for large motor homes and RVs. They can hold the most weight and are used on RVs weighing over 10,000 lbs. They are considered a “manual” jack as you are required to apply pressure to a lever to activate the jack.
A hydraulic RV stabilizer jack works on the same principle as an office chair. Hydraulic fluid in the jack is pressurized when you push the jack lever. This increases the pressure and force of the hydraulic liquid, which in turn lifts the jack and the RV.
While these are among the best, they are tricky and expensive to fix as you need to take your RV to a mechanic or qualified technician.
Hydraulic jacks are among the most expensive.
Tripod Stabilizer Jacks
A tripod stabilizer jack is great when you need extra support and stability for your RV or five-wheeler. They can carry a maximum weight of 5000 lbs and should not be used on their own but rather in conjunction with another type of stabilizer jack.
With three legs, a tripod stabilizer jack provides three points of contact with the ground and can increase the stability of any RV, regardless of the type of jack used.
Tripod or additional stabilizer jacks are easy to use and relatively inexpensive.
Should I use Leveling Blocks with Stabilizer Jacks?
Leveling blocks, commonly made from wood or metal, can be used to provide a level surface for your jack to connect with on the level ground. Great for uneven ground, they help create more stability, even on soft ground or wet ground surfaces.
While it is not compulsory, some RV and campsites require the use of leveling blocks to prevent ground damage and soil erosion. Always check what the requirements are before you visit any campsite.
Leveling blocks are also great when used with “cheaper” stabilizer jacks and provide that extra stability that can make you feel more at home when camping in your RV or camper.
Dos And Don’ts of Stabilizing Jacks
Every camper or RV needs stabilizer jacks. While we have identified the benefits and outlined a few of the most popular types, there are also a few more things to remember when camping in your RV or camper.
- Use leveling blocks to increase the stability
- Choose the best quality stabilizer jacks that you can afford.
- Read all instructions and ensure that you know how to operate your stabilizing jack properly.
- Carry a set of tools to tighten/loosen bolts during setup and keep these within easy reach but out of the way.
- Research popular brands before making your decision on which jacks are the best.
- Read reviews and feedback from customers who have purchased a specific type of jack to see how they have rated the brand or product.
- Don’t put up your jacks until your RV or camper is unhitched or leveled.
- Don’t overload your RV. Ensure that you are aware of and follow the weight limits listed in your RV owner’s manual.
- Don’t buy cheap jacks. Research all the options available before making your decision. A cheap RV stabilizer jack might be great for your pocket but can be a safety concern if it does not prove the best stability for your type of RV or camper.
Choosing the Best Stabilizer Jacks for your Camper or RV
It is essential to keep your stabilizer jacks in tip-top condition. Regular maintenance and repairs are necessary to keep them functioning properly, which is vital for your safety when camping.
If you need to replace your worn-out stabilizers, there are a few things you should keep in mind:
- Weight of your RV while loaded
- Battery type or source
- Qualified technicians to install the jacks
- How to operate both manual and automatic jacks
Prices of stabilizer jacks vary, but you should aim to purchase the best possible jacks you can afford. Can you truly put a price tag on your and your family’s safety?
Stabilizer jacks are excellent for increasing the stability of your RV or camper. There are a few types of jacks available. They come with different weight limits, manual or automatic functions, and of course, variable costs. These factors should all be researched and considered when choosing stabilizer jacks for your RV.
While it remains a good idea to buy the best you can afford, this is not always possible. Most hardware stores sell stabilizer jacks, but these can also be purchased from RV, camper, or camping goods stores.