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Last Updated on November 19, 2021 by Jessica Lauren Vine
Are you trying to figure out how to keep a camper from rocking?
A common issue with most RVs is that they rock and sway with every step that you take. Unlike a house, an RV by nature is mobile and thus is not set on a firm stone or concrete foundation.
Simply lowering your RV’s tongue jack will keep you from rolling away, but it’s not meant to prevent rocking and swaying completely.
Tongue jacks are designed with a bit of flexibility so that they don’t break under excessive pressure. And after the tongue jack, the only other contact points are the tires designed to roll and bounce a bit. A certain amount of “give” is necessary for the axles to ensure the trailer can safely travel on the road.
Since the wheels are round and the tongue jack is only one contact point – RV stability often comes down to the number of stationary points of contact. The more points of contact between your trailer and the ground, the better.
In this article, we’re going to look at some of the best ways to keep your RV from rocking and make it as stable as possible. There are things you can do to the RV itself, and there are also outside measures that you can use to improve stability. Without further ado, let’s dive right in!
A Few Good Starting Points to Keep Your Camper From Rocking
Let’s begin by looking at the basics. To keep your camper from rocking, you have to start by making sure that you’re parked in a level, stable location that doesn’t present the threat of rolling downhill. Here are a few solid pointers to start you out with the rocking prevention process.
Make Sure You’re Level
Before taking any stabilizing measures, you should first make sure that your unit is level. If you stabilize before leveling your RV, you won’t correctly level out, which is a whole other set of problems that impacts gas flow, water/drainage, and even the operation of your appliances. Plus, it’s much easier to stabilize when the RV is level.
Use Hard Wheel Chocks
Wheel chocks are the little triangle-like pieces put under a tire to prevent the camper from rolling away. The best way to use wheel chocks is to place them behind your tires on either side of the RV. You should put one behind the front tire to keep your RV from moving backward, and you should put another one in front of your back tire to keep the RV from moving forward.
The finished product should feature two-wheel chocks on either side of your RV and either side of the front and rear tires. Proper placement of the chocks should have them between the front and rear tire next to each other. If you have a smaller camper that only has one tire per side, then place a wheel chock on either side of the tire.
Wheel chocks are a great way to keep you from rolling away in the middle of the night, but they won’t completely prevent rocking.
Even better than just placing the wheel chocks, though, is making sure they are snug. A snug fit will keep the tires in place. I recommend using a rubber mallet to tap them into place. If you can easily move the chock by hand, it’s not snug enough.
Wheel Stabilizers (X-Chocks) for 2-Axle or 3-Axle Trailers
A relatively new solution is wheel stabilizers, also known as X-Chocks, because of how they look when hooked up. These stabilizers are placed off the ground between two tires on an RV with two or three axles. They come in standard and split-axle for axles that are further apart versions.
Essentially, these stabilizers are expanded to push simultaneously on two tires and create tension that limits the ability of either wheel to give or roll slightly. If you want to be especially thorough, you should use wheel stabilizers and wheel chocks to cut down on excess movement and rocking.
Do I Need Stabilizing Jacks Other Than What My RV Is Equipped With?
Like I said before, the stabilizing jacks on your RV are designed with a small amount of flexibility. The give and flexibility make it great to keep you from moving around too much, but it won’t entirely prevent rocking. If you want to keep your RV from rocking at all, you need something besides the jacks that are pre-installed on your camper, such as stabilizing jacks.
Stabilizing jacks are also known as RV jacks or slideout jacks because they’re commonly placed underneath RV slideouts. These types of jacks are your best friend when it comes to adding stability and preventing rocking in your RV. They also help boost the strength of specific areas that aren’t designed to cope with large amounts of weight, such as slideouts. Let’s look at a few of the best places to use stabilizing jacks around your RV.
Under Your Slideouts (Obviously Given the Name of the Jacks)
Your slideouts are some of the least supported parts of your RV, making them very prone to swaying and rocking. You usually won’t walk around on your slideout areas, but they often hold furniture such as beds, tables, and couches. Because they are some of your primary areas of rest and hanging out, under both ends of your slideout is an excellent place for stability jacks.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to put them under every single slideout, however. Some slideouts are in the kitchen or dining room and are only meant to hold a kitchenette or entertainment center. The slideouts that you should focus on are the ones that have beds or couches where there will be frequent movement.
For Fifth Wheels – Under the Front Hitch Area
Fifth-wheel travel trailers are usually larger and more stable than travel trailers, but they have a few problem areas for rocking and swaying. One of these spots is under the front in the trailer hitch area. Using a tripod stabilizer is a great way to keep this area supported and from swaying.
Under All Doors and Exits
All points of entry and exit will see a ton of walking activity. Making sure that your doors are stabilized is crucial to keeping swaying to a minimum.
Don’t Forget About the Bumper
If putting stabilizer jacks under the two rear corners of your RV, adding a folding RV stabilizer is a great idea. This type of stabilizer works by having two points of contact to the ground and folding out, similar to how a bench or table does. A folding RV stabilizer provides maximum support to an area that is vulnerable to swaying.
A Few Other Tips and Tricks to Keep in Mind
Wheel chocks, stabilizers, jacks, and being level are a great start to keeping your camper from rocking, but there’s more work to be done. Here’s a list of extra tips and tricks to keep your camper from rocking and to help you enjoy your life on the road.
- Make sure the lug nuts on your travel trailer are nice and tight.
- Also, with your tires, make sure that they aren’t low on air. A flat or slightly flat tire is a recipe for disaster when it comes to rocking. They’re also a hazard when traveling down the road at high speeds. Ensuring that your tires are at their appropriate pressure is crucial.
- Try picking a camping spot that’s as level as possible, which can be nearly impossible in certain locations. If necessary, use leveling blocks to park one side of your camper tires on if you need to elevate a few inches on that side.
- Always keep a level handy, even if your RV is already equipped with one. If you want to get every part of your camper perfectly level to prevent rocking, you’re going to need to check it from every side.
- When it comes to the leveling and stabilizing process, always remember to be patient. You likely won’t get it right the first time. The key is not to give up and keep trying different things until your RV is as level and stable as possible. Just remember that an extra hour of work is well worth it if you’re staying somewhere for weeks or months at a time. Trust me, I learned this lesson the hard way!
When it comes to RV stability, balance is critical. Few people enjoy the rocking and swaying of an RV, and in the tips above, we’ve laid out several ways to minimize this. That said, completely eliminating motion in an RV is generally not possible because it’s a vehicle that is designed to be mobile.
You also have to decide for yourself if it’s worth going to the trouble of complete stabilization. If you are only stopping at a particular campground for a single night while on your way to another location, it doesn’t make sense to spend an hour working on stabilizing the RV. On the other hand, if you stay somewhere for several weeks or longer, you may find it worth the extra time to add some stability to your RV.
It doesn’t take long to place a few extra stabilizing jacks, chock the wheels hard, and use some X-chocks to get the RV as firm and rigid as possible. Doing these additional steps will not only help keep your camper from rocking but will also make it virtually impossible to roll or blow away. Just know that when you sign up for the RV life, a little rocking is often part of the package.