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Old 01-11-2019, 09:43 PM   #1
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Wheels off ground when using auto level jacks. What's the definitive consensus?

I'm on my first big trip in my 2017 Thor Outlaw 37BG. I'm a stupid newb who isn't nearly as prepared as she thought she'd be, so it's been "fun."

One issue I keep encountering is campgrounds with extremely unlevel parking spots. I'm almost every single one, my auto-leveling hydraulics have had to lift the wheels off the ground.

A neighbor at one park said that's totally fine for one night, but that just doesn't feel right. The manual is silent on this issue (and countless others, but that's for another day). Online research shows mixed thoughts, but mostly seems to say it's a bad idea.

Is there any definitive answer? Does the make/model affect the decision?

It's a big deal, because one thing the manual does clearly say is that I can't extend the slide out without the RV leveled. It's been extremely uncomfortable making my whole brood cram in without the extra space from the slide out.

On a related note, is there any way to get the auto leveler to be more "efficient"? Here's what I mean. I've noticed that instead of making the minimum adjustments necessary to get the RV level, it just keeps going and going until it's way too high. For example, if my left side is too low, it will start by lifting the left side. Great! But then it lifts the right side, too? Then it keeps going back and forth until the whole thing is level, but way too high, and it could have been level several inches lower.

I've considered switching to manual, but it doesn't have a "bubble" for me to use, and I'd be uncomfortable eyeballing a hardware store level. Besides, I paid for an RV with auto level, and I'd really like to use it!

Thanks in advance for any and all help. I'm new to the RV world, and to this forum. I'm hoping I won't have to ask so many questions soon, but in the meantime I'm grateful for such a helpful bunch of people. Thanks!

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Old 01-11-2019, 09:51 PM   #2
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I researched this topic and come to the conclusion that the majority of those who feel itís a bad idea are basing it on the fact your air brakes are your rear tires. So if they are off the ground your relying on your jacks to stabilize you and keep your coach from rolling.

Seems to make sense but if your coach is suspended on your jacks i canít see it moving. Iím not the expert though and there are members here with a lot more experience than I.

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Old 01-11-2019, 09:55 PM   #3
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We don't have auto leveling on our coach, thank heavens.

I try to get it as possible and leave it at that. I'm not a believer of "It has to be perfectly level."

Many times we've been off level, sometimes for several days and guess what, everything worked fine. Going on 14 years with this coach and the refrigerator works great as do the slides.

I don't ever lift my front wheels off the ground. And you certainly don't want your rear wheels off the ground as you may roll away.
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:10 PM   #4
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Star Blocked, I noticed the same thing when I bought my travel supreme some years ago. When on automatic the jacks continued to do minor adjustments and often would put some wheels off of the ground. I have for some time just did it manually with the controls; faster and more efficient. On very uneven terrain, I sometimes have the front tires off of the ground but I don't like it. If I am at the campground more than a day or two, I will use blocks under those wheels. Note I NEVER raise both of the rear wheels off of the ground at the same time. Happy Trails
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Old 01-11-2019, 10:52 PM   #5
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There's been a few instances where in order to get level, my front wheels were lifted off the ground. As mentioned above, the rear wheels are where your parking break is so having them off the ground can be an issue.

Mechanically, I see no reason that your wheels off the ground will harm anything as long as your brake lines have enough slack they aren't stressed. I've had people ask about the weight of the axle and wheels hanging in the air and my way of thinking is, they are designed to handle 1000s of lbs of coach pushing down, so handling their own weight hanging in the air shouldn't be a problem. If you want to play it safe and you have some blocks, raise the tires a little higher, place blocks underneath, and lower it back down to level level the coach and place some weight on the blocks.
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Old 01-12-2019, 12:31 AM   #6
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As mentioned above, having the front wheels off the ground is ok, but not the rear wheels.
When I pull into a space, I check level. My HWH system tells me which corners are low, but you can use a level to check. If the site is really unlevel, I'll use a level to see how bad it is.

I put extra blocks under the leveling jacks on the low corners to minimize the amount of leveling jack travel, then let engage the auto leveling function. Every system is different, but using this method I don't experience excess height. It raises the low corners, then sets the feet down on the others without going much, if any higher.
In some cases you'll need to place blocks in front of one or both rear tires then drive onto them to keep the wheels from being in the air.
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Old 01-12-2019, 01:14 AM   #7
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If your automatic jacks lift the RV too high in every campground, you probably need to recalibrate them. (Which may or may not fix the problem.) We have PowerGear hydraulic jacks and the automatic function has always lifted the front too high, so we learned how to manually level.

As others have said, it's no problem to have the front wheels off the ground for short periods but it is our preference to use blocks if necessary.
.2012 Fleetwood Bounder 33C
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Old 01-12-2019, 02:29 AM   #8
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This is out of the Lippert manual for my jacks:

"NEVER LIFT ALL THE WHEELS OFF THE GROUND TO LEVEL THE COACH! Lifting all wheels of the ground may result in serious personal injury or death."

I take this to mean that it is Ok to lift some of the wheels but not all. I will on rare occasions lift the front if necessary but I never lift the rears.
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Old 01-12-2019, 04:07 AM   #9
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If you coach has air suspension, you need to dump the air suspension BEFORE leveling. This does two things, it lowers the entire coach (in our case around 4" to 5") so it reduces the height of the "lowest" corner by the same amount, thus reducing the amount the coach has to rise to be level. The second thing it does is to eliminate your coach becoming unlevel overnight, or over several nights if the air suspension bleeds down over time.

On one of you other comments, Lemondo has a cool leveling app for your cell phone, there are others. I place mine on the floor between the driver's and passenger's seats, in an area I know to be level if the coach is level on a level surface . . . follow that? Anyway, I place the phone down with the bubble level app on, and manually level the coach. I can generally achieve an accurate level without the coach rising to the height it would using the auto level feature. So for us, "manual level" works better than the "auto level" feature, but that's just us!

Most important, get out there and use your RV!
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Old 01-12-2019, 04:27 AM   #10
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Have you talked to your dealer?

They should be able to go through this with you and show you the proper way to use your levelers. If not, call the factory.
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Old 01-12-2019, 05:15 AM   #11
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I agree that the auto function my coach is too wasteful of jack extension. Generally I do it manually, but it is not actually the level sensor itself, since when I do it manually, my center button indicator agrees! If you are not careful in manual mode, you might not have all 4 jacks touching the ground, which, in itself is not dangerous but doesn't provide the maximum rocking stability when walking around the coach.

For $3.00 get one of these at Home Depot. I didn't permanently mount it, just set it on the floor when levelling.
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Old 01-12-2019, 05:28 AM   #12
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Newmar states in the manual for our MH to keep the tires on the ground. So, I use blocks when necessary. Since we've only had our Bay Star since late May, I haven't decided if manual leveling is any better. Just recently, I downloaded a bubble level app to my android based phone and plan on experimenting with manual leveling in the coming months.

When I've use auto leveling and the front tires get airborne, I've been manually raising them just a little more, than I go out and put blocks under the front tire(s), then retract the levelers and then do another auto level. When manual leveling, my system lowers/raises levelers in pairs. From what I've read, when manually leveling, it's best to level front to back first and then side to side.

StarBlocked...I suggest you call Thor and see what their guideline is when it comes to having the front tire(s) airborne. Everything I've read says to never have the rear tires airborne.

Do follow the procedure for level first before extending slide outs as per Thor but I suggest that if in a situation where the MH is just slightly off level, it's ok to temporarily extend a slide out. Other owners of Thor Outlaw rigs may be able to provide more real life experiences.

Enjoy your rig and just keep learning 'cause that's what all of us have had to do! And, this forum can be so helpful!!
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Old 01-12-2019, 08:24 AM   #13
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not good, but ok in a pinch. dont make a habit of it.
its better to put blocks under the wheel that is off the ground if you plan to stay overnight.
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Old 01-12-2019, 08:24 AM   #14
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Canít speak to your system but my LCI auto system is NOT designed to be used wheels off the ground. I carry blocks to try to minimize off level conditions if needed first. Sometimes auto level just makes bad decisions and I revert to manual mode.

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