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Camping in an RV can be a wonderful and exciting experience. You pull into your site, get hooked up, and suddenly you realize that your travel trailer is shaking with every single step that you take.
That isn’t the end of the world, until the kids come back into the RV from playing outside.
All of a sudden, your nice new travel trailer feels more like a boat on the water. How do you stop your travel trailer from shaking and rocking?
The best way to stop your travel trailer from rocking is through proper parking of your RV, as well as purchasing additional RV accessories such as stabilizers, wheel chocks, and leveling jacks.
But what are all of these products, and how exactly do they work to help your rocking rig? Let’s go over them together and get you a more stable RV!
Why Might My Travel Trailer Be Rocking?
There are many reasons why your travel trailer or fifth wheel might be rocking. The main reason it is rocking is most likely because it is designed to do just that while it is in motion.
It Rests on Tires
Tires are an amazing invention and they are perfect devices for getting our vehicles from one location to another. However, tires are not very good at staying in one place, no matter how heavy your rig may be!
When you are driving, your rig needs to be able to move with you on the road and anticipate various curves, bumps, and angles. A travel trailer is made to be mobile, and so mobile it will remain until it is made more stationary.
Without RV stabilizers, chocks, and leveling jacks, your travel trailer is held up by its tires only, and these are simply bouncy rubber balloons filled with air. No wonder your travel trailer rocks and bounces so easily!
Removing the tires from your rig while you are parked isn’t an option (or something I would ever recommend) but there are other things you can add to your rig to keep the tires from leading to a bouncy house inside of your RV!
The Ground Isn’t Solid
Another reason why your travel trailer or fifth wheel might be rocking is because of the surface you are parked on. It doesn’t take much for an RV to rock around, and having your rig parked on anything other than flat, level asphalt or cement can leave much to be desired.
A huge reason that RVs can shake and rock is due to soft or unsteady ground. Parking an RV on grass, gravel, dirt, sand, or any other similar material can lead to a lot of moving and shaking, literally!
While parking on solid ground may not be an option at every campsite you wish to camp at, it should be something you consider when hitting the road. Camping on dirt or sand can also be dangerous for your rig should you be camping somewhere that deals with a lot of rain.
Erosion can cause accidents and disasters with RVs if you haven’t taken the proper steps to secure your rig, and wheel chocks are a must for every RVer. The last thing you need is for your travel trailer to slip and roll away from you!
The Ground Isn’t Level
Not only can campsites have ground that isn’t solid; it is more likely to have ground that isn’t level! From tree roots to hillsides, some RV sites and parking spots can be a real pain to park in.
You may not even notice when the ground in a campsite is uneven until you’ve unhitched and walked around inside of your rig. I’ve camped in many places that are so uneven that I could roll a ball from one end of my travel trailer to the other!
Having an uneven parking spot for your RV isn’t something that you can easily fix, and it can be extremely frustrating to figure out how to make your travel trailer level and even. Plus if you are camping in a full campsite, you won’t have an option to move your RV to a potentially more level campsite!
Even fully paved and cemented RV spots can be uneven; it happens way more often than you think. A travel trailer knows when it is properly flat, and you will too. Many propane systems can struggle if your rig isn’t parked on properly level ground, or if your RV’s leveling jack isn’t exact.
From front to back and side to side, your RV can be uneven in any direction. Parking unevenly or on unlevel ground can also cause permanent frame damage should you be parking there for an extended period of time.
There’s Simply A Lot of People Inside
I’ve lived in a lot of apartments and houses with creaky floors and upstairs neighbors. It can be extremely frustrating to hear other people in the middle of the night, with noisy shoes overhead or otherwise.
It can be even more of a rude awakening to share a shaky travel trailer with a lot of people.
As I’m sure you can guess, the more people there are inside of a travel trailer or fifth wheel, the more likely it is to rock and move along with everyone else living inside of the rig. This can be very frustrating if you don’t have stabilizers, and can lead to a poor night’s sleep!
Depending on where people are spending most of their time inside of the rig, your travel trailer can be unlevel and uneven based on weight distribution alone. Plus you are going to feel every single footfall should you not take the proper precautions of stabilizing your rig beforehand.
Thankfully, a rocking travel trailer can be made to be still with the right tools. Let’s take a look at some options to stop a moving rig!
What Tools Can I Use to Stop My Travel Trailer Rocking?
A rocking travel trailer or fifth wheel is not going to be an enjoyable time, no matter how long you are camping for. Here are some tools and RV accessories that you can purchase so that your travel trailer rocks a bit less!
A necessary and commonly purchased accessory, wheel chocks can help stop your travel trailer from rocking. Wheel chocks are designed to be placed in between your travel trailer’s wheels or on the ground behind your tires so that your travel trailer doesn’t roll away.
These little devices are key for RV owners, especially when it comes to hitching up and moving your rig. You can also use wheel chocks while you are parked in place, and should use them! They are designed to stop your trailer from rolling away, a necessary thing to have when you are parked somewhere for any period of time.
While you are hitched up to your tow vehicle, wheel chocks aren’t necessary. However, you should make sure to chock your wheels once you are unhitched from your tow vehicle. These accessories are affordable and come in a variety of styles.
But which style is best for stopping your travel trailer from rocking? Well, it may depend on how many wheels your rig has. Most travel trailers have tandem or side by side tires, meaning two on both sides of your rig.
If you have tandem tires, I highly recommend purchasing X chocks, as these are designed to go in between your two tires so that they are stabilized and held in place. X chocks absolutely help with a rocking rig and you can check out my favorite pair on Amazon by clicking here.
If you only have one wheel on each side of your travel trailer or want a chock that is easier and simpler to set up, standard rubber chocks will do just fine. These will give you some added stability in your tires and keep your travel trailer from slipping or rolling away at any time! I recommend these budget-friendly chocks from Camco which you can check out here.
Remember that wheel chocks are a necessary accessory for your RV, but they aren’t the only thing that will assist with a rocking travel trailer.
If you own a smaller length travel trailer like I do, then stabilizers might be all that you need to stop your rig from rocking around. Even my 19 foot long tiny home felt like a boat on choppy water when my partner and I first started living full time in it.
Thankfully, buying some stabilizers saved the day! Stabilizers are designed to do what their name implies: stabilize. They come in a variety of sizes and styles, and checking out this article on stabilizers will give you some insight into what style might suit your needs best.
The most important thing to keep in mind with stabilizers is the weight of your rig, and knowing that stabilizers aren’t usually designed to raise your rig. There are some heavy-duty options that can level your rig through lifting it, but most of the time stabilizers are simply there to support your RV.
Knowing the weight of your rig is important before you purchase stabilizers, as most stabilizers are manufactured based on how much weight they can hold. The weight of your RV will also affect how many stabilizers you will need to purchase. You should never purchase stabilizers that can’t handle the weight of your RV, as they are more likely to fail and potentially cause permanent damage to your RV’s frame.
Whether you purchase four or just two, you’ll notice the difference in movement once you install your stabilizers. There will be significantly less bounce, as stabilizers support your rig from below, pressing up from the ground against the heavy metal frame of your rig. Stabilizers are also smart purchases to make as they extend the life of your rig’s frame; a fully supported RV is less likely to bend or bow in strange places!
However, it is important to keep in mind that stabilizers are only as stable as the ground that they rest on. I always recommend purchasing a set of leveling blocks so that you have a stable surface to set your stabilizers on should you camp in a muddy or sandy area. These are my go-to leveling blocks that will work for most people.
Stabilizers are a must for travel trailer owners hoping to eliminate most of the bounce and sway from their RV while it is parked. Their versatile styles and price ranges mean that you will no doubt find something to suit your needs perfectly.
You may own a travel trailer or fifth wheel with built in stabilizers. While they may work a bit it can sometimes be necessary to purchase additional stabilizers, especially if you are expecting a few more people in your RV than ever before.
Some stabilizers can be permanently attached to your RV so that you don’t have to break them down and reinstall them after every single trip. However, most travel trailer stabilizers are easy to set up and take down, since the manufacturers usually assume you will be on the go!
Your RV being level will help a lot with any rocking or swaying motion found while moving about inside your rig. But sometimes it can be difficult to know whether or not your rig is level, no matter how many times you try.
Your trailer’s tongue jack is its main focal point when it is parked. Having a level trailer begins with how high or low your tongue jack is positioned. While my tongue jack is completely manual with no level indication in it, there are better leveling jacks out there for you to purchase.
Some travel trailers have self-leveling tongue jacks, as well as jack stabilizers positioned throughout the frame. These are amazing perks to install on your rig, should you have a healthy budget.
If you don’t have the biggest budget and perhaps don’t wish to permanently install anything new on your trailer, I highly recommend purchasing a nice level rest for your tongue jack. These simple devices will ensure that your tongue jack is level as well as secure so that less rocking will occur while you are staying inside of your parked travel trailer. I recommend checking out this simple option from Dock N Stow on Amazon.
If you don’t wish to purchase any fancy leveling systems surrounding your tongue jack, it is still important to make sure that your trailer is as level as possible, both while parked and while towing. Using a simple bubble level set on your travel trailer’s frame can help you out a lot!
We’ve talked about chocks for your wheels, but did you know that you can purchase a style of leveling chock as well? These handy inventions are capable of stopping your travel trailer wheels from rocking as well as keeping your rig level should the ground be uneven.
These take the most time and effort to master, but these leveling blocks can be lifesavers for your rig, especially if your campsite is sloping from left to right or vice versa. They are essentially blocks or sloped rubber pieces that you park on top of and adjust based on the incline of your parking spot.
It sounds confusing, but these little inventions can be lifesavers for RVs, especially those that require a very level surface for their propane appliances and systems. However, they can be difficult to position accurately and may require a lot of reparking should you be new at them.
Leveling blocks absolutely help with a rocking travel trailer, especially if you notice that your trailer rocks more from side to side rather than from front to back. Raising up one or both sides of your rig so that they are the same height can make all the difference! If you do want to go with leveling blocks, I’d suggest these from CARMTEK.
What About My Slide Outs?
When it comes to slide outs, it is important to think of them when you are getting your rig level. I should say, don’t worry about opening your slide outs or pop outs until you are fully parked and level.
Adjusting your slide outs while you are still trying to get level can be disastrous for your rig. If you are parking on an extremely uneven surface, you run the risk of your trailer tipping over or other damage occurring should you let a slide out activate.
Slide outs should not be activated or operated until your rig is 100% level and secure. If you do this and notice that your slide outs have a lot of rocking and motion to them while the rest of the trailer is stable, you may wish to consider purchasing separate slide out stabilizers.
Slide out stabilizers can be useful to many RV owners. However, it is important to consider the reasons why slide out stabilizers may not be a good fit for you and your rig. Slide outs are very delicate pieces of machinery, which is why it is key to leave them be until you are ready to relax!
Other Tips to Stop a Rocking Travel Trailer
If you are still struggling with a rocking travel trailer, here are some further tips and ideas that could help you get to the level of stability that you are expecting. Keep in mind however that your travel trailer will never feel quite as stable as your traditionally built home!
- Keep your tires properly aired up. While adding more buoyancy may seem counterintuitive to a rocking travel trailer, ensuring that your tires are always aired up properly is key. You’ll have a rig that is easier to drive as well as tires that are the size and weight that they should be, allowing you to chock and stabilize them properly.
- Investigate your campsite before you park. It may seem silly, but getting out of your car and physically walking around your parking spot can be key to avoiding any unlevel ground. Your body can tell when something isn’t level much easier than your naked eye can. Walk the campsite and angle your trailer based on any wobbly sections, such as potholes or sloping pavement.
- Always have a bubble level handy. If your trailer isn’t self leveling or if your tongue jack doesn’t have a level built in, keeping a small plastic bubble level handy while unhitching is key. Simply put the level on your tongue jack frame or inside of your rig to ensure that your travel trailer is level before you start your vacation.
- Place your stabilizers strategically. I purchased four stabilizers for my little travel trailer and, while all four of the stabilizers had a much higher combined weight limit than my trailer could ever reach, I needed four for maximum stability. Placing your stabilizers strategically along your frame, often one in each corner, will maximize your stability. Depending on the length of your travel trailer or fifth wheel, you may consider purchasing more than four stabilizers.
- Distribute the weight evenly. While you should stabilize your rig properly from the outside, you may also consider how your travel trailer is weighted on the inside as well. If your family is spending all of their time at the back of the rig without support or stabilizers, there’s no doubt that it will feel unbalanced. Consider relocating luggage and other supplies evenly throughout the rig.
- Tell the kiddos to play outside. Ultimately a travel trailer will only rock if people are moving around inside of it. If there is far too much movement happening all at once, your rig will rock! Tell the kids to have fun playing chase outside, or let the dogs spend time on the lawn instead. Isn’t that the point of camping after all? To get outside?!
A rocking travel trailer isn’t fun for anyone to stay in, whether you’re making dinner or sleeping for the night. Thankfully there are solutions to this common RV problem.
Purchasing stabilizers, leveling blocks, and other handy accessories are the best solutions for a rocking travel trailer, no matter where you choose to park it. Once you’re stable, the camping and fun can commence!
Do you have any fantastic tips for keeping your travel trailer from rocking? Let us know in the comments!