How Do You Jack Up A Travel Trailer?
Every RV owner should know how to jack up a travel trailer so they can be ready to perform maintenance or unplanned repairs to the brakes, tires, or wheels. It is also important to know because damage to the axles or personal injury can occur if done improperly. Unfortunately, there is not always an easy answer to this.
Can you jack up a trailer by the axle?
Jacking a travel trailer up by the axles is the first inclination of most RVers. But is it the right method?
Most manufacturers instruct you to not jack up a travel trailer by the axle, as doing so can damage the axle. Most owner’s manuals state to only jack up the trailer via the frame.
“Position a hydraulic jack under the frame close to the spring hanger . . . Never attempt to use the stabilizing jack to lift the unit.”– Keystone RV manual
What if your travel trailer has an enclosed underbelly that prevents easy access to the frame, thus hindering the ability to see where it is located? A few manufacturers, like Airstream, affix a plate to the underbelly that indicates where to place the head of the jack.
Other RVers whose rigs have an enclosed underbelly are left wondering what their options are on how to jack up a travel trailer. Do they try to find the frame through the underbelly material and risk damaging the underbelly, or do they revert to lifting from the axles?
If you have torsion axles, one good place to find a suitable jack location on the frame of a travel trailer with an enclosed underbelly is between the axles.
Pros and cons of jacking up a trailer by the axle
The main reason manufacturers do not want RV owners jacking up the trailer via the axles is the risk of damaging the axle, if done improperly. Jacking up a trailer towards the middle of the axle can cause it to bend.
If they are unable to jack up a trailer via the frame, most RV shops and owners will position the jack under the plate where the U-bolts connect to the axle. If this is not possible, they will position the jack on the axle as close to the wheel as possible.
One advantage of jacking the trailer up by the axle is that you won’t need to lift the trailer as high to get the tire off the ground.
Important safety measures
Before jacking, ensure the trailer is on a relatively level and hard surface. Chock the tires that won’t be lifted.
Once lifted, always use ANSI-certified jack stands to support the weight of the trailer. Be sure the jack has a rating exceeding the weight you will be placing on it. Never use RV stack jacks.
As noted above: Never use the factory-installed stabilizing jacks to lift the trailer.
When lifting single or tandem trailers with exposed frames, lift from behind the rear axle. This will provide better stability, as most of the weight of the trailer will be between the jack and the tongue jack. Consider using two jacks, one in front and one rear of the axles, on larger trailers.
Avoid lifting both sides of the trailer off the ground at the same time. For stability, raise one side, perform the required maintenance, then lower back to the ground. Then proceed to the other side.
For added stability, leave the travel trailer attached to the tow vehicle with the tow vehicle parking brake set, with the transmission in park and the tongue jack of the trailer down. Remove the ignition key from the tow vehicle for added safety.
Avoid using wood block(s) between the jack and the trailer frame/axle.
If your tandem axle travel trailer has torsion axles, you can skip using a jack to lift up just one tire of your trailer. By pulling/backing a tire of your trailer onto a Trailer Aid or tall block, the adjacent tire will come off the ground. This will allow you to service the tire, wheel, or brake assembly.
Track your RV maintenance
How to jack up a travel trailer for maintenance has many potential answers, based on the features of your trailer. The best answer is by the frame whenever possible. But if this is not possible, you will have to use your judgement on the next best option.
If in doubt, contact the manufacturer or RV dealer that deals in your brand of trailer. Whatever method you choose, keep safety in mind first.
Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool such as RV LIFE Maintenance. Not only can you keep all of your documents in one place, but you’ll also receive reminders when maintenance is due to help you avoid costly repairs.