If you are a new motorhome or campervan owner one of the most important skills to learn is how to properly and safely level a van when you arrive on a site. I’ve previously written about how to level a caravan, however with motorhomes its a different challenge. With this post we will first cover the highlights, then we will go into more detail:
How To Level A Motorhome/Campervan on Site
- Find a Good Position With Firm Ground
Motorhomes are heavy vehicles, even small units will be between 2-3 tonnes. Therefore it’s a bad idea to try and level the motorhome on soft ground, as it won’t stay level for long.
- Purchase Strong and Durable Levelling Ramps
Don’t be tempted to purchase cheap levelling ramps. As stated, motorhomes are heavy vehicles. Cheap ramps will break and snap pretty quickly, therefore check reviews before a purchase.
- Kick the Ramps into Position and Don’t Hold Them!
Kick the ramps under the wheels parallel to the tyres. No one should be holding the ramps in position. If the clutch slips or the driver makes a mistake it could have serious consequences.
Right, now we have covered the highlights lets go into more detail on how to level a motorhome or camper van on site.
1. Find a Good Position With Firm Ground
As stated above, motorhomes are heavy vehicles. At Horton Common, we have had some very large motorhomes visit us over the years. Some of the large A Class motorhomes weigh between 5 to 10 tonnes! So when it comes to levelling a motorhome of that weight, the ground needs to be firm and stable enough to support the weight. Luckily at Horton Common, we have installed a road and hard standing pitches with 200 tonnes of stone at a depth of 6 to 10 inches to provide a firm stable surface all year round. It’s been tested several times by the 20-tonne gravel wagons that deliver granite chipping for the road dressing.
How to Level a Motorhome on a Grass Pitch
However, not all caravan and motorhome sites have such a firm surface, particularly on small sites. Even more so if you are going to be staying on a grass pitch. Many of our motorhome visitors state they now only visit sites with hard standing fully serviced pitches. But in some cases, you might not have a choice, and you have to stay on a grass pitch. Therefore try to find an area on the site that will drain well, asking the owner for the best position is a good idea.
Let’s consider an example. You turn up to a site on a dry day and level your motorhome. You get the motorhome perfectly level and your pretty happy with the job. Then some typical British weather takes hold, and down comes the rain. The ground becomes wet and the due to the weight of the motorhome you start to sink! Now this will not only put your motorhome off level, but you may also get stuck! Therefore the very first step on how to level a motorhome is to find stable and firm ground.
2. Purchase Strong and Durable Levelling Ramps
When I wrote my post about how to level a caravan I also talked about levelling ramps and the importance of purchasing quality ramps. However, I’m going to put even more emphasis on purchasing good quality levelling ramps for motorhome owners. And again the reason is weight.
I’ve seen many motorhomes in the past with levelling ramps which are broken or split. The reason being cheap plastic and poor design. Make sure that the levelling ramps you purchase have got a good number of positive reviews from customers who have used the ramps multiple times. Even the cheap ramps won’t break the first time you use them (probably). However, you will want to be using these ramps time and time again.
Going back to the first point about choosing firm ground to start with. You also want to purchase levelling ramps that have a wide base to spread the weight of the motorhome as much as possible. In some cases, motorhome owners place boards underneath the levelling ramps to spread the weight even more. In terms of driving up the ramps, the video below from The Motorhomer’s Magazine provides some good information:
3. Kick the Ramps into Position and Don’t Hold Them!
As the video above notes, when you are driving the motorhome up onto the levelling ramps no one should be holding them into position, it can be seriously dangerous. You simply want to kick the ramps firmly into position, parallel to the tyres. To drive up onto the ramps it requires feathering the clutch. Depending on the condition of your clutch this will either be a smooth operation or pretty juddery. The last thing you want is a loved one suddenly trapped under the wheels of your motorhome due to clutch slip!
But Why Do You Need To Level Your Motorhome?
Well, there are several reasons why it’s a good idea to level your motorhome. First, a level fridge is a happy fridge. Some makes and models of fridges fitted to motorhomes do not work properly if tilted. Another reason is so your shower drains properly. Now some motorhome manufacturers are wise to the issue of levelling motorhomes. It’s not an easy task for some people, so they now design the shower around the issue. This involves putting two drain holes into the shower floor. However, if your shower only has one drain you want to make sure that it’s going to work properly. Hence levelling the motorhome is vital for those with one shower drain.
There is also the issue of a comfortable sleeping environment. Its unlikely your pitch would be so tilted you’re going to fall out of bed. However, some people will notice the difference if their bed is not level in the quality of their sleep. Finally, there is the issue of cooking on your hob. If your not on a stable/level pitch that could make cooking pretty dangerous, especially with hot liquids.
What about Automated Self-Levelling Systems for Motorhomes?
Yes, we have had a couple of visitors to Horton Common over the years who have had these automated self-levelling systems fitted. They use four hydraulic jacks mounted to the motorhome chassis to lift the van into a level position. The video below is an example of such a system:
Now, these automated self-levelling systems are very impressive. Literally, with the touch of one button, it will do the job for you. However, they are pretty expensive. One visitor to our site told me the self-levelling system for their motorhome cost £7,000. Now, that’s not an insignificant amount of money. However, for them, it was worth every penny. Their mobility was limited and not having the get down on the ground to position ramps etc was important to them.
Conclusions on How to Level a Motorhome
So if you have purchased a motorhome and you’ve never set up on a site before I hope the above information was useful. I do believe levelling a motorhome is more difficult than levelling a caravan. You have more wheels to deal with and a heavier vehicle. However, if you purchase good quality levelling ramps and think through the process you’ll be fine. You can then set up your unit and enjoy your stay 🙂