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CONTROVERSY: Leveling Your RV With Slides Out or In?

It’s a question beginning RVers have asked for decades, “Should I level my RV before or after I put the slides out?”

Go to any RV forum and you’ll see long threads discussing the pros and cons. But what’s the right answer?

Let’s take a look!

What Does RV Leveling Do?

Leveling your RV isn’t just about comfort or vertigo. Sure, it helps you sleep better and keep your plates and cups on the table. Have you ever tried to fry eggs while your RV’s unlevel?

However, it’s also important for many RV refrigerators to be level. Because of how they operate, using gravity, the refrigerator could malfunction or even have permanent damage if it’s off-balance.

Your plumbing uses gravity to drain too. While being off-kilter may not cause a backup, it could cause slow running drains and pooling in certain locations.

Whether you put your slides out before or after leveling, ensuring your RV is level helps keep a balanced pressure on their supports.

In addition, your tank sensors will likely be wrong. This may not be as important for those of you who are hooked up all the time. (Though we’ve recommended in the past to keep your tanks closed even when you have hookups.) But people who boondock regularly need to know how their holding tanks are doing, especially their freshwater tank.

What Happens When You Move Your Slides Out?

When you move your RV slides out, level or not, all their weight moves with them. Many people compare this with holding a dumbbell in front of you versus holding two weights out to your sides.

Your RV has a much better center of gravity when the slides are in.

Leveling Your RV with Slides In

This is what most people will say is the right way to level with your slides in. The weight from your slides is centered. In addition, many say that putting your slides out with your RV unleveled can cause undue pressure on their parts.

As a result, you could see damage over time or even immediately if you’re that off-balanced.

Leveling Your RV with Slides Out

However, some people suggest leveling with their slides out is better. They say this is because the slides are different weights and depths, so the auto-levelers especially have issues.

These RVers feel that leveling first, then putting the slides out causes their RV to tilt and generally requires additional leveling afterward.

The Right Answer

So what’s the right answer? Level and put your slides out according to your RV’s user manual. Any professional should tell you that the typical recommendation is to level first, then put your slides out.

However, they’ll also state you should go with what your manufacturer states in your owner’s manual.

For most, they’re right. Level first, then slides. But there are some RVs designed to have the slides out before leveling. So pick up that huge book and find the section on leveling to ensure you’re doing it right for your rig. What does your RV manual say – level before or after?

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  1. Meike says:

    We learned to trust our guts with that. We level first, then take the slides out. In 80 % of all situations we don’t do anything after that. But if sometimes, for whatever reason, we feel the leveling is not perfect (eggs in the pan or we ourselves run faster in one direction ;-), we just turn on the leveling system and do some small adjustments. That way the slide mechanism does not have to pull or push too much weight against an incline or decline in the first step.

  2. Jimbo says:

    When I had a travel trailer, I tended to level when the slides were in as I was using blocks or wedges to to do. Often the wheels were under the slide outs, so this saved my body from crawling around to adjust them.

    I now have pneumatic jacks so it really doesn’t matter. The slight tilting that may occur from the slide outs being in or our won’t impact the ammonia based refers. Just make sure you are within a degree or two of level is what I have learned. I did have a friend who didn’t believe any leveling was important for the fridge and it resulted in the purchase of a new fridge $$$. So, I’d say your good either way, unless you want those eggs in the center of the pan. If stay home, it is part of the experience of being away from home and worry free.