Levelling & Positioning Your Caravan or RV

I want to level with you, caravans and RV vehicles are all about position, position, position! Imagine this for a moment:

Your shower is pooling up, perhaps even overflowing. The shower door nearly took you out on the way in. You’re in a ripper camping spot, but despite clear days, you’re hardly getting any solar. You want to sit outside, but there is little privacy and you can barely get your awning out.

All of the above are symptoms related to not getting your caravan or RV level or in the right position. There are several things you need to think about as you move into a campsite, and some tools you will need to get that perfect camping experience.

4WD towing a caravan on a beach

Levelling is all about position. 

How to choose the perfect caravan or RV site

Obviously, you need to assess if your caravan, camper or RV will fit onto the site. Beyond this, there is far more to consider. Which way is north? Will the sun be shaded during the day as it traverses from east to west?

If you have solar on your caravan or RV, you’re going to want to make sure it gets as much sun as possible. The ground surface is also important. What is it made of, will it drain or can you secure an awning into it? Could it get muddy when wet, or are pests such as ants present?

You’re also going to want to consider privacy if there are neighbours around, and if you can get your awning out and perhaps your TV or satellite dish up. Also, a flatter site is generally better. But the best locations are never as level as you might like!

Bird's eye view of 4WD & caravan parked on sandy dunes near beach

There are a few things to consider when choosing a site. 

Why levelling your caravan or RV is important

Your caravan or RV will rely on being level for a number of reasons. Some 3-way fridges need to be level in order to operate efficiently. Your plumbing will certainly need a level caravan, but you’re also going to want to sleep comfortably without all of the blood rushing to your head! Your cupboard and shower doors will operate better on a level surface too.

Sure, you can pull up and rough it occasionally, but if you’ve gone to the trouble of investing in a caravan or RV to avoid a tent, why not get it right for maximum comfort.

4WD towing caravan along beach road

Levelling will make your set up so much more comfortable. 

Tools to help get your caravan or RV level

There are a number of different tools you can use, but really the key ones are a spirit level, some levelling ramps and some chocks to keep your caravan or RV in the right location.

The concept is that your caravan should be level from left to right, as well as from front to rear. A small spirit level, either a hand one or perhaps one mounted to your drawbar, is all you need to get the right information on how your caravan sits.

Levelling ramps are the bare minimum when it comes to levelling your van. With the information gained from your spirit level, you can apply these to the right or left of your caravan or RV to adjust as needed.

Once level, that’s when the chocks come into play. Bear in mind, none of this comes included with your new caravan or RV! Additional tools you can utilise are stabiliser pads and perhaps a shovel for digging down as needed.

Man levelling his caravan with a spirit level

A spirit level is a key tool you need for your caravan. 

The perfect process for levelling your caravan or RV

Once you have your caravan or RV site chosen, the first thing you are going to want to do is check if it is level. Ideally, working in a pair is the go here, with a driver in the vehicle and the assistant helping to make it all happen.

Step 1:

Check the left to right level first. This is the one that is adjusted through raising or sinking the heights on one or both sides of your caravan or RV. We’ve had situations on sand where we have had to dig down, but more often than not you will be wanting to raise one side to bring the van level. Once identified, apply your levelling ramps or dig just in front or behind the side needing adjusting.

Step 2:

Have your driver move the vehicle or caravan up onto the ramps or into the lower area. Do this slowly, and then check to see the result. You may need to adjust the process or height multiple times to get it right. Once you have left to right sorted, its time for the front to rear.

Woman using Walkie Talkie to communicate to driver how to reverse caravan accurately

It’s best to work in pairs with a driver and an assistant with a walkie talkie. 

Step 3:

You now need to unhook your caravan to be able to adjust the front and rear levels. Using the jockey wheel, raise or lower the front, as needed.

If you have a motorhome, you can achieve this in different ways, some are automatic, but likely you will need to adjust the front or rear wheels with your levelling ramps as needed to get it right. Either way, adjust the motorhome or caravan so you can get the front to rear level.

Step 4:

Chock the wheels and deploy your stabilisers. Your caravan or RV will need to be chocked to keep it from moving, and to stop the side to side rocking as you move about. That’s it, your all set to enjoy your home away from home, anywhere.

Two caravan tyres resting on wheel chocks

After you’re done, make sure you chock the wheels of your caravan or RV. 

Pro tips from the field

Sometimes getting your caravan level starts well before you start the steps above. Choosing the right site and the right position of your van in that site makes all the difference.

We’ve been on the road now for over 3 months full time in our caravan, moving every few days around Australia. We have quickly learnt that before we pull into a site we check it out to identify the lie of the land, spot areas that we should avoid, and sometimes even take advantage of.

In our experience, walkie talkies the best method to make all of the above work seamlessly, the car UHF radio paired with a small handheld for the assistant providing feedback to the driver.

What are your tips for getting that perfectly level caravan or motorhome?