RV Leveling Jacks Will Not Retract Completely | Troubleshooting

If you own an RV, you know how important it is to have a stable and comfortable living space. That’s why most RVs are equipped with leveling jacks, which are devices that extend from the chassis and lift the RV off the ground. Leveling jacks help to balance the RV on uneven terrain, reduce the stress on the tires and suspension, and prevent the RV from rocking or swaying.

However, sometimes you may encounter a problem with your leveling jacks: they will not retract completely. This can be a frustrating and potentially dangerous situation, as it can prevent you from driving your RV safely and smoothly. 

Therefore, I’m here to explain the possible causes of this issue, how to troubleshoot and fix it, and when to seek professional help. I’ll also provide some safety precautions and tips to prevent this problem from happening again.

RV Leveling Jacks Will Not Retract Completely

Why The RV Leveling Jacks Won’t Retract Completely?

To understand the reasons, it’s better to understand the leveling systems first. There are two main types of leveling systems: hydraulic and electric.

RV Leveling Jacks
  • Hydraulic systems use pressurized fluid to extend and retract the jacks. They have a pump, a reservoir, hoses, valves, and cylinders. The pump pushes the fluid from the reservoir to the hoses, which then direct it to the valves. The valves control the flow of the fluid to the cylinders, which are attached to the jacks. When the fluid enters the cylinders, it pushes the pistons and extends the jacks. When the fluid is released from the cylinders, it returns to the reservoir and the jacks retract.
  • Electric systems use electric motors and gears to extend and retract the jacks. They have a control panel, wiring, fuses, and actuators. The control panel sends signals to the wiring, which then powers the fuses. The fuses protect the circuit from overloading and supply current to the actuators. The actuators are devices that convert electrical energy into mechanical motion. They are connected to the jacks by gears or screws. When the actuators receive current, they rotate the gears or screws and extend the jacks. When the current is cut off, they reverse the rotation and retract the jacks.

Both types of systems also have sensors that detect the position and angle of the RV and the jacks. The sensors communicate with the control panel and adjust the jacks accordingly to achieve the desired level.

Now that you know the basic components of the leveling systems, let’s see what can cause them to malfunction and prevent the jacks from retracting completely. There are four main categories of possible causes: hydraulic issues, electrical problems, mechanical problems, and control system errors.

Hydraulic Issues

These are problems related to the fluid and its flow in the hydraulic system. They include low fluid levels, fluid leaks, air bubbles in the fluid, and clogged filters. Low fluid levels can reduce the pressure and volume of the fluid, making it harder to retract the jacks. Fluid leaks can cause the same problem, as well as contaminate the fluid and damage the components. Air bubbles in the fluid can create pockets of air that interfere with the flow and pressure of the fluid, resulting in uneven or incomplete retraction. Clogged filters can block the fluid from reaching the cylinders or returning to the reservoir, causing the jacks to stick or jam.

Electrical Problems 

These are problems related to the wiring and the current in the electric system. They include faulty wiring, blown fuses, and control panel issues. Faulty wiring can cause loose or broken connections, short circuits, or corrosion, affecting the power supply to the actuators and the sensors. Blown fuses can cut off the current to the actuators, preventing them from retracting the jacks. Control panel issues can result from faulty switches, buttons, or displays, making it difficult to operate the system or receive feedback.

Mechanical Problems

These are problems related to the physical parts and their movement in both types of systems. They include bent components, worn seals, and obstructions. Bent components can occur due to excessive weight, impact, or wear and tear, affecting the alignment and function of the jacks. Worn seals can cause fluid leaks in the hydraulic system or allow dirt and moisture to enter the electric system, damaging the components. Obstructions can be caused by debris, rocks, or other objects that get stuck in the jacks or the cylinders, preventing them from retracting smoothly.

Control System Errors

These are problems related to the software and the sensors in both types of systems. They include sensor malfunctions and software glitches. Sensor malfunctions can occur due to faulty wiring, dirt, or damage, causing the sensors to send inaccurate or inconsistent signals to the control panel. Software glitches can occur due to bugs, viruses, or power surges, causing the control panel to misinterpret or ignore the signals from the sensors or the user.

Troubleshooting and Solutions for Retracting the RV Leveling Jacks

Now that we have identified the possible causes of the issue, let’s see how to troubleshoot and fix it. The first step is to refer to your RV manual for specific instructions and recommendations for your model and type of leveling system. The manual may also provide some troubleshooting tips and diagrams to help you locate and identify the components. If you don’t have the manual, you can try to find it online or contact the manufacturer or dealer for assistance.

Depending on the type and cause of the problem, you may be able to fix it yourself or you may need to seek professional help. Here are some general guidelines and solutions for each category of possible causes –

Hydraulic Issues

To check the fluid level, locate the reservoir and use a dipstick or a sight glass to measure the amount of fluid. If the fluid is low, add more fluid of the same type and viscosity as recommended by the manufacturer. To inspect for leaks, look for signs of wetness, stains, or drips on the hoses, valves, cylinders, and reservoirs. If you find any leaks, tighten the connections, replace the seals, or patch the holes. To bleed air bubbles, open the bleeder valves on the cylinders and run the pump until the fluid comes out without bubbles. To unclog filters, remove them from the hoses and clean them with compressed air or replace them if they are too dirty.

Electrical Problems

To verify wiring connections, use a multimeter or a test light to check the continuity and voltage of the wires. If you find any faulty wires, repair or replace them. To check fuses and breakers, locate the fuse box and use a fuse tester or a multimeter to check the condition and current of the fuses. If you find any blown fuses, replace them with the same type and rating. To reset the control panel, turn off the power and disconnect the battery for a few minutes. Then reconnect the battery and turn on the power. The control panel should reboot and clear any errors.

Mechanical Solutions

To lubricate moving parts, use a spray lubricant or a grease gun to apply lubricant to the jacks, the cylinders, the gears, and the screws. This will reduce friction and corrosion and improve the performance of the components. To check for obstructions, visually inspect the jacks and the cylinders for any debris, rocks, or other objects that may be stuck or jammed. If you find any obstructions, remove them carefully with a tool or by hand. To address minor bends, use a hammer or a wrench to gently straighten the bent components. Do not attempt to fix major bends, as they may compromise the integrity and safety of the components.

Advanced Diagnostics

If the above solutions do not work or if you are not comfortable or confident with performing them, you may need to use specialized tools or consult technical diagrams to diagnose and fix the problem. Some of these tools include a hydraulic pressure gauge, an electric circuit tester, a leveling sensor tester, and diagnostic software. Some of these diagrams include a hydraulic schematic, an electric wiring diagram, a leveling system layout, and a control panel interface. These tools and diagrams can help you pinpoint the exact location and cause of the problem and guide you through the repair process. However, they may require some technical knowledge and expertise, so you may want to seek professional help instead.

Importance of Professional Help

Sometimes, the problem may be too complex, too dangerous, or too difficult to fix by yourself. In that case, you should seek professional help from a qualified technician. Here are some situations when you should seek professional assistance:

a) The problem persists or worsens after trying the above solutions.

b) The problem involves major damage or defects to the components, such as cracks, leaks, breaks, or burns.

c) The problem poses a safety risk to you or your RV, such as sparks, flames, smoke, or explosions.

d) You lack the necessary tools, skills, or confidence to fix the problem by yourself.

There are many benefits of seeking professional help, such as –

— Can use advanced tools and techniques to identify the exact cause and location of the problem and provide a reliable solution.

— Can use quality parts and materials to fix the problem and restore the function and performance of the components.

— Can give you some tips and recommendations on how to prevent the problem from happening again and how to maintain your leveling system in good condition.

To find a professional technician, you can contact the manufacturer or dealer of your RV or your leveling system, or you can search online for local RV service centers or mobile RV repair services. Make sure to check the credentials, reviews, and ratings of the technicians before hiring them. Also, make sure to get a written estimate and a warranty for the service.

What to Consider While Troubleshooting Your RV Leveling Jack?

Before you attempt to troubleshoot or fix the problem, you should follow some safety precautions to avoid injury or damage to yourself or your RV. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind –

Use chocks: Chocks are wedge-shaped blocks that you place behind and in front of the wheels of your RV to prevent it from rolling or moving. You should always use chocks before operating the leveling jacks, especially if the jacks are not retracting completely. This will prevent the RV from falling off the jacks or sliding down the slope.

Keep hands and feet clear: When you are working on the leveling system, you should keep your hands and feet away from the moving parts, such as the jacks, the cylinders, the gears, and the screws. You should also avoid touching any hot or sharp components, such as the wires, the fuses, or the pistons. This will prevent you from getting pinched, crushed, burned, or cut by the components.

Disconnect power: Before you make any repairs or adjustments to the electrical system, you should disconnect the power source and the battery of your RV. This will prevent you from getting electrocuted or causing a short circuit or a fire. You should also wear rubber gloves and insulated tools when handling the wires or the fuses.

Avoid unstable ground: You should avoid operating the leveling jacks on soft, wet, or uneven ground, such as sand, mud, or gravel. This can cause the jacks to sink, tilt, or slip, resulting in an unstable or unlevel RV. You should also avoid operating the jacks on steep slopes, as this can cause the RV to roll over or slide down. You should look for a flat, hard, and dry surface to park and level your RV.

Final Thought

Leveling jacks are crucial for a stable and cozy RV living space, but when they don’t retract completely, it can be a hassle. That’s why I’ve outlined the possible causes, solutions, and safety tips for this issue. I hope you found the information helpful. If you have any questions or comments, knock me in the first place. Remember to regularly maintain your leveling system by checking fluid levels, lubricating moving parts, cleaning components, and updating software. These steps will prevent future problems and ensure a longer lifespan for your leveling system. Thanks for reading, and happy RVing! 

Related FAQs

How do I know if my RV has a hydraulic or an electric leveling system?

You can check the type of your leveling system by looking at the components and the control panel. A hydraulic system will have a reservoir, hoses, valves, and cylinders, while an electric system will have wiring, fuses, and actuators. A hydraulic system will also have a control panel with a pump switch and a fluid level indicator, while an electric system will have a control panel with a power switch and a fuse indicator.

How often should I check and maintain my leveling system?

You should check and maintain your leveling system regularly, depending on how often and how long you use your RV. A general rule of thumb is to check the fluid level, the wiring connections, and the moving parts before and after each trip, and to lubricate, clean, and replace the components as needed. You should also consult your RV manual for specific maintenance intervals and instructions for your model and type of leveling system.

What are some signs that my leveling system is not working properly?

Some signs that your leveling system is not working properly are – The jacks do not extend or retract fully or evenly. The jacks make unusual noises, such as hissing, grinding, or clicking. The jacks leak fluid or smoke. The control panel displays error messages or does not respond. Lastly, the RV is not level or stable, even after using the jacks.

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