Written by the Getaway Couple Rae & Jason
Not all travel trailers come with an electric RV jack. Many budget-friendly and lighter RVs utilize a manual jack, which can be a pain. However, installing a new jack is a straightforward task. It’s so simple that you can upgrade or replace your jack in under 30 minutes if you have the right tools.
Today, we’re walking you through the process of installing an electric RV jack on your travel trailer. Let’s dive in!
What is An Electric RV Jack?
An electric RV jack typically mounts to the front of a trailer’s A-frame. RVers use it to raise and lower a trailer for hitching and unhitching. It is essential for leveling a rig front to back. People commonly use jacks on travel trailers, and you can use them with an A-frame trailer.
Electric jacks typically run off the trailer’s battery or can pull power from the tow vehicle. An electric RV Jack is a significant upgrade, especially if your arm gets tired from cranking your manual jack up and down. You can quickly and efficiently raise and lower your trailer with minimal effort.
What Size Electric Jack Do I Need for My Travel Trailer?
When purchasing an electric jack for your travel trailer, you want to ensure it can do the job. Travel trailers come in various shapes and sizes, so there is no one-size-fits-all option. Knowing the weight of your rig is essential, but you should also have the tongue weight of your specific RV.
The tongue weight of a travel trailer is often 10% to 15% of the overall weight of a trailer. If you have a travel trailer that weighs 6,000 lbs, you’ll need an electric jack that can lift at least 600 to 900 lbs. However, we recommend playing it safe and choosing a more than capable electric RV jack. You don’t want to be up against the maximum weight capacity of your jack and increase the wear and tear.
How to Install An Electric RV Jack
Installing an electric RV jack doesn’t require many tools and is relatively simple. Even if you’re not an experienced DIYer, you can likely knock out this project in no time. Let’s take a look!
Buy a Capable Power Jack
Whether upgrading or replacing a faulty/damaged jack, you’ll first need to buy a new jack capable of lifting your trailer. It’s good to look at your current jack’s lifting capacity and replace it with a similar jack.
You can usually find electric power jacks at camping store chains. However, they’re also readily available on Amazon and other online retailers. To simplify the project, look for a jack that matches the mounting holes and shape as the previous jack.
Chock Wheels and Take Weight Off the Trailer
Now that you have the new jack and are ready to start, you’ll want to check your trailer's wheels and take the weight off your trailer's tongue. You can utilize jack stands or even hitch up your trailer to your tow vehicle.
Once you have secured the trailer's frame, you can fully retract the old jack and turn the power off. You’re now ready to start removing the old jack.
Remove Old Tongue Jack
The first step to removing the old jack is to remove the footplate from the base of the jack. A round wire lock pin is often all that holds these in place. Remove the pin and slide the footplate.
You’ll then need an appropriately-sized socket to remove the old tongue jack. A few bolts are typically all that hold tongue jacks in place. Depending on the age and condition of your bolts, you may want to spray some WD-40 or other general-purpose spray lube to loosen the bolts.
Once you remove the bolts, lift the old jack out and lay it to the side. If the jack connects to the battery, it’s best to leave it connected. This will help simplify connecting power to the new jack later.
Secure New Electric RV Jack
Slide the new electric RV jack into place. Make sure the jack slides through the lower support plate on the underside of the A-frame. If you don’t have a lower support frame on your trailer’s structure, you’ll need to install one. This will require you to use an appropriately-sized socket (typically 9/16, but it can vary) to tighten the bolts and secure the jack.
Tighten utilizing a torque wrench at 15 to 20’ pounds. Once you’ve installed it, it’s good to check the torque on the bolts every so often to ensure they’re not coming loose.
With the power still off, if the old and new wiring are the same, you can easily follow the path of the old wiring with the new wiring. Most electric RV jacks are internally grounded, which means you’ll only need to connect a single positive wire to the power source.
Some jacks wire directly into the battery disconnect switch, while others connect directly to the positive battery terminal. Thoroughly read your new electric RV jack’s instructions to ensure that you wire your new jack correctly.
Are Electric RV Jacks Better Than Manual Jacks?
An electric RV jack can be easier and more efficient than a manual. However, they’re not for everybody. They’re usually bulkier and heavier than manual jacks. Those looking to camp in hard-to-reach locations may not want to sacrifice the additional weight. Smaller and more agile off-roading trailers can be less difficult to raise and lower.
On the other hand, if you’re spending most of your time in established campgrounds and have a large trailer, an electric RV jack can be essential. You want to hitch and unhitch your RV as efficiently as possible. For many, replacing a manual jack is well worth the extra cost and effort.