Parking Trailer on Sloped Driveway Safely: The How-to Guide

Avatar photo

It’s your turn to pull the trailer, and you’re trying to park it for the first time, but the trailer hardly reacts to your maneuver. 

So how do you park a trailer on a sloped driveway? Does it matter if it’s a single or dual axle? What kind of blocks do you need? Do you have to buy blocks? Is leveling a camper hard? Does the hitch matter?

If you’re new to RVing, how to park a trailer on a sloped driveway is a skill you need to cultivate. Not only is it a matter of safety for you and those around you, learning this skill also saves you the time and stress of parking a trailer on a sloped driveway.

And you’ll be happy to know that it’s less about skill than about using the right tools and techniques.

So let’s save you time and frustration with a simple process for how to park a trailer or RV on a sloped driveway.

STEP 1:  Have the Essential Equipment for Safely Parking a Trailer on a Sloped Driveway

                                      A four-door pickup truck (https://unsplash.com/photos/5saApcjtoaI)

Before getting into the backing-up part, you need to make sure you’re using the right tools to safely park a trailer on a sloped driveway. 

The Proper Tow Vehicle:

You need a tow vehicle that’s rated to tow your trailer’s weight. That means you need to weigh your trailer when it’s loaded and ready to go on a road trip. Then double-check that number with your vehicle’s towing capacity and that your transmission can handle it. 

Pro Tip: Some hybrid engines don’t run in reverse. It’s strictly electric in reverse. So while your towing capacity is capable, it may not have the “umph” you need to get it up a steep slope safely. So have a plan B. 

The Right Wheel Chocks or X Chocks

A wheel chock is a wedge-shaped device that stops your vehicle from unintentionally rolling or moving. On a sloped driveway, wheel chocks are a vital safety to keep your trailer stationary.

Some trailers have tandem axles, where the wheels are next to each other. For these axles, use X chocks to position between the two wheels. X chocks keep wheels from rolling forward or backward.

You can find good plastic or rubber chocks for your wheels at Harbor Freight.

Leveling Blocks for your RV

Once you’ve parked your RV on a sloped driveway, you need to level it to prevent undue stress. 

Leveling blocks assist in leveling the trailer and offer extra stability. When selecting between plastic blocks and wood leveling blocks, consider the size and mass of your vehicle. 

Now they do make special leveling blocks that you can use to level your RV. But you can always build up your own blocks with pavers or wood, adding to the stack as needed. Just make sure your blocks are stable.

Functional Tongue Jack and Stabilizers

These keep your RV stable on an incline. Stabilizers and a tongue jack usually come with your RV. But you need to make sure they’re functioning well before you park your trailer.

A tongue jack, mounted at the front of a trailer, is used to raise and lower the front of the trailer, so you can align it with your vehicle. It pivots up into the tongue while you’re traveling. 

Stabilizer jacks ensure a level position for an RV or travel trailer. They are back and front stabilizers on your travel trailer or RV. 

STEP 2: Use These Proper Techniques for Parking Your Trailer on Sloped Driveway

Now that you know you have the right tools for the job, let’s back this trailer up and park it.

The first step of parking doesn’t happen in the truck. You’ve got to Get Out and Look. Evaluate the driveway’s slope and select the best spot. 

The best spot is…

  • The flattest part of the parking area. Yes, there may still be an incline to deal with, but we’ll do that in step 3.
  • Has a clear path to back through. Move obstructions. If it’s not movable – like a tree – then remember it when you’re backing up.
  • Firm ground. Make sure the surface you’re parking on won’t shift. If the camper might sink into the surface, then use pavers or wood beneath your stabilizers to distribute the weight.

A careful assessment of the slope goes a long way to safely backing up and parking your RV.

                  Properly leveled travel trailer parked on a slope (https://unsplash.com/photos/-lrJpsE6haY)

Once you’ve got a handle on your surroundings, you got to back it on up.

But you’ve got nothing to worry about because you’ve got these three tricks to back up a trailer.

  1. Push the trailer. Picture yourself pushing the trailer. When you push on the right it turns to the left and vice versa.
  2. Hold the wheel at 6 o’clock. Not 10 and 2 like you learned in driver’s ed. Here’s why. When you turn it right, the trailer moves left. It feels backward and can stir confusion. By holding it at 6 o’clock, you synchronize your movement. When you move your hand left, the trailer turns left. 
  3. Don’t rely on a spotter. It’s always best to trust your own eyes. But that doesn’t mean you abandon the spotter entirely. Your job is to push the trailer in. The spotter’s job is to position the ramp (if one is needed) and yell when you’re about to hit something. This avoids the circus of trying to communicate with someone in your rearview mirror. 
  4. Don’t be in a hurry. Truck drivers only back up at idle speed. So even though you’re going up a slope, go easy on the gas. This allows you to adjust to what the trailer’s doing before it goes too far. Back up slowly, only moving the steering wheel as much as you need. Short trailers are responsive to tiny movements. But longer trailers need exaggerated turns.

There it is. You’ve got the know-how. Now the only way to improve is to get out there and do it. Practice in your driveway or in an empty lot. 

Congratulations! You’ve backed in. Get out of the vehicle. Take a bow for your audience. And then move on to the last step of parking your camper on a steep driveway.

Step 3: Positioning and Leveling Your Trailer on a Steep Driveway

Here’s where you bring out the leveling blocks to level your RV.

RVs and travel trailers are designed to be level. And leveling is actually pretty easy with a yard level. When you park RVs on a not leveled surface, points of the structure that weren’t meant to carry weight get stressed. Your appliances – especially your fridge – also have trouble functioning if they’re not level when you park your wheels.

                         Parking a trailer on sloped driveway (https://unsplash.com/photos/9R4ghJq0Fe8)

You’ve got the RV on the slope where you want to park it. Even if it’s not too steep, you want to make sure it doesn’t roll away. That’s where the wheel chocks come in.

Here’s how to use wheel chocks to lock your camper in place:

  1. Choose the right chock for the trailer’s weight and wheels’ size. Cheap plastic may work for small travel trailers, but anything over 20 feet should use the more heavy-duty rubber or metal wheel chocks.
  2. Position them flush against the tire. If your trailer tries to move, its tires should immediately feel resistance. If they aren’t flush, your RV could gain enough momentum to roll over them. 
  3. Inspect the wheel chocks. Make sure they’re in good condition and provide sufficient stability to prevent the trailer from moving forward.

You’ve lock trailer is in place. It’s not going to roll away on you. Now it’s time to level it so that it doesn’t rock from side to side. 

Here’s how to level your trailer:

  1. Use a bubble level to determine just how unlevel you are and what side needs to be adjusted. To level side-to-side, hold the level vertically against your RV and raise or lower your stabilizers to get the bubble in between the lines. To level front-to-back, hold the level horizontally and raise the jack as needed.
  2. Adjust the stabilizer jacks to get the camper as level as possible. These stabilizers adjust individually so you can level the camper based on the terrain. But if you’re on a very steep slope, you may need to dig a little and build up a block using wood or cement pavers for your stabilizers to sit on. Pro Tip: Just like the human body, these stabilizers are weaker when they’re fully extended. It’s better to build a block underneath your jack than to fully extend it. 
  3. Build up a block for your trailer jack. Once you’ve got your trailer leveled on the slope, you may find that your jack needs a taller block beneath it to keep the stress off the stabilizers. Wood or cement blocks work great here. 
  4. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. Go back and check your wheel chocks. Sometimes during the leveling process, the wheels shift. Check and be sure they’re firmly in position before you call it a day.

Save up to $1,200/year on RV storage & parking

A Summary of Other Things to Think About…

                       Orange Airstream parked on the street (https://unsplash.com/photos/ShJao59H5oc)

Before you set your heart on keeping your RV at your house or on the street before your trip, make sure your city ordinances allow it. 

Many cities and HOAs have rules governing how and where you can park RVs.

Along with HOA regulations, you’ll also need to consider the long-term effects of parking your trailer on a slope for an extended period.

It’s hard on the frame, the appliances, and the tires. Leveling your trailer on a slope is an option, but the best method of keeping your trailer level is actual level ground.

If your property is located on a hill or mountainside, you might consider searching for a leveled storage space for your RV or trailer. Whether you’re looking for indoor or outdoor RV/trailer storage, peer-to-peer storage marketplaces like Neighbor.com

Let’s wrap up with some frequently asked questions.

FAQs

Should a trailer be leveled when parked?

Yes. Many appliances won’t work unless it’s level when you park it. But it’s also safer and more comfortable to live in. Have you ever tried to sleep with your head downhill? Yeah, it doesn’t work well.

Can you back a travel trailer up a steep driveway?

Yes, you can back a travel trailer up a relatively steep driveway.

If it scrapes when going uphill, consider swapping axles or raising the suspension. A swap gives the front axle and the rear axle a lift. Just be sure your hitch still works with it.

A wood ramp at the bottom of the driveway can also help. But using a ramp can be tricky and cumbersome. But if you figure on increasing clearance is a permanent solution.

Is it OK to store an RV on a slope?

Storing an RV on a slope is not recommended. It’s much better to park an RV on a level surface.

Is an RV or a Trailer Easier to Park on a Sloped Driveway?

Yes, but you still need to get out and look and follow the same safety precautions.

Related Posts