Ever had that sinking, sliding or tipping feeling while camped in your motorhome?
Chances are that you’re parked on soft or uneven ground. So how can you get on the level when your pitch is anything but?
Levelling ramps can be used to steady your motorhome, keeping your vehicle perfectly horizontal and you and your family comfortable and safe.
They’re as essential to a relaxing holiday as breakdown cover and insurance for your motorhome, so read on for our guide to choosing the right types and using them correctly.
Why does my motorhome need to be level?
When you park up for the night, you might think your pitch looks pretty flat. Even once you realise that you’re on a slight incline, you might think you can cope: after all, you’re not spherical.
But try cooking on a sloping stove: your pans could slide off, spilling boiling water or hot oil. Try opening your fridge for a cold glass of milk: you might well find it’s stopped working.
And have a go at draining your pasta water down your sink: it will pool on one side, refusing to go down the plughole.
Worse, your water pump may lose suction. And when you finally crawl into bed after an exhaustingly askew evening, you’ll find you’re sliding off the mattress or wedging your partner against the side of your vehicle.
The next morning, when you’re ready to drive off in search of a flatter pitch, you might discover that your motorhome wheels have sunk into the soft mud and you’re trapped!
All in all, a lop-sided pitch is not only extremely irritating, but also potentially dangerous to you and damaging to your vehicle.
While motorhome cover can cover your vehicle for the effects of sliding pans and sinking tyres, it’s wise to avoid the problem in the first place by getting your vehicle on the level.
What are levelling ramps and blocks?
The answer to your pitching problems is a set of levelling ramps. These are simple yet tough plastic or aluminium pieces of kits which go underneath your motorhome wheels to keep it perfectly centred and steady, no matter how bumpy, sloping or soft the ground is.
You can buy ramps that go up to about 20cm high. Many are not smooth ramps, but offer two, three or even four different height steps: for example, at 4, 7 and 10cm. These steps cradle the motorhome tyres, keeping your vehicle extra steady.
Ramps should also have a good tread to grip your tyres, and many motorhome owners find that wider ones are easier to use. Popular brands include Fiamma and Milenco.
Which levelling ramps should I choose?
There are a few things you need to take into account.
The first is size. The largest, sturdiest ramps take up quite a lot of storage space when not in use, so if that’s at a premium in your motorhome, so you need to consider whether a smaller set would be better.
The second is your vehicle’s weight when laden. Check the manufacturers’ guidance to see which ramps are suitable for your motorhome. You can buy very durable ramps that will take extremely heavy motorhomes, but obviously these are more expensive.
Another factor is where you’re likely to camp. If you mainly stay at well-organised campsites with level hardstanding pitches, you can comfortably get by with a smaller, lighter set.
If you prefer to go off the beaten track, then you’re going to need the largest, most robust set you can possibly squeeze into your vehicle.
Finally, price: they range from around £15 to £70. However, levelling ramps are motorhome essentials, so buy the ones that meet your camping requirements.
The cheapest, unbranded ramps may be made out of brittle plastic – and that could turn out to be a false economy. Reliable motorhome insurance can help protect your investment.
How to use levelling ramps
Always level up before setting up your awning or any other accessories. And do it early on: you really don’t want to be attempting to steady your vehicle as darkness falls and you’re just longing for a cup of cocoa and bed.
There’s an art to using levelling ramps, and it takes a little practice to acquire. It’s easiest if there are two of you: one to position the ramps and direct the driver, and the other to drive.
You can use the ramps to raise either your back wheels, your front wheels, or those on one side, and you can either drive forward or reverse onto them.
Place the ramps by the wheels that need raising and kick them into position, checking they’re straight. Never hold the ramps in place while your partner drives – that’s a recipe for serious injury.
Then drive onto them carefully, going up as many steps as you think is necessary. If you find it tricky to get the wheels up onto the ramps, particularly when the ground is soft, then you can use anti-slip plates to help you.
Once you’re up, check your fridge, hob, bathroom and bed with a spirit level – you can download an app onto your smartphone – and drive up or down a step or two if necessary.
It may take several goes to get your vehicle as steady as possible. Once you’re happy, leave your motorhome in gear, put the handbrake on, and switch off the engine. You can pair your ramps with chocks to lock your wheels into place if you like.
Now you’re ready to enjoy your holiday!
Get a quote for motorhome insurance today
Whether you prefer to head to the hills or stay on the plains, your motorhome can be the base for some fantastic holiday adventures. So make sure you protect your home on wheels with suitable motorhome insurance.
Motorhome Protect can arrange policies for all types of vehicle, with a value of up to £150,000. Benefits can include unlimited cover around the EU, unlimited mileage, and discounts for club members.
Cover is available for camping personal effects for up to £3,000, and we’ll consider all applications from drivers with previous claims and convictions.
Contact Motorhome Protect today to find the policy that suits you.
Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.