RV Upgrade Series: Upgrading Travel Trailer To An Electric Trailer Tongue Jack
Electric Trailer Tongue Jack
Oftentimes when our customers bring their RVs, toy haulers, and travel trailers to Country Roads RV Center for service or off-season inspection, they want more than simply having the caulking redone or the panels checked for cracks. Many times, they will ask about upgrade options and what we recommend in the way of possible additions, accessories, adapters, emergency equipment, and other components that might make their next camping season run just a little smoother and more easily.
When one of our campground contributors brought in their Apex Nano travel trailer for the postseason, they had mentioned that they wanted to upgrade to an electric trailer tongue jack. After some discussion about what they were looking for, we decided to install an electric trailer tongue jack to make the hooking and decoupling process faster and less tedious.
The model they chose was the Lippert Components, Inc. electric Power Tongue Jack. This is a heavy-duty electric 3500-lb power tongue jack that connects easily to the 12v DC power supply on the trailer with no need for special tools or equipment. It offers push-button lowering and raising action which makes it a great choice for people without a lot of arm and upper body strength, older folks and people traveling and camping with small children, as well as those who just want to spend more time actually enjoying their camping excursions and less time setting up.
Below is the procedure we used to install their electric trailer tongue jack. After we break that down, we’ll get into some frequently asked questions about these and other aftermarket options for your next camping season, so be sure to stay tuned!
Installing an Electric Trailer Tongue Jack
Note: If you’re trying to follow along at home, it is essential to follow these steps precisely to maximize safety and prevent damage or personal injury to the rig, yourself, or people and property around you. If you don’t have the facilities or tools to do this safely, Country Roads RV Center strongly recommends you not attempt it! Instead, bring your rig to our service center and let our experienced technicians do the heavy lifting for you. We cannot be responsible for any injury, death or property damage incurred in connection with these steps!
First, be sure all wheels chocks for your camper are in place to prevent slippage and unintended rolling of the trailer. We used a floor jack and jack-stand to support the tongue of the trailer and retract the existing jack so it was off the ground.
Next, we had to remove the three bolts attaching the existing jack to the tongue. A torque or mechanic’s wrench should make short work of this. Be sure to set the bolts down where you can find them easily because you’ll need them again soon!
At this point, we were ready to lift the old jack out of the hole on the tongue. It is important not to try to lift the old jack out of position using brute power. While most towing tongues have heavy-duty construction that is robust enough to be able to handle a certain amount of abuse, forcing the jack out could cause bending or warping of the hole, making it more difficult or even impossible to install the new unit. The manual crank should slide out relatively easily. If yours does not, you should stop right here, put each bolt back in, and bring it in so we can fix the problem safely and correctly.
With the old jack out of the way, we could insert the new electric tongue jack unit in the hole so it could be bolted into place using the same three bolts. Again, you shouldn’t have to use brute force to insert the new jack. If there aren’t any problems, it fits, slipping smoothly and easily into position. The only muscle you should have to put into the installation is bracing the power lift long enough to get the bolts into place.
Now we were ready to connect the electric jack’s power supply to the trailer’s positive battery terminal using a wing nut connector. If the jack does not have an in-line fuse, one needs to be installed on the positive side to match the correct amp draw of the jack. This is a fairly simple operation, but like anything else involving electricity, it demands respect. The unit we installed pulls not only 12 volts but 30 amps of power, which is more than enough juice to give someone who isn’t careful a permanent bad day.
Next, we needed to secure the trailing wires along the inside of the trailer’s frame. This helps prevent them from catching any road debris or rubbing the ground, which could damage or even ruin them over time.
Finally, we were ready to test the electric trailer jack for proper operation by extending and retracting the jack from low to high to low again. This model has both push-button and crank capability, so if the power to the unit fails, the user isn’t stuck unable to go anywhere. (It’s also there for those who just miss doing it the old-fashioned way, we suppose…) Once we confirmed that the jack worked the way it was supposed to, we set the jack footpad down securely, checked the trailer’s leveling system to make sure the trailer was on the bubble and removed the floor jack which had been supporting the tongue of the trailer. At this point, the job was done and the trailer was ready for the next season!
To learn more about electric trailer tongue jack selection, installation, and troubleshooting, we invite you to read over the FAQ below!
Frequently Asked Questions about Electric Trailer Tongue Jack
Question: How do I know which A-Frame travel trailer tongue jack is right for my camper model and towing vehicle? –Chloe, Denver, NC
Answer: The right A-Frame tongue jack depends on a couple of variables. First, of course, your towing vehicle has to have the towing capacity for your travel trailer. If your trailer weighs 5k lbs and your hitch, towing bar, or the vehicle it’s attached to can only take 3,500, you’re taking a very dangerous risk if you try to pull it. Then you need to look at the clearance you need to get your trailer hooked up and disconnected. If you need 20 inches of clearance, an A-Frame trailer jack that only delivers 15 inches isn’t going to help you! Finally, there’s the power supply from the trailer’s battery and the demands which your radio, clock, fridge, air conditioner, or other accessories are putting on it. All this information is typically included with your vehicle’s and camper’s owner’s manuals. If your hitch was installed as an aftermarket addition, it may have a separate manual that explains the specs, towing requirements, and other information you need, or you can find this information on the Internet. Once you know that, you can go from there to decide which heavy-duty electric trailer jack best meets your needs!
Question: How much setup and teardown time savings would a power lift for my trailer offer over manual trailer jacks? –Edmund, St. Petersburg, FL
Answer: A lot of the time spent setting up an A-frame trailer is tied up in setting the tow tongue footpad and getting the rear stabilizing jacks down. With a manual hand crank system, it can take even an experienced camper a lot longer to maneuver the trailer into position and get it flush and level than with an electrical system. Overall, with an electric trailer jack, you could reasonably expect to shave 15 percent or more off your setup and loadout times. If your towing vehicle is equipped with a backup monitoring system and hitching cameras, you’d likely end up saving even more time. This is important because although most people who camp love the actual act of camping and being out there, few people are fans of the steps in between pulling into the campground and pulling the tab on that first well-deserved cold one. If you could cut your setup and hitching times by 15-20% and save your arms and back for grabbing firewood and so on, why wouldn’t you?
Question: Can I use my existing electric power tongue jack on my RV with a boat, jet ski, A-Frame, 5th wheel, or toy hauler trailer? –Jackson, Baton Rouge, LA
Answer: Depending upon what size and weight capacities are in play, the maximum lifting capacities required, and assuming the mounting hardware isn’t radically different from one to the other, yes, it is possible you could use your RV jacks for a boat, jet ski, trailer camper or toy hauler and find it is perfectly safe to do so. However, just like when you’re doing a straight-up installation, you’d have to make sure the mounting hardware is compatible. Also, it’s important to understand that a tongue jack RV user’s need may be grossly overpowered for a small fishing boat or jet skis, which may give the user a false sense of security. Just because the jack can lift your trailer easily doesn’t automatically mean your towing vehicle’s weight distribution hitches are up to the job. We recommend visiting your vehicle manufacturer’s website as well as that of your RV maker and the creator of your lift to get the raw data you need to verify compatibility before you get started. Of course, you can also call us at Country Roads RV Center as well and we’ll do everything we can to make sure you can do this safely and effectively!
Question: My tow vehicle is an SUV and I need to make sure it’s able to pull either a travel trailer, small RV, boat, or jet ski trailer. How can I be sure I’ve got the right towing equipment for this? –Enid, Mooresville, NC
Answer: Your sport utility vehicle and trailer manufacturers’ websites should have a guide with towing weight range tables that will give you an idea of what you can safely tow. It’s important to know what your trailer weighs when fully loaded, including propane tanks, freshwater, and sewer tanks if applicable. You should also make sure your trailer and tow vehicle tires are inflated to the proper tire pressure. If your vehicle is equipped with tire pressure monitors, this will make it easier. You can use a commercial vehicle scale such as a CAT scale, or your RV dealer’s scale, to check your axle weights and distribution. For safety reasons, you should never overload your trailer beyond its recommended manufacturer parameters or overload the tow hitch assembly, as this can result in severe damage to the vehicle or trailer or injury or death to yourself and others on the road. If you can’t find this information or want to double-check your figures, give us a call and we’ll do everything we can to get you the answers you need!
Question: How does a power A-frame jack work with my travel trailer? –Mireille, Charlotte, NC
Answer: Power trailer jacks connect to your trailer camper 12V battery system as a power source. Many models feature LED light behind the buttons so you don’t have to juggle handheld lights to work the controls and set up or break camp in low-light conditions if needed, and some even have remote control options to make operation even easier! The powered drive lowers and lifts your trailer, slashing setup time and effort, which lets you spend more time on the fun parts of camping and less time on the setup and teardown process.
Question: How much does it cost to get a tow hitch on my vehicle and a power jack on my travel trailer? –Mike, Prescott, AZ
Answer: If your vehicle is not equipped with a towing package, you’ll need to make sure it can take one before you begin. Also, you’ll have to make sure your hitch is compatible with the type of trailer you’ll be using. If your trailer requires a ball receiver assembly and your tow bar has a different configuration, such as a wheel hitch, this could be a very serious safety issue. For your own protection and as a matter of policy, a reputable RV trailer dealer would tell you what you need and decline to let you purchase a trailer you couldn’t haul safely.
With that said, power tongue jacks vary in price and features considerably. If you want power trailer jacks with remote controls and which stop automatically when they meet or clear an obstruction may cost a couple of thousand dollars out of the box before installation charges and labor. A simpler tongue jack RV system with a push-button operation such as the one we installed on Matt’s rig has a suggested retail price of $299, plus installation fees. The product you choose and the modifications required to make it work with your setup, as well as the availability of specific products in stock and the supply chain at any given time, will dictate how much you can expect to pay. At Country Roads RV Center, we proudly offer a range of options for power tongue jack RV, boat, jet ski, and trailer enthusiasts trust, built tough enough for the wild and priced to suit just about any budget or need. Our priority is your safety and comfort, so we work hard to make sure we don’t sell you a rig or a system that doesn’t meet your needs!
Question: Is it hard to install an RV power lift, and do I need special wire assemblies to set it up? –Bill, Memphis, TX
Answer: Most power lifts and RV levelers include all the power cords, plugs, and pins you need to get them set up. They do require a connection to your 12V battery (with an inline fuse) as we mentioned above, but this is as easy as turning a butterfly bolt. The tricky part is to make sure the tongue is braced properly and that the trailer isn’t going to move unexpectedly before you start the installation. You might also need a wrench extender to get some extra torque to break the bolts loose so you can swap the old system for the new one. If this seems like more work or trouble than you want to deal with, you might want to just let our trained, knowledgeable service technicians take care of the heavy lifting for you!
Question: What other RV accessories and supplies does Country Roads RV Center offer? I’d rather go to one place for all my travel and camping needs if I can, but I want to make sure my personal information is safe too. –Fredrik, Mint Hill, NC
Answer: Country Roads RV Center offers some of the finest aftermarket and OEM equipment in the business, including commonplace items such as:
- air compressor
- battery charger
- replacement roof vents
- RV covers
- swivel hitches
- tire covers
- tube, lines and cords
- water and sewer hose
- and much, much more!
Ultimately, we want to be your one-stop destination for all your camper maintenance, service, repair and storage needs.
At Country Roads RV Center, we’re here to help our customers and friends in anyway we possibly can. With some of the best reviews in the business and customers from all over the continent coming to see us, we are proud to be North Carolina’s premier destination for the finest RVs, campers, fifth wheels, toy haulers, parts, and accessories in the industry. Come see why we’ve got such a good reputation for yourself—and how we’ve earned it over the last four decades!