What to Do When Your Tongue Jack Breaks

Jan 26, 2022 | Maintenance & Mods

What to Do When Your Tongue Jack Breaks

In this installment of our RV Mishaps series, we learn what to do when your tongue jack breaks.

By Alison Takacs

Photo: Alison Takacs

Welcome to RV Mishaps, a content series written by RVers about problems they’ve encountered on the road, how they solved them, and lessons learned. Have a mishap story of your own that you’d like to tell? Send us an email at pitches@roadpass.com.

It was the last day of our amazing 3-week week road trip. I woke up to an epic sunrise at Great Sand Dunes National Park, had a delicious breakfast, and started packing for the long drive back home. It was time to hook up the camper, so I raised the stabilizers and backed up the truck to get the ball hitch in the correct position. 

What Went Wrong

I grabbed the manual tongue jack handle and started to turn it. It was business as usual for the first few cranks when all of a sudden I didn’t feel any resistance. For a few seconds terror took over—we were at a campground far from home with no repair or service center for miles.

Maintenance issues happen over time to all trailers that are heavily used and loved. Luckily, there’s an easy temporary solution to help get back on the road if your tongue jack breaks.

Lessons Learned

You should always have a jack on hand when towing a trailer. The vast majority of trucks come equipped with one, but it’s a good idea to double-check that you have a proper-working jack in your vehicle. If you have never used a jack before, practice using it on your trailer before heading out on a trip. You never know when and where you might also get a flat while traveling. It only takes a few minutes to practice, and you’ll feel more comfortable when something goes wrong. 

Additionally, make sure your jack is rated to hold your trailer’s tongue weight. Since we were traveling with a lightweight Jayco Jay Flight at the time, we knew our truck jack would work with our rig. 

Jack supporting an RV hitch
Photo: Rob Cochran

Keep your manual in your camper or tow vehicle so you can reference questions about the trailer on the go. We didn’t have our manual to check the correct spot under the RV to safely lift it, so we found a center point on the front end of the trailer that appeared to be the strongest point. It had multiple heavy-duty metal pieces of frame that connected at a point and seemed sturdy.

You can always download a manual for your particular Thor Industries make and model to see what’s recommended for your RV.

Before you begin to jack up your camper, make sure the tires are secured with chocks to prevent any mishaps. It’s a good idea to keep the area clear of other people and pets while you work in case something goes wrong.

After we used the jack to raise the trailer in the air, we connected the trailer hitch to the ball hitch on the truck. The hollow metal column portion of the tongue jack wouldn’t stay in place and it kept sliding down. Instead of using duct tape—which would be risky—we decided to use a bungee cord to hold it in place. We used a pair of small cords to secure the loose crank leg by threading the hooks through two small holes at the base of the leg and attaching them to the frame of the trailer. 

Keep various size bungee cords in your RV. From securing gear to tying down windy table cloths, bungee cords are very practical and you never know when they’ll come in handy.

With the crank leg secure, we slowly lowered the trailer onto the ball hitch using the jack and removing the jack once the RV was in place. Once we arrived home, we dropped the RV off at our storage area and used the same method in reverse to unhitch. 

Removing the bolts of the broken tongue jack
Photo: Alison Takacs

After unpacking, we researched if it would be possible to replace the tongue jack ourselves. We were surprised by how inexpensive and easy it is, so we decided to attempt the repair. Simply jack the trailer up, remove the three bolts holding the tongue jack in place, pull the broken tongue jack out, place the new manual jack in, put the three new bolts in place, and remove the jack used to raise the trailer. 

Removing the broken jack from the RV frame
Photo: Alison Takacs

This can be done for less than $100 and takes no mechanical expertise. It’s one of the easiest RV repairs you can do yourself, since it only requires wrenches and a new tongue jack. Plus, you can replace your RV tongue jack in 30 minutes or less.

Looking down at the new tongue jack installed on the RV
Photo: Alison Takacs

Many RV maintenance issues aren’t as bad as you think as long as you keep a cool head and a few essential tools with you. 

Togo RV is part of a joint venture, partially owned by Thor Industries, Inc., of which Jayco is a subsidiary.

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Alison Takacs

Alison Takacs is a vision researcher, wife and mother of two from Dallas, Texas. When not in the lab, she can be found exploring and photographing nature from America’s most treasured hiking trails.