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The Trailer Tongue Jack: Often Ignored, But Vitally Important

The Trailer Tongue Jack: Often Ignored, But Vitally Important

A trailer tongue jack enables you to connect and disconnect your camper from your tow vehicle’s hitch ball and level the rig from front to back. The importance of the tongue jack is sometimes an overlooked afterthought, leaving owners with a jack that doesn’t perform as well as it could.

In this post, we’re looking at trailer tongue jacks — what they do, how they should perform, and what to consider when shopping for a camper jack. We’ll even share several options with various features for different budgets.

What Is a Trailer Tongue Jack?

A trailer tongue jack, whether electric or manual, is mounted at the front of a trailer and used to raise and lower it. There are manual (hand-crank) jacks that may work fine for lighter travel trailers.

There are also electric camper jacks, operated with the push of a button, that require far less effort — or none at all. With an electric trailer tongue jack, the motor does all the work, effortlessly raising and lowering the front of the trailer.

While there are pros and cons to both, the obvious main difference is the power source required to operate them. A manual jack requires RVer power, while electric jacks use RV power from your rig’s 12V DC system, generally your RV’s house battery bank.

As you might expect, electric tongue jacks are also more expensive than manually operated jacks.

Things to Consider In a Trailer Tongue Jack

When deciding what type of trailer tongue jack to buy, there are several factors to weigh, depending on your trailer and what’s important to you.

Electric vs Manual

In many situations, you have the option to choose either a manual or electric tongue jack. If you’ve got a very lightweight camper and the physical ability to manage a manual jack, you can save some money by going this route. With an electric camper jack, you’ll need to have access to power on your trailer’s tongue.

Weight Capacity

The jack needs to be able to lift and support your trailer’s maximum tongue weight, making weight rating a key factor in determining what your choices are.

Tongue weight (sometimes called “hitch weight”), is the downward force the trailer tongue applies to the hitch ball on the vehicle towing it. Whether you have a manual or electric trailer jack, it needs to be rated to lift the maximum weight of your camper’s tongue.

There are several ways to get various weights for your RV, including at some truck scales. You can also use a special scale like this one, designed specifically to measure trailer tongue weight.

Sherline LM-5000 - Trailer Tongue Weight Scale - 5000LB
  • 1 Year Manufacturers Warranty (certain items exempt)
  • Made in the USA

For more info, see our posts on trailer tongues and What Is Tongue Weight?

Maximum Lift/Travel

You need to also consider how far down the jack extends. It’s important to make sure it’s long/tall enough to lift your trailer off your tow vehicle’s hitch ball and long enough to level the RV in a sloped nose-low campsite, where lots of lift is needed to get level.

That said, there are devices like the awesome Andersen Trailer Jack Block that help with that (we have one ourselves and LOVE it)!

ANDERSEN HITCHES | RV Travel Accessories | 1-Pack Trailer Jack Block w/ Magnets | Quick Leveling Stabilizers for Trailers Jackstand Level Quickjack Heavy Duty Utility Blocks | 3608
  • ELIMINATES NEARLY ALL MOVEMENT AND SWAY in parked RV's and Trailers (Less Stress on Your Trailer)
  • DOUBLE USE FOR YOUR MONEY: Use them as a seat, a motorcycle stand, or a water bucket to put out your campfire!

These are great for level sites, too, making it easier and faster to set up and break camp. It saves time by avoiding the need to wait so long while the (usually pretty slow) tongue jack travels all the way down to the ground and all the way back up. The way it uses magnets to stay on the jack foot is a bonus. Did we mention how much we love ours?

Foot Style

You should also consider whether you want a flat jack foot for greater stability, or a wheel to make it easier to move your trailer without using the tow vehicle or a powered dolly. Of course the bigger and heavier the trailer, the less likely it is to be moveable by hand, even with a wheeled jack.

While it’s smart to chock the wheels/tires on any trailer whenever it’s parked/disconnected from the tow vehicle, it’s extra important with a wheeled jack foot. Without a chock, the trailer could easily roll away, since the entire rig is up on wheels. X-Chocks are great for dual- or triple- axle trailers, while traditional wheel chocks work well for single-axle campers (rubberized are better than hard plastic 😉).

X-Chock Wheel Stabilizer - Pair - One Handle - 28012
  • Provides added stabilization and prevents tire shifts by applying opposing force to tandem tire applications
  • As opposed to other chocks, the X-Chock works with the tires’ natural movement instead of against them
MAXXHAUL 70472 Solid Rubber Heavy Duty Black Wheel Chock 2-Pack, 8" x 4" x 6"
  • Compact Size: Measuring approximately 8 inches in length, 4 inches in width, and 5 inches in height, these wheel chocks offer a convenient and...
  • All-Weather Construction: Built for durability in any climate, these wheel chocks feature all-weather construction, ensuring reliable performance and...

Ground Clearance

How far beneath your trailer’s tongue/frame will the jack protrude when fully retracted? This can be an especially important consideration for boondockers because it can cause issues when towing a trailer in more rugged/uneven conditions. If you rarely (or never) travel off-road, then this may be no problem for you at all, although there are plenty of driveways and parking lot entrances with enough of a dip that it could be a problem almost anywhere.

But if you prefer especially rugged off-grid camping locations, like we do, then you may want to consider a swivel tongue jack. Those pivot upward, allowing them to swing up out of the way, stowing horizontally alongside the trailer frame. This design dramatically reduces how much of the jack extends below the trailer when towing.

Attachment Mechanism

Whether your tongue jack is bolted on, clamped on, or welded in place can affect the replacement/upgrading of an older jack, as well as the addition of a jack where there wasn’t one before. What does the installation involve, and (if you’re doing it yourself), what’s your DIY confidence and skill level like? Make sure that any jack you’re considering is compatible with both your trailer and your installation/mechanical ability.

Mounting Location

Whether your current/old tongue jack mounts at the center of the trailer’s A-frame or to the side of the frame rail, or it’s bolted or welded in place between the frame rails further back, it’s usually easiest to replace it with one that’s the same style. Otherwise, you’re more likely to have to adapt your mounting, which could be more difficult.

Manual Trailer Tongue Jack Options

Below are a couple of options to consider if you’re in the market for a manual trailer tongue jack.

Trailer Valet Center Mount Tongue Jack

This jack has a 2,000-pound capacity and a 14-inch extension. It can be cranked by hand or turned with a cordless drill.

Sale
Trailer Valet TVJX2-C Center Mount Tongue Jack - 2K Capacity, Drill-Powered (20-24V) with Included Drill Attachment (TVDA), Hand Crank & Foot Plate - Quick & Efficient Operation
  • Streamlined Lifting Power: Convert manual labor into effortless efficiency with the Trailer Valet JX2-C. Its drill-powered option offers rapid jack...
  • Lasting Resistance to Elements: The JX2-C isn't just robust—it's also resilient. Encased in a signature wrinkle black powder coating, this jack...

Speaking of using a cordless drill…

PRO TIP: If your trailer has stabilizers at each corner that get cranked down by hand, bring along a cordless drill anyway. Once leveled, the ease and speed at which you can stabilize a trailer is insane using a cordless drill to deploy them. While our new Outdoors RV has a computerized auto-leveling system like our motorhome did (on a travel trailer!), so no stabilizers are needed, we used this technique on the Black Series trailer we spent a month in, and it works great for any typical trailer stabilizers. If you’ve never tried this before, you’ll thank us later. 😁

Sale
DEWALT 20V Max Cordless Drill/Driver Kit, Compact, 1/2-Inch (DCD771C2), Yellow
  • Dewalt drill has compact and lightweight design that fits into tight areas.NEW 18V XR Li-Ion compact drill driver featuring XR 1.3Ah Li-Ion battery...
  • High performance motor of the power drill delivers 300 unit watts out (UWO) of power ability completing a wide range of applications

Trailer Valet Swivel Tongue Jack

This jack also has a 2,000-pound capacity and a 14-inch extension and can be cranked manually or operated with a drill.

Sale
Trailer Valet TVJX2-S Swivel Tongue Jack for Trailer/RV/Boat – Drill-Powered Versatility, 2,000 lbs Lift Capacity, 20-24V Cordless Drill Compatible, Marine Grade, Weather-Resistant Finish
  • Dual-Operation Versatility: Enjoy both speed and precision with the Trailer Valet JX 2K Side Mount Jack. Easily switch from the swift operation of a...
  • Smooth Operation Protection: Bid farewell to the wear and tear of metal-on-metal friction. The Trailer Valet JX 2K features a protective sleeve for a...

Fastway Flip Fold-Up Jack Foot Plate

These are good for a manual tongue jack because flipping down the footplate reduces the amount of travel for the jack to be cranked by 6” and provides a large foot for extra stability.

Sale
Fastway FLIP 88-00-6500 Trailer Tongue Automatic Fold-Up Jack Foot Plate for 2 1/4" Jacks-6" Extension (2-Inch Inner Jack Tube)
  • Foot FLIPs up as jack is retracted, making storage simple and convenient
  • Eliminates the need for blocks of wood

Electric Trailer Tongue Jack Options

Following are a few electric trailer jack options to consider.

Lippert 285318 Power Tongue Jack

This is an electric jack for A-frame trailers with a 3,500 lb. lifting capacity. It has integrated LED lights that shine on the ball and coupler for easy night operation.

Sale
Lippert Power Tongue Jack for A-Frame Travel, Cargo, and Utility Trailers or 5th Wheel RVs - 3,500 lb. Lift Capacity, 18" Vertical Range, 30 AMPS of Power
  • EASY INSTALLATION — Complete with all necessary hardware and pins, installation for the Power Tongue Jack is fast and simple, so you can get to...
  • TIME-SAVING — Say goodbye to cranking your manual jack. With the push of a button, you can raise or lower your a-frame trailer in a fraction of the...

Husky 82022 Super Brute

This is a more expensive, feature-rich electric trailer jack with a 5,000-pound capacity and a remote control. It has weather-protected soft-trigger switches with a backlit panel and high-output LED lights. It comes with a protective storage cover, plug brackets, and two remote key fobs.

Husky Towing 82022 Super Brute Trailer Tongue Jack Trailer Jacks
  • 5,000 lbs. lift capacity
  • Full 18" stroke, weather-protected, soft-trigger switches with backlit panel, 3-sided high-output LED light system

Ultra-Fab Phoenix

This 4,000-pound capacity unit is an interesting option with extra-fast extension and retraction. The manufacturer says it travels 10 inches in 18 seconds, and since lots of people say their one complaint about their electric trailer jack is that it moves slowly, we thought we should feature it here. Our tongue jack moves slowly, too, but as we mentioned above, our Andersen Trailer Jack Block makes that pretty much a non-issue.

It has auto stops, a 6″ diameter adjustable foot pad, and a built-in LED light for night operation. You can also set the unit’s memory to the height you need to lift your trailer off your hitch ball. The Ultra-Fab Phoenix has a 10-year warranty, but be sure to activate it within 90 days of purchase.

UF Ultra-Fab Products 38-944040 The Phoenix Electric Tongue Jack
  • New electronic control panel
  • No external switches to break off

If you’re looking for a fast jack, the following video provides a review of the Phoenix.

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Wes Shelden

Tuesday 14th of May 2024

Don't forget to take into account the extra weight capacity needed to lift both the trailer and the tow vehicle rear hitch so that your load leveler weight distribution hitch arms may be installed.

Suzanne

Monday 13th of May 2024

I have a Lippert power jack. First, how do I know when it's about to run out of power? I have a solar system I inherited from the last owner. Second, the whole jack is straight but bent at an angle from the huge drainage dip at my storage facility. How do I get it fixed, or rather where? Thank you.

Suzanne

Friday 17th of May 2024

@TheRVgeeks, Thanks so much for your reply!

TheRVgeeks

Monday 13th of May 2024

Hi Suzanne. Well... the tongue jack is likely wired into your trailer's "house" battery(ies). So if you want to have a better idea of how much power you have left, you might want to consider installing (or having installed) a battery monitor (here's our article on what those are: RV Battery Monitor: Vital Tool For Battery Health & Longevity). They basically give you a fuel gauge for your battery, so you always know how full (or empty) it is.

Also, depending on how your trailer is wired, if your house battery died and you couldn't use your tongue jack, it's possible that when you connect it to your towing vehicle it will get power from there (you might want to idle the towing vehicle's engine in that situation to ensure that alternator can help keep the truck's battery topped up).

As for the bent jack... we'd suggest you take it to a repair shop and have them look at it. We're not aware of being able to straighten them, so it might need to be replaced.

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