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Old 04-25-2007, 04:20 PM   #1
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I just had all new tires (goodyears) put on my 97 DSDP and had the front alligned. The powder packs were put in for balance. Took the coach out on a quiet day and found that as soon as I let free of the steering wheel, she took off across the center line in a big way. She did this at slow speeds as well as road speed. Took it back to the dealer that does all kinds of truck work and should know what they're doing. They said the allignment was on the numbers (not sure whose specs yet) and they made a slight adjustment to the rear axle. Today they changed the tires around and it does the same "to the left" action. They're going to see what they can do with it tomorrow, but are inclined to blame the new tires.
I did a search and really found very little discussion except on the trac-bar stuff. My coach drove straight down the road before the new tires were put on. Now with new tires and an allignment, it's screwed up. Does anyone have the specs they should be working with. I suspect they may by working with wrong numbers. All factors such as weight, tire pressure, air bags etc. are normal, in my view, as nothing has changed except their work. I hope somebody can give me some quick pointers to look for and pass on to my local people.
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Old 04-25-2007, 04:20 PM   #2
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I just had all new tires (goodyears) put on my 97 DSDP and had the front alligned. The powder packs were put in for balance. Took the coach out on a quiet day and found that as soon as I let free of the steering wheel, she took off across the center line in a big way. She did this at slow speeds as well as road speed. Took it back to the dealer that does all kinds of truck work and should know what they're doing. They said the allignment was on the numbers (not sure whose specs yet) and they made a slight adjustment to the rear axle. Today they changed the tires around and it does the same "to the left" action. They're going to see what they can do with it tomorrow, but are inclined to blame the new tires.
I did a search and really found very little discussion except on the trac-bar stuff. My coach drove straight down the road before the new tires were put on. Now with new tires and an allignment, it's screwed up. Does anyone have the specs they should be working with. I suspect they may by working with wrong numbers. All factors such as weight, tire pressure, air bags etc. are normal, in my view, as nothing has changed except their work. I hope somebody can give me some quick pointers to look for and pass on to my local people.
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Old 04-25-2007, 06:24 PM   #3
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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Does anyone have the specs they should be working with. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>
TONY: Perhaps you could include the make of chassis you want specs for.
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Old 04-25-2007, 06:30 PM   #4
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Consider calling your coach's chassis manufacturer. I had a similar problem and the "book" the local shop was using didn't even have my year of chassis in it!

The following may cost you a cup of coffee and a donut. Once the correct specs are in hand, ask the tech if you can watch him. Let him know how important this is to you and that you travel all over the country and need to understand a few things about front end alignment. Have him explain how his equipment works so you can rest assured the alignment was done correctly. If is still goes left after that, the tires are suspect. All this assumes there no worn or loose front end parts and inflation is correct.
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Old 04-25-2007, 06:33 PM   #5
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Tony,

Sorry to hear about your problems. Unfortunately you have changed two things at one time which makes the resolution of the problem difficult. It's hard to imagine the tires making the coach pull to one side if the air pressures are equal.

So that takes us back to the front end alignment place. Have you been able to talk to the tech who did the alignment? If so, ask exactly what he adjusted. Did he adjust camber, castor, or just toe in? Did he comment on the "as found" conditions? Did he make a big adjustment from "as found". This is where I would focus. It is very possible that the tech did not know what he was doing, or the alignment equipment is not in calibration? Find out what settings the tech used, and you can go to the frame builders web sites and get the recommended numbers. You can also google front end alignment and get a five minute education on what toe in, camber, and caster means.

A couple of secondary things to check if a realignment doesn't fix it are: check the ride height, and it may be possible that one of the front brakes has become too tight as part of the tire changing process. If a brake is dragging it will cause the coach to pull.

Make the service manager ride with you. Show him what it is doing. Take your hands off the wheel and show him. By forcing him on a ride to see for himself, he no longer has plausible deniability.

Find out about the tech who did the work. Ask how many motorhomes he has done. Motorhomes and big trucks are not the same.

I bring that up for a reason. Often a tech will set up a truck to compensate for the crown in the road. In other words, the setup makes the truck intentionally steer a little to the right so that the driver doesn't have to constantly compensate for the drainage slope on the road. If he did that, or did it too much, it would explain your mad dash across the centerline.

Sorry for my rambling. Let us know how it works out so we all can learn with you.
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Old 04-25-2007, 06:35 PM   #6
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Sorry about a goof, I meant my other right. The steering can be set up to intentionally pull to the left to compensate for the crown in the road.
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Old 04-25-2007, 06:55 PM   #7
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Thanks for your responses guys. This is going to shed some light on the issue tomorrow. I do have a Spartan chasis. Also, I had the tech ride with me this afternoon, but all he seemed to go back to was "it's on the numbers." Now, I went through my Spartan manual that came with the coach and looked through some old receipts and what do you know, I found a print out of an allignment that was done about 20,000 miles ago. This shows the specs, the initial numbers, and the adjustments made to bring it in line. I intend to ask for the print out accomplished yesterday and compare the numbers. That should tell us something. I think the "gap" may very well exist between truck work and motorhome expertise. I'll post more later.
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Old 04-26-2007, 05:50 PM   #8
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Well folks, this is today's news!!! After some warm debate before 8:00 o'clock this morning, the long and short of it that there's nothing more the tire dealer can do. Everything is still within specs under the motorhome selection on their computer set up. They again changed some wheels around, took it out again and still pulls to the left. I asked them to call Spartan, but Spartens main man on this issue was on vacation. They advised to call Midway RV in Grand Rapi9ds and were promptly referred to AB Spring, a center that does all of Midway's work. It was learned that my front axle may need to be bent and that this is not an unusual procedure. There are many truck type alignment shops that do this work. It sure took me back and so that's were I sit. I decided to call Midway myself and was told this could be done, but they also said that shims could be used and the air bags would not have to be removed as I was informed by the locals. Now, anyone ever had their axle tweeked to deal with this kind a problem. It seems absurd and rediculous to me, but what do I know.

An interesting parallel to this is when our daughter was about 6 yrs. old she was toeing in really bad and we were becoming concerned. Took her to a specialist who said she could either outgrow this or they could break her legs below the knees and reset them (honest). She outgrew the problem and went on to paly Division I volleyball on a scholarship at Iowa State.

Enough for now. I'm taking a deep breath again.
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Old 04-26-2007, 06:33 PM   #9
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Tony,
Your not that far (compared to me) from Spartan in Charlotte, Michigan. Consider making an appointment and taking the coach to the guys who built the chassis. They have a place (elect only) you can live in the coach at night. The bottom line is if you want to have this closed there is nothing like the factory tech to get it right the first time.

I bit the bullet last year and made the pilgramage. My coach is now the best it can be. There are also some outstanding local eating places within a couple of miles of the Spartan plant.
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Old 04-26-2007, 06:41 PM   #10
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Tony,

Thanks for the update. I feel your frustration. I would be perplexed at this point.

Here's what I don't get. If I recall correctly, this was not happening before the tires and alignment? Please confirm. Also confirm if the coach has actually been back on the alignment machine since the first alignment after the tire install. It's critical to know if the shop is sticking with their first numbers, or they have VERIFIED the alignment. Also, if he is telling you the axle needs tweaking, he should be showing you DATA on camber that is out of spec. Did he do that? What did the shop manager use as proof the axle needed bending?

Before I let anyone tweak the axle, I would have a second shop do an alignment. It should be about $150 bucks. If it fixes your problem, I would go back to the first guy and demand that he pay for the second job. If it doesn't then you paid !50 to confirm that you need some more serious front end work.

One quick thing that you can check yourself. Get some wooden feet to put under the front jacks, and raise the front wheels off the ground. Rotate both tires by hand, for they should be about equal in effort to spin. If they are not you have a dragging brake or misadjusted wheel bearing. Be careful !!!

Oh yeah did you find a basic education on alignment terms so that you speak their langauge on castor, camber, toe in?
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Old 04-26-2007, 08:31 PM   #11
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One more thing to consider is to ask the original shop when their alignment machine was last calibrated. This is a regular maintenance requirement. Ask to see the evidence, they should be proud to show you the machine manufacturer re-certification.

I had an alignment where they set it so the numbers were spot on by the printout - the strange thing was one wheel had to moved a whole lot to get it in spec, hmmm... After scuffing the tread off that tire in a couple thousand miles, I went back. They then told me that one of the alignment sensors had been dropped and was not re-calibrated afterwards. The drop knocked the machine's reference line way out of whack so even though it read a "correct" alignment it was actually way off. They replaced the tire and re-aligned w/o hassle. Perfecto. Apparently the dropee never reported it so it was not discovered until after several bad aligments.

Sounds similar to what you are experiencing.
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Old 04-27-2007, 06:44 AM   #12
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TONY CALL CHRIS AT SPARTAN.. I HAVE AN 04 DS THAT SWAPPED ENDS AT EVERY ROAD RUT. SEVERAL TRUCK SHOPS/AUTHORIZED WARRANTY CENTERS TRIED THEIR HAND BUT IT WAS THE FACTORY WHO DISCOVERED THAT THE REAR AXEL WAS OUT OF ALINEMENT AND CORRECTED THE PROBLEM. GOOD LUCK
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Old 04-27-2007, 08:10 AM   #13
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Jeez,

We have all missed the obvious. Did you look at the front tires when they came off? What was the wear pattern?
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Old 04-27-2007, 10:11 AM   #14
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Had the same problem with my gas Workhorse the thrust angle was out of alignment you look like a crab going down the road puts uneven wear on front tires.
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