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Old 06-22-2013, 01:09 PM   #1
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Front end alignment Houston area?

Can anyone recommend an alignment shop in the Houston area, preferably NW. I need to get the alignment checked on my f-450 class c , and was looking for recommendations.
Thanks,
Brent
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Old 06-22-2013, 03:14 PM   #2
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Brent, not in the northwest but just outside the east side of the loop.

I have not had a front end alignment there but I have had suspension work done and they did a great job. 2 other rv'ers that store their units where I have mine recommended them for front end alignment.

Heitman Truck Repair, here is their website http://www.snelsonservices.com.
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Old 06-22-2013, 10:24 PM   #3
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It would be great if you were to share your alignment report with us, I am especially interested in how much of a +Caster range Ford suggests on a F450 as compared to an E450. The E450 is about +2.0 to +7.0 which is a huge range.
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Old 06-22-2013, 10:57 PM   #4
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I would be happy to share what I find, but unfortunately that was a typo, I was typing too fast on my I-phone, my class c is a e-450.
Brent
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Old 06-23-2013, 07:10 PM   #5
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I would be happy to share what I find, but unfortunately that was a typo, I was typing too fast on my I-phone, my class c is a e-450.
Brent
OK, thats even closer to my heart. Have a look at this link before you approach an alignment shop.

E350/E450 Handling Problems are caused by too little + CASTER

This is just a starting point.
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Old 06-23-2013, 09:15 PM   #6
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I had already read this thread and have the numbers written down to take to the shop with me. My rig handles pretty well, a little iffy in crosswinds. My old rig was more stable in crosswinds it was the same length but was on a E-550. Better in wind but a very stiff ride ( rough ), I actually don't mind trading off some crosswind stability for the much better ride that I get with the E-450. Just thought I would get the alignment checked since it has never been done and that big sticker in the door keeps staring at me telling me to get it done.
Thanks,
Brent
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Old 06-25-2013, 11:45 AM   #7
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I was at Heitman at 0600 this morning to get my alignment checked, they put it on the rack and in about 20min. had the caster info. one side was less than five and the other was at five, the tech suggested both sides be increased to something just over five, I was happy to hear that he suggested exactly what I had read here. He also fixed a slight pull and centered the steering wheel. I was back on my way home at 0800, seems to drive much better.
Brent
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Old 06-25-2013, 12:05 PM   #8
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My coach handles pretty well, but it does pull slightly to the right, (steering wheel not centered). I have had it at a Ford dealer twice since I have owned it. The first time they swapped the tires, side to side. That seemed to help for a while, but it reverted to the same pull to the right. The second time they did a little "tweek" that really didn't do anything to affect the pull. On a long trip last Fall I had the two front tires replaced due to age. The coach still pulls to the right and the steering wheel is not centered. I don't think I trust the same dealer to look at it again and it's the largest one in the area. Should I seek out a specialty alignment shop?
Jack
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Old 06-25-2013, 12:37 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by 737brentc View Post
I was at Heitman at 0600 this morning to get my alignment checked, they put it on the rack and in about 20min. had the caster info. one side was less than five and the other was at five, the tech suggested both sides be increased to something just over five, I was happy to hear that he suggested exactly what I had read here. He also fixed a slight pull and centered the steering wheel. I was back on my way home at 0800, seems to drive much better.
Brent
Good to hear Brent, glad they treated you well
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Old 06-25-2013, 11:46 PM   #10
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My coach handles pretty well, but it does pull slightly to the right, (steering wheel not centered). I have had it at a Ford dealer twice since I have owned it. The first time they swapped the tires, side to side. That seemed to help for a while, but it reverted to the same pull to the right. The second time they did a little "tweek" that really didn't do anything to affect the pull. On a long trip last Fall I had the two front tires replaced due to age. The coach still pulls to the right and the steering wheel is not centered. I don't think I trust the same dealer to look at it again and it's the largest one in the area. Should I seek out a specialty alignment shop?
Jack
You know what they say about "getting a second opinion". If you can find a shop that will let you past the "service writer" and talk to the person working the "truck alignment" rack. Tell him about your concerns. If we could see an alignment report we could be more helpful. All I can do is give you the specs on Toe and Camber and recommend that you ask for as much +caster as you can get. That may require camber/caster alignment sleeves if they are not already installed.

Pulling to one side could be a Toe problem which is easily corrected
OR
Not having the appropiate CROSS CASTER.

CROSS CASTER = LH - RH and the normal range for the E350/E450 is -1.5 to +0.5. That means, for driving on the RH side of a road crown, the RH CASTER is always about 0.5 Degrees more then the LH side. If you could get at least LH +5.0 and RH +5.5 you would be doing as best as I could offer.
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Old 06-26-2013, 12:01 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by 737brentc View Post
I was at Heitman at 0600 this morning to get my alignment checked, they put it on the rack and in about 20min. had the caster info. one side was less than five and the other was at five, the tech suggested both sides be increased to something just over five, I was happy to hear that he suggested exactly what I had read here. He also fixed a slight pull and centered the steering wheel. I was back on my way home at 0800, seems to drive much better.
Brent
I agree, I don't think you could find any shop better to work with!

But, I am suprised your unit was already in the vicinity of +5 caster. Takes a bit of wind out of my sail. Do you have any post factory add ons? (like rear air bags etc etc) How many miles on your unit and what year?
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Old 06-26-2013, 08:24 AM   #12
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Harvard,
It is a 2013 with 5000 miles with nothing added. Like I had said earlier it handled pretty well before I had the alignment checked. It did drive better on the way home, about 50 miles, now I need to get out on a windy day and see what it is like. Also just a note on Heightman: the tech doing the alignment didn't ask if I was having any trouble when I got there, he went and drove it for about five min., came back and said that he felt a slight pull to the right and the steering wheel was off center slightly, then he ask if that is what I had noticed. He was dead on, exactly what I was going to tell him. Then I told him that I was really interested in the caster, after he checked it he told me what the numbers were and recommended getting them both above five, and then ask if that was what I wanted. This is the way a shop should run.
Brent
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Old 07-05-2013, 06:14 PM   #13
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All - many thanks for the info on Heitman (in Houston, TX). I have a 2006 Forest River Forester (I bought Nov 2012) that handled like a cookie-sheet on ice; non-stop white knuckle driving. The first shop I took it to told me that there was nothing they could do; that it would never handle any better (thank goodness that they didn't charge me for the great advise). I called several other "Highly recommended" local truck/front end shops - they told me that they would only line the front end to Ford specs. I went to Heitman - my front sway bar bushings were almost completely rotted away, the radius bar bushings and insulators were dry-rotted away and other assorted add-ons were loose or improperly installed. After the repairs and a front end alignment (with the extra caster added) I have a great handling rig. My hats off to Heitman Truck Repair!
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Old 07-05-2013, 08:17 PM   #14
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Chuck, do you know your before and after Caster settings? Just curious.
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