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Old 01-20-2020, 04:29 PM   #1
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Play in Steering

I am on my second trip with my new 2019 London Aire and I am not happy with the steering. I had a 2019 Dutch Star on a Spartan Chassis and understand how Comfort Drive works and the steering was very tight on it.

My new LA is on a Freightliner chassis and requires constant back and forth correction because of the amount of play in the steering wheel. It has about a 4" swing worth of play in the wheel no matter where the COMFORT DRIVE is set.

I had it into Freightliner and they told me it's normal. I could drive my Dutch Star for hours with no issue but this new London Aire get annoying after a couple hours because of the amount of back and forth correction.

I have a mechanical background and if this were a pick up or Jeep I would say the preload is not tight enough. But these big rigs supposedly (According to the Freightliner dealer anyway) don't have preload settings Anybody else have this problem or any ideas.
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Old 01-20-2020, 05:31 PM   #2
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My 4369 Dutch Star on a Freightliner Chassis with a tag axle doesn't have this issue. My suggestion is to take it back to Freightliner and tell them "IT'S NOT NORMAL" and have them drive the coach, with you present, showing the mechanic the issue..
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Old 01-21-2020, 04:30 AM   #3
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A 4" play in steering is not normal. This may be an alignment issue, and the freight liner shop near us sends alignments to another shop nearby.

We had a similar experience with our MH and an alignment solved the problem.

good luck.
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Old 01-21-2020, 07:45 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sramer View Post
I have a mechanical background and if this were a pick up or Jeep I would say the preload is not tight enough. But these big rigs supposedly (According to the Freightliner dealer anyway) don't have preload settings.
This dealer is wrong. The steering gear has a preload adjustment exactly like the one in a Jeep and it's there for exactly the same reason. By the same token, there is no adjustment in any of the joints in either vehicle.

That much play should be visible to an observer. To find it, I would start with the key off and pull the wheel back and forth hard enough to feel the lash being taken out. A fair pull with one hand should do it. Have somebody look at and feel each joint to test for motion or play from one side to the other. This means every u-joint, every ball joint, the steering gear, and the miter box if equipped. No place in the steering system should have noticeable motion on one side of a connection without a corresponding motion on the other side.

In other words, just like that Jeep. The only real difference is that the part are bigger, heavier, and a lot more expensive.
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Old 01-21-2020, 07:55 AM   #5
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Just curious why the OP didn’t order his LA on a Spartan.
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Old 01-21-2020, 10:32 PM   #6
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We have 2020 DS on Freightliner. Zero play in steering.

Just drove 700 miles in the DS; then got in my Tahoe and wished it drove like the DS!

Wishing you a speedy path to getting this fixed.
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Old 01-30-2020, 09:25 PM   #7
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Woah!!! 4 inches!!! That would drive me nuts!!
I don't like my approximately 1/2 inch play and was hoping to get this fixed during my 6 month maintenance in a couple months.
I'm hoping mine can be tightened up!
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Old 01-30-2020, 09:41 PM   #8
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4" is NOT normal, even on an old Freightliner FL70 school bus.
BTW, 4" of play in the wheel would deadline a commercial vehicle on a standard pre trip inspection. Time to find a better dealer...
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Old 02-02-2020, 11:52 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sramer View Post
I am on my second trip with my new 2019 London Aire and I am not happy with the steering. I had a 2019 Dutch Star on a Spartan Chassis and understand how Comfort Drive works and the steering was very tight on it.

My new LA is on a Freightliner chassis and requires constant back and forth correction because of the amount of play in the steering wheel. It has about a 4" swing worth of play in the wheel no matter where the COMFORT DRIVE is set.

I had it into Freightliner and they told me it's normal. I could drive my Dutch Star for hours with no issue but this new London Aire get annoying after a couple hours because of the amount of back and forth correction.

I have a mechanical background and if this were a pick up or Jeep I would say the preload is not tight enough. But these big rigs supposedly (According to the Freightliner dealer anyway) don't have preload settings. Anybody else have this problem or any ideas.
When you say "preload" I presume you're referring to steering box gear lash adjustment.

We had a similar “slop in the steering” issue with our 2018 Entegra Cornerstone when it was delivered. That coach is on a Spartan K3 chassis and I realize you have a Freightliner chassis, but bear with me.

I contacted Spartan after driving the coach a few hundred miles. Their response was weigh the coach, adjust tire pressures accordingly, check ride height settings, adjust as necessary, check front-end alignment, correct as necessary – one or all of these will solve your problem. Based on how the steering felt, I wasn’t confident any of that would make any difference. And it didn’t.

The steer axle on a Spartan K3 chassis is manufactured by Reyco Granning and has two TRW TAS85 steering gearboxes – a master and a slave. I repeatedly told Spartan the steering felt like the gear lash in one or both steering boxes was WAY loose. Couldn’t get anyone there to agree with me.

Finally, almost a year after we took delivery, we were at Spartan headquarters in Charlotte, Michigan for a class. The class included a service appointment. I told the technician who was going to be working on our coach about the problem and my opinion as to the probable cause. An hour or so later he pulled me out of class and told me that it took three full turns of the adjusting screw to get the slop out of the master steering box.

There’s a lot more to the story and the coach still doesn’t drive as good as I think it should, but my point is that what you described sounds exactly like what I was experiencing. The Freightliner SL chassis your coach is built on has a single steering gearbox, center-mounted on the steer axle.

Your steer axle is made by ZF. ZF now owns TRW, so the odds-on bet would be that your steering gear box is made by TRW. I doubt your steering gearbox is a TAS85, only because when I looked at the steering gearbox on a 2019 Mountain Aire on Freightliner chassis the gearbox looked significantly bigger than a TAS85 gearbox. In any case, I can’t imagine that your steering gearbox doesn’t have a way to adjust gear lash.

If you’re anywhere near Gaffney, South Carolina (headquarters of Freightliner Custom Chassis), I’d get the coach to them and see what they can find. If that’s too far to go, I’d call Freightliner, tell them you have a dangerous amount of play in the steering on your coach, and ask them to recommend a shop in your area that knows how to adjust steering box gear lash.

As others have noted, it’s also possible that something else in your steering system is loose, but based on what you described my money is on steering box gear lash. Good luck and keep us posted on what you’re able to learn.
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