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Old 07-21-2022, 11:55 AM   #1
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Was I just taken to the cleaners?

I recently noticed some very uneven wear on the passenger side tag tire on our 2019 DS4369. I took it in to the dealer and their freightliner guy said I needed an alignment and a new tire. Due to some other seemingly (at least to me) related issues, like 7+ months of intermittent "check tag axle" warning lights and inspections showing nothing wrong, I believe the root cause is something other than an alignment. Regardless, the alignment and tire needed to be addressed, so this week it was. I'll continue to pursue the other issue, but in the meantime the bill came to just over $2K! That's the combined total for the alignment and one Michelin 315/80R22.5 tire. Is that reasonable? I haven't yet received an itemized accounting. That's supposed to come today. But in looking at tire prices, it looks like the tire could be $850-$1,000. That means that mounting it and aligning all wheels was $1,000-$$1,150? Also, while I wasn't looking for an excuse to add another grand to the bill, I questioned whether it was a good idea to have a brand new tire on one side of the tag and a tire with 36K miles on the other side. I was told that it's perfectly safe. Any thoughts on that one too?
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Old 07-21-2022, 02:13 PM   #2
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Sounds pretty reasonable to me. I have seen alignments going from a few hundred dollars to $700-800 depending on who does it. There is huge variance in labor costs and even from FL dealer to FL dealer but you are often at the mercy of where you are. I would trust FL the most to hopefully do a proper alignment job but most FL dealers are very expensive. Our local dealer is $206/hr. right now to work on RV's. Unfortunately this is not a cheap endeavor. The check tag axle warnings comes on every time you start your rig until the tag air bags fill up. I would not be concerned about using the one new tire as you are doing-especially if it's put on the tag.
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Old 07-21-2022, 05:37 PM   #3
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Thanks for that input. We've only been RVing for four years, this is our second coach, and our first alignment, so I have no frame of reference for what is reasonable. Re the "check tag axle" warning light, it's very intermittent. Sometimes it comes on when he coach is airing up, but sometimes not. Sometimes it comes on as I'm going down the highway at 60 MPH. Or like yesterday, it came on as I was pulling out of the CG and got up to about 15-18 MPH. It went out and stayed out after I stopped the coach.
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Old 07-21-2022, 07:42 PM   #4
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First off I'm going to assume since you don't have an itemized bill you have not picked up your coach yet or paid the bill. That would be a no-no.

Let's say this tire was at the upper end of the price range. $1000. 100 to $125 would not be out of line to mount one tire and throw a set of balance beads in it. $35 for the beads, plus another $35 to dispose of the old tire and then close to an hour to mount it.

The alignment for big rigs at a state of the are shop is done on a machine that costs close to $1,000,000. I would assume they did an alignment on all 8 wheels. On a car, a 4-wheel computerized alignment takes 2 hours. On a motorhome 4 would not be out of line.

So while your bill is on the high end of what to expect, it is probably not too far out of line.
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Old 07-21-2022, 08:25 PM   #5
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Was I just taken to the cleaners?

7+ plus months of a warning of check tag might be a clue and thatís where I would be checking first. Sounds like a defective part throwing a code. Code should be stored. Assume problem was brought up while under warranty, thatís your recourse.
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Old 07-21-2022, 08:35 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jepoland5 View Post
I recently noticed some very uneven wear on the passenger side tag tire on our 2019 DS4369. I took it in to the dealer and their freightliner guy said I needed an alignment and a new tire......?

Do you by any chance have a photo of the worn out tag tire? Tire wear always tells the story of alignment and or chassis related issues. Looking at the tire wear pattern helps better determine the cause. Always best to take photo for your records.

The freightliner guy telling you need an alignment is a bit peculiar. As far as “I know”, your passive tag axle has only one alignment adjustment and that is the toe setting for the tag. The lock straights are adjustable too and they are set with alignments. The toe setting is adjusted via a single toe link. Unlike most vehicle's front axle where there are two independent toe links to adjust the toe for each side, a passive steer tag has only one toe link. Connecting both wheels together. Hence, if the toe is out of spec, both tires should show wear, either on the inside edges or the outside edges depending on toed (out or in) out of spec.

Freightliner passive tags had very many problems for 2016 and 2017 model years, often causing tag tire wear on one side or the other. Often on the passenger side. Attached are some of the posts I have seen over the years from various owners. I was under the impression, from 2018 on ward the passive tag was modified/re designed. However, I do recall another 2018/2019 owner having some issues with his tag that was posted here previously. Not sure how or if his issues were resolved.

Just as a “heads up”, I can tell you from personal experience, if there are serious issues, the freightliner dealer is not going to tell you about it. That is a fact. My own freightliner dealer whom I have know for more than 20 years and have the same mechanic would not disclose the defects relating to my passive tag. This despite the fact that privately, they tell me they are a small franchise dealer and have to do what the HQ tells them. If you have alignment issues that are not warranty, I suggest always look for competent independent shop. Mostly Truck frame and alignment shops that have a raised rack for alignment purposes. Freightliner dealers in general do not have alignment racks. They may have a pit just for the front axle. The rest of the alignments are performed on the floor and by laying under the coach. Unless you have been involved with alignment on this type of vehicle, it is hard to appreciate alignment on the shop floor is absolute crap. As for pricing, I have alignments performed both at freightliner shops as well as top notch independent truck frame and alignment shops all the way from east coast (philly areas) to the mid west and around SoCal. This was to discover the reasons for the continued tag tire wear on my chassis. The SoCal areas where the most expensive ones. For the three axle it was under $500. This was just over 1.5 yrs back.

As far as replacing only one tire, it is best to know the tire thread depth. Generally it may not be an issue. However, an accurate reading of the tire thread depth across the tire surface may indicate, the other tire may have also had uneven wear, perhaps not as much the pass. Side. If the driver side indicates some uneven wear from inside to outside, it “maybe” best to have that one replaced as well. BTW, I wouldn't trust the freightliner dealer telling you that!

Attached is the continued tire wear pattern on my unit for comparison. This was tag tire #3 at 58k. Tire was actually worn at 40k. i had it switched from pass side to drivers side to last longer. One wore on the inside and the other on the outside.

As for potential causes, the solenoid that operates the Lock Straights(LS) on your tag “could” be an issue. Or it could have been one of the LS components failing, or one that was way out of spec and forcing one tag wheel out of toe. “if” the LS was out of spec, that would very likely be the manufacture's fault. In this case that would be Newmar.
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Old 07-21-2022, 08:38 PM   #7
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Just went through my own ordeal with an intermittent "tag warning light" on my HWH display. Turned out, one of the relays in the HWH Active Air system circuit board had failed so that tag's bag was not inflating. End result was no weight on the tire going down the road. Fortunately, it was at the end of a short trip--a truck repair shop temporarily tied the two tag air lines together so I could get the rig home. My bad as I wasnt sure what the issue was. I should have checked the individual bag pressure page on my HWH display--it would have told me the bag wasnt inflating.
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Old 07-22-2022, 08:14 AM   #8
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Howdy, I just returned from the Spartan factory, I know you have a Freight Liner, where another Newmar owner was having some tire and alignment work done. I was surprised when I learned what was involved to align one of these 8 wheel units. 3 to 4 hours even with the right equipment. I know he paid around $1200 for just the alignment. I think the tires were right around $900 a piece plus mounting and balance. So no I do not think you were taken to the cleaners, so long as it solved your problems.
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Old 07-22-2022, 12:12 PM   #9
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Man, I love this forum! It's so great to be able to benefit from those who have gone before me. It sounds like the price for a new tire, mounting, balancing, install, and an 8-wheel alignment is at least reasonable. That makes me feel better. While I trust my dealer, as Ronnie R said, trust but verify. Thanks for the verification.

As for the root cause of all this and whatever has been going on with the tag axle, I have opened a ticket with Freightliner. My warranty with them runs out at the end of this month, so as long as it's been documented before that, I should be covered if it ends up being their issue. FWIW, the guy who did the alignment said that the only time he's seen a single tag wheel that far out has been from the factory. My next call is to the regional manager.

Rd1, you asked for a picture of the mis-worn tire. Here it is. It was the passenger side and the worn side is to the outside.
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Old 07-22-2022, 02:59 PM   #10
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I just had an alignment, along with some other work on my 05 Essex. Had it done back in April while we were in Branson, MO. Place called Branson Coach Care. They give you a color printout that shows what the alignment was before and after. My memory isn't the best but I'm thinking it was about $600. I was very happy with their work.,,
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Old 07-22-2022, 08:45 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jepoland5 View Post
... It was the passenger side and the worn side is to the outside.

You know, trusting these guys is a personal prerogative. Where I took exception is the dealer saying you need an alignment!!! That is the effect, he didn't tell you the cause, at least from your description.

When you have an alignment service, always best to have the alignment data for your records. If you didn't get one, you might want to ask for it. If you have one, it would help to see the data before and after alignment.

The tire wear suggest most likely a passenger side tag wheel toed-in. There are other possibilities, however, toe I believe is the only adjustment you have on your unit. See Michelin description below.

The picture below is the bottom view from the tag axle on my unit. As you can see the big round bar next to the axle beam is the toe link connecting both tag wheels together. It is very unlikely to have one side out of toe. If the toe was out of spec, you would have either both tag tires wear on their outside or their inside.

One likely scenario for only one tag wheel out of toe, is the tag axle thrust out of spec. If you are not familiar with thrust angle, see here for a simple explanation.

https://help.summitracing.com/app/an...hrust-angle%3F

Basically the axle needs to be true/perpendicular to the chassis, otherwise the unit would be dog tracking. If there is a thrust issue with your axle, say the axle is pointed to the left, the tag wheels would be steering left. The toe link can be adjusted to get the toe in spec for one side (in this example, the LFS). However, the other side would be considerably out of spec. As far as I know, your tag axle version does not have any thrust angle adjustment capabilities. If this is the case, that could be a concern. Later, I 'll show you how to look for any feature to correct thrust angle issues. If there is one.

There is one other “possibility”, if the Lock Straight (LS) on the RHS (pass side) was out of spec. The LS activates when your forward speed is over 20MPH or when in reverse. They are designed to maintain the tag wheel in a straight forward position. They release from 0-20MPH to permit the tag wheel steering. They are not an alignment feature. However, they can be used to manipulate the toe setting. LS IS NOT DESIGNED FOR THAT PURPOSE. If need be, I can explain that at a later time.

The LS is located on the back side of the tag wheel. If the RHS LS was not set properly, it can push the back of tag wheel out, hence causing a toe-in condition. Obviously, the toe link would push (limit) against this scenario. However, there is enough play, that the LS out of spec, can cause toe-in and tire wear. However, would be over very very many miles. The extent of toe-in condition in this scenario would be limited.

To check, you can take a photo of the LS from both tag wheels. This will show if any components were replaced or modified. Simply take your phone with camera reach from the back side of the tag wheel, just about half way. The LS is just on the inside of the tag wheel. Once you take a pic or two, you should be able to locate it (see pic below). Once you post it, we can see if they are the original or replaced.
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Old 07-22-2022, 09:18 PM   #12
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As for pricing, it is possible the prices have gone up recently. However, for any reason, it helps to verify from other places. You can search on line for a Truck frame and alignment shop in your area and call a couple of them. Ask for a 3 axle alignment for an RV. Also, ask if they have a 6 sensor or a 4 sensor alignment? The 4 sensor works, but it takes much longer, as they have to move sensors from wheel to wheel.
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Old 07-25-2022, 02:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rd1 View Post

...

To check, you can take a photo of the LS from both tag wheels. This will show if any components were replaced or modified. Simply take your phone with camera reach from the back side of the tag wheel, just about half way. The LS is just on the inside of the tag wheel. Once you take a pic or two, you should be able to locate it (see pic below). Once you post it, we can see if they are the original or replaced.
Attached are pics of the LS on both tag tires, as well as the alignment report I was given. The cryptic drawings on the lower right of the report allegedly show how the tires should look (left) and how they did look (right). I like to think I'm a reasonably intelligent individual, but this report is Greek to me. Any insights?
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Old 07-26-2022, 04:28 PM   #14
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Interesting to see the LS have been redesigned. It looks to be an improvement over the original version.

Your LS all look original, so no changes there. I do see some of the grease on the acorn nut is disturbed. Likely due to a wrench. Suggests the LS were re-set after alignment, which is the proper procedure. No issues there.

The alignment print out appears to be from a Hunter Alignment system.

The 'before' alignment numbers appear all over. This raises the question as to how this unit left freightliner factory and then newmar with the alignments so far off? My unit was way out of specs as well. Often, to me, this suggests there was an issue and they just let it go thru. Perhaps because it couldn't be resolved. I know that was the case with mine. Will cover this more later.

Next the specs they use seem to be a bit liberal, at least compared to what I have for my unit. The dealers sometimes use whatever specs need be just to make an alignment appear ok. The operator can modify the pre determined specs as they wish.

The front/steer axle was a bit off with toe and setback. The end result is ok. The pos set back indicates the R wheel is slightly back compared to the left side. It is within spec and no issue. I believe the total toe should be within .01-.09 What they use is just a bit over that.

The rear axles raises a bit of flag. Rear axle 1 is the drive axle. It does not show the thrust angle. Thrust angle for the drive axle is critical alignment data. Sometimes the drive axle is used as the reference point for the alignment. So it is critical to know if the drive axle is in thrust (perpendicular to the chassis). I had similar experience, when there is a problem, they would not provide the critical aliment data. The operator of a Hunter alignment system can choose what alignment data for any given axle can be displayed. So for future, you may want to insist they provide thrust angle data for drive and tag axles. Last the toe specs are slightly off. I believe the range for the individual toe should be .01 - .06 deg. The total toe should be .01-.09 They are slightly out side of the range.

Rear axle 2 is the tag axle. The thrust angle was -.035 deg originally. Neg deg means axle is rotated (pointing) left. The spec should be +_ .08 deg. This is more than 4X out of range. Further the RHS tag toe is +.72 deg. The spec is .01-.06 deg. This is more than 10X out of range. This wheel is considerably toed-in, hence the reason for the RHS tag tire wear on the outside edge. The final result for the tag thrust is -.01 deg.

Here is where I see a potential issue. From discussion with another owner of a 2018 unit, I understood the new tag axles DO NOT have any adjustments for thrust angle corrections!!! So how did they get from -.35 to -.01? This is where your trust but verify comes into play!

So need two more pics from you. Below is the RHS control arm attachments to the chassis for my tag axle. If you could, take a photo for the RHS and one for the LHS tag axle attachments to the chassis.

Stick the camera between the tag tire and drive tire. You have to go just behind the hwh jack. The jack should be down for better view. Look for the 2 bolts attachment to the chassis hanger. Those would be the upper and lower control arm attachments for the tag to the chassis.

One peculiar issue of relevance is the inner play between the toe and thrust angle. This is how certain alignment peculiarities can be manipulated. If you are not familiar with that, let me know, and I''l explain.
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