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Old 01-19-2023, 10:18 PM   #1
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Desperate Help for Steering Wandering Ford E350 C class

Hello everyone,

I signed up just to post this one single plea for help.

I have a 1999 Ford E350 Suoer Duty Winnebago 22' Itasca Spirit (70K miles). It has a terrible steering wandering problem. I have read almost every forum post on this subject, along with hundred of assorted articles found while searching this problem on google, youtube and everything else I could think of. Every recommendation or idea has been examined and implemented.

During driving, my RV wanders back and forth horribly. Not like your typical minor sway, but constant correcting back and forth. Over 60mph it is a constant struggle to keep it straight, and passing trucks are terrifying as they go by. I understand that some "wandering " may be typical, but I have driven another similar RV and it is nothing close to the swaying back and forth that my RV has. It is borderline uncontrollable.

I have done EVERYTHING trying to fix this issue with no luck. Here is the list of things done in the hope of getting this steering wander under control.

All of the following has been done in the effort to minimize the steering wander, all with NO EFFECT at all.

New tires (BF Goodrich Commercial TA)
New brakes, calipers, rotors, brake hoses, etc.
Complete new front steering and suspension (ball joints, inner/outer tie rods, centerlink, urethane trailing arm bushings, etc.
New Bilstein Steering dampener
New Monroe Matic shocks all around (coilover in rear)(I contacted Winnebago on shock recommendations and I got the ones they stated, with the upgrade option of coil overs in rear.
Front and Rear Hellwig anti-way bars.
Finally, a new steering box that was recommended, with no improvement over the old one.

I have verified that every steering and suspension part is tight and secure many times.
I even took my RV to a highly recommended alignment shop that specializes in alignments and only does RV's and big trucks. They stated that the steering and suspension parts were inspected and all looks good and that the alignment was spot on when they got done. (It was slightly off before they did the work)

Driving under 50 mph you can feel the sway slightly, but very manageable. However, when you start going 55 to 60 mph or more, you really start to notice the issue, and at 70 mph or over, it becomes almost unmanageable, constant white-knuckling and correcting combined with the fear of over-correcting and losing control is insane.

I am at the point I have no idea what else to try. I feel like my family's life it at risk if I continue to try and drive it, that is how bad the back and forth sway is. Is it something small to fix, or something major? I have no idea. I am hoping someone can lead me in the right direction to a fix that solves this problem.

I am at the point that I either find out and fix what is wrong, or I sell the RV. I can no longer continue struggling with trying to keep this thing in its lane. I feel like a drunk moth bouncing back and forth between the street lines, constantly going over the reflectors in the center, and the rumble strips on the other side of the lane. People driving behind me must think I am DUI what with the constant swaying and bouncing back and forth.



I do NOT want to sell my RV, as I have put so much effort into making it exactly what my wife and I wanted. It is the perfect RV for us in every other way. It runs terrific and is quite dependable, everything works, all maintenance up to date, everything that could be updated has been, it is well cared for, and it needs nothing else, mechanical or appearance wise. It is a blast to go camping at all the wonderful parks and I want to continue traveling, but with the swaying as bad as it is,I just can no longer drive it.

So, if you have ANY ideas of what to check or replace, please let me know. I am very mechanical and restore cars as a hobby, so I understand and know how to work on vehicles. I have done all I could think of, and all that others have suggested, with no luck or improvement at all.

Thank you all.

Oliver
sadekar@bellsouth.net
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Old 01-19-2023, 10:27 PM   #2
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Desperate Help for Steering Wandering Ford E350 C class

I watched a YouTube video quite a long time ago where they stuck a long tube (probably 10ft or so) in the rear receiver hitch and started moving it right and left to find loose suspension movement.

Itís the only thing I can think of not already on your list!
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Old 01-20-2023, 12:15 AM   #3
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When the alignment was done was the RV loaded exactly the same as when you go camping? Fuel and water tanks full, all your bedding , food, and supplies onboard as they are when you travel? the Ford twin I Beam suspension can get a little pissy when you start adding weight behind the rear axle. The first problem is weight transfer off the front wheels as weight is added behind the rear axle, with fuel and water tanks usually located there. At eight pounds per gallon it ads up very fast. The weight transfer effects three alignment angles on this suspension, Caster, Camber and Toe-in. As the front end lifts, Camber goes negative, caster can go into negative , and will definitely decrease, and toe in will decrease possibly enough to become toe-out. If you pull a trailer or boat add a minimum of 250 pounds tongue weight to the weight behind the axle.

The twin I beam is a durable, simple and reliable independent front suspension, and has few weak points with billions of miles in service. Set up correctly it is as well mannered as any Ackerman or MacPhearson suspension.


From everything you posted that has been done, and my experience with the Twin I Beam suspension, I would suggest you start at the scales loaded as you take it to the shop to be aligned. Then load up for a trip just like you normally would and head out for the weekend like any other trip, just when you are really on the way go to the scale and get weighed again fully loaded and fueled with the family aboard. the differences in the axle weights from the first to the second weighing may shock you and provide the key to your handling woes.
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Old 01-20-2023, 12:53 AM   #4
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Has it done this since you got it or one day it started doing this wandering stuff?

What about play in the actual steering column? Steering coupler? A cracked frame where the gearbox mounts to the frame?

Some looseness in the rear leaf spring pack the axle to move? The leaf spring U bolt nuts lose?

Just for fun disconnect the steering damper to see how it drives.
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Old 01-20-2023, 04:39 AM   #5
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Probably too easy and you've already tried it, but . . .

Park with a front tire scuffed up hard against a tall curb, so that the wheel cannot be turned side to side.

Crawl underneath with a light and have someone crank the steering wheel hard left to right to left (with the engine and steering pump running) and see if you can spot the flex/wiggle somewhere in the steering system or frame as they put force into it. If you don't see anything, turn around and put the other side against the curb and repeat.

Also . . .

Chock the front wheels securely. You sit about fifteen feet away from one of the rear tires and watch that tire carefully for any front-to-back movement as a driver shifts into drive and gives it gas, and then shifts into reverse and gives it gas. Rear end might be pivoting on one bad attachment.
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Old 01-20-2023, 06:46 AM   #6
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If you had an alignment, they usually supply a printout.

Look at it for the caster setting. Ford has a wide range on caster but you want at least 5 degrees. That will help it track straight.

I had to have aftermarket caster bushings installed to get enough caster.Click image for larger version

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Old 01-20-2023, 07:08 AM   #7
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After reading your extensive list of things added or changed out, I did not see the addition of a rear Panhard bar (track bar). This was the only change that I made to my 2017 E450. It reduced the sway from passing trucks drop to almost nothing. I strongly believe that Ford should factory install them on all E350/450 chassis.

Google "panhard bar" to see how they work.
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Old 01-20-2023, 09:36 AM   #8
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Ford E350/450'handle decent with proper inflation of tires. Since your rv is 20?+years old it does not comply with current TREAD ACT guidelines. First thing to do is weigh the rv travel ready, and adjust tire pressure per the tire manufacture load/pressure chart. Next is to inspect the rear leaf spring hanger bushings, any movement in the rear gets amplified to the front, also you did not state if your towing or not. Any "sloppiness the hitch system will cause " tail wagging the dog" , hitch clamps eliminate hitch movement.
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Old 01-20-2023, 09:54 AM   #9
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When did this start happening? Did you buy it with this problem or did it happen one day?

I had a 99 E350 V-10 Fleetwood Tioga 24D, 24ft long. Bought it with 28k miles, it had 45k when I sold it. With stock suspension and sway bars, it never drove as squirrelly as the OP says his does. Even at 75mph it was stable in the lane.

Sure a track bar or panhard bar would help. But that’s not fixing the original problem because a normal E350 does not wander all over the lane at 70mph.

Something is definitely lose or broken on his. I would be looking at broken rivets on the frame. Look for red powder from metal rubbing against each other at where the frame cross member pieces meet.
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Old 01-20-2023, 05:16 PM   #10
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Responses to suggestion and replies to questions.

So far there have been some great ideas, along with some questions or requests for further info.
In regards to towing, my RV has the towing package, but I do not tow with it. I drive the RV by itself and pull nothing.



In response to possibly getting a panhard bar, I was told that I could install either that or a rear sway bar, but not both. So I chose to install a rear anti-sway bar, along with the front anti-sway bar at the same time, all provided by Hellwig.


I did take someone's advice about installing a bar into the rear hitch and rocking the RV back and forth. I had someone do this while I crawled underneath checking everything. The front suspension moves up and down, but nothing loose. The steering components do move with the movement of the vehicle, but again, nothing loose. I removed all cotter pins, and tightened all castle nuts and installed new pins. I also removed the front outer wheel bearings wondering if one was bad, but they were still in great shape, having been replaced and repacked when the brakes were done and the rotors replaced.



The only thing I could see was some slight play between the rear leaf spring perches and the rubber sleeves in the spring eyelets. The flex did not seem out of line. I examined every weld and rivet on the frame and saw nothing that would cause concern. There is really no rust, just typical surface rust as the vehicle lived its whole life in south Florida, and has not encountered the salted roads of winter.



I was also advised to check the steering column rag joint, but apparently there isn't one. There is a swivel joint, and it appears tight. I loosened it from the steering box, and examined it, but no play in it. Is there a point higher in the column beyond the firewall (under the dash) that might have a joint that could be compromised or loose that I could check?


I am genuinely happy that so many are giving ideas, and I feel no idea is ridiculous, as when all the normal things seem okay, then it must be something stupid that is wrong. I am taking to heart every suggestion and checking it out.



Please, keep them coming.



Thank you again.


Oliver
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Old 01-20-2023, 05:24 PM   #11
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What is your tire pressure set at?

What size tires?
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Old 01-20-2023, 05:26 PM   #12
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Additional info and answers to questions.

Oh, in response to when this became an issue and did it do it when I first got the RV, the answer is...I don't know.

When I first bought it last year, I drove it about a short distance from where I bought it to my home. From there, I did all the work and fixing it up, and discovered my issue on its maiden voyage. From there, after realizing there was a problem, I would do one or two things to fix the issue, go on another camping trip, find out it still swayed, and would limp it to the camp site and back home, only to try something else before the next trip.

To be honest, on my first drive when I bought it and took it home, I do not remember the sway, but then again, I do not think I was driving that hard, what with worrying about getting used to driving an RV, worrying about all the things that could go wrong, such as overheating, brakes going, and what not. It did blow a serpentine belt halfway home and I replaced it on the side of the turnpike. That was it.

When I removed the original front end, it was shot. As is typical with Ford, there were "service-free" components, meaning there were no grease fittings, and the ball joints and tie rods were shot. They were just sloppy and completely gone. All the components I replaced them with had grease fittings so that they could be maintained properly.

If I had to guess, I do not think the sway issue was as bad when I first drove it home. So I am thinking it must be something from the work done on it. But what? Nothing appears broken, and I have checked and re-checked, and double-checked every component replaced. Nothing looks to be broken, bad or loose.

More ideas please. I do so desperately want this fixed.

Thank you again,

Oliver
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Old 01-20-2023, 06:00 PM   #13
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As far as installing a rear trac bar with a rear sway bar, my 2017 E450 had a factory rear sway bar. I installed a SuperSteer rear trac bar with no issues. You may want to call SuperSteer and see what your options are.

https://supersteerparts.com/products...e350-e450.html

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Old 01-20-2023, 06:23 PM   #14
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If everything is right and tight, add castor! Don't be afraid of going 2-3 degrees over factory limits.

Tire pressure can be a big factor as well, but adding castor will make it want to go straight down the road.
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