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Old 01-21-2014, 02:58 PM   #1
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Shimmy woes - what now?

I have a 2004 Itasca Horizon 40AD that I bought a few months back that runs on a Freightliner chassis. It has 42K miles on it and has brand new Kelly tires that the previous owner installed. Here's my problem. I get a shimmy in the front end starting around 55 and continues from there. On my trip down to Aransas Pass (~400 miles) I noticed that it will come and go. Specifically, it will often go away on or after a curve, start after a curve, or after I have stopped and started again. It is there more often than not. It is never a death wobble, but it is enough to be irritating and shake the mirrors a bit.

I had the front tires balanced (twice) before I left on my trip. I also had the tie rod assemblies replaced on both sides because their boots were gone and the joints were loose. While that didn't make me happy, at least I know that they should be good for a while. I see no evidence of the shocks leaking, but realize that this is not always the case for bad shocks. All the steering components seem to be tight. No play in the steering wheel.

I have done a lot of searching on this forum and others, but can't come up with any information on what to do next.

- Can this problem be caused by bad shocks?

- Can this problem be caused by mis-alignment? (that has not been done yet)

- Would an intermittent problem like this be caused by a bad tire (out of round/cord slip)?

I could use some help from the chassis experts on this one. Where would you start on the above list? What would you add that I might have overlooked?


Gary - flying solo (unless you count Buddy, the cat)
2004 Itasca Horizon 40AD, Kar Kaddy SS with a 2013 Sonata SE 2.0T, '07 Harley Ultra Glide
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Old 01-21-2014, 03:11 PM   #2
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Could be 1, 2, or 3. Also add ball joints to the list. I would start with an alignment first, as the tires are new, and the coach probably needs one anyway. I had the same coach(40ad) and while at Gaffney they had to do a four wheel alignment. Not sure where in DFW to get alignment, but a big truck center would be the place to start. They could also check the ball joints. The Freightliner factory in Gaffney, SC is hands down the best place for Freightliner chassis work, if you have the opportunity to get there. Also for Cummins and gen work. The best shop, coach or car, I have ever dealt with.
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Old 01-21-2014, 03:13 PM   #3
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Several possible answers.. All of them require a stop at the same store.

Tire balance. This is a common issue, many people think those big tires do not need to be balanced, also rims and tires both can be out of round.. A good tire shop can advise on all of these, an out of round rim or tire can be trued,,,, Though that may require a different shop.

Oh, and they do need to be balanced.

Next comes the "Front end" Stuff, Tie rods, Ball joints and/or king pins, Drag links and so on... Many Tire shops also do alignment and an alignment shop will inspect all this stuff before they break out the wrenches and align.
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Old 01-21-2014, 07:35 PM   #4
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Take it to an alignment shop!!!!!
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Old 01-21-2014, 08:59 PM   #5
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My bet is a bad tire that will balance on the machine but becomes out of round when driving. If you have the same size tires all around, consider moving the fronts to one end of the rear axle, and take those tires from the rear and put them on the front followed by a test drive. I've had a tire cause a wobble on cars more than once.

Let us know what the cure really is.

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Old 01-21-2014, 10:05 PM   #6
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Does the rig have the original wheels on it? If not, you may want to check and see if they are the proper fit. I bought a used truck that did the same thing, sometimes it would shimmy at 50 plus, sometimes it would not, same thing on corners. I had the tires balanced, no one could find a problem with any of the suspension parts either.
I happened to mention it in a passing conversation in a group, one guy who I had never met said to check the wheels and make sure they were the right hub size, and stressed to me how he had been in the tire business for years and had seen it before. I never knew a few millimeters could make a difference but it does. Replaced the wheels, kept the tires as they were still good, and I never had the problem again.
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Old 01-22-2014, 06:06 AM   #7
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Does a 2004 Itasca have an IFS? FL solid axle chassis has king pins. You need to start with a good wheel alignment shop. They will check all the components. You could have a bent wheel, loose wheel bearing, improperly mounted wheel, bad tire. They will probably move the front tires to the back just to see if that corrects the problem.
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Old 01-22-2014, 06:25 AM   #8
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If you are in the DFW area I have heard the best place for an alignment is Ray's Champion Spring. It is South of Ft. Worth on the I35W service road near Berry St. I had an alignment done at a local truck tire shop because it was convenient, bad decision. I am now making plans to go to Ray's.
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Old 01-22-2014, 08:01 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the great responses. I have already gone down the balance route. One tire needed 6 oz. and the other 4 oz. If I were to summarize all of your suggestions it would be "find a good alignment / chassis shop". I will do just that when I head back from Aransas Pass in a few months. The recommendation for Ray's Service in south Fort Worth is much appreciated.

To answer a few of the questions, this coach has IFS. I do not know if these are the original wheels, but I suspect they are. And, I promise to post the solution(s) once I get it fixed.

Being new to the DFW area and not knowing any other RV'ers makes it tough. But, this forum is a HUGE asset to me. Thanks.

Gary - flying solo (unless you count Buddy, the cat)
2004 Itasca Horizon 40AD, Kar Kaddy SS with a 2013 Sonata SE 2.0T, '07 Harley Ultra Glide
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Old 06-10-2014, 03:03 PM   #10
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UPDATE: Sorry I have been so slow in getting this post updated as promised. After I got back from South Texas I had some health issues to deal with. Now that those are in the past I finally had time to work on the shimmy problem. The good news is that I have finally gotten the shimmy problem fixed!

To summarize what I did upon my return from Aransas Pass, I had the front end aligned per suggestions from all of you. It was definitely in need of adjustment and that fixed a pulling problem that I got after having the tie rod assemblies replaced (Murphy's law, eh?). But, that didn't solve the shimmy problem. So, I took the coach back and had a long discussion with the service manager. He checked the shocks and they are good. He said that the kingpins are always checked as part of the alignment process and they are good. He was leaning towards a tire or wheel problem. I suggested that we move the right front to the right rear since it seems like the right side front is the problem child. He agreed. In the process of making the swap he called me out to look at the inside of the rear tire and to point out that the shop that put the new tires on (done by the previous owner) had thrown in a bag of silica sand that is supposed to help balance the tires. Since the service manager is a tire guy, he was immediately suspicious that this had been done all the way around and was not very kind in his thoughts about this method. Sure enough. When he pulled the front tire it was the same situation. He suggested that we also pull the left front off to check it as well. A bag of silica sand was in all of them. He cleaned them out and balanced the fronts on his machine and voila! It's fixed!

Looking back on the situation I can now see why it was somewhat intermittent. If I slowed down the sand would shift. If it shifted in the right way it wouldn't shimmy. If it shifted the wrong way, it would.

So, moral of the story - if you buy your coach after the old owner just put on new tires, make sure they didn't go the cheap a$$ route and have the tire guy throw a bag of sand in to balance them rather than getting them done the right way.

P.S. The shop doing my work is MKS Truck and Tire on Blue Mound Rd. in Haslet, TX just east of Hwy 287 on Blue Mound road. PM me if you want more information.
Gary - flying solo (unless you count Buddy, the cat)
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Old 06-11-2014, 08:35 AM   #11
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Old 06-11-2014, 09:32 AM   #12
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My son-in-law is an EMT and their ambulances were using the sand/powder type balancing.

He noticed the same problem when they first started moving but after a while it would correct itself.
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