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Author Topic: Got the wheel alignment done!  (Read 7055 times)

SargeW

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Got the wheel alignment done!
« on: March 10, 2009, 10:35:23 PM »
And I am glad I did.  I went into Freightliner Tolleson and talked to Kirk, a really good guy.  I explained the pulling and what what it felt like behind the wheel.  When I first talked to him on the phone and set it up, he quoted me a price of about $340, plus $75 if the front tires need to be rotated.  When I arrived Kirk looked at my rig and noted that I have a straight front axle as opposed to an IFS suspension.  WOO HOO, that saved me about $80 bucks right off the top, as the straight axle is easier to align, and no rotation was needed. 

When I picked it up, Kirk gave me a spec sheet that indicated that the alignment was out a good bit, and one side required a shim to put everything back in order.  Interesting though, that to my recollection I have never hit anything that would cause a dramatic shift in the alignment.  However, over a period of time the alignment was out considerably.  Kirk did note however that there was NO evidence of unusual wear on either of the front tires ;D

One small gripe about the resulting repair.  When I got back inside and was heading West on the I10 outside of Phoenix there was a strong crosswind, so I really didn't get to check much about the new feel of the alignment as I was just trying to keep the rig between the lines.  Later when I got farther down the road into California and the winds subsided,  I noted that the steering wheel was off center quite a bit, kinda like driving down the road making a left turn.  Checking the repair order, I did note that Kirk had written on the repair order "center the steering wheel". 

I called him up and he indicated that sometimes the tech will pull the steering wheel, but the alignment splines on the steering shaft prevent the steering wheel from being close enough to center.  He offered to take it back and readjust it, but already being in Ca, that was not much of an option. Instead I obtained the size of the jamb nut from him and went to the local Napa store and picked up an 1 1/4 socket and a steering wheel puller for about $20.  I removed the steering wheel pad (one screw under the pad removed from the bottom) lifted off the pad and pulled the nut and then the steering wheel off.  I moved the wheel back to the right one spline on the shaft and put it all back together. 

The next leg of the journey to So. Cal was smooth, and the steering wheel was almost perfect.  All in all I was VERY happy I decided to have the alignment checked.  BTW, I never did have the alignment checked after I loaded the rig for fulltiming 9 months ago, so I was due anyway (as is recommended in the Freightliner manual).   It's a good idea if your rig is not behaving as it once was, that a check of the alignment might save some real big bucks down the road in the form of new tires.   ;)

Sarge
Marty--
2013 Phaeton 36GH
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John Canfield

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Re: Got the wheel alignment done!
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2009, 07:56:07 AM »
Sarge - thanks for the detailed report!  My steering wheel has been off-center for two or three years and I always forget to ask Kirk to center it.  Interesting that your alignment was that far off.  Kirk's guys don't always do 100% perfect work (like Winnie factory service), but I still trust them with my rig.
--John
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scottydl

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Re: Got the wheel alignment done!
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2009, 08:01:36 AM »
Great outcome!  I got an alignment on my rig just after buying it, since it traveled badly and required the steering wheel to be turned about 45 degrees to the right to drive straight down the road.   :o  It tracks straight now but the wheel is still not lined up as you described.  The tire guy said he could straighten to out, but we'd be "getting into hourly labor" which I wanted to avoid.

Instead I obtained the size of the jamb nut from him and went to the local Napa store and picked up an 1 1/4 socket and a steering wheel puller for about $20.  I removed the steering wheel pad (one screw under the pad removed from the bottom) lifted off the pad and pulled the nut and then the steering wheel off.  I moved the wheel back to the right one spline on the shaft and put it all back together.

Is it really that easy on all MH's?  I'll certainly have to add this to my Spring project list if so.
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
1994 Thor Residency 3500 owned 2007-2012
Now looking for the next perfect RV...

Ron

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Re: Got the wheel alignment done!
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2009, 10:23:40 AM »
Thanks for the report on your alignment.  Just proper alignment can make a big difference on how a rig handles as well as tire wear.
Ron & Sam-home is where we park it. Currently located   HERE

Harry B

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Re: Got the wheel alignment done!
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2009, 10:47:30 AM »
The problem with the steering wheel not being centered is due to the toe-in adjustment. If the front wheel toe-in is not correct the difference in the adjustment should be take up equally on each wheel. In other words if the toe-in is off by a 1/8", each wheel should be adjusted by a 1/16" to get to a total of 1/8" needed

To safe time a lot of mechanics like to make the adjustment only on one side and that creates the situation that the steering wheel is off center. You can correct it like Sarge did if it is not to far off. You just have to make sure that the turn signal returns to the off position when changing lanes as that is affected by moving the steering wheel on the steering shaft.

I had the same problem when Winnie adjusted my front end at the factory. I left the factory with cross winds at the time like Sarge and discovered my steering wheel off center later on. I also applied Sarge's method of re-centering the steering wheel but wound moving it two splines. That is about as much as you can move it without affecting the proper operation of the turn signal
Harry - (Central FL)

2005 Horizon-KD
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John Canfield

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Re: Got the wheel alignment done!
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2009, 12:09:54 PM »
Harry - interesting!
--John
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SargeW

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Re: Got the wheel alignment done!
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2009, 01:08:49 PM »
It really is that easy to adjust the steering wheel.  One thing I forgot to mention. Steering wheel pullers are universal to work on a variety of vehicles. The set that I bought from Napa had three different size bolts that came with it.  However they were all too large of a diameter to work with the holes in my Freightliner steering wheel.  The bolt holes were like 1/4 or 3/8 inch. I went to my tool kit and had a couple of standard thread bolts that screwed right in to the steering wheel. It really is not rocket science.  A few turns with the 1 1/4 socket and the wheel lifts right off. 

Here is another tip though.  Before you lift of the wheel off, take a sharp knife or screwdriver and make a line on the steering wheel face and on the top of the steering shaft.  This will be your reference mark so when you lift it off you will know exactly how far you have moved the wheel.  I moved one spline and it came out perfect.  The beauty of it is that it is so easy to pull off, if you need more adjustment, just repeat the proceedure.  There was a sticker on my steering wheel to torque the jamb nut to 40#.  I just snugged it down firmly.  With the splines on the shaft the nut is just a "keeper" for the wheel. 

Sarge
Marty--
2013 Phaeton 36GH
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scottydl

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Re: Got the wheel alignment done!
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2009, 01:47:53 PM »
I picked up (actually "borrowed") a steering wheel puller set at Auto Zone yesterday through their Loan-a-Tool program.  Put down a $13 + tax deposit, which I get back when I return the set.  Anyway I could not figure out how to work this thing by looking at it, so through some searching I found this video.  They are working on hotrods and not RV's but you get the idea.  Thought it might help for anyone else using one of these tools.

I have a fairly common Ford steering wheel (image of similar wheel below), with the middle horn and cruise control buttons on it.  SargeW (or anyone else) do you happen to know if those wires will be in danger at all by prying/pulling at the wheel?
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
1994 Thor Residency 3500 owned 2007-2012
Now looking for the next perfect RV...

29er

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Re: Got the wheel alignment done!
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2009, 04:29:40 PM »
SargeW: Did you have a thrust alignment also?

Kerry
Kerry & Georgia BETH Mathews. Yes, honeymoon continues.

Dave Stringham

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Re: Got the wheel alignment done!
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2009, 05:42:35 PM »
I read your post, thank you, did you do a 4wh alignment or just the front axle.  I have been asking around about getting my Monaco aligned but I was told to do a 4 wheel. Not many people are able to do that.
Dave Stringham
Monaco Executive (The Luv Shack)

DeanLinAZ

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Re: Got the wheel alignment done!
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2009, 06:45:44 PM »
At the risk of being "off topic", I want to add my vote of confidence for Kirk Ault and his crew at Freightliner Tolleson in Arizona.  I have taken our Journey there for the past three years for its annual M1 and one M3 services.  They are the best in our end of town here in the Phoenix area.

My last service included six new Michelin XRVs which Kirk farmed out to Purcel Tires who came to Tolleson and completed the changeout including spin balancing the fronts.  The job came out great--the ride is better than when the coach was new.

Anyway, my hats off to Kirk and Tolleson Freightliner Oasis.
 

John Canfield

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Re: Got the wheel alignment done!
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2009, 08:00:50 PM »
At the risk of being "off topic", I want to add my vote of confidence for Kirk Ault and his crew at Freightliner Tolleson in Arizona.

Dean - yeah - a little OT, but I'll contribute to thread drift :)  At this point in our coach ownership, I have implicit trust in exactly three service places:  Freightliner Tolleson, Freightliner factory in Gaffney, and Winnebago factory service.  I'm sure there are many other places that provide excellent service - this is my personal short list based on my experience.
--John
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SargeW

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Re: Got the wheel alignment done!
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2009, 10:55:41 PM »
Scotty, No the horn wires and such will be fine when you pull the wheel.  All you are doing is loosening the jamb nut an lifting the wheel just far enough to clear the center spindle.  On my rig there is a plastic colar that sits under the steering wheel that contains the turn signal gears and horn wires.  That will pretty much stay put when you lift the wheel. If there are wires attached to the wheel, there should be plenty of slack to get the wheel high enough to clear the center shaft.  Just set it back down easy and make sure nothing is pinched.

Kerry, no I just had the 2 wheel alignment done.  I was not having any other issues with tire wear, front or back.   
Marty--
2013 Phaeton 36GH
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scottydl

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Re: Got the wheel alignment done!
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2009, 08:48:08 AM »
Scotty, No the horn wires and such will be fine when you pull the wheel.  All you are doing is loosening the jamb nut an lifting the wheel just far enough to clear the center spindle.

Good deal, thanks for the clarification.  I'm still wondering how the center piece of my steering wheel comes off, but I'd assume some gentle prying will "get the job done".
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
1994 Thor Residency 3500 owned 2007-2012
Now looking for the next perfect RV...

SargeW

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Re: Got the wheel alignment done!
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2009, 07:59:54 PM »
Try looking underneath from the bottom side.  That's how I found the recessed screw that removed my center pad.  I didn't have to remove the horn pad at all, it remained on the wheel.  Here is a tip, if climbing on the ground doesn't thrill you, get a hand mirror and a flashlight and look for the screws while sitting in the drivers seat. 
Marty--
2013 Phaeton 36GH
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Ron

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Re: Got the wheel alignment done!
« Reply #15 on: March 19, 2009, 08:32:22 PM »
On the Spartan chassis with IFS the link between the steering box and the crank is adjustable to correct any steering wheel offset.  Adjust ment takes two wrenches to loosen the lock nut and a pipe wrench to adjust.
Ron & Sam-home is where we park it. Currently located   HERE

THutch

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Re: Got the wheel alignment done!
« Reply #16 on: March 21, 2009, 07:45:47 PM »
We had the four wheel alignment done by Freightliner in Gaffney SC last year - while attending Camp Freightliner.  My steering wheel was off-center prior to having it done, but the fine folks there centered it and then aligned it.  My rear thrust angle was off by four degrees...just barely within tolerance, but they brought it in to with a half of a degree of dead on.  It made a noticable difference in the handling.

Tom & Norma
Orange Park, FL
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scottydl

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Re: Got the wheel alignment done!
« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2009, 08:13:20 PM »
Well I attempted straightening out my wheel today, and ran into a couple problems.  My horn pad did need to be removed, but it is held in my a couple clips and came off pretty easily.  The steering wheel center bolt came out easily enough.  After fiddling around with the steering wheel puller for awhile, I figured that thing out and while tightening it down the entire steering wheel popped off rather forcefully (surprised me!).

I tried to rotate the wheel a few clicks and set it back down, but it would never really go back in place all the way.  Taking a closer look at the center spindle with the grooves for the steering wheel splines, it appears that the wheel is made to only "mate" with it one way.  There are multiple grooves all around the spindle, but a spot at the with no grooves at the "3 o'clock" position.  The top and bottom of the spindle are also flat with no grooves.  See photos below.

Am I missing something, or is my wheel required to stay in its current position?
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
1994 Thor Residency 3500 owned 2007-2012
Now looking for the next perfect RV...

SargeW

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Re: Got the wheel alignment done!
« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2009, 09:21:14 PM »
It appears that they have made a "key" on the steering shaft to accept the wheel one way.  Unless there is a movable center nut on your steering wheel, you may be out of luck. I havent seen one like yours before, but I imagine there could be lots of variations.  If that is the case, then the only recourse would be for an alignment shop to put the rig on the rack, center the steering wheel and brace it in place, then make the alignment match the steering shaft.  Kind of a PITA, and probably why most now use a continuous splined shaft.   
Marty--
2013 Phaeton 36GH
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scottydl

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Re: Got the wheel alignment done!
« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2009, 09:24:00 PM »
Well that would explain why the tech (when I got my alignment done) told me that straightening out the steering wheel would "be a matter of labor hours".  He must have already known it would be a time-intensive process.

I'll check and see if the center nut is movable, and if not I think I'll just live with the slightly-cockeyed steering wheel.  ;)
Scott, wife, 3 boys... and the dog
1994 Thor Residency 3500 owned 2007-2012
Now looking for the next perfect RV...

THutch

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Re: Got the wheel alignment done!
« Reply #20 on: March 22, 2009, 06:27:08 AM »
Remembering from the Camp Freightliner seminar, Freightliner used 2 different steering columns.  Mike Cody was explaining where the emergency flashers and tilt mechanism depended upon which column you had.  Maybe this accounts for the difference.
Tom & Norma
Orange Park, FL
2005 Itasca Meridian 34H
WAS - PT Cruiser Convertible on MasterTow Dolly
NOW - HHR, 4-down with Blue Ox & Brake Buddy

29er

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Re: Got the wheel alignment done!
« Reply #21 on: March 24, 2009, 01:00:24 PM »
I firmly believe the majority of the problems with alignment and thrust occur while in-transit. From Gaffney to the factory and when driven from the factory to the dealer. This is one of the reasons freightliner chasis get a bad rap.

Kerry
Kerry & Georgia BETH Mathews. Yes, honeymoon continues.