Front passenger side ride height problem

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Smoky

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This all first began when we heard a brushing sound occasionally when parking.  Embarrassed that I did not figure out problem right away, but all this is new to us.

Then I noticed after parking when I dumped air using HWH system, it seemed only the left side went down.  We went ahead on these occasions and leveled.

Then I noticed that the rear pressure gauge remained high, but front pressure gauge would drop when we dumped air.

Finally this all triggered me to go outside and take a look.

What appears to be happening is that when we turn engine on, everything rises to ride height except the front passenger side.  This is causing the front passenger mud flap to drag on ground, causing the brushing noise we heard.  Since it is the front passenger side that does not rise, I would have thought we would not see good air pressure on the front air gauge, but it rises up to full pressure without a problem. 

Of course the reason that only the driver side seemed to go down when we dumped is that the front passenger side was already down!

What is really surprising is that the rear gauge remains at full pressure even if we dump air.  The coach seems to drop, but the rear pressure gauge remains at full pressure but the front pressure gauge drops as expected.

Of course our ride has become rougher, since the front right will not rise.

To complicate matters we are full timers and on the road near Fresno CA, headed for our winter park in Phoenix.  I would like to get to Phoenix before servicing so that we can have any warranty work done by Massey Spartan in Phoenix.  Don't know if it is safe to continue on under these conditions, or if there is a good Spartan facility near Fresno.  We could drop our plans to go to Phoenix via Las Vegas and simply stay on the smoother interstates all the way to Phoenix.

I would also like some troubleshooting ideas so I can at least figure out as much as I can for myself before I invoke the warranty process.  Maybe even fix it myself if it is something like a stuck valve.

What can I do to try to isolate what the problem is?

We have the Newmar Kountry Star KS3910DP, 2005 model, on its second year of warranty, and the Spartan Mountainmaster chassis with IFS.

Smoky
 

Chet18013

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Hi Smokey,

I recently had the same problem.  If you get under the coach and look around just in front of the rear axle, on either side of the drive shaft, you will see a small rod that goes from the axle housing straight up to a lever actuated valve on the underside of the coach frame. Both ends are connected with moulded hard rubber tubes which allow the connecting rod to slide up and down. They have clamps around them to hold the rod in place. The clamp for the right side has either become loose, or the attachment point on the rubber has broken. These valves control the side to side level height while underway. There is also one in the center of the front axle which controls the fore and aft level.

Word of caution.  Before you mess with this system, if you screw up, you can cause the coach to suddenly drop until the air bags are totally deflated and the coach is sitting on the internal stops in the bag. So make sure the frame is securely supported and will not drop and CRUSH you. A knowledgeable technician was killed at an FMCA rally a couple years ago while working in the air leveling system because he did make sure he had enough clearance if the coach dropped. When I fixed mine, I put the coach frame (not the axle) on 2"x8"s stacked high enough to make sure I had plenty of room if it totally deflated the air bag.

If you're not sure what you are doing, this is really a job to be done in a shop that has a pit which you can drive the coach over and the technician can safely get under the coach.  The best place to go is a truck repair shop that does  brake and wheel alignment and then back in over their alignment rack.

When you adjust the ride height, it is best to approximate the same setting as the left side, then drive around the block and recheck. Lenghten the rod increases the height. It took about 4 very small adjustments to get mine set right. Each time required re-blocking the frame for safety.

Chet18013
 

BernieD

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Smoky

The pressure gauges don't represent front and back but different uses.
One is for your primary tank which supplies the air brakes and the
other is for your secondary tank which handles the air bags and other
uses.

Sounds like your right front height adjustment valve is stuck open. I
would not suggest much driving on it since the suspension is riding on
the bump stop. Try calling Spartan for a temporary fix or location of a
local service shop. If you can make the repairs that Chet describes,
that would be great.

If you make it to Massey by Friday, I might see you there. I hope to
pick up our coach Friday afternoon, have a bad air dump valve (from
the leveling system. That caused our right front to drop also, but the
air compressor was able to keep it up.
 

blueblood

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BernieD said:
Smoky

The pressure gauges don't represent front and back but different uses.
One is for your primary tank which supplies the air brakes and the
other is for your secondary tank which handles the air bags and other
uses.

Sounds like your right front height adjustment valve is stuck open. I
would not suggest much driving on it since the suspension is riding on
the bump stop. Try calling Spartan for a temporary fix or location of a
local service shop. If you can make the repairs that Chet describes,
that would be great.

If you make it to Massey by Friday, I might see you there. I hope to
pick up our coach Friday afternoon, have a bad air dump valve (from
the leveling system. That caused our right front to drop also, but the
air compressor was able to keep it up.


FWIW - Newmar confuses issue by labeling the two guages "Front Air" and "Rear Air"
 

Chet18013

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Smokey,

You can ride with the right side down on the stop, but it ain't comfortable. You really should get it looked at before attempting to drive all the way to Phoeoix. A lot of trucks, fire trucks, and all buses use this system, so it should't be to hard to find the hard rubber part. If you have the Spartan chassis manual, you can look at the air suspension section and find the part description and number. 

If you go to this site, you'll see the HCV (height control valve) parts listed. To bad they don't show a drawing, but your manual should.

https://www.rvchassisparts.com/Rally.asp

As far as the front/rear gauges, as Bernnie says, you have a primary and secondary air tank. This can either be two separate tanks, or one tank with a partition in the middle.  The gauges are just for the pressures in these two tanks.


Chet18013
 

Jeff

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Smoky:

As you probably remember my problem was with the dump valve on the IFS not closing (probably similar to Bernie's). The way to troubleshoot that is to reach up and see if there is air leaking with the engine running, if so the ride height is probably trying to level the coach and the dump valve is preventing the air pressure to build up. If there is no leak then the ride height adjustment would be the next logical culprit.

You saw how quick I got on the horn to Freightliner for help and as Bernie suggests I would suggest doing the same with Spartan.
 

rhmahoney

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Smoky, Country Coach ride ht vlaves are prone to failure after about 4 yrs. My L rear was the first to go and signaled it's failure with a cloud of tire smoke as the tire rubbed against the top of the wheel well upon going around a turn.

Called the factory right away and they had me pull 2 fuzes that killed the ride ht adjustment (after I had manually leveled the coach with the engine running). I was able to run on into Vegas without trouble and got it fixed there.
 
D

D2

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Smoky,

I can't offer technical help but wanted to let you know we are thinking of you and hope you can get your coach fixed soon.

Be safe!!
 

Smoky

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Thanks all, this has given me a lot of good info to start working on.

I called Spartan yesterday, and as usual, they did not really want to speculate and advised the "safer" route of just calling Coachnet and let my warranty take care of it.  Problem with that is that Coachnet ALWAYS sends a tow, and they too choose the safe route and tow you to almost anyone who can do the work, shortest distance being the deciding factor.

I may end up having to do this, but I ALWAYS want to be as well informed as possible before I am "captured" by Captain Unknown.  So we have extended our stay at least through Sunday at River Lake RV Resort just south of Fresno in Kingsburg.

Spartan did indicate that recently they have had a rash of problems like this that involved the HWH leveling system rather than the suspension system itself.  Something to do with a relay that will not activate the air fill until the corresponding jack has completely withdrawn.  They said it is a different circuit than activates the ignition alarm.  So one can work and the other does not.  My ignition alarm goes out, so if there is still a slight additional amount the jack has to travel to deactivate the air fill relay, that might be the problem.  I spent hours yesterday lubricating and exercising the jacks.  The affected jack is now the fastest to retract and extends the fullest, so I don't think that is the problem in my case.

I wanted them to run down all the possible sources of the problem with me over the phone, but that is when they backed off and advised the safest route is to go with Coachnet.  Might be a safe route, but I don't like being kept in the dark.  As always, this forum is far more informative than most manufacturers.  :D

I will call Coachnet today to put them on record with my problem and ask them what my options are.  But I am going to reserve today and tomorrow to get under the coach and look around.

Can I assume that it I use the 3 lanyards to pull and purge the air system, and then put the coach up high on jacks  (and make sure the key is removed from the ignition so that the leveler system cannot be activated, then the furthest the coach would drop if more air purges would be no lower than the level that the jacks would hold? 

I am pretty sure if I do this and use common sense and touch as little as possible, then I would be pretty safe, especially if all I do is locate the damage or problem and then call Coachnet and tell them (rather than wonder) what needs to be addressed.  I always like knowing what is wrong when I ask for further assistance.  ;D

This is my plan, so advise me if it is cockeyed.

Also feel free to add additional diagnosis and repair ideas.  You can submit your billing for consultation services at QZ!  ;D
 

blueblood

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Smoky said:
Thanks all, this has given me a lot of good info to start working on.

.? Problem with that is that Coachnet ALWAYS sends a tow, and they too choose the safe route and tow you to almost anyone who can do the work, shortest distance being the deciding factor.

I have used CoachNet several times and each time I was able to get them to give me options as to where to tow. They made clear they would not agree to tow to another place if I was dissatisfied with my choice which I thought fiar enough.
 

Smoky

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Good to know Blueblood. 

My one previous experience was in Kalispell, and there was only one place within 200 miles.  They would give me no other option, of course.  I guess what is behind my fear is subconsciously I want to go to Phoenix, and I KNOW they won't do that!!  Heheh.
 

Smoky

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Chet:

Could you, or someone else who knows the answer, explain to me more about how the rear height adjusters work?  If they control the left or right distribution of air, how come the passenger rear ride height is NOT affected but the passenger front side is?  If it were the adjuster, i would think both the rear and front passenger side would have the problem.  Makes me wonder if it is a stuck valve on the front?
 

Smoky

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Here is an interesting reply I got over on the RV.net forum.  I have a feeling it is a different kind of HWH leveling system than the HWH hydraulic system than IU have... but the description of the fuse box sounds similar to mine.

Any comments on this?  I just don't see how I could lock a raised position without keeping the jacks down on the ground.

******

As Brett said..RIDE HEIGHT CONTROL VALVE!

Ive got a bad one ( or 2..?) and didnt even know it. Front drivers side was running low ( cant be seen from inside..??) and some people I was with in NM mentioned it to me and we got to looking at the problem.

Ive ordered all 3 for mine and am having the back 2 replaced this saturday ( I drop it off this saturday) at Cummins.

With HWH air ride you can MANUALLY adjust the ride height..and then LOCK IT at that height...BUT..you lose the "auto adjusting" of the system when you do. It keeps the rig from bottoming out and the tire(s) from contacting the inner fender...but make the "ride" itself flat suck!...lol

I had driven mine all the way from Cincinnati to Alfa Turkey NM and didnt know it was out of adjustment.

After calling the CC dealer in Alfa Turkey and getting the answer "We dont know how to even ADJUST them".. ( DUHHHHH!!!!) and then the local FL dealer..( our techs that do that sort of thing are off work...again..DUHHHH)..I called CC on the cell phone and spent 40 minutes with them getting it adjusted to get me back home.

With HWH leveling the procedure is as follows ( and its a LOT easier with TWO people)

MANUALLY ..using the touch pad..raise the coach until you have 4 1/2 to 5 inches of clearance between the TIRE and the fender INNER PANEL. ( forget about level..you want CLEARANCE)

Then ( somewhere on your coach??) open up the HWH control box ( about 6 x 10 inches..metal )and REMOVE the ONLY "7 1/2 amp" fuse there is in the box. ( There is a lot of fuses..but ONLY..ONE SINGLE 7 1/2 amp one...it was #12 in mine..?) and then close the box back up.

It will STAY at this level..as long as you need it to. The "auto" featire "aint no more". Should you need to ACTUALLY "level" the coach..you CAN....MANUALLY...but then ya have to go thru the whole routine of measuring the tire / inner panel clearance all over again.

If the front is low..either side of the front..then one of them in the back ( if it has 2 in the rear) is bad. (Dont make a lot of sense to me excatly..but thats the way HWH leveling works??)

****
 

BernieD

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Smoky

Can I assume that it I use the 3 lanyards to pull and purge the air system, and then put the coach up high on jacks  (and make sure the key is removed from the ignition so that the leveler system cannot be activated, then the furthest the coach would drop if more air purges would be no lower than the level that the jacks would hold?

Assuming the jacks hold. And if they fail ??? :eek: ??? :eek:

Could you, or someone else who knows the answer, explain to me more about how the rear height adjusters work?  If they control the left or right distribution of air, how come the passenger rear ride height is NOT affected but the passenger front side is?  If it were the adjuster, i would think both the rear and front passenger side would have the problem.

There are no rear height adjusterS on the Spartan/Newmar chassis. There is only ONE adjuster that controls both rear air bags. The only Spartan chassis with 2 rear height adjusters is the American Coach but it only has one front adjuster.
 

Smoky

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Bernie:

I just came to the same conclusion after some inspection.  Wouldn't that rule our a height adjuster as the problem, since 3 of 4 bags are at correct height?  Looks to me like some sort of relay or valve problem.
 

Ron

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BernieD said:
There are no rear height adjusterS on the Spartan/Newmar chassis. There is only ONE adjuster that controls both rear air bags. The only Spartan chassis with 2 rear height adjusters is the American Coach but it only has one front adjuster.



Better check our American Eagle Bernie since we have two ride height valve assemblies ( adjusters) in front and one in the rear.  I understand American coach went to one height valve in front and two in the rear for one year but went back to the same configuration as ours, two in front and one in rear, in response to unsatisfactory results.

 

Terry A. Brewer

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Smoky

That procedure & the one Russ referred too applies to coach's with air-leveling rather than ones with jacks. When mine failed I was able to use the air leveling to travel over 1000 miles until i got to a repair place of my choice...Just another advantage to air leveling.<G>
 

BernieD

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Smoky said:
I just came to the same conclusion after some inspection.  Wouldn't that rule our a height adjuster as the problem, since 3 of 4 bags are at correct height?  Looks to me like some sort of relay or valve problem.

My right front air bag deflates quickly after turning off the engine. Luckily it stays up when driving. I have my coach in at Massey checking it out and they determined that the air dump valve (from the leveling system) in the rear is the culprit. The coach is sitting at Massey waiting for the valve to arrive. Now I have Equalizers, not HWH, so there may be some difference.
 

BernieD

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Ron said:
Better check our American Eagle Bernie since we have two ride height valve assemblies ( adjusters) in front and one in the rear.  I understand American coach went to one height valve in front and two in the rear for one year but went back to the same configuration as ours, two in front and one in rear, in response to unsatisfactory results.

Ron

In your model year, that may have been true. However, when we test drove the 2002 American, a couple of years newer than yours, we felt that it didn't quite handle as well as the TS. I spent a lot of time talking with Spartan people and could never get a good answer. Finally when we were at the factory in 2004, the guy at Spartan who designed Spartan's suspension told me about the 1 front/2 rear issue. He wasn't happy with it but American insisted. So that's about at least a 3 model year range. IIRC, the 2006 chassis also has that arrangement.

 

Smoky

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Bernie:

I have confirmed with Spartan that the 2005 KSDP3910 has 1 adjuster in the rear and 2 in the front.  They suggest I raise the front end and first check two valves ... one being the air supply valve and the other associated with the HWH leveler dump system.  Then while I am at it to check the passenger side ride height adjuster linkage.  Hopefully this will unveil the culprit.  I will feel much better turning the coach over for repair after I ascertain this.

Spartan also told me "off the record" that their concern about driving the coach in this condition is VERY conservative.  They would be a LOT more concerned, he said, if the rear air bag were a problem because that could affect the drive shaft alignment.  He implied that careful interstate driving of 90 miles, riding on the passenger side bump stops would be reasonably safe.  This might be how I can get to Cummins West in Bakersfield.  About to call them now and see how deep their work backlog is.
 
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