New (to me class A) and steering question

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ArmorWrapGuy

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Nov 20, 2018
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Southern California
So just picked up a 2008 Pace Arrow with 35k miles. I was driving home (around palm springs) where it is always windy and I noticed how much play the RV had in the steering wheel in the wind. In a calm area it's not bad, very driveable, but it makes me wonder if the mileage has done a number on the steering components like tie rod ends, ball joints, whatever.  Or maybe class A's just drive like this but I can say it wasn't very relaxing and couldn't see myself putting thousands of miles on it unless the steering felt more responsive. I can turn the wheel maybe 1.5" each way before the coach responds (just guessing) and the wind just made it more exaggerated. Big rigs were passing me.

I'm going to take it in for a complete check (brakes, oil, etc) and will have them check that too but just wondering is that amount of play pretty normal? I didn't notice it on the test drive because I wasn't going 60mph with a breeze. Going 60 feels a lot different than going 50.

 

mel s

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Apr 28, 2014
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881
ArmorWrapGuy said:
So just picked up a 2008 Pace Arrow with 35k miles. I was driving home (around palm springs) where it is always windy and I noticed how much play the RV had in the steering wheel in the wind. In a calm area it's not bad, very driveable, but it makes me wonder if the mileage has done a number on the steering components like tie rod ends, ball joints, whatever.  Or maybe class A's just drive like this but I can say it wasn't very relaxing and couldn't see myself putting thousands of miles on it unless the steering felt more responsive. I can turn the wheel maybe 1.5" each way before the coach responds (just guessing) and the wind just made it more exaggerated. Big rigs were passing me.
I'm going to take it in for a complete check (brakes, oil, etc) and will have them check that too but just wondering is that amount of play pretty normal? I didn't notice it on the test drive because I wasn't going 60mph with a breeze. Going 60 feels a lot different than going 50.
ArmorWrapGuy
On my '96 (now150k mile) Safari coach about 1/2 inch each way is normal.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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West Palm Beach, FL
Maybe a bit much, but driving a big rig is nothing like a car or pick-up.  The gas chassis coaches aren't as good handling as they could be, but get yours checked out thoroughly.  Setting the tire pressure to the optimal amount is one positive step, and adding a track bar (panhard rod) is another.

One of the problems is that newcomers to ClassA's have to unlearn years of "muscle memory" from cars driving. The different driver seat location throws off your perception enough to have you continually over-correcting, resulting in a lot of sawing the wheel back and forth. You also worry about all that body length & width and focus too much near-in on the lane markers and the mirrors.  Get your eyes looking down the highway so that your natural vision parallax leads you to drive straight & true.  It will all seem natural in a 1000 or so miles.



You may find some helpful info reading my library article on Gas Motorhome Handling:  http://www.rvforum.net/miscfiles/MH_Steering_Handling_%20Primer.pdf
 

Isaac-1

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Dec 3, 2016
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SW Louisiana
Depending on the chassis brand, the steering box may need to be adjusted.  My Workhorse P32 chassis had 74,000 miles on it when I bought it and was in desperate need of having the steering box adjusted, a simple turn of an adjustment screw about 1/3 of a turn made an incredible improvement in steering wheel play, going from about 2.5 inches down to about half an inch.  You just have to be very careful to not over adjust the steering box screw as this can cause the steering gear to bind and break.
 

sc4668

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Apr 18, 2017
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Brooklyn, MI
With only 35K miles there should not be much wear in the front end or steering box. Have the alignment checked and also the tires. A belt slipped in the front tires can make the steering act funny. Also if it is a Ford chassis you could used a Davis Tru-Trac bar to tighten thinds up, a common problem with Fords.
 

Bill and Debbie

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Poulsbo, WA
I'm betting its probably a Workhorse on 22.5 wheels. Like mine, I can pretty much drive one handed with little effort UNLESS there is a lot of wind, especially coming from the side. Then two hands and a bit more easy inputs for steering correction. But certainly not the white knuckle of or previous older rig on 19" wheels.


Definitely check tire pressures, especially the fronts and make sure you are not over inflated. I doubt there should be mechanical steering component issues. And remember, your are driving 26K pounds down the road so look ahead and anticipate.
 

garyb1st

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Normally our 2005 Pace Arrow on the Workhorse chassis is pretty steady on the highways up to 70 mph.  Very little trouble steering and not pushed much by passing vehicles.  However, the wind can be a big problem.  On our return yesterday just North of the Palm Springs junction on I-10, the winds were significant.  There's no way any tall vehicle is not going to be pushed around by strong winds.

There are a number of things that can contribute to steering problems.  Can't comment on your 1 1/2 inch play.  That sound excessive.  However, on a recent 80 mile round trip to a service facility when the motorhome was not loaded, it was a challenge keeping it going straight.  When loaded and ready to travel, it behaves much better.  So having weight properly distributed in the bays is important.  Also, our tires are only a year old and while possible a bit low on air, (currently about 78 lbs) I know from our prior motorhomes experience that too much air can be a problem.  The placard inside our motorhome says the tires should be aired to 100 psi.  I believe that is excessive and if you look at the Michelin or other tire mfg charts, for loads of just under 22,000 lbs, they suggest 80 psi.  Our motorhome weighs about 21,000 lbs loaded for travel. 
 

Larry N.

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Westminster, Colorado
I believe that is excessive and if you look at the Michelin or other tire mfg charts, for loads of just under 22,000 lbs, they suggest 80 psi.  Our motorhome weighs about 21,000 lbs loaded for travel.
Front and rear need to be weighed separately, and pressure figured separately too. It sounds as if you're taking the whole weight of the coach and comparing on a chart designed for single axle recommendations. But perhaps I misunderstand you.
 

garyb1st

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Good point Larry.  Last time I weighed the motorhome, the front axle was 7,420 lbs and the rear 13,020 lbs.  I'm probably a few hundred heavier when traveling but try to keep it under 21,000 lbs since the Jeep is pushing 5,000 lbs.  Michelin inflation table for truck tires, 80 psi for single 7,720 lbs and 80 psi for duals 14,100 lbs. 
 
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