Saturday, May 27, 2023


The final rant, Part 3: These F-53 upgrades should be standard, not expensive add-ons!

I have heard from many of you about your experiences, good and bad, with your gas chassis motor coach on the F-53 chassis. I appreciate all the opinions and suggestions. This is why I write.

I am taking delivery of my newly upgraded Newmar Canyon Star from Jose today. Here are links to my previous rants (and more) to bring you up to speed:

I love Jose. He revamped my Canyon Star so that I can now enjoy a two-week ramble to Oregon to visit family. He did all of the following:

  • Added all of the suspension enhancements including SumoSprings®, KONI shocks, Roadmaster anti-sway bars and a Safe-T-Plus steering enhancement.
  • Fixed my water heater, the toilet that wasn’t holding water, the slide control system, the damaged rear entry door, re-installed the refrigerator properly and fixed the trim and replaced my damaged generator muffler.
  • Replaced one of three air conditioners, replaced a damaged battery charger, replaced a damaged USB charger and replaced a damaged shower head.
  • Installed 400W of solar panels to keep my brand-new house AGM batteries charged. The old batteries, which I purchased new last year, were fried because the installers wired them incorrectly.
  • Installed a tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). Installed a gas grill propane hook-up on the camp side of the rig so I can hook up my griddle with ease.

I chose to do some things to significantly reduce the weight of my rig. I removed the couches in the garage, which I do not use. I installed the propane hook-up so I don’t have to haul a propane tank around. I considered replacing the solid wood cabinets with lighter aluminum ones, but that is a project for a different day.

So, is the coach now safer to drive? I think so. I will do a two-axle CAT scale weigh before I set out on my trip to make sure I am not overloaded.

But here is my final rant: The upgrades to the suspension and steering are things I sincerely think should be standard on gas models and not left to the consumer to wrangle with after they buy it. One reader agrees:

Hi Karel. I love your articles on the issues of the Ford F-53 chassis on I wanted to share with you what I have had to do with my 2022 Winnebago Adventurer on a 2021 Ford F-53 chassis.

I had waited for the new model F-53 chassis to be released in 2020, not only for the new V8 engine, but the improved chassis suspension as I had read the blogs regarding the chassis and steering problems on the pre-2020 models. After taking delivery of my new coach, I quickly realized how bad the steering and suspension still is on the new F-53 chassis.

After a couple of quick trips in the coach, my wife refused to ride in the coach anymore after the rough ride and watching me struggle to keep the coach steering on center. Well, after $6,000 in upgrades, the coach now rides and drives like it should have when I initially drove it off the lot. I added the SumoSprings, added a rear sway bar and replaced the shocks with Koni. On the steering, I installed a Safe T Plus steering stabilizer. The stabilizer restored control in the steering, but was still experiencing wander and rut chase.

I had recently noticed on the Roadmaster website that they had a new steering stabilizer named “Exact Center” that drastically improved the stability of the steering. I went ahead and spent the additional $1,000 to replace the Safe T Plus with the Exact Center. This was money well spent as I can now maintain the steering with one hand and reduce the stress of driving the coach. Thank you, Roadmaster for this product.

I hope this is the end of expenditures on my coach as I look forward to my retirement next year and traveling with my wife. —Edgar

Now, many of you pointed out that the length of the RV makes a significant difference in the handling and ride of coaches. Indeed, it is the opinion of many that no RV longer than 32′ should be built on the F-53 chassis. What boggles my mind is building a 38′ gas coach with a second bath on the rear end. Ford answered the RV manufacturers’ demand for a higher weight-rated chassis (from 18,000 to 22,000 and then 26,000 pounds) so they could build RVs with more amenities and thus more weight. The handling and ride? The consumer wouldn’t notice if they had a second bath with two sinks. (OK, I am being somewhat unfair here, but you get my gist.)

In a sister article, I discuss LiquidSpring, which is the ultimate upgrade to your gas chassis, in my opinion. It is now being offered as an option on select gas coaches by several manufacturers. Many also offer options to add the SumoSprings and a steering enhancement. They are offered as options, mind you. I suggest you consider them as “standard” and tell your dealer just that if you buy a gas coach.

Karel Carnohan DVM
Karel Carnohan DVM
After a long career in finance, Dr. Carnohan returned to school and graduated from the Kansas State College of Veterinary Medicine at the tender age of 50. She has worked in Canada and the United States in both small and large animal medicine. She retired in 2020 after selling her feline-exclusive veterinary practice in Asheville, NC. She currently lives in the Coachella Valley, CA and travels in her Newmar toy hauler with her multiple cats. Her interests include hockey (having played for many years), the brown bears of Katmai, cats and scooping litter boxes.


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David Hagen
6 months ago

So Karel….how much did all these upgrades cost you?

Ron H
7 months ago

Also, the prices quoted for factory upgrade is ridiculous. I got front and back (which I would recommend) for under $25k.

Ron H
7 months ago

For once, this is not I wish I had read this sooner as I agree with almost all of the comments. I have been rv’ing for about 10 years with the first 4 or so being a 30 ft. 2002 Gasser which we took across country and back. Being a newbie rough but ok. Upgraded to a 2005 Phaeton which we took across country and back twice, big difference. Retired recently and wanted a newer rv with more slides. From the beginning factored in a $25k LS upgrade if I went with a gasser. In the end bought a Tiffin 34 PA gasser for $95k and immediately called LS to set up the upgrade. Wayne was great and while no where was close chose Belmont diesel across from Tiffin as they do the factory upgrades. Mark, from Belmont diesel was great and while it was a challenge getting out there to drop off the rv and get back to pick it up it was worth it. So, a 400 mile trip from Western North Carolina before the upgrade and a 400 mile trip afterward, what a difference! I agree it should not be an option, price it in.

7 months ago

I’m surprised no one has mentioned the Cheap Handling Fix. Do a search-very popular mod for the F-53.

7 months ago
Reply to  Drew

We did the CHF as our first step and it did improve sway on the highway. But the suspension was still awful. We picked up our MH in Indiana for our purchase and drove it home to MN. After that drive we had a pipe connection leaking from the top of the black tank and a hydraulic connection shook loose. The previous owner of our MH had upgraded to a diesel with air ride suspension because the gas suspension was too rough on his back condition. The metal leaf suspension had to go!!

7 months ago

We bought our 2018 Tiffin Open Road used in 2020. We were extremely fortunate to have purchased at the very bottom of the motorhome prices curve during the pandemic lockdown in April 2020.

But even with Sumo Springs and Safe T Plus already installed, the ride and driving experience was pretty horrible. It felt like we were going to shake loose our fully equipped and fully optioned RV bargain purchase!

We used our purchase savings to reinvest in our gas motorhome by adding both front and rear Liquid Springs at the LS factory in Indiana in 2021. I had researched the LS product and I was super impressed. We were in fact early “guinea pigs” for LS who kept our motorhome for an extra 2 weeks to tweak their new front suspension design.

And we absolutely love the LS upgrade, it is truly a night and day difference in handling and driving. The adjustable ride modes (Sport, Normal, and Comfort) and the ability to raise and lower the entire coach or just the rear end is an added plus.

Vince Sadowski
7 months ago

I see motorhomes for sale that are only a year or two old advertising upgraded suspensions. That tells me they probably spent money for upgrades and still aren’t happy with the handling.

7 months ago

Ford didn’t bother to put a rear sway bar on the Econoline vans for may years. I put a 1″ Hellwig bar on the back and replaced the factory 3/4″ bar on the front with a 1″ Hellwig bar. My E350 campervan now rides and corners like it should have been setup from the factory.

7 months ago

Good luck asking dealers to make options standard equipment! That will probably never happen in my Rv years! That’s how they keep price down (whatever that means!) and the outside companies in business……Together we suffer. Knowing how and what to install is key.
Sad but true.

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