Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club. Today he discusses an RV’s suspension system.
What would be the first step in suspension improvement for a 2016 Thor A.C.E. F-53 Ford chassis? —Bernie
The first thing I would start with is getting the rig weighed by individual wheel position, if possible. The RV Safety & Education Foundation has weighing teams that attend rallies and have weighing opportunities. You can find their schedule here.
Individual wheel position is best as it will tell you if there is more weight on one side or wheel position than the others, which is not uncommon on bigger rigs. If you cannot find an RVSEF location near you, then the next best thing to do is weigh it at a CAT Scale, which you can find here.
Put the front wheels on the first pad and the back wheels on the second and you will at least get individual axle weights.
The first weight you are looking for is Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). That is the maximum weight your rig can weigh with all fluids, accessories, and people in the rig. If you are over GVWR, then you run the risk of tire failure, brake and axle issues, as well as stopping issues. Just because you have huge storage compartments all along the basement of your rig doesn’t mean you can fill them up.
After you get the individual axle weights, divide it by two, or four in the back, and get the weight that is on each tire. Then go to rvsafety.com, and then go to the tire manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure chart. Recommended pressure can only be obtained by getting the weight and verifying by the chart. The psi on the side of the tire is MAXIMUM psi at MAXIMUM GVWR.
Next, get an alignment, as the alignment that may have been done at the RV manufacturer was on an empty rig, plus it could get extremely out of alignment during delivery.
First-hand suspension issue
Our resident Pet Vet writer Karel Carnohan, DVM, purchased a used Newmar and had a horrible driving experience recently. She found that she had tire pressure issues and a bent suspension component. Getting an alignment would identify this situation. Also, during the alignment and inspection, the technician needs to check the shocks as they can be bent, weak, or even need to be upgraded.
Once all these components are verified, you can look at additional suspension enhancements such as SumoSprings or Roadmaster Reflex Stabilizer.
There are several other products available. However, Roadmaster is one that most of the RV dealers and manufacturers recommend. On the high end of the price spectrum is LiquidSpring®, which is the Tesla of suspension systems. (I remember when we used to say Cadillac, but that doesn’t seem high-end enough these days.) They have a suspension system specifically designed for the Ford F-53 chassis. I had the opportunity to test drive one at the 2021 Hershey, PA, show and it was amazing.
Check out the product here.
Read more from Dave here.
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