Good morning, Dave,
We just made the trip to Kentucky from Florida, the fourth since we purchased our travel trailer. My question: Would this trailer (or basically any TT) have a “tongue alignment”? In our travels this trailer has pulled great with our F-150 (special tow including trans / gears). But on the last one trip, it seemed to pull to the right, to the point that I felt I was fighting to keep it straight. We had our sway bar in place and at lockdown fairly tight, at one point. I checked tire pressure, axles, spring hangers, everything I could think of. (I have a little background in mechanics.) Large tractor trailer rigs have special tools to check axle to fifth wheel pin alignment and is very critical to keeping the truck and trailer in line while traveling. However, I am not sure if this applies to travel trailers. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you. —Marc, 2018 Keystone Springdale 271RL
I have not heard of any “tongue alignment” procedures or inspections other than a unit that has had some type of damage due to an accident or jackknifing. However, axles can get out of alignment side to side or top to bottom. I ran a company for the past 10 years that had three trucks and trailers, installing a pressure washer in fast food restaurants. We had constant issues with axles due to the rough construction problems at the sites. We had unusual tread wear several times and it took quite a while to find a service center that could actually diagnose the problem. Most of the local shops just did a quick tape measure diagnosis and blamed auxiliary brakes and weight issues.
Finally, we brought in MD Alignment out of Des Moines, Iowa, to shoot video content on proper alignment for RV Repair Club. We had them look at the trailers while they were there, and with their laser equipment found the problems. The fix, however, was not so easy as there is typically very little adjustment you can do other than bending an axle. We chose to replace the axles with an upgraded version. We had a local Dexter and Lippert wholesale distributor where we could purchase them at a great price. Wish they would have been able to install them, but they were wholesale sales only.
But something I never heard from my drivers or experienced myself the few times I took to the road was a pull from one side or the other. And in your situation, it towed well for the first three trips and now it pulls to the right? I would start by checking the bearings and brakes, as this has been more of a culprit in our situations.
Also, check to make sure you didn’t load anything unusual compared to your other trips, i.e., something heavy on the right side of your rig. It’s a long shot, but I have also had a pull in our trailers when we had an uneven load due to the 200-pound machines all stowed on one side.
Another test would be to take another trip to see if it’s a continual problem and in all directions. It doesn’t take much for wind to hit the “billboard” you are towing and have the same effect. If it continues, then after verifying the bearings and brakes, I would find a trailer specialist and have that checked out.
We have quite a wealth of experience among our readers, so hopefully we can get some feedback, as well.
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.
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