Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Rant: Shame on RV manufacturers! Why would they do this?

My woeful tales of buying a used RV have been many lessons learned by me and provided you some head shakes and laughs.

I considered chucking it all many times in the past year. Buying the RV and moving cross-country from North Carolina to California was, I can honestly say, the most stressful time in my life.

I did not sell my RV and I am now planning on taking a trip to Oregon to visit family and escape the desert heat. Apparently my heart is still in love with RV travel and I have recovered enough from my trauma to look upon my coach with adoring, rather than hateful, eyes.

I have stepped back a bit to look at the real reasons I am having all these problems; a lot is my own dang fault. But the dealership, and the RV industry that supports it, are responsible for a heck of a lot, too.

Why would an RV manufacturer do this?

But what about Newmar, the manufacturer? When I bought the 2015 Newmar Canyon Star 3921, I pretty much primarily looked at the floor plan and put a lot of faith in the brand name Newmar: top of the line, premium, known for quality … blah, blah blah. The BIG question is:

Why would Newmar put a 40-foot “house” on a chassis built for a passenger truck?

When you ask that question, it opens a lot of Pandora’s boxes and provides yet another line of inquiry when purchasing a new or used rig.

In his reviews, Tony Barthel does a great job of looking at different floor plans and the construction features of RVs. Additionally, Dave Solberg has discussed suspension issues on chassis in his recent articles (here and here). I sure hope Newmar and the other manufacturers are reading these reviews and articles here on RVtravel.com.

I bought a 40-foot coach on a Ford F-53 chassis. This is pretty much the only chassis now used by manufacturers for gas coaches.

Ford F-53 Super Duty Chassis Detroit 

Jerry Lee Lewis and the F-53 Chassis

Let me paint a picture of what it is like driving my fully-loaded Newmar on anything but smooth roads. A lot of people driving on the F-53 complain about swaying and body roll when a semi-truck passes. There are also plenty of complaints about loose steering. I discovered this firsthand.

My ride was anything but smooth. You can feel every bump, crack and rock on the road. Traveling on the highway with bridge transitions and inevitable construction work requires you to brace yourself for the impact and pray nothing underneath is damaged. Your hands and arms are locked tight on the steering wheel trying to stabilize the coach. The cabinet doors fly open, dishes hit the floor, and the cats scramble. I taped cabinet doors and drawers shut, used bungee cords to prevent flying objects, and even taped the refrigerator door shut because it would fly open.

Warned the cats about bumps

Whenever I saw a problem ahead, I would yell “big bump” so the cats knew it was coming. My arms became sore from gripping the steering wheel so tightly. And all of this was AFTER I spent $1,200 on the chassis and fixed the incorrect tire pressure.

Jerry Lee Lewis “A Whol’ Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” YouTube screen capture

This chassis was originally designed for F-550 trucks but marketed for RVs. A house on a passenger/commercial truck chassis presents problems that, in my opinion, should never need to be faced by coach owners. Despite that, the RV industry was still raving about this chassis in 2012. Here is the 2007 press release from Autoblog describing the suspension:

The chassis provides its owner with excellent ride and handling capabilities using weight specific tuned Bilstein shocks with front and rear jounce bumpers. In chassis over 16,000 pounds, stabilizer bars and long leaf springs provide unparalleled ride comfort. Vehicle control is further enhanced by front and rear stabilizer and track bars. The chassis comprises the foundation for the motorhome and is manufactured using 36,000 psi steel up to 22,000 GCWR and 50,000 psi steel on the 24,000 and 26,000 pound rail featuring a 9.16″x3.0″x 0.25″ continuous rail. Braking is supplied by either a Hydro-Boost on the light rails while a HydroMax booster with large 73mm front caliper pistons on the 24,000 and 26,000 pound versions.” —RVLifePro Dec 21, 2012

This is just marketing bull funky!

The reason RV manufacturers don’t change is that WE DON”T MAKE THEM CHANGE!

There, I said it! It is all RV buyers’ fault. But it is true. We don’t walk onto a lot demanding that the gas coach we want to buy has a safe, cushy suspension. No, we want the floor plan that has plenty of storage, shiny solid-wood cabinets, a washer/dryer, a residential two-door refrigerator, and slides that make the RV like a luxury apartment.

Okay, the salesperson takes you for a test drive, probably on a relatively smooth road and almost certainly not fully loaded with passengers, a full 80-gallon water tank, your Harley (if buying a toy hauler), food, clothes, your gas griddle and your dog. Your 26,000-pound rated chassis handles pretty well without all that weight and the salesperson telling you where to go. Most likely, many of us don’t bother to weigh our RV before we set off. We most likely are seriously overweight, putting a huge amount of strain on that chassis with middle-of-the-road suspension.

It is critical to weigh your coach—front axle, back axles and each corner, if possible.

Learn the capabilities of your coach. Know how much each axle can carry and then weigh, weigh, weigh! This will avoid compounding the inherent problems presented by the F-53 chassis and help to keep you safe. You can weigh your coach at any CAT scale—there is a wide network of them: CAT Scale Locator. Dave Solberg discusses why axle weights are important and what the difference between GVWR and GAWR are here.

I want a good rant

What I want to talk about (well, rant about) is WHY I have these problems in the first place. It was bad enough to make all my rookie mistakes when buying a used RV. But to face the stress and the cost of fixing the factory-installed, right-off-the-showroom-floor problems with the Newmar is beyond infuriating.

There is a huge after-market for products and services to address the F-53 RV chassis problems. I discovered a huge community out there after commiserating with other F-53 owners on chat lines. Fortunately, there seems to be a consensus about how to deal with this and a ready supply of products to do so (I will go into more detail next week). It just takes money.

If I can do the upgrades, the RV manufacturers or Ford can do so, too!

Well, it’s all about money, of course. Ford could pretty easily make the upgrades on the factory floor. But the manufacturers aren’t demanding it and won’t pay for it. The upgrades to improve the suspension and driving costs money. Every penny they don’t absolutely have to spend on building that coach is more money in their pockets. Flashy floor plans and shiny appliances are what sell RVs. And, the salespeople know that if you want a better ride they can steer you towards the Class A diesel pushers costing $100,000+ more than their gas coaches. Just more money in their pockets.

What galls me the most

No, it’s not the cost. It’s that the RV manufacturers are still selling RVs on F-53 chassis! Yes! Coaches costing $400,000 and upwards are rolling off the lots into unsuspecting owners’ driveways. They still have medium-duty shocks and leaf springs and the ride is still horrible. It has been going on for years! I know that Newmar has put my model, the Canyon Star, on a diesel chassis and now sells only one model of gas coach, the Bay Star. It is on what they now call a Ford F-Series Class A motorhome chassis with a V8 (vs. V10) engine. The coaches range from 32 feet to 38 feet, and have a GVWR range of 24,000-26,000 pounds. So, still a huge house on a Ford truck chassis??? Newmar seems to now know the label F-53 is not a good marketing tool. The prices of these coaches have increased exponentially but they have yet to make substantial upgrades to the suspension and chassis.

Research and lessons learned

I wish I had known about this before I bought it. Perhaps I would have made a different choice. It just reinforces the need to research everything about the RV you plan to buy. I don’t mean checklists and walk-throughs—I mean real info from real people who bought the coaches. I had no idea that I might want to avoid RVs built on the F-53. The chat boards incredibly helpful in learning about what problems were occurring in my brand and model. Listening to what current owners were saying and doing with their rigs taught me a great deal.

I need ammunition, folks!

It’s up to us, the RV customers, to start walking onto showroom floors and demanding these upgrades BEFORE we buy the coach. Diesel fuel products may become history, and unless we demand change, we will have very few products to choose from.

Next week: I will detail the options and products to upgrade your F-53 coach chassis and show you what I chose to do on my 2015 Newmar. Do you have a coach on a Ford F-53 chassis? I’d like to share your experiences, too.

I am building a war chest of information. Were you aware of the chassis issues when you bought your RV? I am particularly interested in what you noticed in the months right after you drove it off the lot. Have you done any modifications to improve your ride? Please tell me about your experiences and your opinions in the comments below.

I also need shoulders to cry on.


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.


  1. Your articles simply show how people make expensive mistakes because they did not do their homework.

    Really? You quote a 2007 magazine article to define 2022 production? News Flash: Things change! Every year. Ford publishes that doc. CONSUMERS pay for changes, not manufacturers.

    What gas chassis would you “make” Class A RV manufacturers “change” to? You know, because Ford has made the ONLY gas motorhome chassis since, oh, 2010 after Chevy exited the business? Be specific.

    You wrote “I had no idea that I might want to avoid RVs built on the F-53.” Sure, what you want to do is buy a gas Class A on the Chevy Workhorse that was last made in 2010 and that parts are now very difficult to find, and even harder is finding shop expertise.

    And shorter Class A’s have more ride and handling problems than long, heavy ones. And MSRP is not reality. You’re assuming again. Or still. Try not blaming others for your mistakes. It works.

  2. Loved your article. I have a 2016 Tiffin open road PA 34 on a ford chassis. Had suma springs , kona shock load leveler installed after purchasing. One item you didn’t mention was the ceiling fan in the bed room. I’ve had to replace 3 metal fan blade holders from the bouncing and shaking. Now I remove the fan baldes when I have to travel the 71 and 57 and 210 freeways. Terrible roads.

  3. Holy moly! I needed this article!!
    We have a 2022 Tiffin Allegro Open Road 36UA on an F-53 chassis. We installed Safe T Lite, Kumi springs, Koni shocks, sway bar and track bar and we still have to hold tight to the steering wheel. Struggle to keep center in our lane! Will be weighing it when we go to fill up the propane tank. Heard Liquid Springs is the way to go but I don’t have $30k to drop into this rig.

    Bought in Jan 2022, back to dealer Feb 2022 for hydraulic issues, creeping slide and some interior warranty work. Took it on a weekend trip, back to dealer for hydraulic issues (again), bedroom slide jumped track and came in sideways. Sat at dealership waiting for parts.

    Late Sept, first big trip! Found out how horrible truck lanes are. My wrists hurt from the vibrations of steering wheel and holding on for dear life. Motor on stairs stopped working, propane hose and regulator stopped working, arm rest fell off drivers chair. I think we got a lemon.😡😡😡😡😡😡😡😡

    • Janice – I am so sorry we shared this experience. I recommend taking a trip to Oregon and have Henderson’s Line-up evaluate your rig before you give up on it. Here is their website: https://www.hendersonslineup.com. They have seen everything and know how to fix any problems. They install Liquid Springs but can diagnose problems with your current upgrades, if any. Please let me know what you decide to do drkarel47(at)gmail.com.

  4. Hmmm… interesting…
    We had a 36’ Winnebago with a kitchen/living room slide on an F53 chassis with the V10 engine. I loved that coach. Drove great. Had plenty of power. I hated to give it up. We needed more room because we were going to be on the road longer.

    • Michael, thanks for your input. It sounds as if you had a shorter Winnebago on the F53. Based on my discussions with industry people, the problems are much more pronounced when heavier and longer coaches are built on the F53. My Newmar is 39.5′ with a GVWR of 26,000# and an unloaded weight of 21,729#. I know Winnebago has 30′ gas coaches that are much lighter and much more suited for this chassis. Did you upgrade to a diesel?

  5. We’re with you. After 2 trips now from PA to SoCal we’re upgrading to Liquid Springs suspension in our 2018 Georgetown XL in a few weeks. I’m convinced that the industry won’t upgrade to a better solution for gassers explicitly so that people will trade up to diesel pushers. We are hoping that this time we won’t arrive in San Diego utterly exhausted from 10 days or so of being battered on the roads. And after doing the math, it seemed a reasonable solution to try and if it gets us 5 more years in this coach it will be worth it.

  6. Sorry to buck the trend, but my bride and I are quite happy full-timing in our 2018 Newmar 3414 Bay Star. We ordered the F-53 chassis upgraded from 22k to 24k and we scale at 23.9k, fully loaded. We speak in normal tones even while traveling up the Western U.S. mountains in a lower gear at higher RPMs. Sway is easily felt and managed with a light hand on the steering wheel (rather than straight-arming the wheel in a death grip). These are just basic driving tips that I learned from my truck-driving Dad or when I drove buses in my younger years. The only issue that gets my attention are swales/dips-&-humps in the road that I might take too fast (U.S. 191 in AZ north of St Johns is a fine example). Oh – our two cats take their station on the bed and sleep while we travel.

    Why did we decide on a gasser vs. diesel? Price. Relative simplicity. More convenient repair options. My ability to do some repairs/maintenance. Yes, floorplan, too.

  7. Great blog! I had no idea of how crappy the chassis were on these rigs. I was scared to death when I started driving our rig, passing semi trucks and handling windy conditions. I have an Entegra Emblem 36U with the F53 chassis. I’ve upgraded the shocks to Koni’s and added a steering stabilizer. The cost for all this was around $2500. It could have easily been done by Entegra for less and I would have been happy to pay it!

  8. RV manufacturers, like most other for-profit organizations, do this because they can. Americans don’t want anyone telling them what they can or can’t do and what they can or can’t have. The result is seriously under-regulated industries. This includes those repair shops that can hang out a shingle with no certification or licensure.

    RV industry is just another example of American greed and capitalism at its finest…and it’s worst.

  9. Hey there – our company makes suspension specifications for this chassis. We’re standard equipment on all Winnebago F53s. In prior years, we were standard on all Tiffins, and in Bob Tiffin’s words we “saved his gas division”. I work hard to address the issue at the OEM a level, but unfortunately many of them don’t want to spend the money. We end up selling a lot in the aftermarket, but it’s unfortunate for all of the reasons you’ve stated. This isn’t uncommon and also plagues the Travel Trailer and 5th wheel markets, where a 50-150K trailer sits on $30-$60 worth of springs. This happens because they sell them parked, so people don’t think as much about ride quality. I’d be happy to chat with you more if you’d like some information from the manufacturer and industry perspective. My email is adam@superspringsint.com

    • Thank you Adam. I will be in touch. I am heartened to hear that some manufacturers have recognized and addressed this issue. The fact that there is a robust after-market industry for F53 modifications speaks loudly. Those who are tuned into automotive engineering and mechanical specs can make good decisions about a purchase by factoring in the work and cost of modifications. For those of us who are more tuned in to nutrition in cats, it is a much bigger risk and problem since we typically find out about these inherent design problems after purchase. I want to see manufacturers turn to new build materials that are lighter. If car and airline companies can do it, so can they. I don’t want solid wood cabinets with heavy ornamental molding if I have to skimp on what I can load into the RV.

  10. I think I’m numb to all the complaints I see/read about present day RV quality. The warning signs ring loud throughout the RV public and have for quite some time. I’m sorry but I feel less empathy for the people who ignore the warning signs and are parted from their money. Why does the RV industry keep doing this? Because they can. With times getting tougher and education getting poorer, their feedstock is only increasing.

  11. The RV industry has built Motorhomes on the F53 chassis for decades. That chassis has been problematic to RVers for almost as long. When Ford sells these chassis to a manufacturer but has no idea what is going to be built upon it. The problem is that people are demanding more and more stuff in their RVs so they are getting heavier. You said, “Coaches costing $400,000 and upwards are rolling off the lots into unsuspecting owners’ driveways”. What gas motorhome cost that much? When I was looking for a RV several years ago, I weighed the issues of gas motorhomes vs the cost to ” fix” those issues and decided to go with a diesel. Not regretting that decision at all.

    • Roy, I priced a Newmar Bay Star with common upgrades and it came out to be about $300K. Prices have gone up substantially but you are right $400K is entry level diesel. My bad. Thanks for your input.

    • Roy. Yes. It is on the manufacturers but Ford also knows what is being built on them (really I think they do). Ford probably offers suspension upgrades to the manufacturers who may pass on them due to cost. Do not know this as a fact. This is an area of research I am interested in. Many want the bling and the heavy oak cabinets. I would like a utilitarian RV built with lighter, more minimalistic materials, more carrying capacity and a safer, better ride. In my next life. Glad you are happy with a pusher.

  12. I agree with your rant, had a Thor Hurricane ~32 ft, no slides, on F-53 chassis, and had to check for wind speeds prior to driving on long trips. Cross winds were awful to drive in even relatively low gusts. Threw ~ $2K at suspension, alignments, weight distribution, helped some but always drove wonky on anything but smooth, flat roads. I didn’t dare drive 65-70 on anything but ideal roads and wind conditions, big trucks blew us around regularly. Drive a super c now, night and day difference on driving stability. I hear Liquid Springs helps a lot but is an expensive suspension modification but people are paying on spring based super C’s when rolled into initial financing. Believe it is available for F-53 suspension.

  13. Reading all these comments leaves me with one conclusion… why should the buyer have to put another several hundred to thousands of dollars into a new motorhome just to make it better and safer to drive. I refuse to even consider a F53 chassis under a motorhome and have walked out of several dealers lots letting them know that they are selling something that is poorly designed. When you buy a new car do you immediately have to put new shocks, steering stabilizer, etc. before you can enjoy it? No! If people started balking at buying this junk corrective action would be taken. You don’t have to buy it, it’s something you want, kind of like a banana split, the only way it’ll ever change if you balk at buying it!

  14. Our ~23 foot 2021Grand Design travel trailer came equipped with twin axles, each rated at 3,000 lbs. The camper weighs about 5,200 lbs dry, and easily near or over 6,000 with one’s stuff loaded up. Needless to say, the axle bent over time – probably from bumpy roads, seams, etc. I reached out to Dexter, the manufacturer, and suggested that spec-ing out an axle rated so closely to the likely weight of the camper is not very sound engineering / design. They agreed to replace both axles, and – without me asking – upped the replacement axles to matching 3,500s. This seems to me to be an admission that both Grand Design and Dexter were complicit in under-designing the model in order to maximize profits, knowing, perhaps full well, that the design was both prone to bending – and thus likely to require costly repairs – and unsafe. It brings up issues of trust: can we trust the industry to err on the side of safety and proper function? Or, do profit margins win out at our expense?

  15. Wow…what a rant. I have a 2013 32-foot gasser on the F-53 chassis, no mods, and it is fine for me. Yes, the ride is a little more harsh that my car but my motorhome is not a car. You might want to slow down on bad roads so dishes don’t fly around. My class C was much worse for wind pushing me around that in my Class A. I would recommend the F53 chassis. Besides, what is the alternative?

    • David – I was driving down Interstate 40 😎 The coach actually rode better on asphalt side roads.Glad your F53 is working out ok for you. I rant with purpose – many people buying RVs are not as fortunate as you nor are they as knowledgable as many veteran RVers who know about chassis.

  16. I’ve driven a motorhome with the F-53 chassis ( not a Newmar), and yeah they don’t handle like a sports car. But they’re OK. You just have to drive them like you would a truck. I think this guy is a born cry baby.

    • Cry baby I may be but I’ve driven many trucks…even in high heels! 💃 I am glad your F53 coach handles to your satisfaction.

  17. I too fail to understand why dangerous chassis continue to be built and put under 12-13 ton motorhomes. I put Koni shocks, SumoSprings, and a Safe-T-Plus steering shock on mine (2016 Newmar Canyon Star 3710) immediately after taking delivery. The previous owner installed 2″ stabilizer bars front and rear. The ride is much, much better but the steering is still horrible. I am constantly battling to keep it going straight down the road. I had the alignment checked before I installed everything. The terrible steering is making me wish I would have purchased a diesel.

  18. American companies work for shareholder profit. No one else and nothing else.

    Here is a recent example of corporate priorities: “Today’s settlement is part of the company’s broader effort to responsibly resolve outstanding legal matters related to the 737 MAX accidents in a manner that serves the best interests of our shareholders, employees, and other stakeholders,” Boeing said.” (CNN)

    Let’s get this straight. Boeing killed paying air passengers by its acts and omissions in pursuit of low cost and high profits: “legal matters”. Yet these human beings come in #3 as “other stakeholders.”

    Where does this obsession with profit come from? Well, everyone with a 401K plan and other retirement investments. We want returns.

    I often ponder this irony as the money pours into my accounts and I drive around in my cheap – it’s gotta be cheap – Styrofoam cabin on wheels. Carefully. Very carefully.

    • John,
      I cannot disagree having spent 20 years on Wall Street. In some ways, while the mutual fund allowed many to share the wealth of corporations, it decidedly turned the focus on the short-term – companies and mutual fund managers under intense pressure to show growth and share price gains immediately. Unfortunately, that will not change. Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Boeing did not “kill” passengers. Improperly trained pilots crashed those Max’es.
      No US trained pilots would have had a problem with a standard Runaway Trim problem.

  19. We had a ’96 Georgie Boy CruiseMaster on the F-53 chassis after six Class Bs on Dodge Van chassis and a Class C on a Dodge Ram 3500 pickup. The worst ride was the Class C, pretty bad body roll. My experience was all Fords have mushy handling so I didn’t expect much better from the F-53, but was pleasantly surprised. The Cruisemaster was one of the best handling motorhomes we have ever owned, the balance was good and we didn’t get blown around by trucks or crosswinds. No slides, staying below the GVWR, and a relatively large toad probably helped. We always buy used, but I don’t think the previous owner had done anything to the suspension. We traded for a Newmar Dutch Star diesel pusher, primarily because the Ford 460 wouldn’t pull all that weight up the hills in West Virginia fast enough. The diesel does that well and still allows conversation, but the handling, while very good, isn’t any better than the CruiseMaster was. The coach builders need to road test their units.

  20. Might want to look at older Newmar’s/Monaco’s before DEF if you decide to change. We had a gas. Nice, but wanted more comfort. Easier driving. We have a Newmar Dutchstar 2002 with 250K miles on it that we love & will use until we stop RV’ing. Which will be sooner rather than later. Reading all the comments are we glad we did. Have never had a cabinet, drawer or the refrigerator door open, no matter how bad the roads. Well, when one of us forgot to close said cabinet/drawer. We were looking at a Monaco, 36ft back then. Really liked and wanted it to be the one. Then the salesman took us for a ride on one of our lovely CA (home of high taxes/bad roads) freeways. What a mistake. Horrible ride. Not sure what he was thinking. Not sure he had a choice. We weren’t going to buy without a test drive. Deal killer.

  21. Been in RV business several years working at more than one dealer. Research prior to buying, touch it feel it drive it. Can’t be said enough. 90 percent of gas buyers end up wanting a diesel period no discussion night and day difference. As far as who makes the best comes down to ownership and support offered by manufacturer not dealer purchased from, they only sell them not build them.

  22. I don’t understand. I have a 2003 Georgie Boy Cruisemaster on a Ford F53 chassis. Thirty six feet long on a 22K lbs. chassis. My cupboards never fly open, My wife and I can hold a normal conversation on the highway. Semi trucks do not push me around. Does it ride like a car? No, but it is not a car. It’s on a medium TRUCK chassis. It rides rougher than a car because it’s a TRUCK. Just because it doesn’t meet your expectations doesn’t mean the manufacturer has done anything wrong. They provide a product to meet a price point $100K cheaper than a diesel pusher. There’s going to be tradeoffs. Shame on you for not doing your homework.

    • Yes. Indeed shame on me. I did do research just not the right kind obviously. I hope my shame is educational. That is my intention anyway. So many people are not as lucky as you and so many people are new to RVing and are not as mechanically and automotively experienced as many of you are. I did not expect in any way a Cadillac ride, I did expect something a bit smoother than I got however.

      I hope my article helps people focus their research on the right things. I also think the manufacturers need to think about upgrading the suspension – at least give us the option.

      Thank you for your input.

      • Please, don’t let yourself be shamed by someone who happens to have landed in a better situation. It is incredibly hard to get up to speed on the many aspects of quality in buying a rig, especially as a beginner who has not spent a lifetime driving or buying heavy vehicles. It is NOT on you to be an expert on truck suspensions, and you are correct, it IS on the manufacturer to provide a product suitable for use. Increasingly, it’s even getting hard to do actual research on the web–search engines now report fluff pieces and company PR and do not pick up hits on problem discussions the way they did 5 years ago.

        Thanks for sharing your rant; tired of the sanitized ‘it’s all good’ attitude many have towards shabby products.

        • Thank you wanderer. I am very content being shamed if it helps others make better decisions and perhaps puts pressure on the industry to improve their product. I am heartened to learn that some manufacturers do indeed offer upgraded suspensions. Newmar does not. I will go into more detail next week about options for F53 owners. I appreciate your comments and support.

  23. Our neighbor happened to have a Ford chassis so I took a brief 6 mi. round trip with him on a concrete hiway – what an experience! If I had false teeth I would have had to super glue them in!

    When we bought our first used motor home – on a Chevy chassis with V-8 454 (7.1) it was like nite and day between his ride and mine. The second and current motorhome is also a GM chassis and 754 V-8 and 10′ longer and 4,500 GVWR heavier. Oh, it floats down the road – but I should also mention it has a “JetCo” rear air suspension option. The only thing that has fallen during travel is a small plastic flower thing on the dining room table we forgot to stow! No dishes, no cabinets flying open. (I do have one annoying rattle – either silverware or stove grates!) The only thing I would fault is the GVWR at 16,000 lbs. it is too light for this 35′ coach etc. I have a lot of storage space in this Winnebago but all I could fill it with is feathers! This is why the GM chassis lost out to Ford!

    • The 454 cuin is 7.4L if your motorhome was newer than 1996 you had the 8.1L 494 cuin engine in a Workhorse chassis. I had one of those in a 2002 Newmar Mountain Aire. Beat my 1999 Bounder on the F53 chassis for ride, handling, and mpg. It’s a shame Workhorse was sold to International in 2009 when GM filed bankruptcy, hey International bring the Workhorse back to compete against Ford.

      • Wow, re-reading today – I got all those number screwed up! 7.1? = 7.4! 754? = 454! Good grief – more proof reading required! It is a 1994 34′ Vectra. (After numerous upgrades it is now a Vectra LE!!

      • Yes OD to be us that workhorse chassis was scrubbed as well as the Engine. i have a 2005 winnebago bought used in 2017 and refurbished the aged parts of the chassis or not fixed properly parts of the chassis and tweaked the 8.1 ltr engine by getting it to a shop that understood the engine so local shop can handle its care better. i had the previous owners take the unit out last year when they handed me back the keys they were in tears because the coach chassis and engine problems were never addressed properly for them to enjoy the coach since they bought it new. there is no way i would own a class A f53 chassis or pay the current market price for a class a. mine current coach will just keep on going till it decides to roll over and say time to retire and the heck with rv parks and their 10 year rule. the rv manufacturers at the time the workhorse chassis was turned over choose not to look at the workhorse product again. they choose the the f53 as their main stay chassis because it was cheaper than a workhorse chassis. manufacturers need to get a grip on prices and quality and building bodies on chassis that are inappropriate to be mounted on as they are re-engineering the social aspects ownership of the future rv population and i dare say knowingly mismatching equipment to take advantage of the consumer

  24. First off, please show me the $400,000 motorhome on an F53 chassis. While you state many facts, there is a lot of emotion in your article.

    An informed buyer is going to be aware of the drawbacks associated with the F53 chassis, especially anyone buying one on the longer side. We did a lot of research prior to buying our Bay Star and I was prepared to address the drivability issues after our purchase. We chose gas as it fit our travel needs at this stage of our life as I wasn’t going to pay the 100K plus for the ride of a diesel pusher. Once we retire and are traveling more, we will upgrade as it will be the right time and fit our travel needs at that time.

    Do I wish the chassis rode better and was designed for the motorhome, yes, but it’s not. It’s a chassis for a box truck. If one wants a chassis designed for a motorhome, then buy something with a Freightliner or Spartan chassis. They are designed for the specific purpose. Just be prepared to pay for it.

    • Newmar’s Bay Star 38′ model with a few options runs close to $300K. So yes about $100k less than the now diesel Canyon Star (my model).

      And, yes, there is a lot of emotion in my rant. I hope by baring my shortcomings and poor choices I bring the point home to other RV buyers to do their research and ignore the bling. Thank you for your comments.

      • Maybe,
        We should open the discussion to warranty as well. Was anyone informed that when purchasing a Newmar “We drove across the country to get” that the coach is only serviceable at the purchasing dealer? So when you spend 500k and the Dometic RED lights you, and you have no toilets you should feel comfort in knowing it is only 2500 miles from repair.

        • You didn’t do your research about dealers and warranties. Unlike the auto industry where any dealer that sells your brand has to fix your warranty claims. RV dealers normally only work on what they sell until they have no more customer warranty claims, then they might pull your unit in. Call you congressman, get the law changed, but you better have more money to contribute to their campaign fund than RVIA.

        • I’m confused, apparently. We domiciled in FL, bought our Newmar at NIRVC, in GA, took it on the road, had road damage (incurred on its way to us) repaired in Nappanee, warranty work done in Tucson, Dallas and San Antonio, and back in FL, all by various Newmar-selling and -servicing dealerships. No one ever turned us down for service, even though they didn’t sell us our coach. Granted, that was 2 years ago, things may have changed by now.

  25. Honestly, I can not really blame Ford for the F53 chassis. One, they are the only game in town that builds a gasoline class-a coach frame. Two, every time Ford updates their chassis to handle more weight, the RV builders just make a heavier body. Three, most buyers only want “bling” in their coaches.
    No one cares about weight. Slides add weight, two bathrooms add weight, 2 & even 3 TVs add weight. But who cares if you have small holding tanks, or where items are placed by the RV builder.
    Ford can not be held accountable for poorly weighted, or designed bodies. Ford can not be expected to know what to do about a RV builder who has the body 1000 pounds higher on the left than the right. You can’t build a chassis to ride/perform best like that.
    The only consumer solution is the aftermarket. To address the short comings of the RV builder. Besides,…why can’t we build 13K chassis anymore? BUYERS won’t buy them. Ever seen the 0-60 on a 26K rig? Bet you its not 22.5 seconds.

  26. After 2 full years of reading, questioning and talking to whomever would listen, my wife told me that NO WAY are we spending money on a gas coach. So, in order to fit our budget, we had to go older, but bought a diesel pusher on the Freightliner, air suspension chassis, 35 ft Motorhome.
    Yes, we spent about $500 on the Steer Safe addition, (no more white knuckling as semis pass).
    Over past 5 years have thanked my wife numerous times for going the diesel route!
    Also, learned quickly how to secure cupboard doors, and pack things so that even the roughest or bumpiest roads don’t throw our dishes etc. around!
    Finally, we were lucky enough to find a dealer who was committed to his customers, never had to wait for weeks or months for either an appointment or repair.
    When at a Freightliner facility, hear nothing but praise for their chassis, when at a campground, hear too many complaints from the F-53 guys.

  27. We did extensive research for over 3 years before we purchased our RV. I was on 5 different manufacturer forums. Got tons of opinions and experience just sitting on the couch! We finally decided on a unit, purchased it brand new to order without an extended warranty. 10 year financing! I have had exactly 3 problems with it. 1. Scratched tv due to an improper retention strap during delivery. 2. Shattered recliner frame and 3, a dented fridge door. All replaced by the dealer. I upgraded the tv later to a smart tv. Our rig rides like a dream. No complaints what so ever! I would NEVER buy a used rv no matter how much the savings. I know what I got from the factory. I don’t know the problems someone else had with their RV and now they want to “dump it”. You’re not dumping it on me!

    • To each his own, I’ll gladly let you take a $90000 hit on depreciation as soon as you drive it off the lot. I’ll buy a 2 year old lightly used, that has had all the factory glitches worked out and enjoy my unit.

  28. I can’t disagree with most of your comments regarding the F-53 RV chassis. However, while the suggestions you make to have the manufacturer do the improvements is not a bad idea, it would surely eliminate many buyers on a tighter budget. I did 3 years of extensive research prior to retiring and purchasing a 2018 Jayco Alante 31V on a F-53 18,000# chassis. Many shows and joining many forums helped a lot. I really wanted a diesel pusher but the costs: initial price, maintenance and operating, put them out of reach. I knew the F-53 ride was not the best and needed after market help and I was willing to take those steps and spend the additional money. Not a budget buster. As a result I have a comfortable ride and many great road memories. No, it’s not the ride of a diesel pusher but it is very good on freeways and back roads. Five years of travel: Grand Canyon, Utah Parks, Alaska, Route 66, and many other states (36,000 mi) with a smile on my face.

    • You can never get the comfort of full air ride suspension compared to truck spring suspension. I was an OTR truck driver, all the road tractors have air ride on the rear axels and drivers seat, but many still have spring front suspension. The first time I got into a truck that had air ride front axel I was amazed, no more bone jarring jerking every time the front wheels hit a bump. My shoulders loved that suspension. Lol.

  29. I’ve owned three motorhomes on the F53 chassis…two Fleetwood and one Newmar. The ride and handling weren’t great, but it wasn’t dangerous or unbearable either. Maybe growing up out in the country and riding two hours a day in school buses with seemingly NO suspension made me numb (pardon the pun) to the ride of the F53! 😉

    The most economical place to make real changes to that chassis are at Ford…not the motorhome manufacturers. But, they are the company that kept selling the Pinto that they knew would blow up in rear end collisions and determined the death lawsuits would cost less than a real fix, so don’t expect them to spend an extra penny just for ride comfort on a chassis.

    Karel, you’re learning the hard lessons of RVing. You can spend your time tilting at this windmill or enjoy your RV, as upgraded to the level you desire, and move on to things you can actually change in life.

    • Spike. I will thank you. I am doing all the upgrades and next week will share the details. I wrote my rant so that people will learn. I can’t expect the manufacturers to listen but hey, maybe Newmar will offer a $15,000 upgrade to the suspension but the only problem is that it will make the Ford chassis warranty null and void which is likely why they don’t do it. You are right; the manufacturers need to make Ford do it. From the comments, I gleaned some manufacturers offer suspension upgrades so maybe the tide is turning.

      Thank you for your input and words of wisdom.

    • I agree, we travelled the USA in a 2007 National Sea Breeze on the F53 Chassis, we logged 55,000 miles in 8 years with zero engine issues, the ride was not great but not terrible. We paid 50 K for the Sea Breeze in 2013 and sold it a year ago for 35K not too shabby. We have a Tiffin Allegro RED now much better ride but used it was 235K. It’s just what you adapt to.

  30. Buyer beware! Capitalism is the worst system……except for all the others. I don’t expect the industry and media who make their livelihood from these products to be completely honest. I have owned an F53 motorhome, bought used 7 years old, and yes, did some suspension fixes to it which made it quite a bit better on driving and handling. But didn’t improve the bumpy road clunk much. I now own a Newmar on the Freightliner front engine diesel (MC chassis) that rides and steers better unmodified, but is still about the same clunk-factor on bumps. I attribute it to being a heavy truck vehicle on bumpy roads – duh! My wife has learned (by observing flying objects) to store stuff better, use tacky stuff under appliances, etc. It is good enough for me not to seek out expensive suspension mods. But I think we might be less sensitive to the clunkiness. I don’t think any motorhome is going to ride and drive like a 73 Cadillac. Oh-you have a problem with your refrigerator door locks too.

  31. With all due respect, I see 2 mistakes the author made. The first is in assuming that an RV is a house on wheels. The second is in moving to California.

  32. Wow! I have a Jayco 2017 Precept 31UL, with a F-53 Chassis and the Triton V-10, and love it. 36,000 mile and counting. It came with a “J-Ride plus” suspension package. I elected to have the suspension upgrade instead of a beautiful full body paint job. I guess it’s length makes the performance difference. I get between 9-10 mpg, towing. Minimal sway, bounce, and noise. I also don’t drive my motorhome like a sports car. 60-68 mph is fast enough. (Enjoy your journey and not simply your destination.) I’ve crossed the Rocky Mountains and Appalachian Mountains many times.

    My wife and I love this rig and it’s superior floor-plan. Yes, it’s had it’s “RV Industry issues” but were satisfactorily repaired under warranty. I wouldn’t trade my Class A gasser for ANY comparable short diesel pusher.

  33. We took delivery of a ’22 Jayco Precept 31UL in May. During PDI, I asked the tech how he tire pressures. He walked me over to a tire (22.5″), showed me the max pressure number, and said that’s what to run it at (about 110 psi.) Never showed me the yellow recommended inflation sticker next to driver seat. I knew that pressure wasn’t right, but I’d fix it at home.

    It was absolutely the scariest 2 1/2 hr drive of my life, made worse by steady 25 mph winds and higher gusts. The hard tires bounced us as we were pushed violently to & fro. I knew in advance that stock F53 chassis drive terribly and need enhancements, but I was unprepared for a trip like this (and for 20 yrs I owned an F450 dump truck that I drove regularly in my landscape business, so I wasn’t a novice.)

    Since setting tires to 95 psi per sticker, adding a Safe-T-Plus Steering stabilizer and Koni FSB shocks, the ride has improved significantly and I feel more comfortable, but there are still improvements to be made.

  34. Diesel trucks aren’t going away anytime soon, and neither will diesel motor homes. If I were you I’d sell that dog asap, and find a high grade (NOT Newmar, which is run-of-the-mill at best) diesel coach – Newell, Foretravel and Country Coach are all excellent – at about 12-15 years old that has been well maintained and stored indoors. There are lots of them out there and they all cost less than the POS you’re currently driving. You’ve learned a big lesson here – don’t let it go to waste! And NEVER buy a new RV again…

  35. There are many, many suspension fixes for the F53 chassis that greatly improve the handling. There are probably tens of thousands of these chassis on the road and their owners are enjoying their adventures. You’ll be glad you have this chassis when Kalifornia outlaws diesel pushers.

    • Not outlawed, just no new Units. If anything, thet just extended the life of existing rv’s. Just like the car show I went to yesterday. PLENTY of 100 year old cars.

  36. My dream was a Cortez motor home. Oh well. My Airstream trailer uses Grass latches for cabinets, that come apart on bumpy roads. I contacted the manufacturer, the latches are for houses and buildings, not designed for RV’s. So, why are we still using Dexter axles ?

  37. My first motorhome was a ‘99 Bounder on the F53 chassis with the V10. The first trip to FL we were experiencing the same conditions, then the front sway bar fell apart resulting in reduction of driving speed no faster than 50 mph, and the engine never got more than4.6 mpg. Returning from FL I immediately started a search for a different unit. I found a 2002 Newmar Mountain Aire on a Workhorse chassis made by Chevrolet, what a difference, ride, handling, and mpg increased to 8.3 in TN and 10 in flat FL with an 8.1L V8 instead of the underpowered 6.8L V10. Regrettably that chassis was sold to International trucks in 2009 when GM filed bankruptcy. INTERNATIONAL PLEASE BRING THAT CHASSIS BACK! The RV industry needs you.

  38. I have the F53 chassis as well (motorhome not disclosed). I installed Sumo air bags front and back, Steering stabilizer, Bilstein shocks, front and rear sway bars. Yup, more money on an expensive coach already, but it works. No issues with steering, rolling issues now. Air pressure is critical and you may experiment after this. My coach has 22.5″ tires, not the small 19″. Of course, some of the road issues are our messed up roads to begin with! Looking forward to others comments!

  39. Part 2 from Ron
    We picked up our Canyon Star 3710 in New York in July of 2017 and have 67,000 plus miles on it. I monitor the air pressure at all times and keep it adjusted by the weight of the coach not what is on the tire as max pressure that job is the owners not Ford or manufacture of RV. For upgrades to the chassis I know that the Tiffen gas coaches can be ordered with Sumo Springs or the Liquid Springs all cost $$ so the choice is yours. Did you weigh your coach and make sure you didn’t have it overloaded?

  40. I purchased my 2017 F53 Canyon Star and love it. Yes I have done upgrades to the Chassis but by choice. I made my choice after doing factory tours of the big 3 at the time (Newmar, Tiffen & Winnebago) and a few others. Newmar was the best we even visited the factory while our coach was on the line. Did it ride like a big diesel pusher no, but I got a top of the line gas coach for what a bottom of the line pusher would of cost. I have only had a cabinet open when we didn’t latch it and have never had the Norcold Refrigerator open going down the road unless my wife was getting snack or a drink out.

  41. Many are happy with the ride of the F53 chassis, excepting it’s limitations. Some are not. That said, you want Ford or the RV manufacturer to upgrade everything it’s going to cost you. Most are happy with modest changes.
    That all said, you say you made a mistake buying a Class A on an F53 chassis but your second is going to be moving TO California?

    • I just love these kind of diatribe opinion pieces. I’ve owned a class A on a F53 chassis but the big difference is I did my research before hand to determine the possible drawbacks to this chassis. The first was overloading, as it’s apparent what this owner did. The second is you buy a used coach that’s 8 model years old without any chassis inspections? You hop in a take off, then you blame the OEM, in this case NEWMAR for YOUR shortcoming. Pure nonsense…..

    • The ones that are happy with the ride have never experienced what a good riding motorhome drives like. As the author said, the RV industry is not demanding any improvements since Ford is the only supplier, had GM stayed in the business Ford would be forced to improve it. I will agree with your statement on moving to CA, 300,000 people are leaving CA each year. Lol


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.