Damm, yes that’s how I’m starting today’s post.  I took my motorhome in for an inspection at Fairview Motors Brake & Alignment and after owning my motorhome since 2010 I’m starting to wake up.  If you live in Santa Barbara I highly recommend this shop to understand your vehicle. I am only sad that the shop does not sell tires.

 

Those numbers on the driver’s side door panel are very important. What was happening with my LT with the new Michelin LTX M/S2 tires is due to insufficient weight load by those tires esp on the rear of my coach.

Here’s  the explanation by the mechanic:
Customer request inspect steering and suspension for loose or worn components. Customer states that the vehicle does not track straight on the  freeway since new tires were installed. She continuously has to steer it to keep it straight. Road tested and confirmed complaint. No steering or suspension problems found. The weight in the back  of the motorhome may be too much for these tires. It feels like the rear of the vehicle is swaying from side to side. the rear tire sidewalls may be too soft and have too much flex for the weight.  After checking the sidewall max load rating it is not sufficient for the gross vehicle weight in the rear. The max rating on the side wall is 2680 lbs single. the gross weight in the rear of the motorhome is 5361 lbs.

 

What all this means is that having only single rear tires (many newer RVs have dual rear tires) this softer Michelin tire bulges out at the bottom with every gust of wind in the rear end as this RV is heavily weighted in the rear. Add to this any possible sloshing of water from the water tanks and uneven road conditions, wind, bumps in the road, etc…  and the back tires as they bulge and release will create a constant wiggle on the front end resulting in the driver needing to continually adjust the steering in an attempt to remain in the traffic lane.

 

Basically these tires are not appropriate for the 1996 Freedom Wide LTV and perhaps other years. They may be fine for other similar Class B motorhomes depending on the weight distribution. My Freedom Wide LTV has a lot of weight in the rear including the air conditioner and spare tire.  In my limited research I did not find an alternative tire that would fit the 225 / 75  R16 tire size offering a greater load capacity.  (If anyone knows of one, please post.) I did learn that it possible to install a slightly larger / wider tire and this is an interesting option but not one I have much time to explore.

All is not lost however as the Michelin XPS Rib  even though of the same load rating, offers a highway tread and a steel sidewall casing. This provides a stronger sidewall able to resist the bulging of the rear tires and therefore the front end handling problem. One still needs to limit storage of heavy items in the rear (if possible.) The ride may be rougher, I don’t know but it would be worth it to correct the handling.  At this point all this is yet unproven but I am hopeful.

 

Add to my tire frenzy, the policy of Costco to claim that the Michelin XPS Rib is no longer made and cannot be ordered.  This is not true. What is true is that Costco does not sell this tire due to their arrangement with Michelin. could be the tire techs at Costco are unaware of the shenanigans of administration and policy negotiations. Nevertheless, the Michelin LTX M/S 2 should not be installed or used on the ’96 Freedom Wide and perhaps other similar rigs. Costco needs a better plan for safety. On the right vehicle these tires undoubtedly earn their merits, but on the wrong vehicle they just don’t work.

XPS Ribs.. will these tires solve my problem?

XPS Ribs.. will these tires solve my problem?

I am not sure why the highway tread is preferred however this also seems to be the recommendation. If your tire has little squares it is not a highway tread, it should look like the picture above of the Ribs.

 

My previous tires, the Toyo Open Country had a load rating of 2680 which is the same as all other options I’ve found for my wheels. I struggled a great deal with the Toyo’s but eventually they seemed to work for me. I never liked the tires however and they did cup badly. I can’t say my RV handled smoothly but it was tolerable, I got used to the delicate steering and was able to plow though wind and all. Perhaps these have a stiffer sidewall than the LTX MS/2, in any case I’ve made my decision to spend the extra money $$$$ for the XPS Ribs as advised by Henderson’s Line Up RV in Oregon …  they are expensive! Now to find some that won’t take too long to arrive….  I do have a date I’m trying to achieve and its way out in Georgia!

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