Tag Archive: Tires for Class B 1996 dodge based motorhome


My New Mantra.

My New Mantra.

Much to my amazement the LT is on its 3rd set of new tires in less than 3 months. Yes, really!

My favs were the Michelin M/S2’s. . . loved the ride, the smoother feel, nice gripping with the new shocks, felt great. But alas a (now) suspect shop in Goleta explained how the lovely M/S2’s were causing the miserable road wander.  The owner insisted the M/S2’s could not carry the load…  that isn’t an adequate analysis: yet at the time, not having delved into the knowledge of all things tire, I believed this sincere highly touted mechanic so I switched to Michelin XPS Ribs as per recommendation from Henderson’s Line Up. The Ribs are built to last with a hard riding fit for a plumbing truck. Great tire if you have nerves of steel and no sensitive parts.  The ride turned into a Disneyland bump, crash and burn sorta thing with a nasty vibration all the way through your spine. I did not want to drive at all to the point that I preferred to let the RV sit and gather road dust.  Sleepless days and nights later and a far more complete understanding of tires, brakes and suspensions, I have BF Goodrich Commercial AT2 All Seasons and so far other than driving home I’ve not tested the ride.

The drive home from Tire Pros, felt better than with the Ribs but still very jarring;  however the tires were overinflated for the weight of my RV, hoping it will settle and that all will be good at last.

Wheel

 

I did not have a choice about the BF Goodrich Commercial TA2 All Seasons. This is the tire that Michelin recommends and the only tire that Tire Pros would allow as a switch.

 

Ergo, here’s a somewhat abbreviated recap of my story with Tire Pros.
I was fooled by Tire Pros from the beginning:  When I learned that the XPS Ribs should ‘solve’ the RV wandering and eager to be on the road, I sought a local Michelin dealer and happened on Tire Pros.  I called and to my delight, yes they had the Ribs in stock in the right size and they were on sale!  Get there early they said and they’d put them right on. I arrived at 8am to find, that no they didn’t have the tires on hand, and no there was no sale.

YES, I should have run like hell! But what they heck, they said they could order them and have them in later that day so I said ok.  They were installed and what’d ya know they did not solve the handling problem although it was improved. It was after this that the adventure of the steering stabilizer began, and then the brake forte into unknown territory.  The more things got solved the more I hated the Ribs. I longed for the sweet MP’2’s but animosity was roaring over at Tire Pros, I actually felt afraid of going into that shop. At first they had seemed so nice, esp the manager but with repeated visits and nothing made right their attitude was soundly nasty. I focused on the priority of repairing the brakes hoping somehow the Ribs would grow on me.

They did not and I began imagining how it would feel to throw away $1300 and buy new tires. Instead with encouragement from my new brake and motor shop I returned  timidly to Tire Pros to see if they would make things right. It was a disaster. I never expected a service shop to exhibit veiled aggression and to be so uncooperative. It was not until I pulled the legal card that I received action. Having learned at my new shop what a standard brake inspection requires and I mentioned this to Tire Pros…  hey I want to see the brake inspection sheet you did on my van.  That woke them up and I was offered a full refund upon approval of the owner. I attempted a discussion about the tires but was met with stupid stares and further hostility so I walked out.

A few days later the owner called me, he was not happy at my report. He will send a full refund for the brakes and has had a “talk” with his store manager. …  corners being cut, not doing the right things….  I called him back about my dilemma with the Ribs and his staff’s hostility and that’s how the tire swap occurred; he called Michelin made arrangements…  of course all this took many days and then finally it was over the 30 day limit so swapping to an approved Michelin tire was the only thing he would offer. As he told me, otherwise he’d be out the price of the tires. Well?  OK nevermind. Lame excuse to dump that responsibility on the customer.

The tire swap went without issue other than the owner keeping me waiting for several more days until he finally decided I could go ahead with the swap…  another control issue. I was not offered a price adjustment so had to contact the owner again.  He said I’d be given a $400 adjustment so, yep, had to go back again.  Once I got to the shop I was given a $370 adjustment with the excuse that I was being charged $15 a tire for labor.  Their number didn’t add up as I was also told that the adjustment was actually $450…  so $450 minus $60 is $390 and close to what I was promised. I found this disgustingly petty. In no way will I do business with Tire Pros in the future and I recommend others avoid this shop. Am waiting anxiously for their check for the brakes…  grateful that it wasn’t a worse outcome. My condolences to the owner, I’m glad he called and has made sincere efforts to set things right; however isn’t it likely that the owner sets the policy.

 

So now I have BF Goodrich Commercial All Seasons 2.  Reviews are mixed. I hope they will do. I hope I will be pleased. I wrote to BF Goodrich for a tire loading (psi) chart as I could not find one on their website. I am wondering about the MS2’s from Costco…  were these E load range?  Yes, still lusting for those tires.

Perhaps latter I will post some interesting things about tires, load and motorhomes.

Meanwhile here’s some pictures of my dogs around the lovely town of Santa Barbara.

The pups at City College

The pups at City College

Let's Go For A Walk

Let’s Go For A Walk

Flying Curls Jackson at the Park.

Flying Curls Jackson at the Park.

A Santa Barbara kinda day

A Santa Barbara kinda day

Spring

Spring

Mason

Mason…  there’s something under there which Mason takes very seriously.

Flying Curls Jackson and Jeana, Lagotto Romagnolo siblings.

Flying Curls Jackson and Jeana, Lagotto Romagnolo siblings.

Flying Curls Jeana

Flying Curls Jeana

Flying Curls Lagotto Romagnolo will be expecting Comes cordis Olympia’s 2nd and final litter this winter, currently accepting a waiting list. 

Advertisements

You wouldn’t think putting new tires on an old motorhome would cause a crumbling of the vehicle’s foundation, would you? Or new brake pads? Vehicles of infinite sizes, shapes and purposes have this done and they zoom off, owners pay, service rendered, everyone’s happy. But what happens when you have a vehicle serviced and other components clamor to get in on the fix-me, replace-me bandwagon? The weakest gets replaced and the domino effect begins: bing-bang-clang…. things fail, need to be redone; mechanics can’t agree, dollars go flying and the weary RV’er gets headaches.  Sure, of course, there are many potentially worse outcomes than being at home, one could be camped in a dive in the grasp of greedy rip-off mechanics waiting to drain every penny; or in the path of a tornado, hurricane, mosquitoes, alligators, snakes, floods, fires, all kinds of things can happen; this is why it’s important to avoid being stranded wondering how long your food and water will last and how much confinement the dogs can take. I am counting my blessings and “trying”to be patient. . . hint-hint. . . I’m fed up sitting at the rim of the road wondering when my little RV will feel like traveling.

 

This is what I think is going on, the old tires which I replaced were “grooved” into the system.  They had settled into the suspension.  The ride, while not perfect was sufficient. I’d fought a battle back 6 years ago when I’d replaced the cracked tries. What I went through to get the RV road worthy took a long time. Not everything was optimal and there were many frustrations, eventually however; after thousands of miles and adventures, all was manageable. Changing tires once again stirred everything up. New tires can be a nightmare, I didn’t realize that. In fact Tru Line has advised that the best fix now is to drive for a good 3,000 miles and let all the new stuff settle i; if I’m still not happy with the steering gearbox they will replace it again!  You see, last week Tru Line replaced the factory refurbished steering box they had installed as a gesture of goodwill, no charge. So now the LT is on its second new steering gear box. It does seem the steering wheel is straight now, but handling is not great, it’s just different, a challenge. (Of course the mechanic at Fairview Brake and Motor had told me the 1st replaced steering gear box had to replaced again as it was no good!  I don’t think he would approve of the this second “new” one either.  Oh and to add to the confusion Bruce had told me it wasn’t worth replacing the steering gear box as that rarely fixes the trouble anyway….   everyone has a different opinion and I thought mechanics was straight forward!) 

I’ve ordered what may either be worse than useless or may be a wonder, depending on which mechanic I talk to: Bill at Tru-Line says it will solve everything and Eric at Fairview says it will make everything worse although neither of these mechanics were familiar with this product until I showed it to them.  Dodge Ram Steering Gear Box Stabilizer.  This device is intended to eliminate steering box play and reduce steering wander. It will go on in a few days.

When it was at Tru-Line they discovered a brake pull. This is something new….  it’s significant at freeway speeds and I need to have that checked out. Of course when it was previously (only a few days before going back to Tru-Line) checked at Fairview there was no brake pull at all.

For some good news, the air seems to be completely out of the front brakes…  I absolutely DO NOT recommend allowing Tire-Pros to work on your brakes, they are fine for buying tires but nothing else!  The reason Tire Pro’s allowed air into the front brakes while they were changing the front brake pads was because as they said, “Your vehicle is old.”  No kidding that’s what they said! Tire Pro’s also said, when I took it back for the second time scared out of my wits when the brake pedal hit the floor, “Well, your vehicle is heavy, you can’t expect it to stop like a normal car.”  OH MY!!!!   I repeat Tire Pros, fine buy your tires there, but PLEASE never let them touch your brakes.  They also missed an extremely obvious item, the rotors!  I’d only taken the vehicle to Tire Pro’s to have the front tires switched and I should have stuck to that and had someone else look at the brake pads…. When I took it back to Fairview Brake and Motors to find out what was going on with the new brake pads I learned that Tire Pros completely missed the vital fact that the rotors are worn, too thin, shiny and past due and need to be replaced.

 

Okay if this is confusing I don’t blame you….  back and forth and back and forth…. I think the score is something like, 3 or 4 times  to Tire Pro, 2 times to Fairview Brake and Motor, 3 times to Tru Line (out-of-town) and now I’m going full circle and will be going back to Bruce for the 3rd time.  And this doesn’t include the visits to Costco and anywhere else I left out.

How I spent my Summer Vacation….  Ok so it’s not summer yet.  Can You Believe it!!!  Ring Around the Mechanics…  over and over….  Still asking, Why!   Will be on the road with a bunch of muddy paws soooooooooon ….  maybe?

 

One last comment, I weighed the RV and fully loaded with me and my dogs and all my gear, a full tank of gas and water, it is close but still under, maximum load. This is great news however I am certain having personal knowledge of the prior owners that they overloaded the RV on a regular basis. I don’t know how one would check for something like this in purchasing a used RV…  maybe just ask how many people travel in the vehicle. These little motorhomes with single rear wheels are only meant for 2 people of normal weight.  Newer Class B’s have dual wheels in the rear but I have read of others, esp Sprinters having handling problems.

Soul Coughing- “Circles”

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!

Before I forget here is the video where I learned how to make the solar reflective curtain linings From Wander Dano, RV STuff – Keeping RV Cool in Summer Heat Project. I had a chance to try these in partial on my recent test drive to Placerville. the sun beating through the window was so hot I did like the truckers and partially closed my front curtains… Don’t try opening the driver’s side window if you have these curtain linings attached like I did to adjust the side view mirror… the lining gets caught and you will have trouble closing the window! The lining is a good thing to add to your passive cooling system. I also tested the little fan I bought…. love this fan! AboveTEK® Dual Head Car Auto Cooling Air Fan available on Amazon for $26. I mounted the fan overhead where the original TV used to be. It’s just enough air to provide a nice cooling breeze pushing the air-conditioned air towards the rear of the coach without needing to run the rear air conditioner.  My dogs were able to ride in real comfort all the way in the back on the partially reclined couch/bed. Even Mason was content in the back with the new bilstein shocks creating a far less jarring ride.

The K9 kids

The K9 kids

LOVE the bilstein shocks! Highly recommend them. They are a big improvement over the Monroe’s. I can still feel every rut in the road but it’s smoother, gentler; the front end of my rig seems to be more in touch with the road and overall it’s far more peaceful ride.Bilstein Shocks waiting to be installed

I can’t say the Michelin M3/2’s are quite right or even right at all. but I don’t know at this point what the trouble is. My first drive after the install of the LT M/S 2’s was troubled, the ride improved with the addition of the bilsteins but not enough! The trip from Santa Barbara to Placerville is about 425 miles each way. That’s a long drive for one day, with inevitable traffic, accidents and road construction plus a few semi-leisurely stops to walk the dogs it can and does at times take 11 to 12 hours not the 6.5 hrs as listed on google maps. I’d done this drive faster in my car when I’ve been lucky to find no road hazards.

 

The route I prefer is north on the 101 to  CA 41 which cuts across the state to I-5, although I also like taking the CA 33 at times or even heading to Gilroy or the East Bay before heading inland. CA 41 is often windy and blustery, the 101 can blow strong and the I-5 can be extreme. With the older setup on my rig… with the Monroes and Cooper’s my LT would muster though high wind warnings and heavy gusts without slowing me down.  On one trip the wind was so powerful I was barely able to open the door to the van at a rest stop.

This last trip was windy but it wasn’t that bad. This was fortunate as several times I desperately wanted to turn back, I was stopped from doing this by an unbearable weariness of having to then drive through the same section of hell in reverse. Where previously I could hold the steering wheel strongly and steady, now I could not. No matter how I tried to correct the steering it was constant adjustments and near misses.

To the right, to the left, to left, right, left, left, left, right, left, right , right, never finding any sweet spot; if my attention wandered for a moment my rig and I and the dogs were swiftly tossed out of the lane, really scary with narrow lanes from construction and fast traffic. Seemed my new tires were bent on a different occupation than I’d expected! Ice skating! Slip and glide with a nice pirouette, No, no tires, not fun!  Down, tires, down. My back hurt, my shoulders ached, my eyes became glued.  My mind invented a ton of steering games… let’s see if I can just not touch the wheel more than a whisper, no… well, if I can grip the wheel super hard, maybe grab the wheel in this position, no, that position; hey get the knees in there as balance, ok, not, well try the arm rest, no.. Was so grateful for rest stops!

 

Eventually made it to my friend’s home. I’m sure she suffered for my bad mood and achy demenior.
We had lots of fun though, Lee made sure of that!  And yummy stuff to eat! Thank you Craig and Lee!

Fluffy Zak, not so sure about all this company.

Fluffy Zak, not so sure about all this company.

Olympia relaxing on the Couch

Olympia relaxing on the Couch

 

I was thinking the worst was over, I managed to convince myself the trouble was due to the newness of the tires and going home would be a snap. I did check the wind report in deciding which day to leave and am grateful to whatever part of my brain made that decision as going home was a repeat performance of stay in your lane hell; not quite as bad. I settled for a tight knuckled death grip on the wheel that allowed me to press hard on the accelerator rather than to drive slower and prolong the torture. The next day at home the wind is almost gale force so I left on the right day. When I arrived I stress ate, paced a lot and didn’t sleep much. Woke up early and started research. Came up with a list of maybe’s… I called Henderson’s Line-Up and Brake & RV Inc in Oregon; they said the Michelin LT M/S 2 were the wrong tire, I needed XPS ribs which have a steel sidewall. The M/S 2’s they said would slip and not grip the road. Fine, I checked Costco and other local shops but could not find this tire.  I called Costco when they opened and they explained that the XPS ribs were discontinued but maybe I might find someone who still had some. The tire tech felt the LT M/S 2 were the correct ones for my LTV as he’d installed these on similar coaches.  So I called Henderson’s back and we continued the conversation.  Seems Henderson’s had the Ribs but they were discontinued as not many people liked the jarring ride they produced with the stiff steel sidewalls.

Drove the RV to Dal Pozzo’s. I wanted them to do an alignment, that’s what you do when you get new tires on a regular car. As a first step they wanted to try changing the air pressure again but instead of my hoped for alignment or messing with the air pressure, we went for a very short test ride… me sitting backwards on the passenger seat I leave turned that way for one of my dogs…. I sota of put my seatbelt on …  (hold your eveys, we didn’t get a ticket.) Went on and right off the fwy round a curve.  Mechanic gripped the wheel hard,  looked at me as he wiggled the steering wheel back and forth …. nope, no problem, he said! Everything was normal.  Oh sure, it’s normal to be tortured as you drive,  my opinion wasn’t going to sway his expertise so  I placed the RV under my body like a limp tail and went home. Talked again with Costco then Hendersons in a flame of cross opinions.

Things I considered:  buying a new set of tires; installing a true track bar; a Safety T Stabilizer, rebuilding the front end, larger rims with steel walled tires for the rear, emptying the air rite assist and experimenting with differing amounts of air, same with the tires. . .  more .. less? Driving all the way to Frazier Park to weigh the weight on each tire….  and on and on.

Mom says I push through and find solutions after most people would quit….. Heck, I’m not patient, I’m stubborn and emotional. Gifted women don’t fit stereotypes. Gifted women can come up with original unusual ideas and have a superior ability to reason, generalize and problem solve, along with a vivid imagination, complex deep thoughts, abstract thinking, following multiple tracks at the same time with a high tolerance to ambiguity and complexity, highly sensitive, intense, introverted, aware of things that others are not, perfectionist and curious, not motivated by normal rewards, become outraged at injustice with a wide range of interests, strong moral convictions, visionary, persistent, with a strong need for solitude, non-conforming, sporting a sense of alienation, compassionate and so on. . . here am looking at a list describing adult gifted women and randomly copying some of the items..  and reading a lot of the pitfalls and problems.  See, I’m a victim of being myself. Can’t help being odd and overwrought; give me a problem and I will work it like a racehorse running to its death until someone stops me. Rest now, rest now little Nelly.

But not quite yet. I started calling tire shops…nope, can’t do an alignment for your vehicle… too big…… too heavy…. not enough height in our shop…. on and on. I found out why Dal Pozzo wouldn’t do the alignment, things have changed they just don’t do them anymore. My RV is little but it’s too big to be placed on normal alignment rack.  I tried a few RV places out-of-town they had a 2 to 3 week waiting list.  Then one place (right here in River City,)  said YES!!!  Yipee. My LT may not fit on their rack either but they will do it on the ground. More important they offered to inspect and evaluate the trouble and attempt a solution! Why is this so rare? I learned a lot from talking to him.There are issues to consider: a bad tire, esp since the trouble happened as soon as they were installed, alignment, maybe, wrong tires? not sure, tie rod bearings? Some other front end issue? There are things to explore.

I ate a couple of really big pieces of salmon I cooked with chopped spinach and blueberries… delicious but more food than needed… was supposed to last me a few days, but it’s all gone. I’m tired.  Stay tuned for the next installment of, woman fights back in the battle to save her aging heavy loaded van…