Improving Your Class C RV Ride Control

class c rv ride control
With RV manufacturers pushing the limits of chassis design with more slides and features, it’s no wonder why your Class C RV Ride Control has gone out the window.  I remember all too well the first time we hit the highway with a stiff side wind in our 31′ Class C, both hands quickly became glued to the steering wheel as I fought to stay in our lane even at speeds far below the speed limit. Over the next 2 years I had a love-hate relationship with that Class C RV, and its unpredictable ride control depending on the driving conditions.  While some of the products we discuss here can make big improvements in ride control, I do not want to lead you to believe that your Class C will handle like your daily driver.  Also, for the sake of this discussion, we will consider improvements on a newer Class C motorhome chassis.  An older motorhome chassis that may have worn suspension components (tie rod ends, springs, bushings, shocks, coils, etc.) will need an owner to find those issues first before proceeding to possible chassis add ons that could help improve ride control.  Also, it is very important to get your RV weighed and make sure you are within the chassis specifications, as well as having weight evenly distributed.  It will be very difficult to improve Class C RV Ride Control if your motorhome is not within the manufacturer’s limits.
The main issues that can plague the ride control in a Class C motorhome is the extended length of chassis behind the rear axle, wheel base, the large side wall surface area, and motorhome weight.  Depending on which one or all of those issues your motorhome is effected by will determine how miserable you are in the driver’s seat.  So the first thing we need to decide is which problem is the worst and work our way from there.  Those four chassis issues lead to these 3 handling issues:
  • Yaw also known as the ‘tail wagging the dog’ effect –   This will be most pronounced in longer RV’s with a relatively short wheel base and a long rear over hang.  The sensation you will feel is the rear of the RV redirecting the front of the RV left and right.  With so much weight and class c rv ride controlside wall surface area past the rear axle this part of the motorhome acts as a lever against the front of the RV.  As the wind from a passing vehicle hits that back corner the front immediately wants to head into that passing lane.  That’s when the old pucker factor kicks in as you hold your breath, re-correct the steering multiple times, and the breathe a sigh of relief until the next truck or bus comes along.  It’s not always the wind or a passing vehicle that will give you that feel, it could be as you make a fast maneuver left or right or deep ruts in the roadway causing you to go back and forth and the weight behind that axle exaggerates the movement.  So what is the fix you ask?   Well, often a motorhome with this issue would see the most improvement in Class C RV Ride Control with the addition of a trac bar.  A trac bar attaches to the frame of the RV and the rear axle housing, eliminating any side to side movement in the rear axle, and giving you a much more solid feel. This is not the only solution, as we will discuss later, but it is one of the best solutions and the TigerTrak by Blue Ox is the perfect product to solve this problem.  It is designed to easily bolt on to your specific motorhome chassis and we found it to have a “dramatic” (and I mean dramatic!) improvement in handling and control of the motorhome.  I cannot stress how much I recommend this one product for Class A & C owners if your motorhome does not already have one installed.  Super Steer also makes an excellent product, check out their trac bar here.   A steering stabilizer will enhance this upgrade even more.  You may see that you already have one from the manufacturer, but these tend to offer only a small amount of steering dampening.  Two excellent replacements in this area are the Roadmaster Reflex and Blue Ox TruCenter steering stabilizer. We have used each one of these and found that both far exceed the capabilities of the factory installed unit. The Roadmaster Reflex has a return to center feature giving you a car-like steering feel, while the TruCenter is adjustable on the fly, which is nice to combat heavy cross winds or very uneven roads.

 

  • Roll – As you have no doubt found, entering a driveway or gas station with a curb can have a violent whipping action back and forth.  Hopefully everyone was seated and nothing inside the RV flew about, but I am sure you heard about it from the co-pilot.   Well, having the luxury Class C RV motorhome rollto stand up in an RV also brings with it a high center of gravity.  Add that Class C RVs tend to be at the upper level of the chassis weight rating, and you have a recipe for a lot of body roll.  Low speed body roll is one thing, but at highway speeds that body roll causes major handling issues.   What’s supposed to limit roll is an anti-sway bar (also known as a sway bar or anti-roll bar), which all late model motorhomes have from the factory.  Unfortunately, that bar is usually smaller in diameter than it should be and doesn’t offer enough torsion resistance.  We added a Hellwig Sway Bar that is much larger and saw a real improvement in cornering, cross wind resistance, and driveway entry control.  This is not the only solution for excessive roll, a set of Air-Lift air bags can also help with body roll although it’s not as effective.

 

  • Pitch also known as porpoising – this chassis handling issue will be found in Class C RVs with a long rear overhang and/or in motorhomes that are heavily loaded in the rear.  Pitch is the tendency for the motorhome to teeter-totter over the rear axle in an up and down motion.  So as the front wheels of the motorhome hit a bump, it motorhome-pitchraises up the front end with the rear going down. As the rear wheels hit that same bump, it now plunges the front down harder than normal, resulting in a fore and aft movement called pitching.  It is very important to look into distributing items inside and in storage compartments before trying to make a fix.  If the rear of the motorhome is near the max load rating and the front is only at half of its rating, it will be hard to overcome the condition with aftermarket chassis components, in this case shock absorbers.  A set of Bilstein or Koni brand shocks, which feature much more damping force and rebound resistance, can be the go to solution for this issue, but remember this can also cause a rougher ride depending on your setup.

In my case yaw and roll where the 2 main issues our 31′ Class C motorhome was experiencing.  A quick trip to the CAT scales gave us our loaded weight front to back.  If you get luck and there is room along side the scale, you can make a second pass over the scales with one side of the RV off the weigh pads.  This will give you your side to side weights.  We ended up being just a bit heavy on the front drivers side and moved a few items to even things out.  This is also a good time to adjust tire pressures to the manufacturers recommend ratings based on the loaded weight of the RV.

For our setup an adjustment to the factory installed air bags in the way of raising them from 50 psi to the maximum 90 psi pressure, a Blue Ox Trak Bar, a Hellwig sway bar and a Roadmaster Reflex steering stabilizer turned a white knuckle drive into relaxing travels.

Here at RV Upgrades Store, we carry a variety of accessories that will help you enjoy better ride control, regardless of the type of vehicle you own.

SHOP RIDE CONTROL NOW

Improving Your Class C RV Ride Control was last modified: January 13th, 2016 by Bill Rowell

About the Author

Bill Rowell
I have been camping and RV'ing with my Wife and 2 children for the past 20 years. We began our RV'ing careers in a 1995 Jayco pop-up camper which we got caught in the rain in every time we used it. In 1998 I found a 1989 Winnebago Chieftain 23' Class A motorhome which we loved. During that time I was always looking online for good RV information but unable to find it. So I decided to start a website called iRV2.com which is a forum for RV'ers to share information. We wanted a family friendly site in which members were willing to help each other and leave the drama out. In 2000 I purchased our first new RV which was a 30' Coachmen Mirada Class A. For a new RV I had to make a lot of modifications to this motorhome just to make it a road worthy RV. My displeasure with traditional RV's lead me to Truck Conversions and in 2002 we built our first Showhauler motorhome. In 2004 we built our second Truck Conversions which was an improvement over the first, but a trip to the Winnebago factory in 2006 sealed my fate with the rest of the family who saw a Winnebago Vectra diesel pusher in our future. So in 2006 we made the move and enjoyed traveling the country in that until 2010 when we thought we would downside since the kids were off doing their own thing. Somewhere in that time we found ourselves with way to many irons in the fire and decided to focus all our energy on RVupgrades.com as well as another business we own and thus said goodbye to iRV2.com. This was a very tough decision since we had made so many RV'ing friends and great memories, but times had changed and it was time to leave it in new hands to continue it's growth. In 2010 we downsized to a Winnebago Cambria Class C which I really liked, but we quickly found was not the most roadworthy choice for long range travel. So in 2012 we went back to Showhauler and with all of the updates they made to their product found the last motorhome we will ever buy. (Sound familiar) There is never a last RV you'll ever buy when your a die-hard RV'er :-)

2 Comments on "Improving Your Class C RV Ride Control"

  1. Patrick Burneson | January 28, 2016 at 8:09 pm | Reply

    I have a 1985 Shasta-24RB-5.7 Engine. We have replaced all the shocks and put air bags on the front. I am used to it swaying but my wife won’t drive it. What would you suggest? Thank You.

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