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Suspension and Steering Enhancements for Your RV

You’re traveling along the interstate and suddenly the truck in front of you drops part its load in the road ahead. You do some quick steering to avoid it and almost lose control of your vehicle You don’t remember that your RV handled that poorly when it was new, but that was 25,000 miles and several years ago. Factory-installed suspension and steering systems deteriorate surprisingly rapidly with time and mileage.

Fortunately, there are many aftermarket parts that can bring back like-new performance. Better yet, most will also enhance performance, and if high quality items are installed, they will last much longer than original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts. They might even considered on relatively new vehicles. Most are quite easy to install and won’t break the budget.

OEM shock absorbers are not known for their quality and durability. Degradation occurs gradually so you don’t notice degraded performance until you have to make some aggressive maneuvering and find your vehicle leaning, swaying and porpoising. The solution is to replace the stock shocks with high quality, aftermarket ones as soon as you can. Check with repair shops that specialize in repairing in RVs for their recommendations on the best shocks for your particular application.

Sway bars, more accurately called anti-roll bars, prevent rolling around a vehicle’s longitudinal axis. While the bars themselves don’t usually wear out, the mounting bushings can as well as get mushy, especially if they become soaked in oil. Larger diameter aftermarket anti-roll bars, both front and rear, are easy bolt-in installations. The increased resistance to the twisting motion of the larger diameter bar holds the vehicle more level while cornering, changing lanes or encountering cross winds. When installing new sway bars, use urethane bushings. With conventional rubber bushings, the rubber parts must first compress before the bar can start to prevent body roll. The stiffer urethane bushings react faster because the bar is more firmly attached to the chassis and axle.

On many vehicles a steering damper, really a shock absorber, is used to reduce road wander, steering wheel vibration, system wear and driver fatigue. These OEM shocks also have a limited useful life. Again replace with an aftermarket one that is designed especially for RVs and motor homes so they can improve response to sidewinds, pavement drops, blowouts, pot holes, ruts and bumps.

While doing steering system upgrades, make sure to inspect, and replace if necessary, other components like ball joints, tie rods, idler arm bushing, bell cranks, and so forth for wear and damage. Again use OEM or higher quality replacement parts.