I recently purchased a 24ft 1999 Fleetwood Jamboree on a Ford E350 and this is my first RV. We are on our maiden voyage as I write.
The ride is this rig is extremely harsh. You can feel every defect in the road. I've driven these imperfect roads in a passenger car and they are no where near in as bad a shape as this motorhome would have you believe. I've chased down several things that rattle too much and making the coach quieter gives the appearance of a smoother ride, but in truth, the suspension is very stiff.
Like I said, this is my first RV and I don't know what to expect, but for instance: If I stand to the running boards near the front door, the shocks are so stiff, I can't rock the body at all. Is this normal?
I've check a few of the tires and they're at 50PSI which I believe is low. They are E rated.
Any ideas on what I can do to make the ride softer?
You may want to look at your shocks... someone may have installed some after market two way shocks... what brand /moddel are they. If you can, take one loose and see if it's fozen or just very hard to collapse
We're in pretty much hard-riding rascals. That said, a couple things you can try. Start with your tire sidewalls and the chassis label inside the driver's door frame. See if there's also a coach builder's chassis label. Then
1. Are the tires what the label says they should be?
2. If tire pressures are specified, what's actually in the front and rear tires? A 24' coach isn't all that heavy, and many service jockeys inflate "to what it says on the sidewall" which can be too much pressure. Leads to a hard ride and skittish steering.
The more thorough way:
1. Load the coach with food, fuel, supplies, people, as ready for a trip.
2. Weigh the coach at a truck stop, moving company, scrap yard, somebody with a certified-for-trade truck scale. Weigh AT LEAST the front axle, total coach, and rear axle. Ideally weigh all four corners individually.
3. Get a Load/Pressure chart for your tires by Size and Load Range. Remember Single/Front and Dual/Rear have different values.
4. Adjust Tire Pressure to what's specified in the Chart. Hopefully you found the side-to-side weights about equal, but the front pair and all four rears should be matched in pressure.
Most Class C shocks are tired. There's always the chance one of yours is jammed and won't let the coach bounce, but that's rare.
Also remember, old tires get stiff with age, not softer. Check their date codes in the "DOT" string branded on the inside sidewall. If it's a four-digit code, first two are week-of-year and last two are year. 2606 would be halfway through 2006. If you have only three digits, tires are 1999 or older and due to be replaced. 269 would be an example, halfway through 1999.
If God's Your Co-Pilot Move Over, jd
2003 Jayco Escapade 31A on 2002 Ford E450 V10 4R100 218" WB
As covered, shocks are likely shot and tires may be old & hard. Also check underneath on the rear axle to see if you've got air bags. They may be either totally deflated, or overinflated, either of which could cause a harsh ride.
Without knowing your total miles, it's hard to say, but most OEM shocks weren't very good when new. I'd replace the tires if old, and shocks if never done, and see what you've got. Then I'd add air bags if not present. They helped my little unit's ride a lot at 35-40 psi, but it's a very different bird.
Jim, "Pay no attention to the device around my ankle..."
'06 Tiger CX 'C Minus' on a Silverado 2500HD 4x4, 8.1 & Allison (aka 'Loafer's Glory')
I have a 23 ft. Fleetwood Jamboree, granted it is a 2004, but essentially the same. Does your rig have radial tires? If not that would make a big difference. My earlier rig had bias ply tires and it rode like a "truck". Tire pressure sounds about right depending on your load and towing etc. Others might have other input such as shocks etc. but not sure that throwing money at this will make much difference.
The coach has 20k miles on it and I have what I believe to be all the service records, so I think that the shocks are OEM as are the springs and that there have been no mods to the suspension. With that few miles on the odo, I would think that the shocks are OK, but maybe the fact that they are also 11 years old is a factor.I'm not opposed to swapping them out if I knew that a replacement would offer a softer ride. Perhaps Bilsteins or Monroes etc are better than OEM.
The tires are radials and all 6 are new.
I'm also thinking that maybe parts are just stiff from lack of exercise. 20k on an 11 year old home is not much.
Maybe I'm also confusing noise with ride comfort. The more rattles I chase down and eliminate, the more pleasant the driving experience is. I'm used to driving cushy autos and this is quite a shock.
Bilstein is the gold standard in RV shocks. They have different part numbers for "comfort" and "heavy duty." Mixed reports come in on how well users are pleased with any shock replacement.
Koni and a couple others also offer RV shocks, and some of those are adjustable.
You're right about noise making the ride seem rougher. I have Acceptable (like dishes clunking) and Unacceptable (like dashboard rattles) noise categories. I try to eliminate Unacc and reduce Acc noises. The Acc noises remind me: WE'RE GOING CAMPING!
You might be in the middle zone on your load. If your rear axle is loaded just enough to make the springs sag almost to the overloads, you will get a really rough ride. I would suggest weighing it and if the rear axle is light, get some weight back there. For example, if you load heavier items behind the rear axle or say your water tank is behind the rear wheels fill it. That will add some load and also take some off the front axle which is usually the weakest link. Now that you know the weight, adjust the tire pressures as well. 50 psi. in a load range E tire on an E350 chassis might not be low, but only weighing it will tell.
Also, replacement shocks can be too stiff. If anything, bad shocks will not make the ride harsher because they lost their ability to dampen (restrict) the axle movement. Everyone seems to want those heavy duty shocks, but we replaced those on our Class C with some KYB brand regular shocks and that made a big difference. The best part is that parts for an E350 are pretty easy to find on the Internet for a good price.
And finally, face the fact that it will NEVER ride like a car no matter what you do.
Michael, Kay, and Prissy (The vicious 6 pound Malti-Poo)
'05 Coachmen SportsCoach SE 372DS a.k.a. "Mana's Cabana"