I was following a thread on vehicles that will get as good mileage as the sprinter based C's. One of the downsides of the Sprinter was the difficulty in finding service for them. Sounds like Ford isn't much better.
It amazes me when people state "get a Ford or Chevy, because there are many more dealers around". What these people don't know is that not every dealer knows how to correctly work on these somewhat heavy-duty rigs, or even has the capability to work on them in the first place. There is one Ford, one Chevy, and one Dodge dealership in our area, and none of them are willing to work on a motorhome.
We took our E350 motor home 5 years ago to THIS local (Chicago area) specialty shop. They really knew their stuff. Our rig required offset camber bushings to get the alignment done right, with a total cost of $170. I recall the offset camber bushings looked something like these. Note the different offsets pending how much offset is needed.
You will want to find someone like Champion Frame Align in your area. As you have learned, the dealer is not neccessarily the best place to take a vehicle in for service. It is all about the mechanic/technician, but near impossible to identify a good one. This is one reason why I work on my own vehicles as much as possible. The things I can't do myself, I have to rely on referrals.
To the OP -
I asked CW in Wilsonville about replacing my upper and lower tie rods. They said that they're not equipped to do such service work.
I recommend contacting Wilsonville Auto Care. They're about 4 miles from the CW in Wilsonville, OR. I believe that they are technically in Sherwood, OR.
I had them replace my upper and lower tie rods. This included an alignment. The camber kit was installed. I told them to install one if necessary. They came back and said it needed the camber kit. I gather that the kit is becoming more of the rule and not the exception.
They told me that they perform the alignment based upon the weight distribution of the MH, and they test drove it 3 times and tweaked the settings between each test drive. They said that Ford will only perform the alignment based upon the factory requirements of the box truck that the chassis was originally designed for. I don't know how true this is, but I would not be surprised if it actually is Ford policy.
When the work was finished they gave me a printout of the alignment settings. I am very pleased with their work.
2005 Cruise America 28R (Four Winds 28R) on a 2004 Ford E450 SD 6.8L V10 4R100
2009 smart fortwo Passion with Roadmaster "Falcon 2" towbar & tail light kit - pictures
Wow! When I got mine aligned I talked to all the local farmers in the area about where they get their big trucks aligned and they all told me the same place. I called them up and they said they work on many motorhomes. They quoted $150 for the alignment and told me over the phone that it would likely require extra parts to get the alignment correct, but they had them in stock and would not be a problem. Dropped it off and several hours later they called me and it was done. Never had any problems and didn't have to pay for extra parts, all was included in original quote.
While my Class-C isn't based on an E350 I would still suggest that all new vehicles be checked for alignment. Based on the measurement of my unit the RV mfg never made any adjustments after they "built" the coach on top of my van. The net result of all the added weight was to put both front tires out-of-spec by almost the identical amount for both Camber and Toe.
I made the mistake of assuming the RV mfg was competent (naive and silly me) and had built my unit correctly when in reality their modifications changed the alignment that "Detroit" had set when the chassis went down the assy line. Net result was both front tires had significant inner shoulder wear at only 10,000 miles.
You can learn more if you visit my tire blog RVTireSafety
In my opinion as a QS9000 and ISO/TS 16949 Quality auditor the word "Quality" does not appear to be in the RV industry dictionary.
Thanks Gotsmart! I work in that area, so I know of the shop you are suggesting. Right close is the RV parts outlet that I frequent as well. I've had my rounds with CW too... though nothing regarding mechanical repairs.
I do nearly all my own work as well, but I don't happen to have an alignment rack setting in my shop. Living in this community 20+ years, I had asked around, and believe it or not, it was the recommendation to take it to the local dealer as they have facilities for these rigs, and do good work. Apparently they used to to good work, but from what I've heard after this incident, there's been a lot of other people reporting issues with that dealer.
In order to make any changes to the caster/camber in the I-Beam front end, the bushings have to be swapped, as other have indicated. What burned me to start, was they came out and stated that it was out of alignment, and that it would need new bushings (I've been calling them "cams", technically they are), and that would be an additional $$$. My BS flag immediately went up... but hey, I'm here to get the job done.
As far as I'm concerned, the alignment is done. It drives better than it did before the service.
Tireman9, you are correct - they even post a label on the lower left knee panel stating to the new owner have the unit aligned as it is not done by the coach builder. When we purchased the coach, it was already a decade old, and presumably had only one owner. Indeed, it had been traded in to the same place it was originally purchased, based on the paperwork we found in the manuals package. It appears the original owners simply used it and did little else. It wasn't worn, but it hadn't been cared for very well.
Anyway, this thread has been most beneficial to me and, hopefully, helps others when they embark down the road of "just trying to correct some drivability issues", as was my objective.
'00 Four Winds 26Q Class C (Ford E350 V10)
Previously: '96 Kit Sportsmaster 212f fifth wheel coupled to our trusty '93 GMC Sierra K2500
Before that: '91 SunLite poptop truck camper
and the first: a Wildernest flip-top canopy.
BTW, did you folks happen to see my "Cat"tastrophy thread in the General RVing issues section? In addition to the alignment disaster, there was 8 other "issues" that happened on this trip.
All in all, though, we ran 3300 miles, saw lots of sights and took 5000 pictures, and had a great time.
For those of you who have failures on the road, don't let it ruin the trip, if possible. If it had been necessary to get the unit towed into Moab and have it repaired there, we still would have enjoyed what time we had left. And who knows what we would have done had we had a few days in Moab... go rent a Jeep & drive over natural bridges & arches!
I've had 3 heavy truck shops lok at my front end. All 3 have told me there is no way to change the caster or camber settings on my old unit without heating/ bending the I-beams. So they want an average of $130 to check the alignment, and another $200 to change the caster OR the camber...not both. So I know how how he feels.
1987 Coachmen 27'/ Ford E-350, 460 cid with Headman headers, and dual Flowmasters