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TOP 10 REASONS YOUR RV IS VIBRATING

TOP 10 REASONS YOUR RV IS VIBRATING

Top 10 Reasons Your Recreational Vehicle is Vibrating!

That vibration you feel when driving down the road in your motorhome or RV can be more than a little annoying. It can be downright dangerous. That’s because it means something is out of whack, out of proper alignment, not in sync with the original intended design.

Just for fun, Check out the short video called “Vibration: See the Unseen”. It films a puppy at 1000 frames per second shaking, “vibrating” the water off its body.

When RV vibration occurs, something in your vehicle is experiencing excessive wear that was not intended by the manufacturer. Left unattended, it can mean failure of a vital part at a crucial time with unspeakable consequences.

“Vibration: See the Unseen” - A puppy at 1000 fps!

Think about it… you may be driving a Recreational Vehicle weighing 7 – 15 tons, at a speed of 55 – 75 miles per hour and something is out of sync badly enough that you can feel it in your comfortable captain's chair, while sipping your coffee and talking with your companion.

The most common causes for vibrations in your motorhome or RV are:

#1 - Out of balance tires: Generally speaking, with out of balance tires, the faster you go, the worse it shakes. Out of balance tires ruin bearings, joints and shake screws and bolts loose, as well as fatigue metal faster than anything else you could do. Do you really want to be driving a 10 ton rig down the road with bolts loosening as you go?


#2 - Out of round tires: Generally speaking, with out of round tires, it will usually shake worse at a certain speed, and then you can eventually drive through it… but it could be a very high speed before it goes away. But as with out of balance tires, vibration will cause parts of the front end and suspension to wear out more quickly and will cause parts throughout the RV to become loose. You might begin to hear squeaks and rattles that will drive you crazy. It can also cause metal fatigue which will weaken the structure of your motorhome.


#3 - Bad wheels: If the wheel isn’t round, it’s going to affect the tire and how it works. An alloy wheel like an Alcoa is more concentric than a stamped steel wheel. You may have noticed that with more expensive cars, they tend to have alloy wheels, and this is not just for looks. It’s a rounder wheel, so there are fewer problems with out of round conditions, and less road harshness.


#4 - Front suspension: I think it’s important at this point to make the distinction between vibration and what we call “shimmy”. If you hit a bump and the steering wheel begins shaking in your hands (sometimes violently) then goes away when you apply the brakes, that’s shimmy, and it’s not a wheel or tire issue. It means something in the front suspension isn’t right—there’s a loose tie rod end, drag link or a worn-out steering damper.


#5 - Driveline problems: Driveline problems usually come from the center of the recreational vehicle, and there are several things you can do to determine if it’s driveline related or not. For instance, if it happens on acceleration or deceleration, it’s usually caused by an incorrect driveline angle. Driveline vibration can also be caused by a drive shaft that was installed, or re-installed incorrectly.


If a customer comes in with what he thinks is driveline vibration, at our shop (Henderson’s Line-Up), we simply put it in "park" and bring the engine up to speed. If there’s vibration, we know it’s absolutely not the tires or the driveshaft; it’s the flywheel, harmonic damper, torque converter, or maybe the engine itself. If there’s no vibration in Park, we can take the wheels off completely, put the RV on a lift, and run it up to 60-70 mph. If we don’t get any vibration there, we know the problem is with the wheels and/or tires.

Remember, that vibrations are a signal to tell you something is wrong. Ignore them at your peril. In this video entitled, “Vibration: See the Unseen”, you will see what a vibration really looks like when a drumstick hits a cymbal. The message here is that while vibrations can be heard and felt, what is happening in the unseen realm is more dramatic. Watch the video and see for yourself!

Let's now continue to look at some more potential causes of RV Vibration.

“Vibration: See the Unseen”

#6 - Alignment: Excess camber can also cause it. You should take your RV to a qualified alignment shop as soon as possible, because something may be coming loose. Interestingly, people often think that their coach is out of alignment because it’s shaking, but that’s usually a tire/wheel problem.

 

#7 - A bad U-joint: The U-joints all have to be lined up so they are in phase. Part of the “phasing” procedure includes making sure that the center lines of the transmission and the rear axle drive shaft are parallel. If the axis of the pinion gear is parallel with the ground, then the tail shaft of the transmission must also be parallel to the ground. It can be higher or lower but it MUST be parallel. If the technician knows what he’s doing, he can look and see that the U-joints are properly phased. If they are not properly phased, you will likely experience vibration.

 

#8 - A bad CV joint: Basically, a CV joint allows a vehicle to maintain continuous power along turns, without which, front-wheel drive would not work effectively. The symptoms of a defective or worn out CV joint usually occur when driving at highway speeds (55 – 75 mph). This is something you might notice when driving at that speed, if you turn the wheel slightly to one side or the other and the vibration gets worse (or better if it’s an inner CV joint problem). Once you turn the wheel straight again, everything’s fine. That’s a clue that you may be dealing with an inner CV joint problem.

 

#9 - Out of line drive shaft: A driveshaft can also be out of round, so you should check it for run-out with a dial indicator and see if that is the problem. If you’ve had your u-joints replaced, that throws the driveshaft out of round, which causes a vibration, so if you need to address both components, not just one.

 

#10 - Low transmission fluid level: With an automatic transmission, you can start by checking the fluid level and condition. If the fluid is low, top it off and recheck for the vibration. If it’s gone, consider yourself fortunate and try to find where the fluid went.

Like anything else, finding and solving vibration in your RV or motorhome requires a systematic approach. Everything is connected and affects the performance of everything else over time. When checking for vibration, don’t stop checking when you find just one of these issues. You could easily have multiple factors compounding the situation. Treat you coach like the complex system it is and it will serve you well for many years.If a customer comes in with what he thinks is driveline vibration, at Henderson’s Line-Up, we simply put it in Park and bring the engine up to speed. If there’s vibration, we know it’s absolutely not the tires or the driveshaft; it’s the flywheel.

As we close, keep in mind that there are two kinds of vibration: steady or pulsating. The key is determining the source of the vibration. The question to ask yourself is the vibration steady or pulsating? Is it coming from the steering wheel? Through the floor? Specific to certain speeds? It is like solving a puzzle. Vibration can be maddening, especially when you don’t know where it’s coming from and what’s causing it. A tire/wheel issue, or a driveline component, typically, is the cause of vibration.

Want to learn more? We dig deeper into this in our common problems and solution area here: https://supersteerparts.com/bad-vibrations

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