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Old 07-09-2017, 12:01 AM   #1
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Too much sway with jeep

I just bought a 2017 freedom elite 23H, I have a jeep wrangled unlimited and was told there would be no problem towing. I invested money in a row and brake package for my jeep. The camper had done ok during the test drive but needed alignment. Since then it had a dangerous sway alone over 55, with a car in tow I couldn't drive over 45. Put sway bars and steering stabilizer on the camper and cam drive 65-70 while white knuckled. But with my vehicle in tow can get up to 50, 55 if road is great but hit a bump and scary sway, jumps into other lanes. I have had my jeep aligned twice, wheels balance twice, steering and front end gone over in depth and it got me a couple miles an hour. Anyone else deal with this or have suggestions?
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Old 07-09-2017, 12:49 AM   #2
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Sounds like the issue is with the MH and not the Jeep...
If the MH drives fine - it should tow fine. But if you are 'white knuckled' driving just the MH - towing certainly won't make that better.

Not sure what to specifically suggest - but what you are describing sounds far worse than 'normal' handling...
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Old 07-09-2017, 12:57 AM   #3
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2016 Axis 25-2 towing 2016 jeep patriot 4wd. no sway .can't tell its back there
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Old 07-09-2017, 01:42 AM   #4
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What kind of tow setup do you have?

Are there any issues when you drive the jeep?

Have you done any mods to the jeep, such as a lift or bigger tires?

Do you only have problems when you tow the jeep? Based on your description it sounds like the jeep exacerbates the existing problem.

Does the front end "jump" does it feel like you are losing control of the steering or is it more of a "the whole motor home is swaying".

How do you have the motor home loaded? Have you had it weighed?

Sounds as if there may be a problem with your front suspension. But other factors can also be contributing.
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Old 07-09-2017, 02:20 AM   #5
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I agree with GMC - sounds like an issue with the MH. That thing should cruise fine at 65-70... even 75 although I do NOT recommend that. Go back to the basics on alignment, tire condition/ balance, shocks, etc. It is most likely something simple once you identify it. Good luck!
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Old 07-09-2017, 02:29 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gypsy View Post
I just bought a 2017 freedom elite 23H, I have a jeep wrangled unlimited and was told there would be no problem towing. I invested money in a row and brake package for my jeep. The camper had done ok during the test drive but needed alignment. Since then it had a dangerous sway alone over 55, with a car in tow I couldn't drive over 45. Put sway bars and steering stabilizer on the camper and cam drive 65-70 while white knuckled. But with my vehicle in tow can get up to 50, 55 if road is great but hit a bump and scary sway, jumps into other lanes. I have had my jeep aligned twice, wheels balance twice, steering and front end gone over in depth and it got me a couple miles an hour. Anyone else deal with this or have suggestions?
A wrangled U is heavy ... mid 4K+ and a 23H has about 53% wheelbase to length ratio (55%+ is better but it's too late to worry about that). Since it is an E chassis the overhang of that ratio is mostly behind the rear wheels. These factors cause increased tendency for tail wag.

Solutions:
1) Trac-bar - This made a HUGE difference for me!
2) Shorten the hitch stinger as much as possible (also a slight improvement for me)
3) make sure the tow bars are near level
4) reduce tow bar connection play (anti-rattle, shims/sleeves)

One little comment ... maybe a dig ... my take is; very few places actually know how to align the E chassis for an RV's always max loaded condition. Do you know your alignment numbers?
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Old 07-09-2017, 04:04 AM   #7
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Rear overhang works out to 105 inches, which is nearly 9 feet. Distance from axle to center of ball should be over 9 feet, which is a lot for a 158" wheelbase.

Having said that, the motorhome shouldn't be unstable, at least when not towing. Agree with TyCreek that proportions are not optimum for towing, but think something else may be going on.
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Old 07-09-2017, 04:37 AM   #8
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The Axis/Vegas have tiny anti-sway bars. I added RoadMaster Anti-sway bars and have no issues with towing.
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Old 07-09-2017, 03:16 PM   #9
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Additional comments ...
- It is very possible to have bad or out of spec bushings on new or used rigs
- A weak spring or sag can cause poor handling especially if you're bouncing off a bump stop as you travel down the road
- A bad/weak shock can cause handling issues. Heavier sway bars can mask/help this condition "somewhat". Poor dampening on one side causes sway (side to side rocking). Pretty easy to feel/identify when going over a speed bump square on and it feels like you hit it at an angle. There should be minimal bounce or movement after the bump if both shocks are performing properly for the weight carried.
- Improper lash/play in the steering gearbox
- I suggest removing the steering stabilizer to help pinpoint an underlying issue. Put it back on for the driver's comfort after the chassis handles appropriatly.

I think it was mentioned ... get your weight numbers and adjust stored weight as best you can to compensate for side to side and front to back weight values. Sometimes with the longish rear overhang rigs, the front ends up being off-loaded and can cause erratic handling. I've met folks that have even added ballast weights to the front. One guy with a long tail short rig carried a motorcycle on a front mount because he said it made the rig handle better.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gbrown View Post
The Axis/Vegas have tiny anti-sway bars. I added RoadMaster Anti-sway bars and have no issues with towing.
Our Axis/Vegas models have wheelbase to length ratio values near the other end of the spectrum. So the nature of the beast, you might say, is quite different. OP's mention of sway bars and steering stabilizer ... leads me to assume those were added.
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Old 07-09-2017, 03:23 PM   #10
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In my opinion it's the fact that they build these MH on to light of a frame and suspension.
If you want something that drives decent, and safe, get yourself a rig with freight liner frame and suspension.
I've had 3 different MH over the years. They all drove down the road like bucket of jello.
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Old 07-09-2017, 06:22 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Lloyd View Post
In my opinion it's the fact that they build these MH on to light of a frame and suspension.
If you want something that drives decent, and safe, get yourself a rig with freight liner frame and suspension.
I've had 3 different MH over the years. They all drove down the road like bucket of jello.
Can you name one choice for anything even remotely similar to that in a small RV in the real world? Chuckle... "safe" is a perspective that can be argued many different ways! Reading that seemingly gives the OP no hope ... or maybe I missed the point?

I've also had a few MH's over the years and each drove/handled VERY well e.g. I solved the "bucket of jello" and other challenges! Some of them took a bit of work to be "right". FWIW... In van type chassis rigs (context of this thread), my Fords needed more suspension and alignment tuning/help than Dodge or GM/Chevy.
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Old 07-09-2017, 07:59 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Lloyd View Post
In my opinion it's the fact that they build these MH on to light of a frame and suspension.
If you want something that drives decent, and safe, get yourself a rig with freight liner frame and suspension.
I've had 3 different MH over the years. They all drove down the road like bucket of jello.
I agree most motorhome frames lack enough stiffness for what I would consider good handling, so no matter how much money is invested in suspension upgrades, it's not possible to end up with "good" handling. A solid foundation is a necessity.

Having said that, the OP has a relatively small and light motorhome that shouldn't have even had the wheelbase extended like many of the larger ones, so frame flex shouldn't be that bad by comparison. And there are plenty of larger rigs on E-Series that don't have the issue described in OP.

For a Class C that is listed at 24'-10", I just don't understand why Thor wouldn't go with the 176" wheelbase rather than the 158" they build it on (other than cost). An Axis 24.1 is only a few inches longer yet uses a wheelbase 30 inches longer.

In my opinion manufacturers could do a lot better if only they tried, or had design standards they wouldn't cross just to lower cost. Unfortunately, the magical "price point" seems to drive too many decisions which ultimately affect quality.
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Old 07-09-2017, 08:17 PM   #13
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Depending on what year model your Jeep is it may have electric power steering, there was a thread about this on iRV2. If you have the electric power steering you need to have the key in the accessory position to allow the Jeep to tow properly, this will drain the battery so you need to add a charging wire to the Jeep.

If your Jeep has hydraulic steering do you have a steering wheel lock, if so it needs to be unlocked for it to tow properly. If this is the case have a dummy key made that doesn't have a chip, allows the steering to be unlocked but the Jeep won't start.

If none of these conditions apply I would suggest you add a trac bar and make sure your tow bar is level. Hope this helps.
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Old 07-09-2017, 08:25 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TyCreek View Post
Can you name one choice for anything even remotely similar to that in a small RV in the real world? Chuckle... "safe" is a perspective that can be argued many different ways! Reading that seemingly gives the OP no hope ... or maybe I missed the point?

I've also had a few MH's over the years and each drove/handled VERY well e.g. I solved the "bucket of jello" and other challenges! Some of them took a bit of work to be "right". FWIW... In van type chassis rigs (context of this thread), my Fords needed more suspension and alignment tuning/help than Dodge or GM/Chevy.

No, I donít think you missed the point. Thatís exactly what I was pointing at---the OP has little if any hope of ever making that rig handle in a decent safe manner. Sorry if thatís blunt and seemly heartless, but itís better then giving false hope.


Mine were given ďa bit of workĒ and quite a bit of extra money thrown at them in the false hope/believe that it would, or did, some good. After fighting the good fight for a few years I finely got sick of it and went with a 5th wheel. Tows like a dream, and end of white knuckles, frustration, and the continual search for a ďfixĒ.
I drove semi for a few years, and Iíve seen some of those rigs on the road. Some leaning over so bad in a side wind I use wait for them to either end up in the ditch or on their side. Others fighting to keep it on the pavement when they either met a big rig, or was passed by one. Itís not fun for those people who end up in those situations. I feel sorry for each and every one of them.


MH manufactures should be held accountable and made to build them right or not build them at all, but we all know thatís never going to happen. Not as long as there are people out there willing to shell out their hard earned cash thinking theirs will be different.


Rant over.
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Old 07-10-2017, 06:20 PM   #15
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I know nothing about this at all, so take this for the nothing that it's worth.....
but aside from the possibility of this electric steering issue that SuperD mentions (which opens all sorts of questions to me)

Otherwise my mind is going a different direction from the pack. Smells to me like a towbar set-up issue perhaps. Off center? too high? too low? uneven arms? loose or faulty?

well, assuming it's not some grossly modified Jeep, big balloon tires or something.....
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Old 07-10-2017, 08:08 PM   #16
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Didn't he say he was having trouble prior to towing, with towing making it worse?


"Since then it had a dangerous sway alone over 55, with a car in tow I couldn't drive over 45."


Granted he made some upgrades, but the problem should have never been as severe as described in the first place. This suggests to me a problem with motorhome is more likely than with Jeep.
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Old 07-10-2017, 09:01 PM   #17
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oh, guess i missed that in skimming. Need to read more carefully I suppose
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Old 07-11-2017, 12:06 AM   #18
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OK... so its not an ideal setup... but to say it is hopeless is a bit extreme... and not likely buying a freightliner chassis is feasible...
I'm sure there are many Freedom Elite 23H's out there - and if they all drove like the OP is saying this one does - I think we would have heard a lot more.

So what would be causing the issue in the MH alone?
Once the MH drives acceptably, I'd expect the towing to be reasonable.

Weight distribution comes to mind... something wrong in the steering linkage (though was indicated that had been checked out).

What else would make this 23H handle worse than others?? (NOT comparing to other models that might be better configured..)

TyCreek gave a good list of things to check... Greg84 mentioned weighing... and I agree with Ty that I would remove the steerign stabilizer while figuring it out - it may help mask the problem to some extent... CErtainly add back in once its figured out.
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Old 07-11-2017, 12:34 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chance View Post
Didn't he say he was having trouble prior to towing, with towing making it worse?


"Since then it had a dangerous sway alone over 55, with a car in tow I couldn't drive over 45."


Granted he made some upgrades, but the problem should have never been as severe as described in the first place. This suggests to me a problem with motorhome is more likely than with Jeep.

This is an interesting discussion. Hope the OP responds to some of the questions posted.

I think towing the jeep may exacerbate the issue if the jeep has been modded. There is an issue with jeeps that have been lifted, generally 3.5 inches or more called bumpsteer, where the steering jumps and wanders when a bump is hit. If this is happening it may moving his MH front end enough to address part of his problem. If no mods have been done, the jeep should be towing properly other than the potential wheelbase issues addressed above.

I'd be interested in hearing a further description of the "jumping" vs. "swaying" the OP mentions.
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Old 07-11-2017, 12:45 AM   #20
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it could simply be a bad tire ... but we'll have to wait for OP to fill in some very missing details
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