Shake And Shimmy

If you’re an RV owner, you know that a small annoyance can often turn into something much, much more. A few drops of water can later turn out to be a significant water leak…more than an annoyance, it could turn out to be a costly repair. The same holds true for your rig’s ride – an intermittent shimmy and shake cannot be ignored.

As we departed one of the campgrounds in Texas for another one, we were suddenly surprised with an unexpected vibration from the motorhome’s front suspension. It was intermittent and varied in intensity when it appeared. I was able to suppress it by varying speed; usually slowing down made it go away. Before our departure I had done my pre-trip inspections and tire pressure checks. The tires were a tad low because of the cold weather snap we were experiencing…freezing temps, so I brought them up to the proper tire pressure.

A stop along the way and a post trip inspection revealed nothing unusual, nothing was loose, nothing was obviously wrong with the tires or the suspension system or steering. Again, the issue was intermittent and we managed to get all the way back to Wisconsin with it appearing on and off again. During our visit to the Davenport, Iowa area we decided to have the front end alignment checked, which checked out as fine. The technicians at the alignment shop suggested that due to the wear pattern now appearing on the front tires, they were wearing unevenly…Egg shaped is the term they used to describe the tires. We thought about replacing the two front tires right there, but…they didn’t have any in stock and it would have required a couple of days waiting before they could get them. We opted to press on for our next stop.

Our “Ruby” is ten years old this year, and she still has her original rubber. Outwardly all tires appear to be in excellent shape, but we knew they had to replaced. I called around to get quotes on tires. Prices varied significantly between the two most popular brands…Goodyear and Michelin, and dealer to dealer. Some want more for the Goodyear’s and others wanted less compared to the Michelin’s. Prices the dealers charged for mounting, balancing and disposal of the old tires also varied significantly…we selected Pomp’s Tire in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Our original plan was to replace all six, but you can only do what you can afford so we replaced the two culprits on the front first. We replaced the Goodyear’s with Michelin’s due in part to recommendations by other owners and the price quoted. Remember when comparing prices…compare totals including all services, fees and taxes combined. You might get quoted a lower price per tire, but the dealer may be charging you more elsewhere to compensate for the bigger discount on the tires.

Pomp’s did a fantastic job, we were in and out quickly and didn’t even have to unhook the toad and dolly. We were able to use one of their pull through bays which again saved us time and effort. One of the front tires was much worse than the other, so it was determined to be the one causing most of the vibration causing the shake and shimmy. Other than the tread, both tires appeared to be in excellent condition. No cracking or blemishes. Even the insides of the tires showed that internally they were also void of any crackings or prior repairs.

WOW! With the new tires on the front, what a huge difference they make! No more shake or shimmy and the noise level dropped significantly as well. I suspect we’ll also see a modest increase in fuel savings. So, if your rig has any unexplained vibration, shimmy, shake or noise take a serious look at your tires and consider replacing them, especially if they are over seven years old. Hopefully we’ll be replacing the other four on the rear axle within a couple of weeks. In the meantime, we’ll keep a close eye on them and hang on to the spare skin we’ve been toting around since day one. It will be nice to recover that cargo space since a spare tire takes up room in the cargo hold that could be better used for other things. But if we have a blow out, we’ll have a tire along to replace it with.

 

 

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Gerald Voigt

Gerald's interests are wide and varied. His work career started in the United States Air Force and since then has worked in logistics management, retail & service management as well as manufacturing. He's an author, photographer, pilot, radio show host and marketing consultant who enjoys RVing which allows him greater freedom to explore, meet new acquaintances and serve his clients.