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Old 05-29-2010, 06:15 PM   #1
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Default Steering Control for Roadtrek 2008 Chev 3500 Express

I am disapointed in the driveability of my Roadtrek 2008 with crosswinds of 30 mph. Whiteknuckle driving at times. I have searched for a steering stabilizer with no results. Niether Blue Ox or Saft-T-Plus makes anything for independent suspension vans. Anyone have the same issue and is there anything that can improve steering control?
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Old 05-29-2010, 06:33 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steering Control for Roadtrek 2008 Chev 3500 Express

Welcome to the forum Robert.

Have you experimented with tire pressures at all? 50 psi front and 80 psi rear is probably what the sticker on the the door pillar recommends but many Roadtrek owners seem to prefer 65 front and 80 rear for a firmer ride.
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Old 05-30-2010, 04:26 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steering Control for Roadtrek 2008 Chev 3500 Express

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Kleinfeldt
I am disapointed in the driveability of my Roadtrek 2008 with crosswinds of 30 mph. Whiteknuckle driving at times. I have searched for a steering stabilizer with no results. Niether Blue Ox or Saft-T-Plus makes anything for independent suspension vans. Anyone have the same issue and is there anything that can improve steering control?
Hi Robert,
I know what you mean about crosswind driving. We just returned in March from a trip back through
NV, AZ, UT, CO and then across the plains on I-80 through NE, IA, IL. It wasn't pretty. I found if I slowed down
a bit, it reduced the effect, but we still got pushed towards the ditch quite suddenly a few times.

I've thought about some sort of stabilizing system, but I haven't found anything that looks like it would help,
except possibly some sort of air, or hydraulically, manually adjustable add on suspension (shocks) to firm up
the ride when the wind blows, and relax it when it doesn't. I really haven't spent a lot of time on it, and can't
give you any specific brand names or models of equipment.

Some interesting comments about the different van types handling characteristics in the wind.
http://www.roadtrek.com/customer_quotes ... ifwg%3D%3D
http://classbforum.com/phpBB2/viewtopic ... 9&start=15
Of course, for what it's worth. Interestingly, some Sprinter owners admit they're harder to drive in crosswinds,
because of the "sail" effect of the larger profile and surface area, but some don't.

UPDATE: Now that I have my batteries sorted out, I've sent some email inquiries out regarding
air adjustable suspension add ons. If I get any interesting suggestions I'll post them up. I know
there are systems available, and I asked for pricing and best product knowledge info.
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Old 06-14-2010, 05:02 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steering Control for Roadtrek 2008 Chev 3500 Express

I have never experienced anything like what you are describing in our Chevy Roadtrek. I have to believe it must be something in your unit, not a general problem. We have the original Bridgestone LT 245 75R 16E tires on ours and are the original owners of the RT. I would first think tire issues based on other posts describing problems folks have had with poor performing tires. If not tires, you must have a steering or suspension issue trying to raise it's ugly head. I recommend looking for the problem area, rather than trying to install a system of some sort to counter the problem you are experiencing. Ours is a 2006 3500 Chevy chassis, and we have driven in many different environments and had semi's passing us, had very high winds at times, and never has the van had scary handeling issues. I hope you are able to get the problem isolated and fixed. I'm sure the white nuckle driving isn't fun. I just don't think it is a routiene problem on the later model Chevy chassis. Best of luck to you.

Steve & Chris
2006 190 Versatile
Ashland, Ohio
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Old 06-14-2010, 08:14 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steering Control for Roadtrek 2008 Chev 3500 Express

I have recently replaced the originals (same size/load capacity as yours) with a set of Michelin
AT/2's, of same size and load capacity and profile, and I had the problem before I changed tires, on
my predecessor Bridgestones as well. I regularly have the van serviced at my GM dealer, and haven't
been told (yet?) that there are any suspension or ride control issues with it. They did do my brakes
last September, all around, and I would think they would say something if they saw a mechanical problem.
They do for everything else.
It may just be luck of the draw, as we returned at end of March, first 3 days of April, and the weather
stations mentioned extremely windy conditions out in the southwest and plains states during that week.
I've driven that route before and have been pushed around by the cross winds out there, especially near
the wind turbine farms in western Iowa, eastern Nebraska, and nearer to Cheyenne as well on I-80.
At all other times, and most other places, ours handles fine, it's just not real fun in gusty cross-winds.
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Old 11-03-2010, 04:53 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steering Control for Roadtrek 2008 Chev 3500 Express

Over on this thread, Booster discussed some modifications he made to his van, that improved its characteristics in the wind.

viewtopic.php?f=12&t=1616

We are both working on ways to gain a little ground clearance, to prevent belly-dragging. Booster's solution (springs and shocks) had a benefit of improved driving in the wind.
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Old 11-03-2010, 08:15 PM   #7
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Default Re: Steering Control for Roadtrek 2008 Chev 3500 Express

30 mph is a hefty wind and will even blow around a car around. You didn't say how fast you were driving, but we have found speed makes wind push much more noticeable in the van, than a car. In a strong wind at 50 mph, it can be easy to drive, but at 70 a handful. You do have to remember it is a big, heavy, vehicle with a lot of area, but Chevies get very few complaints, compared to Dodges and Fords.

That said, you can get an idea of what is going on by the characteristics of how it drives.

Does it "wander" without wind, or go straight and true with minimal input needed?

Does it bounce straight when you hit a dip in the road, or sort of take off in another direction as it comes back up?

Does a truck passing you on the freeway push you towards the ditch as they come up on you, and then pull you in behind them as they pass?

Are the steering corrections you have to make large, taking two hands on the wheel in normal driving and winds.

Are the front wheel wells the same height from the ground?

Are the tires front tires worn on the inside or outside of the tread most?

Does wind direction make a difference, head, tail, cross?

Does it brake straight on a flat road?

Is there any looseness in the steering when sitting still? Has it been greased regularly?

For reference, our 07 had the front wheelwells 1/2" different, it moved around when going through dips, required a bit of attention on a no wind day (two hands on was best). Crosswinds were OK if they were constant, but on and off wind like that blocked by trees was noticeable. A 30 mph wind would limit to about 60 mph for comfortable driving. Certainly not a bad driver, but I wanted to see if it could get better, especially since we were going to lift it, which usually makes things worse.

We lifted 2" with bigger front springs (more rate), and airbags in the rear. At the same time it was aligned, and I put on Bilstein shocks. It now handles better than when it was lower. I am presuming that is because it is not bouncing off the very high rate and progressive bump stops on the suspension, smoother suspension travel, is now at the preferred front suspension geometry so there is less bump steer, better shock response. We run the same 65/90 pressure we always did.

On a no wind day, it is now a two finger drive, at moderate speeds. The van responds to steering input much quicker, needing less steering wheel travel. Wind still pushes it around, but it is easier to get it back into line. I would guess it would still be a bit of a handful at 65 with a 30 mph gusting sidewind, though, but certainly not white knuckle.

Depending on how the questions are answered, you probably want to start with a good alignment and a complete front end inspection at a reputable shop (hard to find), and see how it handles then.

You should also keep your weight load as low and centered as you can. You will probably find it handles better with full tanks because of the low weight they add.

Shocks are probably due to be replaced.

The one big thing that the Chevies don't have is a rear sway bar, which I think would help the handling in the wind a bunch. I am currently working on a design to mount one, without having to move the generator. It should be arriving in about two weeks (custom built) so I can finish the install.

If yours is driving that badly, I think something is not right, but as I said 30 mph is big wind.
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Old 11-05-2010, 01:08 PM   #8
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Default Re: Steering Control for Roadtrek 2008 Chev 3500 Express

Booster,
On my '02 I have the same issues, it handles fine with no cross winds, no unusual tire wear,
easy steering in calm, no course variations when responding to dips in the road. I do feel the push
away, but not too much suck back, when a semi-truck passes me when we're both doing
60+mph on the freeway. I've had that in almost every vehicle I've ever owned, though. My '73
Mustang and my '86 Corvette were the exceptions.
I also have the generator issue being in the way of a "simple" install of any kind of sway bar in the
rear end. I'd like to hear how your custom build works out, before I do anything, but if larger/heavier
front springs and new shocks (I've had Konis suggested as well as Bilsteins) I may go that route
to start. I've also found the relationship between speed and wind direction that you mention to
be accurate. Slower seems to lessen the effects of a strong gusty crosswind. I also find myself
looking ahead in the direction of the wind trying to spot gaps in the trees or buildings where gusts
are more likely, to prep for the "pushes". I wish I didn't have to, but these things can act like sails
sometimes with their larger silhouettes.
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Old 11-05-2010, 04:10 PM   #9
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Default Re: Steering Control for Roadtrek 2008 Chev 3500 Express

It is interesting that you mention looking ahead to see try gaps, etc, as I do that also. What I have found to be the best thing to do on very windy days is to find someone driving a class C or a pickup camper that is going the about the same speed, and follow them, back a couple hundred yards. All you need to do is watch them move when hit by a gust, and you know exactly where they are before you get there.
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