Most gas powered Class C and Class A motorhomes today are built upon a stock Ford or Chevy truck chassis. Simply put, these truck frames were not intended to support a 30+ foot house plus all of its contents.
Many first time RV owners do not realize this and pick out a motorhome solely based on its looks and internal household amenities. The first time a semi-truck buzzes by on the highway, a stiff crosswind hits, or a sharp turn is encountered they experience the "white knuckle" effect. No fun.
We had taken many long adventurous trips around the western U.S. with the kids and just accepted the fact that this was how it was supposed to be in a large Class C. Not true. After a some long trips I also noticed premature and uneven wear on the front tires. I was diligent in keeping my tires properly inflated but that wasn't the problem. To accommodate the odd extra loads, my suspension and front tires were working extra hard to keep the RV stable. The front tires would need to be replaced.
I thought this was how a large Class C was supposed to handle. NOT TRUE.
I had a solution in the works but I needed to convince my wife that it was a priority. This is because the necessary upgrades would not be a big new flat screen TV or comfy new couch. This expensive upgrade would, in fact, be hidden from view and only affect the drivability and stability of the coach. I told her it would make our RV much safer to drive (actually true) and she agreed. My goal was to try and keep the costs down. Perhaps I could do some of the work myself?
Here is what I decided to do:
- Replace the front and rear anti-sway bars with heavy duty anti-sway bars, then
- Upgrade all four of my shock absorbers to heavy duty Bilstein shocks
After some research, I decided on Hellwig anti-sway bars over similar Roadmaster anti-sway bars. While the Roadmaster anti-sway bars were good, they were also more expensive. The Hellwig anti-sway bars had comparable specifications and were less expensive. I had also read that Hellwig provided more DIY support. I purchased the Hellwig bars and Bilstein shocks and had them shipped to the house.
Hellwig 7008 Front Anti-Sway Bar for Ford E-450
This heavy duty anti-sway bar replaced the stock Ford anti-sway bar. Watch the video below for installation.
Hellwig 7180 Rear Anti-Sway Bar (for Ford E-450 Super Duty)
This heavy duty anti-sway bar replaced the stock Ford anti-sway bar in the rear of the motorhome. Watch the video below for installation.
Heavy Duty Bilstein Shock Absorbers
I replace my stock shock absorbers with four Bilsteins. Check the specs to choose the right ones for the front and rear. The shocks pictured here are for the front.
Can I Install Them Myself and Save Money?
Before starting my project, I got a couple of installation bids and realized that it would cost me twice as much in labor. I reviewed the Hellwig installation instructions and decided to take on the installation of the anti-sway bars myself. I found a reputable RV alignment shop to install the Bilstein shocks and do a front-end alignment.
In this video, I'll take you through the installation of the front anti-sway bar. You'll notice that there is no jacking up, drilling or special tools involved. I was able to complete the job using basic wrenches and ratchet hand tools. The only difficult part was working in a confined space and trying to film the process.
This second video details the installation of the rear anti-sway bar. Again, there were no special tools needed. I then took the RV to a reputable RV alignment shop to install the Bilstein shocks and perform an alignment. After the alignment, I was able to drive the RV for the first time with everything installed. You'll see my first reactions towards the end of the video.
I did the exact same thing to our 2013 Ford E-450-based Triple E Regency class C motor home; installed Hellwig heavy duty sway bars front and rear, and Bilstein shocks all around. Now it drives and handles like it's on rails. -Superspockman (from YouTube)
I'm so glad I did this install, and the results have been remarkable. As a passenger, you can't fully appreciate the benefits of this upgrade. You have to drive it yourself.
Before...when the RV handling was not good...I would have to remain calm and collected behind the wheel in order not to alarm the rest of my family. While my family continued to enjoy the ride, I might be "white knuckling" it a bit as cross winds toss the RV around, or semi-trucks went speeding by, or while uneven roads caused the RV to bounce from side to side.
This suspension upgrade minimizes much of that affect and has changed the whole RV driving experience for me. As if I didn't already enjoy driving the RV before...now it is much more relaxing. I now compare it to the feeling of driving a large SUV, only with a bed, kitchen and toilet.
If you're planning on keeping your RV for a while, then I highly recommend this upgrade. It's worth the investment and you'll feel safer and more in control behind the wheel.