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Old 10-17-2019, 08:01 AM   #1
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Sunstar 26 HE Rough Ride

I just acquired a 2014 26 foot Itasca Sunstar. It has a really rough ride. I'm considering replacing the stock shocks with KONI FSD shocks.
Any ideas or experience on how effective this will be?

Thanks for any input!
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Old 10-17-2019, 08:59 AM   #2
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I don’t know on the smaller Sunstar, but on my 38’ Adventurer it made very little difference. I know some folks on the internet say it made a huge difference. But I haven’t seen it. I changed out my OEM Bilstein shocks about two months ago before going on a 5-week 3600 mile trip we compleated just yesterday.

It did not fix the rough ride.

Member “TeeJay” on IRV2, who seems to be a suspension guru swears that air bags on the leaf springs is the only thing that really works to cure rough ride.

The best improvement I’ve actually seen is getting the loaded RV weighed and the tire pressures set to that actual weight rather than the factory sticker setting that were about 10psi too high on my coach.
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Old 10-17-2019, 10:45 AM   #3
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Have you checked the tire pressures? The dealer had the tires on our Sunstar overinflated by about 10 PSI each.
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Old 10-17-2019, 12:24 PM   #4
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Thanks, I'll do that.It would be a much more economical fix!
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Old 10-17-2019, 01:14 PM   #5
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Thanks, I'll do that.It would be a much more economical fix!
Be sure to read up on the weighing process.

Fully loaded, full tank of gas, full fresh water tank. Wife, kids, dogs in the rig. Do it with and without your toad connected.

The goal is to get the actual MAXiMUM weight. It's best to do a separate weighing for each corner but that can be tough to get done. If you can't arrange such a weighing go to a CAT Scale and weigh front and rear axles.

There is a CAT scale app for your smart phone that makes it much easier. Check that out. Word to the wise... set up your account on a computer BEFORE going to the scale to use the app!

Then go to the Tire Inflation Charts for your EXACT Tire brand, model and size. There you'll likely find the PSI for individual wheels - so obviously you have to double the weight for each axle if you don't have the 4-corner weights.

If you do get 4-corner weights you need to set all the tires on each axle to the PSI shown for the heaviest side of the axle. If say you've got 3,200 lbs on the left front tire and 3,700 lbs on the right front tire you'll want the PSI for the 3,700 lb side on both front tires.

Most folks find the PSI rating for their tire/weight combination and then add 5 or 10 PSI for extra safety.

After weighing mine I came up with 75 lbs PSI on the front and 85 lbs on the PSI for each reach tire. So, I travel with 82 PSI on my fronts and 92 PSI on my rears.

The OEM Tire suggested PSI was 90 PSI Front and 100 PSI on each rear tire. So, it really helped with ride quality and noise and even handling when I made this change.

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Old 10-17-2019, 11:24 PM   #6
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Great advice. The Winnebago sticker advised 100psi on all my tires. Since weighing each corner, I was able to reduce tire pressure to 85 on front and 90 on rear, based on tire charts and added safety margin. It really helps with the ride. In my experience, the koniís also make a difference in certain cases. Nothing has smoothed out the big bumps, but smaller bumps and overall ride is better. wishing you the best of luck in your mods. We had a 26 foot sunstar for 5 years and loved camping in it!
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Old 10-20-2019, 01:29 AM   #7
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I had a huge improvement with Monroe shocks. They were a cheap test, and I kept the factory Bilsteins as insurance, but I haven't gone back. They give a much softer ride, at some expense of control. That shock absorber change, along with lowering the air pressures, changed the ride to very acceptable for me.

I would describe it as floating like a big old Oldsmobile Delta 88, instead of handling like a Cutlass. That probably only makes sense to old guys like me!
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Old 10-20-2019, 07:28 AM   #8
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Old guys like me get the analogy as well
How much did the shock change affect your control?

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Old 10-21-2019, 10:17 AM   #9
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Getting out of a parking lot over the sidewalk ramp can be a real roller coaster ride. Any huge dips in the pavement at high speed can be interesting. The front end unloads and floats a little. But they have to be huge dips, and I haven't bottomed out to the stops, as far as I can tell.

I think the control is totally acceptable, but I guess that is subjective to each driver. I have the steering on my Sonata set to "Comfort", not "Sport", so that's me...

Maybe try a pair on the rear, for starters. They aren't very much money. I won't be going back to Bilsteins, for sure.
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Old 10-21-2019, 11:30 AM   #10
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Getting out of a parking lot over the sidewalk ramp can be a real roller coaster ride. Any huge dips in the pavement at high speed can be interesting. The front end unloads and floats a little. But they have to be huge dips, and I haven't bottomed out to the stops, as far as I can tell.
You know it! The really bad ones are when you hit them at a diagonal direction. The only solution I've found is to creep over them so slow that you limit the contact to one wheel at a time.

Last week we were on Interstate 10 in Houston and there was a construction zone with a diagonal hump where you had to complete a lane shift. I had no choice but to hit it at 35 mph. The whole coach lurched sideways halfway into the other lane. Luckily, there was no one in that lane.

Driving these things is VERY different than driving some other vehicle.
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Old 10-21-2019, 06:21 PM   #11
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Thatís RV driving, miles and miles of bliss punctuated by moments of terror. :-)
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Old 10-23-2019, 06:16 PM   #12
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I have the same RV model and I spent lots of $$, time and research trying to make the ride smoother.
As stated by most, the cheapest and most efficient solution is to reduce tire pressure to the lower limit.

Then, if you are willing to invest in tires, Michelin made a tremendous improvement on mine. That was after I added 300lbs of dead weight in front, added Sumo Maxim (if TeJay says air bags did the trick, I would believe him) and replaced the OEM Bilstein for the cheap Monroes.

Even after all these efforts, bad roads in Michigan will defeat all your improvements but at least the dishes won't hit the top of the cabinet!

That being said, I too still love my 26HE after 40k miles and all these years.
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Old 10-23-2019, 07:21 PM   #13
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Shortly after purchasing our coach with 9,000 miles on it we took a trip to Florida. After that I purchased and installed Koni shocks after research and great reviews. I was extremely disappointed. The ride was much stiffer and I could feel every road crack that I previously floated over with the stock Bilsteins. I wasn't even out of my neighborhood when I noticed the negative effects. They did improve sway a little but the hard hits on expansion joints were even worse. So after 20k miles with the Konis, I purchased aftermarket Bilstein shocks two weeks ago. I haven't installed them yet but had enough after a trip to Chicago this summer. I thought my coach was going to fall apart on the rough Indiana highways. The Koni shocks work on a different principle than Bilsteins, although I learned that the hard way. The best way I can describe it is the Koni is more like a shock you would want on your sports car. It's tight and improves handling. They are great on a perfectly smooth road with no bumps or defects but try to find that on our interstate system.

My chassis is the 22k riding on 19.5 inch wheels with Sumitomo tires at 85 psi cold. I have considered air bags and also sumo springs but again have heard mixed reviews and don't want to dump anymore money into something that may or may not improve the ride. I've come the the realization that a gas coach riding on leaf springs can only ride so good. At some point I will upgrade to a diesel to enjoy a true air ride coach.
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Old 10-23-2019, 08:09 PM   #14
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I realize I'm comparing apples to watermelons, but I recently replaced the factory shocks on my 34H Journey with Koni's and have noted a big improvement in control and no real loss of ride quality. I guess on the lighter gas coaches the stiffness is more apparent but I'm a convert for the Koni's.
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Old 10-23-2019, 08:11 PM   #15
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There will usually be some trade offs however the Bilstein are traditionally rough riders as can be the Koni however those are more about control over comfort.

First thing anyone needs to do when they acquire a coach is to load it the way they intend to travel with it meaning fuel, water, people, pets and provisions then have it weighed at all 4 wheels. You may find you will have to redistribute stuff or might have to eliminate things while others may be the more rare folks that find all is well.

Once the weight has been verified and any adjustments made then you inflate the tires per the load chart after which you take the loaded coach to be aligned as loaded for travel. Even new coaches are not aligned for travel and only a basic alignment is done to allow for delivering an empty coach.

All said and done though a gas coach on a 10+ Ton Super Duty Truck Chassis is going to ride like a 10+ Ton Front Engine Super Duty Truck and not a luxury car.

Compared to other 10+ Ton Front Engine Trucks the ride of the newer F53 is pretty good when you load them up and inflate the tires correctly. Even my 35 foot 2001 Adventurer 35U on the F53 chassis rides pretty nice with no suspension modifications required now that I have the tire pressures correct.
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Old 10-23-2019, 11:13 PM   #16
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: The best improvement I’ve actually seen is getting the loaded RV weighed and the tire pressures set to that actual weight rather than the factory sticker setting that were about 10psi too high on my coach.

We have a 26HE and we've put 12K plus miles on it in 3 years. I've done nothing to it except play with the air pressures. Ford says 82 psi. I do 70-71 psi all the way around. It stills drives like a truck but it is a lot "smoother" at 70 psi then 82 psi. Smooth as glass, no way!! But very easy to drive!!!!!!!!

P.S. Every trip I weight within the first 100 miles. I'm always 5k front and 9k rear.
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Old 10-24-2019, 07:48 AM   #17
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You could try the Firestone airbag set up. I thought about that foe my 26HE, but the cost in Canada is too much. We just put up with the ride. You can lower your tire pressures. We run 82 psi all around. If they made long enough air shocks, then that puke help.
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Old 10-24-2019, 12:26 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by PatL View Post
I just acquired a 2014 26 foot Itasca Sunstar. It has a really rough ride. I'm considering replacing the stock shocks with KONI FSD shocks.
Any ideas or experience on how effective this will be?

Thanks for any input!
I have a 2006 Sightseer 26P and also had a terrible ride. I replaced the Bilstein shocks with Koni FDS and lowered my tire pressure. Made a HUGE difference in the ride. No more getting pushed around by semi's and no more jarring potholes.
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Old 10-24-2019, 07:18 PM   #19
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Just be mindful that "IF" you lower the tire pressure its not just an arbitrary number, it absolutely must be at or slightly above the number indicated by the tire manufacturers load chart.


Most people do not have a clue what the expression "It Rides like a 10 Ton Truck!" actually means. Back in the good old days you had to wear a kidney belt to protect them from the jarring ride of a 10 ton truck. A seat belt made it feel like you were going to be sawn asunder/cut in half the ride was so rough.


The Triton V10 powered F53 is very civilized compared to those and most of us would have been giddy back then to have had a 10+ Ton truck that rode anywhere close to as nice as the F53.
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Old 10-25-2019, 01:13 PM   #20
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I have a 2013 26HE and made a lot of modifications to the suspension to get a better ride. I added Firestone airbags, Hellwig front and rear anti-sway bars, Ultra rear trac bar, and a Safe-T Plus steering stabilizer. All of the modifications (in my opinion) improved the ride in one way or another.

I started with the airbags and that stopped the bottoming out which used to occur often on the California roads. The anti-sway bars helped when pulling out of driveways and turning corners. The Trac bar helped with passing traffic and the Safe-T Plus helped with staying in the lane while driving down the road.

Good luck!
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