As you travel around the country, uncertain road conditions expose your RV to excessive wear and tear. On some roads, the ride will absolutely suck. Your RV will rock, roll, and jolt to the point of feeling like it is falling apart. However, the issue may not be the fault of the roads. It may mean it’s time to replace your RV shocks and struts as well as other suspension components.
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When Should You Replace Your RV Shocks and Struts?
How to Know If Your RV shocks and struts are going bad?
Lets face the obvious fact about America’s crumbling infrastucture. Our roadways, highways and bridges are falling apart.
Truth be told, the poor condition of our highways, byways and bridges is playing hell on your RV’s suspension and the quality of your RV’s ride.
But, at some point you may have to ask yourself a few question:
- Are crappy road conditions the culprit or are your RV shocks and struts just plain worn out?
- How do I tell the difference between the two?
- Can they be fixed or should you just get them replaced?
The primary reason why you should focus on maintaining and replacing your RV shocks and struts is handling. Good quality suspension components like your RV shock absorbers and struts will help provide a smoother ride by offering better stabilization and eliminating bounce down the road.
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Why does your RV need shocks and struts?
The primary component of your RV’s suspension and the one most thought about is the shock absorbers.
Depending on the type of your RV, towable versus drivable, you have at least two or more shock absorbers in your suspension system.
The shock absorbers main purpose are to absorb the violent interactions between a crappy road surface and your butt sitting in the seat of your RV.
Shock absorbers on RV’s use either air, gas, or oil to allow for the travel of the shock absorber.
This allows for a smoother ride in your rig.
By the way, RV manufacturers are notorious for putting on undersized cheap shock absorbers as part of the RV’s original equipment. So buyer beware.
RV struts are very similar to the shock absorbers on your RV but are primarily used on the front end of motorhomes.
The RV struts are located in the front of your RV and are there keep the front end of your RV stable and riding smoothly down the road.
They are almost always coupled with heavy duty springs around them. They work in pairs simultaneously to take the bounce out of the front end of your rig.
Just like RV’s shock absorbers, the RV struts use either gas or oil to allow for the travel of the strut allowing it to eliminate bounce and vibration from poor road conditions.
How to tell if your RV’s shocks or struts are going bad?
The body of your motorhome or trailer will continue to hop around or rock back and forth well after you drive over the bump, dip or pot hole.
While this may be caused by overloading the rear of your trailer or motorhome which tends to overtax the rear axel, it’s also a big indicator that your RV shocks, struts or both needs replacing.
Another way to check to see if you need to replace your RV shocks and struts is to try to rock your RV using your own force. If your motorhome or trailer rocks too easily, this could mean the RV shocks or RV struts are nearing their end of life.
But also, visually inspecting the outside of the RV shock absorbers and RV struts can also throw out a sign of needed replacement.
Another indicator is if you notice oil leaking from the shocks or struts as well as torn rubber boots and worn-out bushings, As Jeff Foxworthy says, “here’s your sign”.
What are the best shocks to install in my RV?
Your shocks and struts are one of those “buy once, cry once”. In other words, you get what you pay for, so don’t cheap out thinking you’re saving money.
You’re just going to end up replacing your RV suspension components sooner. This puts your RV out of commission more often. And if you’re on the road, the money you tried to save by cheapening out will then be going towards unplanned hotel expenses.
Yes, cheap shocks will help with body roll and stabilization while driving or towing your RV. But, they will still produce negative flow of energy throughout your rig anytime you roll over potholes, bridge expansion joints, railroad tracks, or even entering or exiting a dipped or mounded driveways.
In the long run, a better quality set of shocks will help minimize maintenance costs during the life of your motorhome or towable RV and save you from those emergency breakdown expenses.
All of that said, when it comes time to replace your RV shocks, realize each brand of shocks has their own pros and cons.
It will be up to you to do your diligent research when deciding which is better for your RV type and size, the ride and comfort you’re looking for versus money you want to spend.
RV Shocks for Towable Travel Trailers & Fifth Wheels
The Bilstein brand are a favored shock because their digressive valving nature of the shocks provide the most aid in vehicle handling.
✰ READ MORE✰ To get the best towing experience out of your fifth wheel or travel trailer, let’s talk about Understanding RV GVWR: How to NOT OVERLOAD Your RV.
RV Shocks for Motorhomes: Class A & C models
If your motorhome seems to be pitching (front to back) or rolling (side to side) while driving or it feels like you’re on an amusement park ride, that’s a big indicator that it’s time to replace your RV shock absorbers.
If you’re looking at a tighter budget and cheap out on getting replacement RV shocks, be aware that your RV will have a similar ride that of what came pre-installed on your motorhome.
But, if you insist, for Class A motorhomes, try the Monroe Magnum shocks.
And, for Class C motorhomes, you may want to try the KYB MonoMax shocks.
Both are affordable shock replacements that will lessen the give and play in your motorhome’s body roll. However, you may find yourself replacing those cheaper shocks more often. Oftentimes, it will be when you least want that to happen…on the road.
✰ READ MORE✰ Got a Winnebago View or Winnebago Nation or small Class C motorhome? Check out our 30+ Winnebago View Upgrades & Modifications * For Navion too! *
How often should you replace the shocks in your RV?
Your RV shocks on your motorhome or travel trailer shock typically don’t expire simultaneously.
Over time, each shock degrades at its’ own pace. Shock absorber replacement depends on the quality of roads your driving on, how you drive your motorhome or tow your trailer.
Typically speaking though, your RV shocks can wear out anywhere between 50,000 and 100,000 miles. I realize that seems like a large spread. But the factors mentioned above all come into play on when it’s time to replace the shocks on your RV.
Final thoughts on knowing when it’s time to replace your RV shocks and struts
Knowing how your RV suspension components work is vital to a great driving or towing experience. Noticing something amiss in your RV shocks and struts, will help keep your motorhome or trailer from breaking down on the road.
All in all, when you replace your RV shocks and struts with good quality components you can be sure that your ride and handling will be much smoother. Which in turn, makes for a much safer and more enjoyable trip driving or towing your RV.
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