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Old 02-15-2010, 11:31 PM   #1
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AL-KO axle warranty in question

This may be a non-issue, but I just don't know. Since the beginning, my Sunline Que has had abnormal tire wear on the inner side of the drivers side tire. I have abot 25,000 miles on the trailer and its Al-Ko torsion axle. Since I don't like unmatchd tires on an axle, I always replace both tires when only one has worn out. In the 25,000 miles I have "used up" two tires on the drivers side. So I contacted Al-Ko about their warranty. It was somewhat difficult to contact them, no one ever returned my phone calls. I did have a nice conversation with one of the "authorized service dealers" listed in the waranty book that came with the trailer. They verbally agreed with me that the camber of the axle was set incorrectly, and advised me to contact the factory. I finally made contact with them through a web-based comment form. The following is the text of my conversations over about a week. I have redacted the name of the dealer, my full name and the state in which I reside.

If others have had better luck with their warranty, I'd like to hear how you handled a claim. As I said in the beginning, I'm not even sure this is their issue, but they certaily don't act like they care.

I have arranged the paragraphs so you can read down through time like a book rather than the reverse mode in normal e-mails.

---------------------

From: Alko Contact Form [mailto:alkoweb@al-kousa.com]
Sent: Friday, January 22, 2010 4:31 PM
To: sales2@al-kousa.com
Subject: al-kousa.com contact form submission
Comments: I have left a phone message for Pam AAAA. I have an AL-CO 3,500# torsion axle in use since new on a single axle trailer. The left side tire wears out in 8-10,000 miles while the right side shows almost no wear.
I have ďused up" two sets of tires this way. The axle serial is 2C6003, and is about 2.5 years old. I have owned the trailer since new, and the wear has been consistent since the first trip. Where do we go from here?

Dennis

It does not sound like a warranty issue. It appears to be an alignment issue. Alignment is not covered under warranty. If you feel there is a material defect, not just a mis-aligned axle, you can send the axle beamin for warranty inspection freight prepaid. If we do find a manufacturing defect we would cover it as a warranty. If we do not, we would not be abel to anything further. Please let me know what you decide.

Thank You

Hello, and thank you for responding;

I have measured the axle alignment from center of hitch to each axle side, and find it to be about 1/8 inch difference between sides. I have been told by some RV'ers and the XXXX RV Center that it sounds more like camber which is set by factory. In my discussion with the local XXXX RV Center repair shop (110 miles from me) they recommended a truck alignment shop near their facility that can check camber and alignment. I am willing to take the trailer to them, but I want some assurance that if the camber is indeed off that Al-Ko will, under warranty, pay for the test and pay for the camber adjustment, or replace the axle. If it is alignment, then I will pay for the test and any adjustments.
I have already put $225 in tires on the left side while the right side shows no wear. I have digital photographs of the worn tires if you would like to see them.

Please advise.

Dennis

Camber is part of alignment. Normally it would not be a warranty issue. If you feel there may be a material defect of some sort, please feel free to send the beams in for consideration.

Thank You


Hello again,

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I know Al-Ko sells thousands of these axles to manufacturers all over the world. I have two trailers, both with torsion axles. One is the single axle 3,500 pound trailer we are discussing here, and the second one is a double axle boat trailer with a weight on the road of 5,000 pounds. The boat trailer has less mileage, but all of the tires show even and identical wear. The axle in question has never been driven over a curb or otherwise abused by me. I cannot see any physical damage to the axle.

It is my understanding that the camber is "bent" into the axle tube during the manufacturing process on torsion axles. The only way to adjust the camber is to use a hydraulic press designed to bend the axle. Could you ask your engineering department to verify whether you or I am right on this camber issue? I am a professional engineer by trade, although my field of licensure is electrical engineering. I have discussed this tire wear issue with my mechanical engineering friends. After viewing the rapid wear on only one tire, and only on one side of the tire, I have been told that it is most likely camber, and that it is bent into the axle by the factory.

This rapid one-sided tire wear has been constant since the trailer was purchased new by me in August 2007. I have attached a photograph of the wear on one of the replaced tires.

Please let me know your thoughts.

Dennis


Our axles normally have the camber and caster bent into the swing arm, not the axle tube. The tube itself is usually straight. If you feel this is possibly warranty, you are more than welcome to send them in for consideration. Warranty cannot be considered without the product at issue being sent back.

Thank You

Hello once again,

If I have a problem with a car or truck, I drive to a local shop authorized to look at the situation and make a warranty decision. I don't think taking the axle apart, then dismounting it from the trailer, boxing it up and sending it in (to where) for a diagnosis hidden from my view makes sense. A warranty is supposed to protect me from a product defect and you from needless expense and bad publicity (a-la Toyota). I have no idea what a new axle might cost nor do I have any idea what it might cost to ship the part to wherever your facility is. I have spoken to the XXXX RV Center , (Offers: Light Parts and Service) (from your website) that is an authorized repair facility for Al-Ko products, and they believe it is camber. I am willing to take the trailer to XXXX RV, which is 110 miles from here, but I don't hear even a hint of interest from you (Al-Ko) in stepping up in any way to honor your warranty. It is certainly possible that there is something else wrong with the installation of the axle, but just sending the part into a "black hole" and waiting for a decision just doesn't feel like a real warranty.

Why can't we agree to let XXXX RV handle the administration of the warranty, since they are your authorized distributor?

Dennis


As stated in the owner's manual you should have received with your trailer, all parts need to be sent in for inspection if warranty is being considered.

Thank You

As a private party I have no reasonable way to remove the heavy axle and ship it to you. To hire a mechanic and the find a shipper will probably cost as much as a new axle. This tells me that there is effectively no warranty for your large parts. You may be in violation of YYYY State law by implying that you actually do have a warranty. Should we fine out find out?

Dennis
-----------------

Al-Ko has not responded to my final comments and veiled threat of my "state law violation". I am contemplating a submission to the State Attorney General for a reading on what a warrranty really is.

Comments?????
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Old 02-16-2010, 06:23 AM   #2
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Dennisb

I canít provide technical comments on your issue because itís beyond my knowledge. Iím sure others much more knowledgeable than myself will pipe in hear with their analysis and comments.

However, another action you could consider to expedite a response is to contact Trailer Lifeís RV Action Line. I have used this method once in the past with very satisfying and successful results. It was with a previous Ford tow vehicle and it got Ford corporate involved in analyzing, isolating, and resolving my issue when the dealership was failing to address the issue.

Hope this helps some.
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Old 02-16-2010, 10:28 AM   #3
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Dennis......

The AlKo axle on our Que had to be replaced at about 10,000 miles (and it ruined one tire). Our Sunline Dealer (well....they WERE a Sunline Dealer when I bought the Que)....was able to verify that it was a camber problem. Although AlKo replaced the axle, by the time I finished paying for shipping charges and etc..... the frustration and effort wasn't worth the net outcome. I found myself wishing I'd simply had the dealer order and install a new Dexter axle.

And revenge doesn't improve the quality of RVing.

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Old 02-16-2010, 12:00 PM   #4
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Hutch and Frank,

Thanks for your replies. Frank, this issue certaily won't spoil our RV'ing experince with the Que! I've had troubles with the A/C unit, failing in Florida in 2008 (not sure it ever actually worked, since we never used it until Florida) and the electrical converter in Alaska (we actually did 2 weeks and 4,000 miles without the converter working only charging batteries thru the 7-pin connector while under way). Both were replaced without question, Dometic A/C was replaced by Camping World, and World Friendship Company sent me a new converter which I replaced myself. Al-Ko is the only supplier to be so unfriendly to me as a consumer. I have actually looked into the Dexter axle, since I am so dissapointed with Al-Ko's response to my questions. That being said, the axle is perfect in all other respects. Alaska proved its worth on many miles of dirt and gravel roads. By the way, the camber problem was evident from day one, but my expedited decision was to replace tires rather than worry about the axle. After two sets of tires, and our plans to keep the Que and travel to the East coast again, I'm now looking at a replacement axle.

I will post on this forum when I either resolve the camber question or replace the axle.
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Old 02-17-2010, 09:55 PM   #5
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Hi Dennis

Wearing tires at an accelerated rate is something I worked thru last year. It was on leaf spring axles verses your torsion axles, but some of it may apply.

Donít know if you have seen this post, but it documents what I went thru. TT axle alignment - Details (long with lot's of pics)

During my saga I created a fully documented picture written letter with my issues. They where Alko axles and I was out of warranty but I was not after warranty, I was after technical help. I sent the letter into probably that same Alko service request email you used. I marked it return receipt so I made sure it went thru. 3 people opened it, no one ever responded.

I also sent that same letter into Lippert who made the frame for Sunline and Dexter who made the axles on my other Sunline I had at the time. Lippert never even open the letter. Dexter was on it within 12 hours of receiving the letter the service manger would get back to me. More on them in a moment.

So I like you went the Alko distributor route. Started at an Alko factory authorized RV dealership. These guys are one of the biggest in the Indiana area where I was working at the time. However this shop was not the technical powerhouse I was after. Bascially they just replace axles that have warranty problems they do not troubleshoot the issue. They did however help plead my case with Alko. Since they are a distributor they had the direct pull with Alko. Well after a week they got back to me and there was nothing they could do to help as they do not rework axles. They could inspect it and tell me what was wrong but not be able to fix it. So this did me no good. That dealer then tipped me off to the place right down the road from the Alko factory that sells the new axles.

Axle Inc. in Elkhart IN. They answered the phone, answers emails and after talking 10 minutes on the phone, I had 2 new axles on order. I had all my dimensions so I was good to order. So I ordered Alko axles thinking I had to stick with what Sunline installed as something had to of been made to just fit. They showed up at my house and I was not pleased with the quality of brand new axles. The welding was sloppy with a 3 in. piece of MIG wire hanging out the end weld, still wet paint inside the bubble wrap. The inserts in the axle seats welded in at an angle, they missed drilling one of the grease holes. Had a grease fitting screwed into a blind hole going no where. And worse I checked both axles for camber and toe before I ever installed them. One was on the low area of the Dexter tolerance for camber, the other one right on the low end of tolerance brand new. I checked the toe and it was good. Frustrated with poor quality, I just plain fixed them myself. I drilled the 6Ē long grease hole down the center of the axle they missed along with the cross hole. Dexter and Alko have different specs for camber oddly enough. So by Alko I was in tolerance. One would think new unloaded axles woul be at least in the middle or higher end of tolerance, not the low end.

Dexter was very helpful to me. And I have converted the brakes and all other hardware to Dexter. You can all them and if the customer service group canít help, they switch you right into engineering. This much I know, I will never again buy a Alko product if I have a choice. I should of went right to the Dexter axles and been done with it the 1st time.

My 2 original axles I claim where made wrong from day 1. They had exactly Ĺ degree tow out exactly equal on both ends and both axles. You cannot hit a pot hole or what ever and bend then that exactly wrong. Again I was not looking for blame, just info on how to help myself. On top of this Lippert welded the spring hangers on wrong so I was double doomed to burn tires.

So I concur Alko is going thru some heavy customer service issues and quality. Donít know if the recent downturn affected them or what, but getting any kind of service help is not good.

Now to your problem. I do not know what tools etc you have at your disposal, but you yourself can check camber, axle alignment and toe. Toe and camber are failry easy. Aligment more complex but still doable. Actually your 1/8Ē difference need to know how exactly you measured it as there is so much that can be wrong it can lead one astray to false numbers. You may be worse or better then that. You have to measure from the tow ball to a machined axle part that can be translated back to exact center of rotation at the wheel. And the suspension on the left and right must be in the same loaded condition or the suspension can create a difference. One wheel up the other down even a small amount can shift the end result.

So how exactly did you measure the alignment? Just describe how you did it. I can visualize this pretty goof. The tolerance on the front axle is +- 1/16Ē to the tow ball. See here on this sketch of mine


Camber. If your axle distributor thinks it points to camber, you can check this to get close. Do you have an angle finder or a combination square with a protractor head? Ideally you can do this on the brake drum to take out any bent rim possibility. And then too do it on the rim. To do a quick rim check, here is a method.

Here is camber on the brake drum


Here is camber on the rim


Compare left and right and see what the numbers are.

You can also check toe.

Mark at the center of the tire 3:00 and 9:00 positions. Use a level to get it straight across and thru the center. I had it jacked up in this pic but it can be on the ground to do this. I have done it both ways


Tape on the tread on one side or a helper hold it. Note exactly where on the tread it is.


Go to the other side and measure to that same spot on the tread. Do front and back of tire at the 9:00 and 3:00 position. And measure the tire OD. If you have a hard time getting a good OD, then do circumfernce with a tape measure and we will back into OD. From that we can figure out your toe angle.




You can see here how messed up mine where. I had severe toe out on top of severe axles out of alignment from hangers weld on wrong.


Like Frank said, I myself would not pay to ship the axle back, be out of camping for how longÖ My brand new 6,000# axle only cost $122 each plus shipping and that was with the EZ lube that was a $15 adder. Your still going to have to pay some one to do this for you if you canít do it your self. And your still going to pay freight either on a new axles or shipping a warranty axle back. So if the repair shop cannot correct the problem, the only difference is the cost of a new axle. I know this stinks if it is an actual axle warranty deal, but if they can state it is alignment and thatís not covered your still out of luck. If that wheel has been burning tires from day 1, odds are it was installed wrong or plan made wrong if you do not recall hitting something or overloading it. Camber normally goes out of spec from overloading.

Hope this all helps, Good luck,.

John
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Old 02-18-2010, 01:38 PM   #6
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Que axle/tires

After reading this topic I went out to the barn to Ck. the tires on my Que.
What I found was after App. 14k miles (total) My Sunline Que has 1/16" more tire wear on the inner side of the drivers side tire. The other side is fine.
To me that 1/16" diff. don't seem that bad.
I would like any thoughts & or advice on whether i should swap the tires on my Que to even out the wear.
That's what I think I should do. Does anyone have reasons not to ?
Thanks,
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Old 02-18-2010, 03:38 PM   #7
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Joe, Donna........

IF (overall) you've got plenty of remaining tread on both.....no sidewall cracking or undue bulges (inside and outside of tire)... and the tires are less than 5 years old....

I agree that for the present I'd just reverse tires side-to-side and check them frequently.

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Old 02-19-2010, 08:35 PM   #8
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Re: Que axle/tires

Quote:
Originally Posted by luvrque
After reading this topic I went out to the barn to Ck. the tires on my Que.
What I found was after App. 14k miles (total) My Sunline Que has 1/16" more tire wear on the inner side of the drivers side tire. The other side is fine.
To me that 1/16" diff. don't seem that bad.
I would like any thoughts & or advice on whether i should swap the tires on my Que to even out the wear.
That's what I think I should do. Does anyone have reasons not to ?
Thanks,
Hi Joe

If you are seeing it, then you have a slight alignment of something out of tolerance.

If you leave it there, it will keep wearing and that one side will go before the other side, that is if it does not age out or get cracks first.

I agree by rotating it will slow down the process but odds are once that wear pattern starts it will wear still even on the other side too. But end result is it will take longer to get to having both from not being good from wear.

Pending use, you may age out before you wear out.

John
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Old 02-19-2010, 11:03 PM   #9
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dennisb
John,

I had read your very detailed post on axle alignment when you first posted it some time ago. It is what got me to thinking about my own alignment issues! the trailer is in storage in another county right now, so I cannot do detailed measurements at this time. I will plan to either do measurements as you suggest, or if that falls short, I'll take it to a shop for the measurements.

luvrque (Joe & Donna),

I'd be turning handstands if I only had 1/16 inch or so difference in wear! After 10,000 miles my (new Goodyears in June 2009) left side tire has NO tead at all on the inside 1"-1.5", and the right side tire looks like new. I got about the same performance out of the original Mission tires.

I must say that even after this, and a few other issues, the Que is a great way for two adults and a dog to see the US and Canada!
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Old 02-20-2010, 07:59 AM   #10
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Hi Dennis

Glad the axle align post helped. It was hard learning the 1st go around to just round up what was right to end up with.

The more frustrating part is, even here in my driveway if I can create good alignment this is not rocket science. There needs to be better quality control on doing a final check at the frame builders that that the frame and axle never leaves until the alignment is right. Messed up alignment on TTís is more common then we think not that we start talking about it. Many folks do not put that many miles on and end up aging out before wearing out so it goes unnoticed.

When spring comes if you need help, post away. Good luck. This is very fixable.

Also while I have you, your sig picture is not coming thru with the img format you are using. This is all many of us see.

ďĒ

I put it in quotes so it will not try and do anything. On your picture server we need it linked here using the img command and or code. Bascially the string starts with img in brackets, the full http address and then ends in. jpg closing with a /img command in brackets. Then everyone with default settings can see the pics.

We run into this every now and then there is some setting that may be toggled on your setup that allows you to see them but we cannot. And you know us here on SOC, we like pics!!

John
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Old 02-20-2010, 06:19 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnB
.... Also while I have you, your sig picture is not coming thru with the img format you are using. This is all many of us see....
I see a box that is clickable. When I click it goes to AOL with this message:

AOL Pictures Has Been Shut Down
Posted on Jul 21st 2009 2:55PM by Kelly Wilson

Dear AOL Pictures user,

We're sorry to inform you that as of January 8, 2009, AOLģ Pictures was shut down permanently. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We encourage you to explore other great areas of photo content on AOL such as Pixcetera, a site dedicated to digital photography, and the AOL Image Search page, where you can search for images by keyword.

Sincerely,

The AOL Pictures Team


Gene
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