May 1, 2012

Improving Our Ride

Sometime last fall, I read about a place in southern Oregon that offers a Road Performance Assessment (RPA) for RVs.  The RPA is a diagnostic road test that reveals steering and suspension problems over a variety of road surfaces, as well as a detailed inspection of more than fifty points on the RV.  The company also weighs the RV at all four corners to determine proper weight distribution.  This sounded like something that we might want to do, and I filed the information away in the back of my mind.

When we arrived in Oregon, I asked Tim to take a look at the RPA, and he agreed that we should give it a whirl.  On our way south from Salem, we made an appointment at Henderson’s Line-Up in Grants Pass.  We were planning to go this way anyway, so it didn’t even require a detour.  We arrived yesterday for our 1:00 pm appointment, and Tim accompanied Brian for the road test.

Over the last few weeks we had noticed that the rear of the RV swayed when we entered or exited driveways, so we weren’t surprised when that was identified as an issue.  Robert Henderson, who owns the company, sat down with us and went over the results of the assessment and made recommendations on how to resolve the problems.  Robert had mostly good news about the RV, but recommended a rear anti-sway bar and better shock absorbers to improve stability, handling and control.

Ready for Inspection
Will the RV Pass the Inspection?
How Much Does the RV Weigh?
What shocked me, however, was the report on the tires.  I was stunned to discover how bad our tires were.  The outer ribs of our front tires were badly worn.  The rubber seemed to be cracking, and tiny pieces of the polyester were even visible in places.  Tim regularly checks our tires, but this type of wear was hard to see until the RV was up on the lift.  Wow!  That was a bit scary, but I’m so thankful we discovered the problem before we had a blowout on the highway.  I’ve just never had very good karma when it comes to tires.

Uh, Oh, That Tire Doesn't Look Good
The Suspension Is OK

Although we had originally thought we would simply get the results of the RPA and consider any upgrades at some future time, we decided to bite the bullet and get the work done here.  Tim and I both had such a good feeling at Henderson’s, and the company is highly regarded by everyone in the RV world.  Henderson’s is a family-owned company and is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year.  The upgrades weren’t in our budget, but we’ve been consistently under budget almost every month and therefore felt we could handle the rather considerable expense.

The technicians started the work yesterday, and we were able to “camp” overnight in front of the shop.  Henderson’s even has hookups!  The anti-sway bar was delivered this morning, and we hung around during the day while the work was being done.  Unfortunately, the tires won’t arrive until tomorrow, so we’ll be here another night. 

The Upgrade Is Underway
Henderson’s is one of the most customer-friendly companies I’ve encountered in quite some time.  Everyone in the shop was so friendly and knowledgeable and patient in responding to our many questions.  We were greeted yesterday with small bags of local chocolates, and this morning with doughnuts.  Coffee is always available in the waiting room, and a popcorn machine provides a nice snack.  Tons of magazines are offered, as are movies.  The ability to stay overnight for free is a very nice bonus.  A loaner vehicle is even available for customers, but wasn’t practical for us because of the cat.  I don’t know what else Henderson’s could do to make a customer more comfortable.

Kitty Thought the Waiting Room Was a Nice Place
The technicians finished all of the upgrades this afternoon, and Tim went out with Brian for another test drive to see how the RV would handle now.  The difference was noticeable, and Tim was thrilled with how well the RV behaved.  It seems like we made a wise decision in having the work done.

The Upgrade Was a Success
We’ll wait around until the RV can get her new shoes installed and then be on our way.  We’ve had beautiful weather while we’ve been at Henderson’s, but rain is in the forecast. 


  1. Glad you caught those tires! How many miles have you put on the RV now? It is probably going to ride so nicely you'll extend your trip another 9 months! ha ha LV

    1. LV, Yes we were lucky. We now have 26,135 miles on the RV, and 21,249 of those miles have been on this trip. I like your idea of extending the trip. We shouldn't waste our investment in the ride by having the RV sit at home! I wish!! Sarah

  2. Biting the bullet and getting some adjustments to your ride must be done . Even if we do not like it. I am sure they will be worth it. Love A

    1. A, Yes, we did have to bite the bullet, but the drive today has proven to us that the upgrades were worth it. The only thing that hurts is the pocketbook! Sarah