Chassis Upgrade

New Shocks and Tires for the E-450 Chassis

When I learned that Lolo's typical itinerary would include days of 400 to 600 miles, I wanted to make sure that the chassis was as "tight" and comfortable as I could reasonably make it. The Lazy Daze already has a reasonably low profile so it is somewhat less impacted by wind and passing trucks than taller rigs, but I wanted to improve this wherever possible.

Bilstein Replacement Shocks

I replaced the stock shocks immediately after the first 3200 mile trip home in 1999 with replacement shocks by Bilstein. Make sure you get the firmer kind, not the direct replacement shocks for the Ford e-450 chassis. I was originally concerned that this would be a waste of money, but when I compared the stock shocks to the Bilsteins I was reassured as there was no comparison in the damping.

I bought them via the internet for about $75 per shock, and thought I would install them myself. This was a feasible proposition for the rear shocks, but the fronts were a little more involved than I expected. A local truck place installed them for $50 the pair.

I think Camping World installs them very reasonably and has a decent price on the shocks too, so I would probably go this route if you have one near you.

Michelin 225/75/16 LTX/MS Tires - 9/2011 Update

Before this January's solo trip to Florida I replaced ALL tires with the Michelins that I think are standard on the new E-450 chassis. Although doesn't expressly recommend them for the motorhome, many seem to have used them without ill effect.

As of this time, with over 8000 miles on them I am an enthusiastic supporter. They give a much softer ride than any of the other tires I have used. Where as before, washboard bumps, or highway cracks would result in a jarring ride, these tires almost seem to float over them. It is almost like you are driving a large car, instead of a FedEx delivery truck. Stuff that used to bounce off the shelves, is still in place after a day of driving.

The only possible negative that I have found is perhaps some reduction in lateral stability. In gusty winds, it seems that the rig might move a bit more easily than it did before. This might make sense since the tires are lighter in weight, and probably sidewall stiffness as well. However, for me it is a welcome trade-off.

There had been some internet chatter about premature cracks and aging but hopefully this has been addressed in the current production. I will report back if there are any premature failures. For now, I can highly recommend them for those who don't enjoy the harsh ride of "Truck Tires" in their motorhome.

Bridgestone 225/75/16 R265 or 273 Tires - Original Post

The 1999 E-450 Chassis came stock with Firestone Steeltex 4RS tires. (Of Ford Explorer recall fame) Newer rigs come with the Michelins. It turns out that my tires also came from the infamous, and now closed Decatur, Illinois plant.

We went through 6 of these tires in various modes of failure - (One was our fault, one might have been a nail, the rest were various tread separations for which we received nothing under the warranty).

I have become very proficient at changing tires, and despite assurances from most tire dealerships that there is nothing wrong with the current Steeltex R4S, I have finally adopted the Bridgestone R265 or R273 as my current tire. Having held both tires in my hands I can vouch that the sidewall of the Bridgestone, and general heft of the Bridgestone is far heavier than the Firestone. They are not as widely available as the Firestones, but if you find a "Real Truck Tire Place", (check the yellow pages for a place that does tire retreading), then they probably will have them.

The tires cost a little more, but changing tires on a vacation gets old very fast and there is a definite risk of damage to the rig if the tread separates from one of the rear tires at highway speed. (I was always a tire pressure fanatic, weighing the rig "12,500 #" and running 65 front, 75 rear - but since the failures I have taken to thumping the tires with a piece of 24" black gas pipe at every rest stop, and am even using an infrared temperature gage to monitor tire temperature in the desert.)

haley on July 6, 2012

Hi. I recently bought a 1983 chevy tioga. Iam travelling from the west coast to the east coast and I already blew a decent front tire. It appears my back duellies are in bad shape cracked and one wound up getting a nail in it on the drive up the coast of california. I'm on almost a very very very low budget as I had to spend most of what I had on a transmission and a few repairs..the trouble I'm having is my tires are 16.5 8.75s and they are becoming a hassle to find most places either don't. Have them or want 200+ dollars for them. Do you guys have any advice on ways to extend their life without blwing one (like drivilng in co

haley on July 6, 2012

my phone is messing up my message! sorry. like driving at night through the hotter climates and poossibly any advice where I could find them at a better deal. I had no luck on craigslist. Thanks! Haley.

Herb on July 9, 2012

Hi Haley,

It's tought to keep older tires alive beyond their days.. The fastest way to kill them is to drive with underinflated tires.. They will heat up, and if you are unlucky the tread could separate. If there are cracks in the sidewalls, that is another sign that they are getting too old. Typically 5 to 7 years if the tires are exposed to the sun would be a good lifetime, regardless of the miles put on them, or the amount of tread left. (You can check the date of tire manufacture usoing the code on the sidewall and this page

I have changed too many tires to wait until they are ready to fail, and now replace them at my convenience before a big trip. I usually order them from and have a local installer mount and balance them.

You might want to inquire at the next big campground you stay at, and see if you can find someone with a similar rig, and/or some local knowledge about who can get you the best deal.

Good luck Haley, and drive safely.