AL-KO Independent Rubber Suspension, Service or Adjustment?

Submitted: Wednesday, Sep 09, 2015 at 17:25
ThreadID: 130245 Views:6483 Replies:4 FollowUps:4
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We have a single axle 2008 Supreme Territory van with AL-KO independent rubber suspension and have recently had to replace both tyres due to uneven wear. The left hand tyre had scrubbed the tread on the kerb side and the right hand tyre had sawtooth wear on the road side. Both had minimal wear on the inside so it breaks your heart to have to pay out big bucks for new tyres but they were unsafe had to go. We're keen not to have a repeat with our expensive new tyres and are wondering firstly whether any members have experience with this type of suspension, secondly what might have caused this type of uneven wear and finally, whether anything (service or adjustment) can be done to prevent it.
Retirement finally here, got the Troopy, got the van, got the plans, got the itchy feet.

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Reply By: Sigmund - Wednesday, Sep 09, 2015 at 18:04

Wednesday, Sep 09, 2015 at 18:04
Yes. Van IS needs regular alignment.
AnswerID: 590189

Reply By: Ross M - Wednesday, Sep 09, 2015 at 22:17

Wednesday, Sep 09, 2015 at 22:17
Pete.
No suspension shouldn't need regular alignment. It should remain correct, unless disturbed by some unusual force or accident to bend something, BUT yours appears to be out of alignment.

From what you mention we can't tell if it is a camber problem or a toe in/out problem.
Most likely a toe in on the wheels. If they are individual units it may be able to be aligned correctly.
Possibly you will need to have it checked.
If you look from rear to front across the face of each tyre and have someone place a chalk mark where that line touches the ground, level with the ball coupling.

It should be possible to have the ball, ie, centre of chassis as the middle, and a measurement then taken to each marked line. They should be equal in distance.
Also the distance between them should be slightly less than the distance from each tyre face is from the other, ie, the outside faces of the tyres.

Camber can be roughly checked with a builders level placed on the face of the rim. The bubble then indicates what is happening.
AnswerID: 590196

Follow Up By: Shaker - Wednesday, Sep 09, 2015 at 22:59

Wednesday, Sep 09, 2015 at 22:59
There are no adjustments on Al-Ko torsion suspension assemblies. If the rubbers have delaminated, usually due to overloading, they can be replaced at Al-Ko in Dandenong, Vic.
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FollowupID: 858196

Follow Up By: Ross M - Thursday, Sep 10, 2015 at 10:34

Thursday, Sep 10, 2015 at 10:34
Shaker.
Do you mean to say the way it is bolted on, doesn't allow for ANY adjustment of toe in?

That would make it the most useless suspension available if made that way and unsuitable for Australian use on rough roads/outback.
If the rubbers have deteriorated then new ones will too.

I am not a fan of Al Ko rubber suspension and would change it if I had a chance.
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FollowupID: 858209

Follow Up By: Sigmund - Thursday, Sep 10, 2015 at 10:47

Thursday, Sep 10, 2015 at 10:47
FWIW Vehicle Components build a lot of IS for vans and they recommend regular alignment checks.
I have IS on the camper trailer done by its Aussie manufacturer and their service schedule includes alignment checks.
Too many trailer owners trash their tyres as the price of learning this.
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FollowupID: 858212

Follow Up By: Ron N - Thursday, Sep 10, 2015 at 20:45

Thursday, Sep 10, 2015 at 20:45
I gather Sigmund is trying to say that any IS axle can develop misalignment problems - and checks on wheel alignment are necessary to prevent excessive tyre wear problems.

A robust suspension system should be able to keep wheels/tyres in alignment under normal road conditions. However, overloading, excessive speed and deep potholes can stress components beyond their elastic limits and result in misaligned wheels/tyres.

It appears that trailer/van/camper wheel/tyre misalignment is actually quite prevalent, according to the amount of complaints on forums - more than one would expect.

Much of this would be due to manufacturers skimping on component sizing and running components at their rated load limit.
Then owners make it worse by adding unexpected additional weight, and travelling at excessive speed for the conditions.
One should always weigh ones rig when ready to hit the road, to ensure that you are legal and safe.

As far as the rubber torsion suspensions such as AL-KO go, they are reliant on the rubber components keeping their integrity to ensure correct alignment and operation.
Any decomposition or delamination of the rubber immediately results in a suspension that is becoming misaligned and not performing its job of suspension, damping, and aligning, properly.
As the rubber components of AL-KO suspensions are not easily inspected in-situ, it would be important to check the wheels/tyres on these suspensions on a regular basis, to ensure correct wheel/tyre alignment.

The AL-KO website is curiously lacking in any information relating to alignment problems with their suspensions.
They state that their axles, "(are) tested for toe-in and camber as well as load rated deflection, using state-of-the-art alignment technology".

However, there is no advice given as to what to watch for, as regards wear in their suspensions - nor any advice as to what to do, if a tyre on an AL-KO suspension is showing severe and unacceptable wear patterns.
I feel this is a major oversight on their behalf, and gives purchasers the impression that their suspensions last forever with no maintenance - which is untrue.

Cheers, Ron.
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FollowupID: 858233

Reply By: The Bantam - Friday, Sep 11, 2015 at 17:37

Friday, Sep 11, 2015 at 17:37
In their normal method of installation, rubber tortion suspension units of any brand are generally bolted on straight & square and are pretty much expected to stay that way ...... usually there is no adjustment available.

The problem with rubber tortion suspensions is the rubber cords deteriorate over time and use. Because of this ther can be play or alignment issues within the tortion units.

The solution to this is to replace the tortion units or have them reconditioned.

Opinions ore split on rubber tortion suspensions ........ they are relativly cheap and very easy to install ......... and they seem to perform well enough.

BUT there are some issues.
The wheels do not remain paralell to the ground with body roll, and with wear they get sloppy.

People report that they do not last well in heavy off road situations.

Hope this helps
Cheerz
AnswerID: 590262

Reply By: Itchyfeet Pete (Erina NSW) - Wednesday, Sep 16, 2015 at 13:28

Wednesday, Sep 16, 2015 at 13:28
Thanks everyone for your help and advice.

We've contacted AL-KO and they've recommended an authorised service guy in our area. We've been in touch with them and they've suggested an inspection and triangulation check before we go on our next big trip just to make sure the stub axles are straight and everything is aligned. It's booked in with them to do that in a couple of weeks time.

Thanks again and cheers,
Pete
Retirement finally here, got the Troopy, got the van, got the plans, got the itchy feet.

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