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Mr Plodd

Al-Ko hitch pads, same problem as Al-Ko brake shoes?

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I have a six month old caravan with the usual squealing brakes (being sorted under warranty) 

 

What I ALSO have is a constantly groaning and creaking towhitch, I do all the “usual” things, (brakes cleaner spray, de-glazing the pads with bit of wet and dry, etc. That cures it for a short period of time, but it always reverts back to groaning after a short period of time (as in about 100 miles of towing) 

 

  I am wondering if the hitch pads are made of the same (defective) material as the brakes shoes and do they need replacing along with the shoes etc?

 

Is anyone else experiencing this or is it just me? If others than it’s clearly an issue with the pads, if just me then I really don’t know how to cure it as the usual things only work for a very short time

 

Andy

 

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Should your thread title read Al-Ko? You have time to edit it.

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Mine is the same, and has been from new in 2016.  I’m onto my second set of friction pads, no matter how much I clean the towball or scour the pads, after a couple of hours or so, the creaking starts again. I’ve just learnt to live with it. 

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Same here. 2018 van. Was ok for first 500 or so miles, then started creaking and groaning. Always clean the ball before use. Found cleaning the pads as well will stop the noise for about 50 miles, although it only seems to do it at low speeds

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Ours is the same. 3.5  yrs old of graunching and groaning accomplished. Two sets of pads and the new ones are the same as the old ones after 3 months. I took them out and spent an hour on them and the ball, and it lasted less than 100 miles. I wont bother again. 

Is the other brand any better?

Edited by Ern
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35 minutes ago, Ern said:

Should your thread title read Al-Ko? You have time to edit it.

 

Some kind soul has already done so. Thanks to whoever it was (autocorrect can be SUCH a pain at times)

 

I have just emailed Alko explaining the problem I have and asked if the pads are the same material as the brake shoes and asked what they suggest I do to stop the noise! 

 

I will, of course, post their reply for everyone’s benefit. Watch this space!

 

Andy

Edited by Mr Plodd

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Below is the email I sent.

 

My caravan is barely 6 months old yet I am plagued by the constant creaking and groaning from my stabiliser towhitch, which, when combined with the squealing brakes is VERY annoying. I am awaiting replacement if the brake shoes etc under the new vehicle warranty. I understand there is an “issue” with the material used on the brake shoes. Are the tow-hitch friction pads made of the same material as the brake shoes? Are they being replaced under warranty??
I have tried all of the usual things to prevent the hitch groaning such as de-glazing the pad surfaces with wet and dry paper and using brake cleaning spray (about 3 cans in 6 months is not acceptable really) That works for about 100 miles, after which the groaning re-appears. Therefore what exactly do I need to do to stop this infernal noise! I never had it on previous caravans, even with the same towball so it’s coearly not the towball that’s at fault.
I await your response

 

 

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The groaning comes back when the pads start working again! After you've cleaned ,sprayed and roughed up the friction effectiveness is lessened until they bed in again , Its the same on car brakes. It means they are working !

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I wonder if you could put a tiny amount of grease on the back of the pads?  As the pads grip the ball they groan and shudder.  A little lube might stop this resonating through the system.

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1 hour ago, James Donald said:

The groaning comes back when the pads start working again! After you've cleaned ,sprayed and roughed up the friction effectiveness is lessened until they bed in again , Its the same on car brakes. It means they are working !

 

Just one thing that totally destroys that theory................... 

 

Car brakes are silent in operation aren't they??

 

Andy 

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1 hour ago, kelper said:

I wonder if you could put a tiny amount of grease on the back of the pads?  As the pads grip the ball they groan and shudder.  A little lube might stop this resonating through the system.

 

Certainly not as daft as it sounds as it's common to put a smear of copper based grease on the back of brake pads. Our 2018 caravans hitch remains silent. I now know that the next trip will see it moaning and groaning more than our teenage daughter!

 

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Take the last two points together though

When cleaning and roughing the pads this reduces slightly the mating surface with pad and ball, like putting in new brake pads on part worn discs.

After the 100 miles the mating process has taken place and pad and ball providing stronger resistance. Could this be just enough to cause the pads to vibrate.

We noticed this on one car as we came back from France, it groaned awfully.

Could it be caused in the very slight difference if tow all diameter where paint is removed causing minor variances on thickness which equates to more pressure on some pads than others?

A tiny amount of copper slip on the back has got to be worth a try.

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Tempting fate, I know but have no groaning on my last 2 or 3 vans BUT I never clean the towball once the paint is thoroughly removed.  Maybe that the slight surface rust on the ball is sufficient to scour the pads?  All my recent cars have had detachables/electric operation so the  towballs are always off unless in use.

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Might be a red herring but years ago I had great difficulty in applying the handle down to engage the stabiliser I had to put my foot on it  and an adjusting washer/shim was fitted or removed can't remember which and engaging was ok after that .  So I'm suggesting is any adjustment required to stop the noise EG. too much pad pressure?

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Not all car brakes are silent ! But I was really meaning after you remove the dust and deglaise the linnings etc on a car the braking efficiency is not as good as before until the brakes bed in again especially if you have fitted new linings or disc pads. 

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1 hour ago, SamD said:

Tempting fate, I know but have no groaning on my last 2 or 3 vans BUT I never clean the towball once the paint is thoroughly removed.  Maybe that the slight surface rust on the ball is sufficient to scour the pads?  All my recent cars have had detachables/electric operation so the  towballs are always off unless in use.

 

My towball is a removable item, it has a clean shiny (not rusty) surface because it lives in the back of the car when not in use. 

 

1 hour ago, David 38 said:

Might be a red herring but years ago I had great difficulty in applying the handle down to engage the stabiliser I had to put my foot on it  and an adjusting washer/shim was fitted or removed can't remember which and engaging was ok after that .  So I'm suggesting is any adjustment required to stop the noise EG. too much pad pressure?

 

I certainly have to apply a fair bit of pressure to get my stabiliser handle all the way down.. HOWEVER, to the best of my knowledge the pads are sprung loaded against the towball in order to maintain the correct friction after the pads have worn down somewhat.

 

I for one will be very interested in what Al-ko say in response to my email. Bearing in mind this perpetual “groaning” seems to have become far more prevalent only recently it’s difficult to see that it can be anything other than the actual friction material. Fir the simple reason it’s the contact between the pads and towball that’s causing the noise and towballs are still made of steel.  

 

Andy

8 minutes ago, James Donald said:

Not all car brakes are silent ! But I was really meaning after you remove the dust and deglaise the linnings etc on a car the braking efficiency is not as good as before until the brakes bed in again especially if you have fitted new linings or disc pads. 

 

You are correct not all car brakes are silent, but by far and away the the vast majority are, which cannot it seems be said for Alko stabiliser equipped caravans!

 

Huge difference between just de-glazing the surface of a set of cars brake pads and the surface of brand new ones. It’s can ONLY be the friction between the two surfaces, I wonder if the manufacturing tolerances of the pads is now allowed to be, shall we say, less precise? And that is allowing the pads to “vibrate” within the housing?? I don’t know, maybe Al-ko do, or maybe they don’t ! But I am going to keep on at them a bit until they provide me with a decent answer, I can be VERY persistent (as those who followed my lengthy thread on the different MTPLM plates fitted to Bailey caravans will attest)

 

Andy

Edited by Mr Plodd

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My pads were renewed in March.  No pronounced groaning including 6 weeks around France.  Last time out they were really load.  I did not have the kit to clean them with me so need to do it for our next trip.  Don’t know how Andy went through 3 cans of spray.  I am still on the same one I have had for years.

 

I am going to try the copper ease idea.  Just to warn others, don’t try ordinary grease.  It can melt and contaminate the friction surface.

 

John

 

 

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CoppaSlip and similar are hi-temp anti-seize agents, not lubricants, just saying.  A trace of molyslip is what I was thinking of.

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1 minute ago, JCloughie said:

My pads were renewed in March.  No pronounced groaning including 6 weeks around France.  Last time out they were really load.  I did not have the kit to clean them with me so need to do it for our next trip.  Don’t know how Andy went through 3 cans of spray.  I am still on the same one I have had for years.

 

I am going to try the copper ease idea.  Just to warn others, don’t try ordinary grease.  It can melt and contaminate the friction surface.

 

John

 

 

 

To be honest Three cans is a bit of an exaggeration on my part!!

 

But I have used a fair amount in order to try and ensure the assembly is spotlessly keen in a (vain) attempt to shut the darn things up! I have just returned from a good few thousand miles towing around France. Before starting each days tow I deglazed the pads and gave everything a very thorough spraying. The silence only ever lasted about 50 miles before returning. I am VERY unconvinced that a bit of copperslip will cure the problem so I will wait and see if Alko come up with that, or any other, suggestion. My feelings are that if it was THAT simple Alko would have advised all of their dealers to do exactly that ages ago. 

 

Andy

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1 hour ago, David 38 said:

Might be a red herring but years ago I had great difficulty in applying the handle down to engage the stabiliser I had to put my foot on it  and an adjusting washer/shim was fitted or removed can't remember which and engaging was ok after that .  So I'm suggesting is any adjustment required to stop the noise EG. too much pad pressure?

 

         Clearly, the hitch mechanism needs adjustment, it should not be necessary to apply such force.  If it were mine, I would have my dealer's mechanic make the required adjustments before damage occurs to the hitch.  It would be interesting to see if this cures the noise.

    John.

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2 minutes ago, Leedslad said:

 

         Clearly, the hitch mechanism needs adjustment, it should not be necessary to apply such force.  If it were mine, I would have my dealer's mechanic make the required adjustments before damage occurs to the hitch.  It would be interesting to see if this cures the noise.

    John.

 

Did you miss the bit in David’s post that says “years ago”??

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5 minutes ago, Leedslad said:

 

         Clearly, the hitch mechanism needs adjustment, it should not be necessary to apply such force.  If it were mine, I would have my dealer's mechanic make the required adjustments before damage occurs to the hitch.  It would be interesting to see if this cures the noise.

    John.

"...... an adjusting washer/shim was fitted or removed can't remember which and engaging was ok after that ...."

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Hi Andy,

 

Good OP. I have the same creaking but since the stabiliser works and the pads are not cracking then I am not bothered. I suspect that perhaps, the pressure on the towball by the pads is a tiny fraction too tight. The saying of, 'If it ain't broke ..................................' comes to mind here. Besides, if the creaking suddenly stops it might mean I have lost the van.:D

 

I was surprised to read that some type of grease might be applied. This suggestion is contrary to the very workings of the mechanics of a stabiliser and to a newbie or someone without mechanical knowledge might overdo the amount thus negating any stabiliser effectiveness. VERY bad suggestion - in my opinion.

 

However, if you have a look HERE and then at Alko, there is a vid on change of friction pads which might help - or not.

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Alko hitch stabilisers have always made noises - back when they were introduced I was still using my Scott-Halley blade stabiliser and unkindly posted that the Alko noises may be a design feature to replicate the noise of of a blade stabiliser.

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17 minutes ago, BOAC said:

Hi Andy

 

However, if you have a look HERE and then at Alko, there is a vid on change of friction pads which might help - or not.

 

My caravan is only six months old, so any replacement will most certainly be under warranty at Alko’s expense rather than mine.

It’s the fact that this problem has occurred SO early into my ownership that has made me determined to get it sorted long before the warranty runs out. I have (of course) kept the acknowledgement from  Alko to  my email so IF it proves necessary I can at some point in the future refer them back to the fact that I raised the matter at a very early stage and therefore they won’t be able to hide behind 

“Sorry sir, your out of your warranty period now :P “

 

 

Andy

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