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Old 02-13-2019, 08:39 PM   #1
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Went to pull out of garage and had no power steering

So, was just pulling out of my garage to hookup my jeep and head out for a four day trip and after pulling forward only a few feet I started to ease right as my car was a bit close and no power steering.

I stop, try and turn it and it took so much pressure, I thought I would break something if I tried to force it.

I turned it off let it sit a few seconds and turned it back on, just to see, and still nothing, so I backed it back into my garage and called Newmar.

They immediately conferenced in Spartan. While waiting on hold for him to get Spartan, I decided to start it again, among other things to re-confirm air pressure, even though I had told him I was at ride height (I had aired it up and pulled in slides night before.

On that third start, I had power steering back. Newmar and Spartan started going back and forth about what it could be. Could it be failed Comfort Drive, and I said from what I had read and been told, even if Comfort drive fails, you still have power steering, they agreed.

Spartan asked me if I was comfortable driving it a bit to see if it happened again, and I asked if I would be able to steer if it went out again, and he said not easily and night tight corners (I have a 90* turn on to a fairly narrow county lane getting in and out of drive). He asked how long my drive was and I told him about 100 yards and he suggested I run it up and back a few times, trying to get up to 10MPH or so and he would call me back in ten.

While waiting, I was looking around for power steering fluid, which I admit I had not checked before, and when I figured out where it was and checked, it wasn't registering on the dipstick.

While waiting on his call back, my BIL called around trying to see who had it in town in 1 gallon jugs (several places had it in 5 gallon pals. Spartan called back and I told him and he said it "should" have been full from the factory as they run them and get them hot and check all the fluids, but it must either have a leak (no indication on my garage floor and I usually check underneath when at campgrounds) or maybe it wasn't checked at the factory.

His suggestion, fill it up, and then watch it like a hawk and see if it's going down and how much. If it's not going down, he said send him the receipt and he would reimburse for the hydraulic oil, and in the meantime he opened a warranty claim, as I'm supposed to have it up at Coachlight and then Cabin diesel for some other work in 2-3 weeks.

I bout a little hand pump for pumping hydraulic oil, rather than messing with a funnel. It's supposed to be 1oz per pump and based on that, it was 18 oz below the full mark. It took 12 oz to get to the low mark.

About 20 miles into my trip, I pulled off at a rest area, and it was reading at the "full" hot level. I had filled it to the "full" cold level earlier. So, we shall see. I'm hoping it was just not filled from the factory, but will keep an eye out. I drove about 1:45 today, so will check it in the morning when it's cooled back down.

Also, while I'd been checking oil and coolant level religiously, I hadn't been checking allison or power steering fluid, so will start checking all far more often.

One other note, I do have a handful of drips, maybe 8 to 10, that range from a quarter to half dollar size, dead center, about 7-8' in from the rear bumper. My BIL had previously noticed some oil/grime on the bottom of either the transmission or engine, and he said he thought it was blow by (can't remember exactly what he called it, but coming from some tube). These spots are in the same spot. I don't think this and the power steering fluid are related, but when I bring it to Cabin Diesel I'll ask about these oil drops.

My sister told my wife, welcome to the fun world of RV'ng, when we weren't sure we were going to be able to leave on our trip.
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Old 02-14-2019, 06:24 AM   #2
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There's no blow by tube dripping oil from late model engines, you have a leak.
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Old 02-14-2019, 10:01 AM   #3
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Hi - Hope you don't have a leak. Not sure that 12 ounces would cause that issue. Have you considered that the Comfort Drive went to sleep? Starting the coach would wake it up.


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Old 02-14-2019, 10:54 AM   #4
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Quote:
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Hi - Hope you don't have a leak. Not sure that 12 ounces would cause that issue. Have you considered that the Comfort Drive went to sleep? Starting the coach would wake it up.


Tom
The fact I was so low on power steering fluid seems to point to that as the culprit. Also, I didn't think comfort drive being asleep or offline would result in no steering. The coach was unsteerable, or effectively so. I didn't attempt to see what happened if I really leaned into the wheel, as it felt like it would break something.
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Old 02-14-2019, 11:03 AM   #5
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There's no blow by tube dripping oil from late model engines, you have a leak.
Ok, then I bet that fluid we've seen, while small in quantities must be from a small leak.

Oil hasn't dropped at all and has remained at the full mark with a cold engine, so if it's engine oil it's a very small leak.

What I don't know is if the power steering hose is located someplace where a leak would splatter on bottom of engine and drip center coach, 7-8' up from engine, or if I have two leaks (engine and/or transmission) and power steering.

I checked this morning with everything cold and power steering was down about 1/4" to 3/8" below full line and that was after a just under two hour drive. I'll check again after making the return trip, as there it's right at the top of the letter "O" in cold, so it will be easy to see if it drops more. Since it was so low, I can't say for sure if it's leaked or when I filled it up there were voids in the line from being so low.

On transmission, when I checked that, the dipstick said engine at idle and then when I googled, it seemed the correct way to check is via keypad with the transmission oil at operating temperatures.

How long does engine need to be running, and do you need to drive it for a bit, before checking the transmission fluid level?
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Old 02-14-2019, 11:12 AM   #6
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Transmission should be up to temperature before checking it from the key pad, over 185 F and should be setting for a few minutes to let the oil settle down as per Allison Transmission manual, Regards mike
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Old 02-14-2019, 12:59 PM   #7
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Keep in mind that when you got as low as you did, you probably got some air into the system. Being low over the next trip or so could be air purging from the system and lowering your fluid level.

Obviously, if yo have a leak, yo need to find it, but don't forget to account for the air in the system.
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Old 02-14-2019, 01:43 PM   #8
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Keep in mind that when you got as low as you did, you probably got some air into the system. Being low over the next trip or so could be air purging from the system and lowering your fluid level.

Obviously, if yo have a leak, yo need to find it, but don't forget to account for the air in the system.
That was my thinking as well (regarding air) and why I'm not topping it up, as I have a nice spot on the dip stick to see if it keeps dropping, and if so, how much.

Best guess, leaving aside the how it got low, is that it was so low that there wasn't enough fluid, or pressure, to operate steering which means there had to be air in the line that would be purged with use and could be some pockets for a while.

So, could have dropped a bit form purging, or a slowish leak.

Based on the fact that this engine doesn't have a blow by tube like my BIL was thinking, then it does appear something (oil, tranny, power steering) is leaking.
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Old 02-14-2019, 05:11 PM   #9
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Since the power steering lines run stem to stern, a leak could be at any point, or leaking near the back and running down the outside surfaces to a low point where it drips off. It would be an unlucky coincidence if you've lost steering plus have an unrelated oil leak.

The air purges pretty quickly. I just did the whole power steering fluid and filter change on mine this winter.
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Old 02-14-2019, 05:31 PM   #10
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When you add power steering fluid, start the engine and turn the steering wheel lock to lock several times to purge the air in the system.
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Old 02-14-2019, 07:11 PM   #11
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Thanks guys. Hopefully all holds together for my return trip and then trip up to Coachlight, as in 2-3 weeks I'm bringing it to Coachlight for a handful of warranty items, and then they are going to drive it to Cabin Diesel in OK, to address a clunking noise in the front end and now track down the leak.
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Old 02-14-2019, 09:40 PM   #12
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Whatever it is must be a slow leak. I'm sitting hear after 24 hours and "maybe" there is one quarter/half dollar size spot under the engine, but I can't say with certainty it's from me.

That said, I've noticed some grime/splatter on my jeep the last few trips. I thought it was just because I removed the rock guard and it was road grime, but now I'm thinking I do have a slow leak.
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Old 02-15-2019, 04:38 AM   #13
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FYI, If you can't find the SLOW leak, make sure you have a gallon of Dextron III with you in case the leak gets worst. If you find yourself really low on fluid, you'll experience hard and intermittently power and no power steering, (in motion, first sign of a big problem, look for a safe place to land, can't steer without fluid and if hydraulic pump runs dry, means no fan and your rig starts running hot, not to mention the tranny) it's very hard to steer that heavy front end, without those wheels going around. Next on your list, would be a tow, and lets hope it don't come to that, Good Luck.
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Old 02-15-2019, 12:30 PM   #14
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….. Have you considered that the Comfort Drive went to sleep?

Tom
If the CD is not functional, the coach will steer just like a coach without CD. You can steer it standing still with one hand if you are firm with it and steering with 2 hands is reasonably easy. It absolutely will not give you the impression that the steering is locked up.

Before somebody asks, if you lose the hydraulic portion of the steering assist, the CD is absolutely NOT strong enough the steer the coach. It is not and is not intended to be a replacement for the hydraulic system, even for a short time.
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