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Old 09-01-2014, 08:34 PM   #1
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Chassis battery voltage dropping, now 4 volts

I guess RV ownership comes with its ups and downs. 2007 Fleetwood 38L Bounder on Freighliner chassis.

The latest is my RV won't start. Literally been a week since I last drove it and have had zero issues with starting previously. The instrument gauge will not energize when the key is turned on. I checked the chassis battery voltage and it read about 8 volts.

I then put the trickle charger on the chassis batteries and left it over night. When I checked the voltage in the morning it read 3.9 volts!!! I have no idea why charging the batteries would cause a voltage loss.

I then tried to use the coach batteries to augment the chassis batteries via a switch at the driver's control panel. No difference in condition. (no energizing of the instrument panel and no start)

I then considered using jumper cables to connect the chassis and coach batteries directly. But, I'm thinking that I am definitely doing something wrong due to the sparks I am observing when attempting to attach the jumper leads.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 09-01-2014, 08:40 PM   #2
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This whole battery situation you are describing is foreign to me, but some generic battery advice:

1. Check fluid levels in the batteries?
2. Lack of voltage, if the battery is performing up to speed, will be a grounding issue 99% of the time. Check and clean all grounds.
3. Sparking as the result of electricity jumping across the post to the gator clip when close to each other is not a sign that you doing things incorrectly. It could be, but small sparks that disappear with a physical connection are not.
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Old 09-01-2014, 08:41 PM   #3
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Provided that you have the polarity correct (+ to + and - to -), if your chassis batteries are that low, you will get sparks when you connect the jumper cables because current will be flowing immediately from the charged batteries into the drained ones.

And a trickle charger is not the answer to bring up low batteries, they are to keep charged ones topped up. Go get a charger that puts out 20 amps or more when charging and try that.
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Old 09-01-2014, 09:25 PM   #4
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Thanks Smithers and Pushed Around.

The chassis batteries are maintenance free, so no way to check the fluid level. I figured with no significant drain on the batteries with the chassis battery switched off, that the trickle charger would work. I guess not on heavy duty applications.

Polarity appeared to be correct. But since the coach batteries are wired positive to negative (in series), I assumed that I may not be able to connect them directly to the parallel wired chassis batteries.
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Old 09-01-2014, 09:42 PM   #5
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Trickle chargers may not be able to charge a low battery.

If you have a 100 amp hr battery that is BELOW 10.5 volts it is going to take more than 100 amp hrs to charge because it is below empty.

A 10 amp charger would take a few hours to get stable and maybe get the battery into bulk mode.

Most likely you have something drawing more current than the trickle charger outputs due to the short discharge time.

Disconnect the ground post then get a real charger on it and let siak a few DAYS and check it a couple times a day durring that time.

When the voltage reaches 13.5 to 14 vdc it is about full and you then could leave the trickle charger on it for another couple days to be sure it is topped off.

Your batteries also may be toast.

The covers snap off for service.

Clean with rag then look for gap in cover there will be a recessed valve cover that will snap off.

If it is still in warranty take it to the warranty servicer and let them do it.

You may have a dry battery and or unknown loads.

Search here for battery troubleshooting and you will get plenty of information to help you determine what is going on with yours.
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Old 09-02-2014, 05:05 AM   #6
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Just a thought... Age of batteries? Kept in Fl? By chance?



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Old 09-02-2014, 04:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shallow View Post
Polarity appeared to be correct. But since the coach batteries are wired positive to negative (in series), I assumed that I may not be able to connect them directly to the parallel wired chassis batteries.
There is no electrical difference between 2 six volts batteries wired in series to produce 12 volts and an actual 12 volt battery. You still have six 2v cells total connected in series in either case. Just make sure that you are actually connecting to the + of the 1st 6v battery and to the - of the second 6v battery. Otherwise you will not have 12 volts.
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Old 09-02-2014, 04:37 PM   #8
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A trickle charge on 1 battery might charge overnight but a battery bank probably needs a bulk charge.
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Old 09-06-2014, 04:38 PM   #9
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Thanks all for the advice. It would explain a little about why the charger was not working. I will make sure to connect to the appropriate battery terminals as I'm confident that I attached the charger to only one of the 6 volt batteries. Stupid.

The batteries are of unknown age as I purchased the RV used about 2 years ago and the batteries were not marked with the purchase date unfortunately. Quite possible that one or more has failed. I'm removing them from the RV this afternoon and will trouble shoot a little more.
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Old 09-06-2014, 05:34 PM   #10
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Well, I think I might be done with trouble shooting. Removed the batteries and tested their voltage individually. 3 volts and 2 volts respectively.

But, the epiphany was when I noticed that the batteries are original equipment and almost certainly about 7+ years old. I don't think I'm going to waste my time charging and figuring out if one is actually the culprit. If one is bad, the other can't be far behind.

Any recommendations in batteries? I have NAPA, Autozone, Walmart, and Camping World all close by.
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Old 09-06-2014, 05:43 PM   #11
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I assume that your coach is a diesel pusher. At least from what I have seen on larger vehicles like medium duty trucks the batteries are a group 31 battery and not a standard car/light truck battery. I use A/C delco batteries for my fleet of ambulances. The A/C delco and Motorcraft group 31s come from the same assembly line but the A/C delco's are a few dollars cheaper for us. I would look for a local truck repair facility and get some batteries from them.
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Old 09-06-2014, 05:44 PM   #12
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Sam's Club 6 VDC GC-2 or GC-2 Premium.

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Old 09-06-2014, 06:02 PM   #13
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The batteries that I removed are Alliance EPM A1031MF batteries. I searched the Alliance website for this model's info and they are listed as 12 volt batteries. I'm assuming replacing them with 6 volt batteries would work fine, but would require wiring them differently from how the 12 volt batteries were wired. Thoughts?
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Old 09-06-2014, 06:03 PM   #14
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Truck Starting Batteries | Alliance Truck Parts
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