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Old 02-05-2012, 10:03 AM   #1
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Retractable Steps Draining Starter Battery!?

Anyone here have any similar experience's with retractable steps draining your starter battery. Any info would be helpful. Noticed with step swich in OFF position, Starter Battery voltage slowly came up. Why even go to starter battery? Why not House battery? Thanx to all who reply. Are you reading this 15 yr. exper. guy? 2 pop-ups, 7 m/h's, etc. etc. I NEED an XPERT! THX Again!

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Old 02-05-2012, 01:44 PM   #2
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Hi woody92354,
On my coach, the auto step feature draws power only when activated by the door or the engine. Consider taking a meter and checking to see if your's is different.

The stairs are considered an automotive feature. While when off there is a small draw on the starting battery(s) the much bigger risk is drawing down the coach batteries. The stairs must work to ensure a safe exit in any circumstance. Too often the coach batteries get drawn down to a level the stairs might not work when one exits the coach in all circumstances. The result would be somebody falling onto the ground. Every coach I've had, with this feature, the steps draw power from the starting battery(s).

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Old 02-05-2012, 08:13 PM   #3
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I fully agree with GarryKD. plus on mine their is a light under the steps. it seams to turn on with the steps out and the door open.. This could be drawing some power on yours
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Old 02-06-2012, 06:12 AM   #4
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The light turns on when the door is open, it should not remain on when the door is closed.

The steps .. Weil Kwikee works like this.

When the door is opened (Assuming the switch is properly set, more on this later) power is fed to the step motor, When the current suddenly increases, indicating the steps are all th way out. Current is supposed to cut off.

Likewise when the door closes. (Again depending on the switch)

New controllers are trapizods, look almost triangular, on these the switch only works to "Lock the steps out" steps will always go out no matter what the switch position,

On older controllers (Rectangular) the step is POWER, if it is off the steps won't move, UNLESS THE IGNITION IS ON. (ignition followed by door movement overrides switch)

NOTE If you close door THEN start engine, with switch on (new style) they stay out.

IF, the controller fails, it can keep feeding power to the motor, draining the battery and burning out the motor.

One last thing: From time to time I read about "Limit switches"

I can tell you the "Limit switches" have not failed, That is because they do not exist on Kwikee steps.. They don't use them.
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Old 02-06-2012, 06:26 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by woody92354 View Post
Anyone here have any similar experience's with retractable steps draining your starter battery. Any info would be helpful. Noticed with step swich in OFF position, Starter Battery voltage slowly came up. Why even go to starter battery? Why not House battery? Thanx to all who reply. Are you reading this 15 yr. exper. guy? 2 pop-ups, 7 m/h's, etc. etc. I NEED an XPERT! THX Again!
Yes, the automatic, motorized steps run off your chassis (starting) battery.

Any load on your starting battery will eventually draw the battery down, if its not being charged in the meanwhile.

Answer; stop the coach at the campground, turn off the key, open the door so the steps go out, turn the step switch to OFF.

Steps are now out. No draw on your battery. When you are ready to leave, start your motor and the steps should retract automatically, even with the step switch in the OFF position.

If the steps will not retract automatically when the ignition is on and you are worried about driving off with the steps extended, consider having the switch repaired or replaced.
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Old 02-06-2012, 09:20 AM   #6
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Concur with Senior Chief.

It would be useful if you identify the manufacturer or brand name of your steps.

If it is Kwikee, get their manual, it will give part numbers and diagnostic guide & more.

Kwikee steps have an adjustment which will let the limit switches in the actuator motor (usually a side window wind up) to activate correctly. From memory, loosen the adjustment bolts, let step rest in up position, tighten bolts. Two cautions- ensure the step switch in your coach is in off position ie steps are up or down and will not move when door is closed, disconnect the activator motor using the connect plug. This way you will get to keep your fingers. The second and probably reason for battery drain is the miss-adjustment of step which could also cause the actuator motor to burn out. All of this is in the manual. Sorry, don't have the URL for the source. Google it.

The prob I had with my one step was that PO made lousy connections of the magnetic switch which he replaced and connections over time corroded causing erratic operation
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Old 03-09-2015, 09:18 AM   #7
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Thanks for that explanation about the Kwikee Step system!
I assumed that current increase was the factor for motor shutoff, but needed that verification.
My chassis (engine) battery dies out after a week and I noticed that the step motor still made noise after extending the steps. It was draining the battery.
I'm thinking that it may not shut off, because the low battery doesn't supply enough voltage for the "current spike" to register with the controller, so it's waiting for a larger "current spike". I'm fairly sure this is right, since it seems to work properly with the engine running.
Anyway, thanks for the info that wasn't available from the Kwikee web site.
When the step properly shuts off, I also have a 1/2 amp drain coming through the instrument panel fuse, so I'll have to do some more investigating.

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