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Old 10-04-2007, 04:34 PM   #1
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I purchased a used 2004 Fleetwood Southwind so I'm afraid I don't have some of the manuals available and I'm a little new to the RV experience. Here's my dilemma: My RV has been in storage for a couple of weeks and I didn't bother to use the battery disconnects for the coach main and aux batteries. I tried to start the RV in preparation for a weekend trip (starting tomorrow!) and the engine won't start. Lights on the dash come on but I get a clicking sound and a beep from the back of the coach, where the fuse box is (I think). I've tried disconnecting the coach main and aux batteries and trying to start the engine but no luck. It doesn't appear to be the RV battery because driving lights come on and the radio works fine. I even tried jump starting the RV and that didn't seem to work either.

Now, when I test the main battery level, it reads 14-16 (units?) but I get no reading at all for the aux level. So I'm thinking the aux battery is dead. But would this keep me from starting the engine? Also, none of the lights in the coach appear to work but the LP gas detector light is on.

I'm hoping the problem is that I'm forgetting to do something prior to starting the engine; like forgetting to set the parking brake won't allow you to open a slide. Any ideas as to what may be the problem is greatly appreciated.

Tracy

NOTE: Sorry for the cross post! I mistakenly posted this in the website technical support newsgroup.
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Old 10-04-2007, 04:34 PM   #2
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I purchased a used 2004 Fleetwood Southwind so I'm afraid I don't have some of the manuals available and I'm a little new to the RV experience. Here's my dilemma: My RV has been in storage for a couple of weeks and I didn't bother to use the battery disconnects for the coach main and aux batteries. I tried to start the RV in preparation for a weekend trip (starting tomorrow!) and the engine won't start. Lights on the dash come on but I get a clicking sound and a beep from the back of the coach, where the fuse box is (I think). I've tried disconnecting the coach main and aux batteries and trying to start the engine but no luck. It doesn't appear to be the RV battery because driving lights come on and the radio works fine. I even tried jump starting the RV and that didn't seem to work either.

Now, when I test the main battery level, it reads 14-16 (units?) but I get no reading at all for the aux level. So I'm thinking the aux battery is dead. But would this keep me from starting the engine? Also, none of the lights in the coach appear to work but the LP gas detector light is on.

I'm hoping the problem is that I'm forgetting to do something prior to starting the engine; like forgetting to set the parking brake won't allow you to open a slide. Any ideas as to what may be the problem is greatly appreciated.

Tracy

NOTE: Sorry for the cross post! I mistakenly posted this in the website technical support newsgroup.
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Old 10-04-2007, 05:46 PM   #3
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I can't explain your Main vs Aux voltage readings and I'm not even sure which batteries "Main" and "Aux"'refer to, but your "won't start" symptoms are consistent with low ("dead") chassis (engine start) battery. Can you get somebody to jump start the coach (like you wold a car)? Or hook a battery charger to the chassis battery if there is electrical power available near by?

The LP gas detector is typically powered from the chassis battery, so that's why it works when the lights don't. But the LP detector requires almost no power, whereas cranking the engine requires huge amounts. The chassis battery could be adequate for the detector but totally insufficient for starting.

By the way, is it a Ford or a Chevy chassis/engine? If you don't know that, what brand and model of Fleetwood coach? It helps to know that to further analyze the problem and advise on a solution.
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Old 10-04-2007, 06:06 PM   #4
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Thanks for the reply. Here's the additional info.

It's the Ford chassis, Fleetwood Southwind 32VS. In a cabinet over the door into the coach, there are two battery switches labeled Main and Aux, along with the controls for the slides. I assume that means there are two batteries for the coach. Over on the panel where you get fresh, grey, black tank levels, there are two buttons labeled Main and Aux for reading the battery levels. As I wrote in the original post, the Main shows a reading while the Aux doesn't display anything at all.

I did try and jump start the RV. I hooked it up to my Toyota Sequoia, had my wife rev up the engine while I tried starting the RV. No luck! I kept it hooked up for about 5 minutes or so and still it wouldn't start. Unfortunately, there is no electrical source where I can hook up a charger and let it charge the battery over a period of time.

What seems odd to me is why the one battery is OK while the other appears dead. I fear it may be the starter but I'm not sure.

Again, thanks for the response. I hope the additional info provides insight for you or someone to assist me in resolving my problem.

Tracy
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Old 10-04-2007, 06:36 PM   #5
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Tracy it's possible the "Main" reading is for the "House" portion of your unit. Have you tried to start the generator? If you can get the generator running after a few minutes you should be able to use a "Boost" or Emergency Start" switch located on the dash panel. You will have to hold in the switch while trying to start the engine. Don't know if this will help, but worth a try.

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Old 10-04-2007, 06:46 PM   #6
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Thanks Fred. Yes, I did try to start the generator and it wouldn't even turn over.

Thanks for the suggestion!

Tracy
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Old 10-04-2007, 07:40 PM   #7
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Tracy,
The "main" is your house and the "aux" is the chassis battery. It sounds like the chassis battery is dead. You should have an Aux Start button on the dash as Fred said. When my chassis battery died it didn't help any; the battery had a dead cell and when the aux start button was pushed it drew down the house batteries so much that the engine wouldn't turn over. You should take the battery out, charge it, then have it load tested; or you could switch it out for a known good battery, that way you would know if it was the battery or something else.
Hope this helps a little.
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Old 10-05-2007, 03:58 AM   #8
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Thanks to all who posted a response.

I did try to use the AUX switch on the dash and got the same result. It appears, as Loren wrote, the batteries are so low or dead that even with AUX switch doesn't help. So, I think it's time for a new battery. One follow-up question to Loren and Bill's posts, would the driving lights and the radio still work? Both of these appear to work properly. I just can't get the engine to turn over?

Tracy
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Old 10-05-2007, 05:06 AM   #9
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Thanks again to all who replied.

Looks like I'm off to find a battery. I really appreciate the assistance I received through this forum. What an invaluable resource!

Tracy
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Old 10-05-2007, 05:44 AM   #10
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This may have already been mentioned but I didn't see it.
After you get it working again, note that it is normal for the engine battery to discharge while not connected to shore power. There are enough parasitic and keep-alive currents being drawn from the battery to run it down in as little as three weeks.
Examples are: radio, engine computer, transmission computer, and ABS computer.
Using the engine battery disconnect switch (if you have one) will prevent this.
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Old 10-05-2007, 06:07 AM   #11
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On my Fleetwood Bounder with a 99 Ford F53 V10 Chassis, the main is the chassis and the aux is the house batteries. If you have the disconnect to the chassis battery turned off, you will get the readings you are talking about and the engine won't start. You will also find that there is enough cross feed between the two sets of batteries due to the way Fleetwood has the electronics setup, especially through the solar panel, to give you strange readings at that display panel on the dash. Which is seldom correct any way!
Get a cheap Digital volt meter and check the actual voltages at each set of batteries. That is the only way you will ever know what is actually happening.
PS. You need to get more familiar with your coach any way. Think of how it would be if you were having this trouble on a trip through Death Valley!
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Old 10-05-2007, 07:53 AM   #12
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I have the same problem with my Southwind when I leave it for three months. I would only note that it takes alot longer than 5 minutes to get enough juice in the battery to get it to start. I have to charge mine for more than an hour, before it will turn over.
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Old 10-05-2007, 08:54 AM   #13
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I have the same rig on a workhorse chassis.

I've had my rig sit for 3 months never an issue but I always press both battery disconnects before walking out the door and locking her up.

I also have a solar trickle charger on top of unit.

Leaving your batteries connected they were drained by all the electronics that continue to run while stored.

As others have stated, some lights and radio will still work on a low battery but not enough juice to turn engine over. Kinda surprised battery jump didn't work unless it sat for a long time drained.

You have a good rig.. Charge or replace batteries and your instantly back in business like she was new again.

Tip... My experience 3 things that are easily over looked.. I made a small label for dash that reminds me...

1. Antenna, 2. Slide driver seat forward (common for slide to catch and ruin) and 3. always disconnect battery when stored.

Very easy to forget any of these and the inconvenience for doing so isn't worth it.

Good Luck!
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Old 10-05-2007, 07:25 PM   #14
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I don't know if the 32VS on a Ford is the same as on a Workhorse, but assuming it is, here's the way the batteries are setup.

The chassis battery (one 12V) is disconnected by the "Main" disconnect switch. But, its never totally disconnected. It will still be discharged by the stuff that doesn't get shut off by the switch. I toasted my chassis battery by trusting the "Main" disconnect switch once. After that, I bought a manual disconnect, attached it between the battery and the ground cable, and never had the chassis battery go down again.

The house batteries (two 6V deep cycle in series) are disconnected by the "Aux" disconnect switch. This switch does what it says - totally unhooks the batteries from any drains.

I guess what I'd do is pull the chassis battery, get it to an auto parts store (Autozone, Pep Boys, etc.) and get it checked out. My guess is you will need a new one. That should get your engine started, and you should be able to get on your trip. The house batteries may come back with some extended time on a charger (engine alternator, shore power, or generator).

However you get the immediate issue resolved, you will have to set up some way to completely disconnect the chassis battery from all parasitic circuitry or this will just happen again. Since you don't have any 110V at your storage area, the only other thing you could do is install a solar trickle charger.

BTW, you can get an owners manual and other contact info at this link Fleetwood Service.
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