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Old 02-18-2013, 04:46 PM   #1
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Motorhome wont start

Just a click when I turn the key.

On our way home from the south 3 hours before reaching home the alternator guage all of a sudden dropped below 13 ( not charging) then of course the batteries started to go dead, pulled over, started genny and held the battery boost in the on position. This enabled me to limp home. Parked the coach in the driveway and now it does not start.

Even though the genny would have recharged the batteries, I still put them on an external charger. No start. Me is thinking fuse, relay? I need to get the coach started even if the alternator is bad ( again) so that i can get it to the shop. Or maybe its just a fuse and the alternator is ok? Also on this trip the chassis batteries did go dead while camping twice, so I will be replacing them as they are almost 5 years old. Maybe this caused the problem or the other way around I dunno.... any thoughts? one more note.. the alt fail light did not come on at all and I know its working.
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Old 02-18-2013, 05:20 PM   #2
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Put a multimeter on the batteries to see what voltage is available. Holding the boost switch for a long period might have blown fuse or burnt contacts in the relay. Start by checking battery voltage. I don't know why your battery would go dead so fast when alternator failed unless you also needed headlights or some other big draw. Check that all battery terminals are clean and cables tight.
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Old 02-18-2013, 05:31 PM   #3
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Georgetown, I think you are making the problem sound worse that it is. If you get a click when you turn the key then most likely you have a loose or dirty battery cable either positive or negative or the battery has failed which is not unheard of. The fact that it clicks means all is working but just not enough voltage to do anything. If the battery is bad or the battery cable conection is bad you can charge it all you want to and it ain't going to make any difference. You can't tell and can't clean the battery cable unless you disconnect it. Get a wire brush and clean the cables and the battery posts and make sure the negative cable is clean and tight where it attaches to the frame then charge it again and try it. If it still just clicks then pull the batteries out and take them to NAPA or Sears and have them tested underload.
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Old 02-18-2013, 05:51 PM   #4
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Actually the chassis batteries did go dead on this trip prior to this charging/no start condition, I was going to replace the batteries when I got home. I will replace the batteries before going much further. In the mean time I will check and clean all battery cables as advised. After sitting for two weeks in the cold ( snowy north) the chassis batteries showed 85 percent and the house batteries showed 100 percent charge. Headlights are bright. Tried boosting with the house batteries via the battery boost switch, still clicks.
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Old 02-18-2013, 06:01 PM   #5
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If you have dirty or bad connections on your chassis batteries it will still be there with battery boost especial if it is the negative cable. Also you can have a "surface charge" on a battery and it will check good until tested under load.
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Old 02-18-2013, 06:12 PM   #6
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Good point about the neg cable. One question on that, if it were a bad ground would that cause the alternator guage to drop ?
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Old 02-18-2013, 06:26 PM   #7
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The alternator gauge is just a voltage gauge. The voltage gauge has to have a good current path to the battery both on the positive and negative sides. Also I can tell you for a fact that on my pickup truck if the battery fails the alt gauge will read low voltage regardless of what the alternator is putting out.
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Old 02-19-2013, 08:47 AM   #8
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In Florida I removed and cleaned the battery cables, except for the ground to frame which would involve some aerobics to get to. I will check that out as soon as it warms a bit. Maybe my re installation of the cables was flawed hmmm. So we traveled from 70s temps to 20s, and this is when I first noticed that the alt guage seemed to be leaning closer to 13 instead of where it usually sits at around 13.5 to 14. Then after a while poof it just dropped down below 12 permanently. My first thought was the alternator but I suppose the coach should still start even with a bad alternator if all else is good?
You have definitely redirected my thinking of maybe a bad ground or loose connection.
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Old 02-19-2013, 08:55 AM   #9
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We had the same thing happen one New Years Eve. Our problem ended up being the plug for the voltage regulator was coming out a little and not connecting all the way. We realized the problem when Thom was going thru the engine explaining things to me and pointing to the alternator and voltage regulator since the paperwork from the PO was the VR was just replaced the year before. As he was pointing to it he pushed the bottom where the plug was and while it was not all the way off you could definitely see it was not all the way in either. We both was "OMG it cannot be that easy" well he cleaned the connections plugged it back in and used some zip ties to keep it plugged in. Been working fine since.
That is probably not your problem but here's hoping it is that easy for you too.
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Old 02-19-2013, 09:01 AM   #10
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There are two readings available on the gauge. With the motor not running and the key on you will read battery voltage which for a good battery should be around 12.6 plus or minus .2 if the battery is fully charged. Then with the motor running it should be somewhere between 13.5 and 14.2 if the battery is good. This is your alternator output voltage but can read low if the battery is bad.
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Old 02-20-2013, 12:12 AM   #11
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thanks for all the help guys..... very helpful.
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Old 02-20-2013, 10:07 AM   #12
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Fixed yet??
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Old 02-20-2013, 06:40 PM   #13
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Fixed yet??
No not yet. Just waiting for a warm day.
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Old 02-21-2013, 04:56 PM   #14
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That is probably not your problem but here's hoping it is that easy for you too
Thom, did you have to run your generator to keep the coach running? and did you also have the no start problem. After reading your post I will definitely be looking at the alternator with high hopes of seeing a plug in need of a little push. Also hoping to find a bad ground or a loose cable. With my luck it will be another bad alternator. Not sure if I mentioned that this alternator is only a couple months old. Even if the alternator was in need of replacement I don't think that would explain the no start problem. Would love to go out and do some checking but its just to dam cold.
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