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Old 04-05-2016, 07:46 PM   #1
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Towed Battery Charger

I just got my SMI AF1 braking system installed on our new 2016 Cherokee Trailhawk using a Blue Ox Alpha tow bar. After a couple of hiccups, all is working as advertised. I'm now waiting for the Jeep dealer to get the newly released Mopar accessory kit to improve flat tow towing behavior IAW Service Bulletin # 08-029-16. The kit is a fix to provide power to the power steering to eliminate the "death wobble" some Cherokees suffer from. This kit will draw power from the towed battery so I'm thinking a charge line from the coach plug to the Jeep may be a good idea (rather than stopping every 2-3 hrs to start the Jeep). I've researched chargers/maintainers from Brake Buddy and RVI...has anyone used these or is there a better option? Someone mentioned something about backfeed and overcharging...is that a real issue with these charging systems? Thank you for sharing your expertise!
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Old 04-05-2016, 08:18 PM   #2
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I have the SMI AF1. And I tow a Grand Cherokee. The only problem I have had that could be described as a "death wobble" comes after the Cherokee is unhooked at the end of a trip. The front end feels like is coming apart. The fix is to back up for 50-100 feet, then everything works fine.
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Old 04-05-2016, 08:29 PM   #3
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I'm also looking for a charger for our Trailhawk. The new 'fix' killed our battery in one trip. I stopped every few hours and ran at idle to recharge. When we got to destination battery was dead. Wouldn't accept a charge, AAA came and jumped. After idling for an hour, it died again as soon as I turned on the headlights. Overnight charging didn't help either. New battery in morning, and back to normal. Towed it home at end of trip without powering up PS. Will install charging system before towing again.
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Old 04-05-2016, 08:39 PM   #4
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For you guys with a Freightliner chassis, all you need is a direct wire from the 12v on the trailer connector to your battery.

That pin goes through a relay, and is only hot with the key on.

You will get people that say you need a diode, but you really dont.

Regards,

Dan
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Old 04-05-2016, 09:13 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dpinvidic View Post
For you guys with a Freightliner chassis, all you need is a direct wire from the 12v on the trailer connector to your battery.

That pin goes through a relay, and is only hot with the key on.

You will get people that say you need a diode, but you really dont.

Regards,

Dan
Dan has it absolutely correct. Your 7 pin plug on the RV has a +12v pole that's switched on the RV key. Just about all modern RV's are set up this way. Run a 10ga line to the toad (usually in the 7 wire cord) and put a 20A fuse just before the +12 pole on the toad battery.

I've been running this setup on both a Tiffin Powerglide and two Freightliner chassis for over 200,000 tow miles. We don't ever have a dead or low toad battery. Special (pricey) boxes, and diodes are not needed unless you just need someplace to throw money away.
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Old 04-05-2016, 09:43 PM   #6
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I have an RVI Brake towed vehicle charger on mine. It's not mandatory, it just adds another lever of protection to prevent back feeding or overcharging. Those w/o one seem to do just fine also.
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Old 04-06-2016, 07:12 AM   #7
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I also have the RVI battery charger. Works fine, no problems at all.
Cannot "backfeed" and won't over charge the battery. "Reads" battery charge and drops to maintaince when it reads full battery charge.
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Old 04-06-2016, 08:01 AM   #8
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I have Toad Charge system.

TOAD-CHARGE Dinghy Vehicle Battery Charger/Maintainer

It connects to either the chassis batteries or the house batteries depending on how you would like to set it up.

It is easy to install yourself in a couple of hours and everything you need and then some comes in the kit.

So far works great.

I wasn't aware of the power being present in the 7 pin until after I had installed this system but this system had a couple of features that were nice.

I see lots of positive posts either way.
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Old 04-06-2016, 08:07 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by jimfh2o View Post
I'm thinking a charge line from the coach plug to the Jeep may be a good idea (rather than stopping every 2-3 hrs to start the Jeep).
jimfh2o
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Old 04-06-2016, 08:15 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dpinvidic View Post
For you guys with a Freightliner chassis, all you need is a direct wire from the 12v on the trailer connector to your battery.

That pin goes through a relay, and is only hot with the key on.

You will get people that say you need a diode, but you really dont.

Regards,

Dan
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pigman1 View Post
Dan has it absolutely correct. Your 7 pin plug on the RV has a +12v pole that's switched on the RV key. Just about all modern RV's are set up this way. Run a 10ga line to the toad (usually in the 7 wire cord) and put a 20A fuse just before the +12 pole on the toad battery.

I've been running this setup on both a Tiffin Powerglide and two Freightliner chassis for over 200,000 tow miles. We don't ever have a dead or low toad battery. Special (pricey) boxes, and diodes are not needed unless you just need someplace to throw money away.
These guys are correct. Simple and foolproof.
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Old 04-06-2016, 11:27 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimfh2o View Post
I just got my SMI AF1 braking system installed on our new 2016 Cherokee Trailhawk using a Blue Ox Alpha tow bar. After a couple of hiccups, all is working as advertised. I'm now waiting for the Jeep dealer to get the newly released Mopar accessory kit to improve flat tow towing behavior IAW Service Bulletin # 08-029-16. The kit is a fix to provide power to the power steering to eliminate the "death wobble" some Cherokees suffer from. This kit will draw power from the towed battery so I'm thinking a charge line from the coach plug to the Jeep may be a good idea (rather than stopping every 2-3 hrs to start the Jeep). I've researched chargers/maintainers from Brake Buddy and RVI...has anyone used these or is there a better option? Someone mentioned something about backfeed and overcharging...is that a real issue with these charging systems? Thank you for sharing your expertise!
When was your 2016 Cherokee built? If after 2/16/16 per the attached 08-029-16 TSB, you do not need the kit.

Just FYI, I have towed my Cherokee Limited over 15,000 miles over some pretty rough roads, and have never experienced the 'wobble' problem. The reports that I have read on other RV and KL forums, with the exception of one, all state the condition has occurred at speeds of 25 mph, or less. There is one report where it occurred at 60 mph after traveling over a good size pot hole.

I had already installed a RVi brake charger as I was experiencing a dead battery on multi day trips. That issue was resolved when the dealer finally found a bad cell in the battery and replaced it.

However I am going to hold off having the kit installed until and unless I actually experience the problem.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf KL_08_029_16_Steering Accessory Kit.pdf (32.3 KB, 46 views)
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Old 04-06-2016, 12:17 PM   #12
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Bob, my Cherokee was built prior to the 16 Feb date. Many Cherokee owners have never experienced the wobble but I like to err on the safe side. Jeep installs the kit for free. If all I need is to spend another $50 for the charge line and have that peace of mind I think I will go that route...I just need to figure the best way to wire the charge line and now I have several options thanks to all of our friends on iRV2!


Cheers!
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Old 06-07-2016, 08:52 PM   #13
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check out my posts - I outlined a simple trickle charge setup from the coach to my toad. it was cheap - bought the materials at a hardware store.
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Old 06-07-2016, 09:03 PM   #14
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Here's my 2cents worth based on my dead battery experience with my CRV.

I don't know what the current draw is using the kit you refer to but the charge line through the 7 pin connector may or may not allow enough current to keep the Jeep battery charged.
If this were mine, I would investigate replacing the OEM battery with a larger CCA Rating to give some reserve capacity. Nothing more annoying than running all day to find a dead battery.
On the CRV, the battery can be be replaced with a physically larger battery by installing a new battery tray. Not sure about your Jeep but it's worth looking into.

Hope this helps,
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