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Old 08-05-2016, 02:27 PM   #1
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Chassis Battery Drain

I'm puzzled on this one. I am experiencing a chassis battery drain. I have read various post / forums about the issues and I'm still stumped. Here is what is going one.

Went to start my motorhome about a month ago and battery was completely dead. Battery was at least 4 years old or so. I figured it did its time and needed replacing so I bought a brand new one.

3 weeks later, go to start my motorhome and battery was completely dead again. I was able to jump the truck and my troubleshooting began.

I put a multimeter on my battery and I was only getting right at 12v. Being that I should have been reading 13.5v or so with the truck running, I think its the alternator. I scheduled an appointment at my local Ford dealer and bring it in.

After 2 days of sitting on the Ford parking lot, they have no issues with starting it up. Tech brings it into the shop and cannot find an issue. 2 more days go by and they are still able to start it without a problem.

While the motorhome was at Ford, I have been reading all kinds of post with the same issue. I get my motorhome today and start checking other things. Converter reading 13.5v, house batteries reading 12.0v.

I think my house batteries are on the brink of dying. Overall, they are not lasting very long at all running on just 12v system. Prior to today, trying to start my generator would draw them down to dead after 2 cranks. I did purchase a new set today but have not put them in yet.

With the old house batteries in, I was able to start my generator and it has been running for the last hour. The readings I got earlier was with the generator running.

I have not plugged my camper in to my house as of yet.

Anyone have any other ideas of things I need to check?
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Old 08-05-2016, 04:21 PM   #2
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You mentioned reading about these kind of issues on the forum. Have you checked and cleaned all battery connections, including grounds? A little bit of corrosion or rust can really stop current flow.

Your alternator and batteries could have been checked for free at most auto parts stores. 12 v on a battery is at 50% charge, so not surprised they wouldn't start generator.

All symptoms point to bad connections if alternator and converter/charger both have charging currents.
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Old 08-07-2016, 07:19 AM   #3
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Update:

I might just have figured out my problem.

After 2 days of being home and monitoring my chassis battery, it was still draining. This morning I unplugged my motorhome from the shore power and turned off my aux power off.

Nothing in my 12v system was working EXCEPT the carbon monoxide detector that is hard wired in and the power steps.

Being that I am 99.9% sure my house batteries are dead, I am pretty sure my chassis battery drain was due to the house batteries being dead and the carbon monoxide detector running off the chassis battery.

I have purchased a new set of house batteries but I needed to order a battery lifting strap to get them out of the compartment. Lifting strap should be in tomorrow so I will test out my theory over the next couple of days.
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Old 08-07-2016, 03:54 PM   #4
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I suggest you find someone with a inline amp meter... pull one of the connections to the battery when all items in the coach are turned off... install the amp meter in series with the post of the battery and the cable... its common for the electronics to have a .1-.3 amp draw... anything more than that will be your problem... the next step is to start pulling fuses to determine which circuit the draw is in.... than your task is to find what in that circuit is drawing the current....

I found a old style amp meter (30 amps) like what was used as a dash gauge 30 years ago... keep it in the tool box with short cables and clips on the end....

BTW does your unit have a battery isolator (diodes) that allows the alternator to charge all the batteries but keeps the chassis and coach batteries separate... if this is bad.. and you have something turned on in the coach... all the batteries will drain down..

Hope this helps sort out your problem..
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Old 08-08-2016, 08:18 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jelag View Post
I suggest you find someone with a inline amp meter... pull one of the connections to the battery when all items in the coach are turned off... install the amp meter in series with the post of the battery and the cable... its common for the electronics to have a .1-.3 amp draw... anything more than that will be your problem... the next step is to start pulling fuses to determine which circuit the draw is in.... than your task is to find what in that circuit is drawing the current....

I found a old style amp meter (30 amps) like what was used as a dash gauge 30 years ago... keep it in the tool box with short cables and clips on the end....

BTW does your unit have a battery isolator (diodes) that allows the alternator to charge all the batteries but keeps the chassis and coach batteries separate... if this is bad.. and you have something turned on in the coach... all the batteries will drain down..

Hope this helps sort out your problem..
Another update:

I am 99.9% sure now that it is my carbon monoxide detector that is drawing my battery down. Put my new batteries in today and verify that the carbon monoxide detector is only drawing power from the coach battery.

Being that this is a new problem maybe Jelag is correct and it could be a battery isolator. Where would I locate the battery isolator? I have a 2005 Fleetwood Jamboree.

I'm going to continue to watch to see if the draw continues over the next day. If it does, I'm going to pull the carbon monoxide detector until I can dig deeper.
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Old 08-08-2016, 09:57 PM   #6
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I'd really not advise to 'pull the carbon monoxide detector,' or the LP gas detector either. They are both critical for your safety when using the RV, you might forget to hook them up again.

For storage away from power, I have simple knife switches mounted on the battery terminals. When in storage, I open the knife switches and have left the RV with batteries fully charged, for as long as 5 months while in Australia. When I returned, I closed the switches and the RV started with no problem.

I don't know where a battery isolator would be hidden in a Class C, they put things in whatever space they can squeeze it in. You can test if it's staying connected by measuring battery voltage on each battery, then disconnect the house batteries and see if the current is still present in the detached cables. Reconnect the house batteries and do the same with the chassis batteries. This would show if the batteries are inter connected when they shouldn't be. (They should only connect when charging voltage is present.)
If you do some multimeter voltage readings, you can see if things are working as they should. Take voltage readings of each battery, remove a cable to test each one individually. Then start the RV and let idle for a few minutes. Take second reading of each battery, (no need to unhook any at this time) to see if a voltage increase is present from the alternator. Shut off the engine, then hook up the shore cord. (even just 15 amp outlet) Take voltage readings again to see if the converter/charger is sending power to both battery groups.

Since you have reported earlier that the alternator and converter/charger both give charging voltage, but the batteries didn't show the charging voltage. I still think a bad connection (ground) could be causing the batteries not to charge.

Your chassis battery is used by your ECU, radio memory and presets memory. Also if you have remote door locks, they use battery power too.
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