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Old 08-02-2021, 11:39 AM   #1
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Chasing a ground issue

2015 Fleetwood Excursion DP, ground issue? Camping in mid-April, day prior to going home tried to start coach, engine barely turned over, tried auxiliary start, no help. Called tow truck for jump start, nope. I changed out the chassis batteries, started up and decided to leave a day early since coach was running, small bedroom (wardrobe slide) would not retract, dead. Getting no power to switch and nothing to tank monitor, power returned, called Power Gear the next morning and worked thru that, got slide in. About 20 miles from home got a “park brake” alarm, ignored it and made it home.

I switched out the park brake switch but alarm continues….intermittently. Air pressure is good, no leaks.

I keep the coach at home, plugged into 50amp service. Everything works and I check the coach daily. I can tell when the “ground”? issue will happen as the steps will not extend, tank monitor system is dead, also dash air conditioner will not turn on or blow. REV Tech says it sounds like a ground issue but cannot guide me to a solution.

Has anyone had a similar issue, solution or tell me where else I should look?

Today the steps would not extend, tried all battery cables, house and chassis, except under front hood. I pulled the dash cover over back of gauges, wiggled wires and steps extended, hard to determine if it was a specific wire or circumstantial. Freight liner says “black”. wire harness is the good one which is what I have.

I’m at a loss.
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Old 08-02-2021, 12:35 PM   #2
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Couple things spring to mind. Jumper the dash to a solid metal frame member. See if that helps.

Engine block to chassis frame.

These kind of ground issues weren't 'fixed' usually, takes to long to find it. Mostly people just add their own jumpers to ground where they think the problem might be.

In my situation, it was the HWH hydraulic system. All the grounds came together near the manifold under the RV. The grounds all corroded being exposed. I could whack at the area and get it working so I could pull in the slides, and when I found the ground stud, it broke off so had to drill tap and install a new one.

Every situation will be different, ya just gotta keep plugging away. In the olden days, we used to take the bare neutral wire connected to 120 volt, the hot lead screwed to chassis, and tap the battery ground cable. Where it sparked and arced and smoke curled up was the bad ground. NOT RECOMMENDED in a RV or at all these days with all the electronic gear in vehicles now. Just telling a story...
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Old 08-02-2021, 01:36 PM   #3
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How are you positive it is a "ground" issue?

Could it be loss of battery power??? It only takes one lousy loose connection to cause misery.

You need to diagnose it with a voltmeter.

First, find a shiny place on the frame, make one if you need. A dremel with a drum sander is excellent. Put a nut and bolt or screw into the or on the shiny place.

Connect a piece of speaker wire or whatever you have laying about or buy a piece of good automotive wire. Thirty feet is plenty.

Now connect a voltmeter AND a 12 volt test light to that ground wire. Secure that connections with tape or whatever means but make darn sure it is sound. You don't need crappy readings.

Now put your voltmeter in the center of your battery posts. Do it to all of them. Put your test light on the same posts and make a mental note or write down things such as full bright, half bright, no light. Make a picture and write those readings down. You won't remember a day later or fifteen checks later.

Now find something that is acting up like the steps.

Throwing parts at a problem is a recipe for disaster. You can add additional problems accidently.

So go to your steps and find the main power wire. Careful of course because those things can crush your hands quickly.

Get a reading on the main feed. Use your test light as well. You need help because you need to exercise the steps so they are trying to run. Or test on your jacks.

A huge clue here is that you couldn't jump start the thing. It takes tremendous power to start a vehicle. A simple bad connection that is common could be the issue.

Often wires go from the batteries to posts with multiple wires, or directly to the starter post and then off to who knows where from there.

You can take a shotgun approach throwing parts at things and just cleaning and tightening things but if you do, make sure you test, test, test as you go. Don't hit five different connections and then test.

When you tighten something of course make sure it is clean to start with. Make a mental note of how hard it was to tighten. If you find it takes a half turn or more to become snug my radar picks up.

There are tons of grounds and finding them all can be difficult. A headlamp after the sun goes down can help you see places that may have been sun blocked or shadowed during the day.

Don't just tug on connections. Take them off and clean them with wire brushes or the dremel as mentioned.

Good hunting. When you find the loose or corroded connection you will probably say, well I'll be.
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Old 08-02-2021, 01:53 PM   #4
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Here what I do, if you think ground get a set of jumper cables, hook to battery then to frame see what's different.
If same move ground on frame ie try a different spot
I try to look for wires that are ground now and put jumper closer by.
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Old 08-02-2021, 07:14 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by YC1 View Post
How are you positive it is a "ground" issue?

Could it be loss of battery power??? It only takes one lousy loose connection to cause misery.

You need to diagnose it with a voltmeter.

First, find a shiny place on the frame, make one if you need. A dremel with a drum sander is excellent. Put a nut and bolt or screw into the or on the shiny place.

Connect a piece of speaker wire or whatever you have laying about or buy a piece of good automotive wire. Thirty feet is plenty.

Now connect a voltmeter AND a 12 volt test light to that ground wire. Secure that connections with tape or whatever means but make darn sure it is sound. You don't need crappy readings.

Now put your voltmeter in the center of your battery posts. Do it to all of them. Put your test light on the same posts and make a mental note or write down things such as full bright, half bright, no light. Make a picture and write those readings down. You won't remember a day later or fifteen checks later.

Now find something that is acting up like the steps.

Throwing parts at a problem is a recipe for disaster. You can add additional problems accidently.

So go to your steps and find the main power wire. Careful of course because those things can crush your hands quickly.

Get a reading on the main feed. Use your test light as well. You need help because you need to exercise the steps so they are trying to run. Or test on your jacks.

A huge clue here is that you couldn't jump start the thing. It takes tremendous power to start a vehicle. A simple bad connection that is common could be the issue.

Often wires go from the batteries to posts with multiple wires, or directly to the starter post and then off to who knows where from there.

You can take a shotgun approach throwing parts at things and just cleaning and tightening things but if you do, make sure you test, test, test as you go. Don't hit five different connections and then test.

When you tighten something of course make sure it is clean to start with. Make a mental note of how hard it was to tighten. If you find it takes a half turn or more to become snug my radar picks up.

There are tons of grounds and finding them all can be difficult. A headlamp after the sun goes down can help you see places that may have been sun blocked or shadowed during the day.

Don't just tug on connections. Take them off and clean them with wire brushes or the dremel as mentioned.

Good hunting. When you find the loose or corroded connection you will probably say, well I'll be.


I’m not sure it’s a ground issue but is the consensus of opinion after speaking with REM. The batteries gave up after deep freeze we had here in south Texas in February. I had batteries load tested, the batteries failed the load test. I changed chassis batteries as a precaution. I changed out the park brake switch as it was the most obvious culprit. I’ve not thrown any additional parts at the issue.

The issue, loss of 12v power to steps, control panel, etc. is intermittent and only occurs whenever, hard to track as it (steps are the best clue) happens once in 50 times entering the coach over a period of time.

I’ll give your ground wire process a shot. Thx for the feedback and suggestions.
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Old 08-02-2021, 07:15 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by bluefishgary View Post
Here what I do, if you think ground get a set of jumper cables, hook to battery then to frame see what's different.

If same move ground on frame ie try a different spot

I try to look for wires that are ground now and put jumper closer by.


I’ll give it a shot, thx for the suggestions.
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Old 08-02-2021, 07:17 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Jim_HiTek View Post
Couple things spring to mind. Jumper the dash to a solid metal frame member. See if that helps.

Engine block to chassis frame.

These kind of ground issues weren't 'fixed' usually, takes to long to find it. Mostly people just add their own jumpers to ground where they think the problem might be.

In my situation, it was the HWH hydraulic system. All the grounds came together near the manifold under the RV. The grounds all corroded being exposed. I could whack at the area and get it working so I could pull in the slides, and when I found the ground stud, it broke off so had to drill tap and install a new one.

Every situation will be different, ya just gotta keep plugging away. In the olden days, we used to take the bare neutral wire connected to 120 volt, the hot lead screwed to chassis, and tap the battery ground cable. Where it sparked and arced and smoke curled up was the bad ground. NOT RECOMMENDED in a RV or at all these days with all the electronic gear in vehicles now. Just telling a story...


I’ll keep looking, thanks for your insight!
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Old 08-03-2021, 06:22 AM   #8
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I usually don't recommend just cleaning and tightening but in some cases a good PM solves things. I found years ago that often just aligning a two way radio would solve issues. Some very strange ones at that.

Twelve volts has very little push/pressure. 110 volts will rip right through small amounts of corrosion/bad connections.

It is critical to have battery maintenance and cable maintenance up to speed. Think of resistance such as sticking your hand out the window at 70 mph. Your hand is small but turning it sideways gives a good push. That is resistance.

Adding to the equation is that the resistance in a 12 volt RV system is long runs of wire. Like a garden hose that you add smaller and smaller hoses to. At the end you may not have the pressure you would like.

With 12 volt systems in an RV you have that resistance in the positive side of the system as well as the ground/negative side of the system. So you can have double the trouble areas.

Grounds are often hidden and installed in poor places to reach. The positive sides go all over the place of course and you need to find all of the major ones.

Disconnect your negative battery leads before doing any work on these of course. Wear a bump cap or you will invent some new words.

And put jack stands under the RV. These things can drop like a rock if triggered accidently.
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Old 08-10-2021, 08:47 PM   #9
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I have found some very sketchy grounding practices in my 2016 Excursion 35E. Attached is a before and after of a “ground bus bar” (or lack of) I found while installing a water heater. It was buried under the cabinet at the foot of the bed.
Granted, different model RV but MFG practices are prob the same. Grounding issues are common across unrelated systems because they use a common bus bar.
Run a ground wire from the steps directly to a known good ground or negative terminal on the battery. See if it fails at all then.
Don’t want to monopolize, but search my posts to see exactly what kind of things you should be looking for.
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Old 08-11-2021, 04:37 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by ScopeGuard View Post
I’m not sure it’s a ground issue but is the consensus of opinion after speaking with REM. The batteries gave up after deep freeze we had here in south Texas in February. I had batteries load tested, the batteries failed the load test. I changed chassis batteries as a precaution. I changed out the park brake switch as it was the most obvious culprit. I’ve not thrown any additional parts at the issue.

The issue, loss of 12v power to steps, control panel, etc. is intermittent and only occurs whenever, hard to track as it (steps are the best clue) happens once in 50 times entering the coach over a period of time.

I’ll give your ground wire process a shot. Thx for the feedback and suggestions.


The way I read your post problem started after changing chassis batteries?
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Old 08-12-2021, 10:53 AM   #11
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The way I read your post problem started after changing chassis batteries?


Yes, you are correct. I did install the chassis batteries in a rush while at the campground trying to beat an arriving storm. I pulled and throughly cleaned, scraped, wire brushed and tightened all of the chassis battery connections yesterday. We’ll see.
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Old 09-11-2021, 09:27 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by ScopeGuard View Post
2015 Fleetwood Excursion DP, ground issue? Camping in mid-April, day prior to going home tried to start coach, engine barely turned over, tried auxiliary start, no help. Called tow truck for jump start, nope. I changed out the chassis batteries, started up and decided to leave a day early since coach was running, small bedroom (wardrobe slide) would not retract, dead. Getting no power to switch and nothing to tank monitor, power returned, called Power Gear the next morning and worked thru that, got slide in. About 20 miles from home got a “park brake” alarm, ignored it and made it home.

I switched out the park brake switch but alarm continues….intermittently. Air pressure is good, no leaks.

I keep the coach at home, plugged into 50amp service. Everything works and I check the coach daily. I can tell when the “ground”? issue will happen as the steps will not extend, tank monitor system is dead, also dash air conditioner will not turn on or blow. REV Tech says it sounds like a ground issue but cannot guide me to a solution.

Has anyone had a similar issue, solution or tell me where else I should look?

Today the steps would not extend, tried all battery cables, house and chassis, except under front hood. I pulled the dash cover over back of gauges, wiggled wires and steps extended, hard to determine if it was a specific wire or circumstantial. Freight liner says “black”. wire harness is the good one which is what I have.

I’m at a loss.
I have had to chase power and ground issues in my 2005 Expedition.
My step would randomly extend (while driving) found a floating ground circuit. Chased it into the dash, but never found exactly where that ground was supposed to land to the chassis. Ended up replacing the splice, and adding a known good chassis ground; those problems went away.

Latest issue to chase was actually a DC power issue. Was installing a 2-way radio and keep getting a low voltage warning (with no load, bus voltage read 12.8 VDC, when I turned on the radio, it would drop down to 9.7vdc. The truck and the house batteries read 13.5vdc at the batteries.... chased it back to a corroded and melted power fitting at the output of the BCC switch box (under the pretty protective cable boots).

Not being able to get reasonable support from Fleetwood for these older rigs is a kick in the teeth. Glad they sent me a bunch of PDF's of wiring diagrams when I needed them ....

Good Luck!
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