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Old 02-28-2022, 11:01 PM   #1
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Gauges intermittently dropping to zero - electrical? or mechanical?

Hi folks. Hoping maybe someone sees this who has run into this on a Spartan chassis. During the past few trips, our temperature gauge has occasionally dropped from its current reading to zero (with the red light coming on) and then jumps back up to the current reading. Initially, it only seemed to do it when we were climbing a hill while towing and letting the temp get up to 210. After pulling over and shutting down for a few minutes before moving on, it would not display this behavior again until the next time we were climbing a hill.

So NIRVC checked the sensor for us back in January and there does not appear to be an issue there, which makes sense because the digital display on the dash that shows the Turbo PSI and the engine temp is consistent and does not "drop to zero" when the gauge does. So we have a new gauge on order for when we return there later this month. BUT....

On our last trip, the gauge started acting up again on a flat stretch with the temp under 200 and it started doing it quickly--read correctly and then drop to zero with the red light on and then jump back up and so on for maybe a couple dozen cycles or more--at one point even 'flickering' up and down for a few seconds like it was caught in between the two states (working and dead). So I rapped on the gauge with my knuckle and the gauge settled down and stayed where it belonged again--mostly. It did it again a few times only briefly though. But the confusing part is that during one of these crazy stints, the fuel gauge *ALSO* dropped to zero with the red light--and cycled back to nearly full and back to zero again several times. The fuel gauge only had this issue for this one flurry of cycles and then recovered and stayed normal the rest of the way home.

Any clues? Maybe I need to pull the dash apart and see if there are any bad connections or a loose wire that is messing with these gauges back there? Or has someone resolved this issue after uncovering a root cause for this behavior--a place where I should start my troubleshooting efforts?

Thanks in advance for any clues!
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Old 03-01-2022, 08:07 AM   #2
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I had a similar/same issue on a 2004 Spartan Chassis. Started with my oil pressure gauge then over the next several months the other gauges started to act the same. Drop to zero, redlight, alarm then back to normal.

All the while all the data on the digital monitor was unaffected. The fact that the digital monitor operated normally tells you that from the sender to the dash the system is working, and the culprit is in the dash.

I tried a couple of eservice centers who all wanted to diagnose the senders as bad, then the wiring between the sender and dash. Of course, they found nothing.

I called Spartan and apparently many older coaches have this problem. It is caused by dust, dirt, or loosening connectors in the instrument panel, or a combination of all of the above.

You can start by pulling your gauge panel far enough to get to the connectors. The gauges are daisy chained together starting at the speedometer. Starting there pull every plug (one at a time) and spray the connector and socket with contact cleaner. Then re insert the plug making sure it is well seated. Do this to EVERY connector on every gauge, not just the affected gauge.

This worked for me for a time and had to repeat the procedure after about 6 months. Finally, after 3 cycles of cleaning problem solved.

Service centers and mechanics will be of little help on this problem.
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Old 03-01-2022, 09:43 AM   #3
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I had a Chrysler auto with the digital dash that would occasionally just have all the readings drop to zero and a few minutes later back to normal. They finally traced the problem to a faulty IVR (instrument voltage regulator). Electronics can be really quirky about voltage fluctuations.

Ken
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Old 03-02-2022, 12:13 PM   #4
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Thank you both for your replies! So I have my next project lined up--will dig in behind the dash plate to clean up, spray, and confirm solid connections for all gauges and then cross my fingers.

I'll post back here with results near the end of the month when we return from our next trip.
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Old 03-02-2022, 03:24 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by BVJandJ63 View Post
Thank you both for your replies! So I have my next project lined up--will dig in behind the dash plate to clean up, spray, and confirm solid connections for all gauges and then cross my fingers.

I'll post back here with results near the end of the month when we return from our next trip.

Yes, please keep us updated. Thanks.
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Old 04-24-2022, 06:29 PM   #6
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Mine would do that right after we bought the MH. It turned out to be a loose positive connection on the exterior firewall distribution block where a heavy 12V cable supplies the dash area. It would even cause the engine to stumble.
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