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Old 12-18-2009, 06:17 PM   #1
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Engine shuts down, dash electrical power fails

I have a 2002 Dutch Star (model 3872) on a Freightliner Chassis and Cat 330 engine. On a recent trip after exiting the freeway in Gallup at night, the engine died and all electrical power to the dash failed. After a short time, power came back on and the engine started. We continued to a local campground. We were unable to get into a Freightliner shop so we continued east and over the next few days we had no problems. Upon entering Arkansas, again in the evening and shortly after turning on the headlights, the same thing happened again. Engine died, all electrical power to the dash was gone. Again, after a very short time (a minute or less), the power returned and we were able to start the engine and continue to a campground. We were able to continue again on the following day with no problems but we drove only during daylight hours. I suspect that I could have a weak auto reset circuit breaker. I am thinking circuit breaker since we were able to restart the engine and continue to a campground without additional shutdowns each time with headlights on. Should there be a code stored somewhere that will tell me what or where the problem occurred? Any ideas on what circuit breaker might be failing and where it would be located? Thanks for the help.
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Old 12-18-2009, 10:14 PM   #2
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Welcome Ermann479 to the Newmar forum and irv2.
Have you checked your battery and ground connections on chassis batteries and ground to frame of chassis. Ground off chassis battery to frame and a ground strap off engine to chassis frame. May have one of the connections loose and corroded.
I will move your question down to the FL forum maybe we will get some quicker answers. Your question will also be here so stay tuned.
Enjoy the forums and do post often.
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Old 12-19-2009, 08:48 PM   #3
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Wow, that's really scary. Diesels are supposed to be so reliable for thousands and thousands of miles but the list of things like this that can literally leave a person stranded just keeps growing (fan hub bearing, plastic radiator tank, air line leaks, clogged fuel filters - either one, engine coolant thermostats, engine fuel injectors, water contaminated fuel, etc.). I've owned 3 gas motorhomes and never had nor heard of these kind of breakdowns with a gasser-maybe just lucky with them.

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Old 12-20-2009, 09:45 AM   #4
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You may have a code, and VMSpc could retrieve it. What if anything functions when the engine dies? It may be a complete loss of chassis battery power. Check the ground(s). If the engine is running you should be able to run on the alternator even if the chassis battery is bad. You do need your grounds in any case. I believe the alternator has its own ground due to it being bolted onto the engine. A call to Freightliner at 800 385 4357 is surely in order. It seems to go beyond the battery or a ground connection. Reading a code would be a very good idea.
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Old 12-20-2009, 06:18 PM   #5
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I will double check the grounds and maybe give Freightliner a call. When this happens, everything shuts down. No warning buzzers, gauges, lights, or anything including engine. We just came back from a trip up the Alaska Highway so I may have a little corrosion going on from the numerous construction zones so a faulty ground may indeed be the issue. If I find the problem, I'll post it here but recreating the problem may be as hard as finding it. I do hate troubleshooting intermittent issues and twice in two weeks and 2000 miles sure qualifies as intermittent! Thanks for the replies so far. If there are any other ideas out there, I certainly appreciate the input.
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Old 12-20-2009, 06:38 PM   #6
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FWIW, I had the need to visit a Freightliner service center this last week pertaining to a few electrical issues. It was mentioned a number of times as to how sensitive the electrical sensors and connections are to any issue where low voltage or poor grounding could be or become a factor.
On our coach the electrical CPU needed to be reflashed, the next day it was found that the light bar needed and still needs to be replaced. Later in the day when I turned off the headlight switch they remained on. Yet when I turned off the ingnition and the headlight switch the lights did go dark. When I started the coach today everythings works as it should. I figure it was either a gremlin or an electrical burp.
I will be putting the coach in the shop here in the next week or so to have the light bar replaced and reflashed, which should take care of the problem.....I hope.
AS for a diesel being dependable and lasting for many miles and years, well they are with proper maintance. However everything, has a weak link somewhere. This is where sites like this and many others are of great value, and a wealth of free information. When you find a posting about something that you feel has no value to you, take the time and read it. Take the time to Educate yourself, you never know when you may find you need that little piece of information you picked up here on line.
So bottom line is, keep up with the continuing education, keep the phone number to Freightliner handy, maintain proper maintance, and, lets see I know there is one more item........what is it........Oh yea, have deep pockets for when it is no longer a warranty covered item....LOL!!
But to be serious, Thank you all for your past, present and future help in keeping my future RV matters in check and doing so with the use of the KISS practice....Keep it Simple.
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Old 12-24-2009, 07:55 AM   #7
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We had a similar problem two years ago. We have a 2004 Freightliner chassis, so I'm not sure it applies to your chassis. The same thing was happening- dash lights flash and the engine shuts down, after a minute or two everything works fine. We were on our way to Winnebago so we had them look at it for us. They consulted with Freightliner and were told to check/replace a 125 amp relay/circuit breaker located on the frame behind the right rear wheels. They also cleaned the ground wires and positive cables at the junction blocks. The problem was solved. Good Luck!
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Old 12-30-2009, 04:17 PM   #8
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I have a 2000 Frieighliner chassis with the Cummins engine, but the electrical should be similar. The main circuit breaker 125 amp was intermittent. On my coach it is located on a metal bracket attached to the bottom of the frame on the drivers side behind the rear wheel. On the opposite side are two 110 amp circuit breakers with relays for the engine intake heat. Cummins only I believe. In a pinch one of these can be switched to get you started and home.

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Old 02-26-2010, 06:27 PM   #9
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I have a 2007 National TropiCal with the Cat 330. We are experiencing similar problem. The difference is the engine is ok. We stopped one afternoon in the rain to eat. I shut everything down. After 30 minutes, I started the engine, but no wipers, no front heater, and no back up camera. Also the power lever system was not working during the stay at the last campgrounds. Didn't want to mess with it for fear I would not get them up. This is the second occurance except the other was during the summer and no air. The summer occurance corrected it self several miles down the road when everything came back on. It is in the shop now to find the problem before our next long trip. It is suggest that it may be a relay problem. This last event continued for over 100 miles, pulling over to clean window. Then I allowed a semi to get in front of me and he flashed his running lights and I acknowledged by doing the same. After hitting the switch everything started running again. Go figure.
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Old 03-03-2010, 11:05 PM   #10
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We had a similar problem on our Holiday Rambler Navigator, Cummins 300hp The engine would shut off when the fog lights were turned on, then with the car trailer connected, occasionally when the turn indicators were on it would quit and eventually it got so bad that every time we used the indicators the engine quit and got as long as 20 minutes before it would restart.

We spent 3 weeks searching for the problem and eventually traced it to the master solenoid that was breaking down under heavy load. Replaced it and (fingers crossed) we've had no more problems.

The previous owner struggled with it like this for more than 10 years and no workshop could find the problem!
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Old 03-06-2010, 09:44 PM   #11
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Thanks for all the inputs. Our problem was the engine ran fine, just some things would not work. It has been in the shop now for 5 weeks. They said they found a short in the wiper unit. Everything check ok. But will wait and see. Most of the time in the shop is due to a motor failure on the large slide. Trying to get motor, but on back order. Couple of week more they say.
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Old 04-02-2010, 08:48 AM   #12
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I reference to the master solenoid that you describe. Where was this located? Is this different than the relays described by another responder on the right rear frame behind the wheel?
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Old 04-02-2010, 01:47 PM   #13
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Freightliner must be notorious for bad electrical problems. I never read about any other chassis having such electrical gremlins, and I've got my share also. Two-three times a year my dash instruments will go dead for one-three days then all at once everything is fine again. A FL dealer worked all afternoon, charged me over $300, and didn't find a thing, but the dash came back on the next day and they wouldn't look for an unknown. Most times I'm not close enough to a town to get it looked at while the dash is dead.
Good luck on your problem.

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Old 04-02-2010, 02:53 PM   #14
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engine shuts down dash electrical power fails

I had same symptoms as you...Ended up replacing same part on passenger frame rail as IndianaJourney did..It is a cheap relay device made in Mexico with the relay bar pressed and not soldered....After $1100 in diagonostics without finding the problem, A freightliner tech told me to try jumping the relay to test it and problem went away immediately...The relay was only transferring 4 volts and putting the lights on was too much....This part is hard to find..lay on your back and it is about opposite the Allison and in the interior of the passenger side frame rail on a plate with the engine air intake heater and the starter solonoid...You can see it easier from above....To jump it make a wire and connect the 2 posts or take off the cable from the battery side and attach it to the post on the engine side which jumps the gap...good luck. I ran all the way from Montana to NY this way until I got a new relay from Freightliner...Carry a spare or two as this part is notorious for failure especially after a bumpy road.,,,,RKL2
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