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Old 06-05-2020, 08:25 AM   #1
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Bizarre electric/battery problem

Greetings friends,

I"m in a pickle. If you can help solve my problem, I will certainly owe you a cold one or treat of your choice next time I pass through your area.

General info: 2019 Fleetwood Pace Arrow 35 E.

The problem: Everything that operates on the chassis battery such as cruise control, steps, and radio randomly turns off after a short drive. It also occurs sometimes while not driving but occurs quicker if I'm going in and out (I leave my steps locked in the down position, so they are not retracting." The battery monitor that came in my Coach says "0 Volts when this occurs."

If I plug in or run my generator for 2 minutes, it reads 13.1 volts on the coach battery monitor, and everything returns to working condition. If I turn off the generator or unplug, it settles on about 12.6 volts and stays there for hours if unused. If I drive the problem is reproduced quickly with nothing working, and the battery monitor returns to 0 despite my multimeter readings suggesting the battery is still charged and ready. If I'm camping, the problem occurs after a couple hours of being parked. During the day my solar panel seems to keep things working ok until I start using stuff or driving, but at night it occurs quickly.

I took my batteries to a battery shop after leaving leaving the plugged in to charge where they were load tested and passed with flying colors. I was fully expecting to need new batteries.

Multimeter readings:
- 14.3 V with engine running. Coach battery monitor only reads 12.2-12.7 depending on what is turned on. Dash fan seems to lower it by 3 V for instance.
- 12.7 with engine off and all accessories working. Coach monitor reads similar.
- 12.6 after all accessories stop working. Coach battery monitor reads 0. The battery monitor never seems to decrease gradually. It just suddenly reads 0, and things stop working.


My nonexpert thoughts:
- My alternator is working because my voltage at the batteries is > 14 with the engine running but 12.7 with the engine off.
- It seems like my battery is fine, yet somehow power is not getting to the coach due to the monitor reading 0 and steps, radio, cruise control not working.

Is there some sort of breaker or circuit that is being tripper/shut off/shorted that resolves temporarily after I plug in or run the generator?

Should the battery monitor read higher than 12.7 when fully charged with the engine running? I feel like the alternator should result in a higher reading. I find it odd the multimeter reads > 14, but the monitor is nowhere close to this.

Or was the battery shop wrong? Maybe I need 2 new chassis batteries. I have had this MH less than 1 year. I already cleaned the battery terminal contacts really well with no improvement.
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Old 06-05-2020, 11:27 AM   #2
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You posted a lot of good info and battery readings. I'm not big on electrical, but basically, it sounds like you're getting intermittent power loss. Hopefully someone more technical will digest your info and have some ideas.

You should have what is often called a "salesman switch" near the front door, that allows you to switch off all 12 volt power when you place the coach in storage. That switch typically powers a large solenoid, that connects two large battery cables together. That solenoid may be failing or the cables are loose. On many motor homes, that solenoid is located in the run bay, the storage bay under the driver's window. A good test for this, disconnect the two large battery cables from the solenoid and bolt them together and wrap in black electrical tape. By doing this, you'll eliminate that switch by the door and the solenoid. Many leave there cables connected together and eliminate future issues. In your case, it would be a way to test the solenoid and replace if necessary, especially on a newer coach.

Another place to look, would be a battery disconnect switch for the engine batteries and make sure it's not faulty. Over the years, some of those have fallen apart, but typically, they're in coaches a few years old.

After that, I would chase down all the large battery cables, from the engine batteries, and check them for tightness, especially where they connect to ground (frame).
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Old 06-05-2020, 11:32 AM   #3
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Is it still under warranty?
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Old 06-05-2020, 11:58 AM   #4
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+1 on the intermittent. Or possibly an internal intermittent short in a battery.

Do as suggested by DSD above, plus hook up a VOM and start shaking your batteries, hard, one at a time, while watching voltage. An internal short will act like an off-switch momentarily.
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Old 06-05-2020, 12:11 PM   #5
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You have a bad connection somewhere, whether that's a loose terminal, intermittent relay or switch. The devices that you identified as inoperative can provide an important clue where this connection is failing. If it's all on one fused circuit, you would trace back to the source where things still work and isolate from there. It could even be a loose or mechanically failing fuse itself. Affected devices that cross multiple fused circuits implies a feed or bus problem that you would similarly isolate. The fact it's on/off and readily duplicated means it should be pretty straightforward to track down, provided you can come up with a wiring diagram. Without a wiring diagram it gets a lot more complicated since circuits can sometimes route places that aren't always the shortest distance between two points.

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Old 06-05-2020, 12:12 PM   #6
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I'm going to try the ideas mentioned.

Additional info: Even when everything shuts off and the monitor reads 0, I can still start the engine with no problem. This makes me think I have good power in the batteries, but the batter is not getting to the coach.
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Old 06-05-2020, 12:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dutch Star Don View Post
You posted a lot of good info and battery readings. I'm not big on electrical, but basically, it sounds like you're getting intermittent power loss. Hopefully someone more technical will digest your info and have some ideas.

You should have what is often called a "salesman switch" near the front door, that allows you to switch off all 12 volt power when you place the coach in storage.
Is this the "salesman switch?"

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It is located inside the door just over the entry steps.

I have this other switch, the red one in the basement, which is located in just to the left of my entry door. I'm not sure what it does.

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Old 06-05-2020, 12:58 PM   #8
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It looks like that red switch has one wire going directly to the inverter, and I can't tell where the other wire goes.
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Old 06-05-2020, 02:07 PM   #9
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The red switch completely disconnects your engine battery. It's the same as taking one of the leads off your engine battery.

I have a similar switch for my engine battery and also another one for my two house batteries.

If I'm going to be parked for more than a week I turn off the engine battery to prevent it from running down which will occur after a couple weeks.
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Old 06-05-2020, 02:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arch Hoagland View Post
The red switch completely disconnects your engine battery. It's the same as taking one of the leads off your engine battery.

I have a similar switch for my engine battery and also another one for my two house batteries.

If I'm going to be parked for more than a week I turn off the engine battery to prevent it from running down which will occur after a couple weeks.
Thanks. So it looks like this was not the salesman switch. I never did locate the salesman switch unless it's the one above in my pictures. I also couldn't find a solenoid in the bay under the driver door. I took a few pics to show what's in that bay.

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Old 06-05-2020, 02:45 PM   #11
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I found 3 solenoids near the chassis batteries in the back driver side bay door. Maybe one of these is the culprit?

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Old 06-05-2020, 03:33 PM   #12
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There is no salesman switch, stop looking. Its a made up name for a battery disconnect switch. It has a few names but never labeled Salesman.

In your second photo, there is a black box that may contain the house and chassis disconnect relays.

The large relay you point to is the battery aux start relay. It connects the house battery to the chassis battery for jump starting.

The smaller one, labled the charge relay, looks like it handles the charging bridge between the chassis and house battery, when the engie is running.

Non of these will cause your issue, but if the cables doubled up on the large terminals are lose, it could.

Get your problem to show up and using the back of your hand feel for heat on any connection you can find. Heat means resistance and a bad connection.
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Old 06-05-2020, 05:36 PM   #13
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"twinboat"....what's your issue lately?? I said it was a switch OFTEN called a "salesman switch" something many call it. Yes, it's a battery disconnect switch, OFTEN used by SALESMAN to kill the batteries on a coach that is open for display. The OP has one and posted a photo.

Good information is often ruined when it's presented in a snarky post.
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Old 06-05-2020, 09:11 PM   #14
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I feel like my MH is just taunting me. I've made a little progress. Here's what I can show you and tell you at this point. There is a relay or solenoid of some sort tripping. It happens while I drive for a while. It frequently happens right after I turn off the ignition. If I go to sleep with everything working, it happens at some point within a few hours while I'm asleep.

I got in my MH tonight with the chassis battery showing 12.6 volts on the monitor. I started the MH up, turned on the lights and AC, and this is what I saw.

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It stayed like this for about 15 minute. I then turned of the MH. I walked back to the monitor, and it still read 12.1. Within a few seconds of turning off the ignition, I heard a distant "click" sound while viewing the monitor as if a relay or solenoid just flipped. This is what I saw on the screen after the click.

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At this point my steps would not come out, and nothing that runs off the chassis battery in the dash would turn on. I double checked by batteries, and each was reading 12.8 Volts on my multimeter.

I plugged the MH in, and about 2 minutes later, everything started working again. This is what the monitor showed after this brief period of being plugged in. It was as if whatever relay or solenoid was flipped initially had been reset automatically.

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So now 2 questions stand between me and a usable MH.

1) What relay or solenoid is tripping to cause this problem? More importantly...
2) Why is the relay or solenoid tripping, and how to I make it stop?


Somebody asked earlier if it was under warranty. It is under warranty still. The problem is that when I want anything looked at, the Fleetwood dealer tells me it's a chassis problem, and the Freightliner dealer tells me it's a Fleetwood problem. I haven't called Fleetwood about this particular problem yet, so it's probably worth a try. I have a big trip coming up in 4 weeks though, and I'm not optimistic they will get it fixed by then. I'm trying to troubleshoot this myself first in order to salvage my trip.
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