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Old 06-17-2021, 10:12 PM   #1
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2013 Chevy Equinox Battery Dying.

I've searched high and low. I've read a hundred threads. I'm lost.

Hoping someone can help me with a problem Iím having with my Chevrolet Equinox battery dying when I flat tow it. I have a charge line coming from the RV through a breaker and a diode wired to the positive terminal of the battery.

The lead from the RV is confirmed to be supplying 14V and Iíve confirmed this on the output side of the diode. If I measure across the battery negative terminal the the lead from the diode Iím getting 14V as well. HoweverÖas soon as I connect the lead from the diode to the battery the voltage drops to 12.6 measured across the battery.

I compared this to the car charging system. If the car is running (and not hooked up to the RV) I get 14V across the battery.

Iím at a total loss. Everything tells me the battery should be charging but as soon as the lead is connected something seems to be failing.

Anyone have an idea on how to trouble-shoot this issue?
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Old 06-17-2021, 10:35 PM   #2
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Length and gage of the charge wire are factors , only takes milli-amps to get a digital meter to show 14 volts, but to provide battery charging voltage takes wiring and connections that will carry good amps .
If you leave the charge wire connected , does the wire get hot ?
How many hours of towing before the toad battery is dead ?
How many times has the battery been drawn down to dead?

The toad engine alternator probably rated at 85/100 amps and a short heavy wire to the battery.

Any chance the breaker is tripping while you're towing and only providing charge to the toad part time.
What's the breaker rated at ?
What type of diode are you using ?
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Old 06-17-2021, 10:40 PM   #3
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The wire is 12 gauge, maybe 48" long.

The wire does NOT get hot.
Two hours is about the max until the battery dies.
My Blue Ox braking system will start to give me low voltage warnings around 1.5 hours.

Here is a picture.

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Old 06-17-2021, 11:02 PM   #4
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I've got the exact same problem. If I tow more than a couple hours the battery will be low to dead. I also have a power supply coming from the coach which when the coach is running has 14V and is connected directly to the car battery without a diode. However a connection to 14V alone will not charge a battery as it needs to be connected to the output of the alternator via an isolator (diode). One would think that by providing 14V to the tow'd vehicle that would provide current to operate whatever electrical load is in the car?

I found and followed the service bulletin 17-NA-348 (attached) for 4 cyl engine versions like mine which changes which fuse is removed when towing. Per bulletin they keep the electric steering energized to maintain stability. "An auxiliary battery charger will need to be installed and the charging leads connected to the battery of the vehicle to be towed. This will prevent discharging the battery on the dinghy tow vehicle."

The only problem is short of rewiring the power supply of the coach to connect to the coach alternator I'm not sure how you can connect an auxiliary battery charger? I'd hate to have to run 120VAC lines back to the toad to run a charger off the coach inverter while going down the road.

I carry a battery charger and one of the capacitor type jump starters so when I get somewhere and the car is dead I can get it started and then charge it back up at the camp site. Running batteries dead is tough on them so I too am looking for a solution. I'm going to contact Roadmaster and see if they have any ideas.
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Old 06-17-2021, 11:07 PM   #5
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I've got the exact same problem. [snip]
It's so frustrating. Even if I was to install an auxiliary charging system I think I'd have the same problem. The electrons are flowing - something is stopping them inside the car.

After a couple of hours the battery gets so low that the brake system stops working. I've had times where I'm just towing a car with no working brake system - totally unacceptable but I can't seem to fix it.
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Old 06-18-2021, 05:37 AM   #6
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Did you connect the diode backwards? It will completely block current flow if backwards. Even if the diode is hooked up in the right direction, it will reduce the voltage by .6 to .8 volts or so which will reduce the charging effectiveness. My Freightliner chassis 12v line in the trailer connector is only hot when the coach ignition is on (using an ignition switched relay) so I don’t use a diode in order to have maximum charging effectiveness. Is your coach 12v line also only hot when the ignition is on? If so, ditch the diode altogether or just disconnect the umbilical when not traveling if it’s not. You need to use a DC clamp meter to understand what is really going on. Hookup the toad, put into tow mode, and clamp the meter around your charge line and see exactly how many amps are flowing into the battery. Then clamp around the positive battery cable and measure how many amps are flowing out of the battery. The difference is how many net amps are either entering or leaving the toad battery. Armed with that information, you will begin to understand what’s going on and allow you make changes to address the problem and immediately verify when you have solved the problem. Note that a simple charge line IS an auxiliary battery charger when connected to the toad battery and is effectively already connected to the output of the alternator (the reason for the measured 14 volts). The coach alternator is providing that regulated power through the charge line directly to the toad battery. I expect that the blocking diodes are installed backwards in both Islandsmith’s and Windward’s installations.
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Old 06-18-2021, 06:27 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Islandsmith View Post
It's so frustrating. Even if I was to install an auxiliary charging system I think I'd have the same problem. The electrons are flowing - something is stopping them inside the car.

After a couple of hours the battery gets so low that the brake system stops working. I've had times where I'm just towing a car with no working brake system - totally unacceptable but I can't seem to fix it.

What kind of braking system do you have, could that be draining the battery faster than it is charging?
My BrakeBuddy must have been original to the first owner. On my last trip it developed an air leak and the compressor would not shut off.
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Old 06-18-2021, 07:11 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Windward View Post
I've got the exact same problem. If I tow more than a couple hours the battery will be low to dead. I also have a power supply coming from the coach which when the coach is running has 14V and is connected directly to the car battery without a diode. However a connection to 14V alone will not charge a battery as it needs to be connected to the output of the alternator via an isolator (diode). One would think that by providing 14V to the tow'd vehicle that would provide current to operate whatever electrical load is in the car?

I found and followed the service bulletin 17-NA-348 (attached) for 4 cyl engine versions like mine which changes which fuse is removed when towing. Per bulletin they keep the electric steering energized to maintain stability. "An auxiliary battery charger will need to be installed and the charging leads connected to the battery of the vehicle to be towed. This will prevent discharging the battery on the dinghy tow vehicle."

The only problem is short of rewiring the power supply of the coach to connect to the coach alternator I'm not sure how you can connect an auxiliary battery charger? I'd hate to have to run 120VAC lines back to the toad to run a charger off the coach inverter while going down the road.

I carry a battery charger and one of the capacitor type jump starters so when I get somewhere and the car is dead I can get it started and then charge it back up at the camp site. Running batteries dead is tough on them so I too am looking for a solution. I'm going to contact Roadmaster and see if they have any ideas.
Windward, I misread that you werenít using a diode in my response to Islandsmith above. I suspect that you have something in your charge line setup that is limiting the charging amperage to your toad. Things like a bad ground, inadequate wire size, and poor connections will limit the necessary charging amps. A DC clamp meter could also help you understand your situation and find and correct the problem. You can easily eliminate problems with the clamp meters. For example, connect the vehicles and put in tow mode with the coach running and measure the charging and vehicle consumption amps. That will give you a baseline on which to work. Then add a heavy ground wire connecting the two chassis and see if the charging amps increases. If it does, then your problem is somewhere in the ground path. If not, disconnect the umbilical (leave the heavy ground wire connected) and connect a heavy wire between the two battery positive terminals and measure the amps flowing through that wire with the clamp meter. If it increases, the problem is in the charge line path. The problem may be in either of the two umbilical connectors, the umbilical itself, or the wire path on either end of the umbilical connectors. But the clamp meter will help you find the general problem area and verify when you fix it.
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Old 06-18-2021, 08:08 AM   #9
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I can confirm the diode is installed correctly. I can measure the voltage supplied by the RV on the output side of the diode so I'll take your advice and get myself a DC clamp meter.
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Old 06-18-2021, 08:33 AM   #10
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I can confirm the diode is installed correctly. I can measure the voltage supplied by the RV on the output side of the diode so I'll take your advice and get myself a DC clamp meter.
If you are getting the same voltage on both sides of the diode to ground before a load, then something is wrong with the diode. The output side should be on the order of .6 volts or more lower than the input side.
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Old 06-18-2021, 09:13 AM   #11
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Bikinjim has it right. To check the system out, just remove the diode from the system completely, and see what the CURRENT FLOW in the charge line reads. I've been using a charge line without any diodes or other "charging regulator" type junk on three different toads and three different class A's for over 250,000 tow miles and have never had a problem. I have a Cigar Lighter type voltmeter that I leave plugged into the toad receptacle all the time and can see it jump when I plug the Bus in (running). However, newer toads are set up so this receptacle goes unpowered after a short period of time. BTW, a 12 ga charge wire's resistance will cut your charge rate a bit when the toad battery is very low but would probably be fine in 99% of the time. As the toad battery charges, it's internal resistance increases and the current flow decreases, so wire size becomes less important.
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Old 06-18-2021, 11:35 AM   #12
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If you are getting the same voltage on both sides of the diode to ground before a load, then something is wrong with the diode. The output side should be on the order of .6 volts or more lower than the input side.
Correction, I should have been more precise. I should have said I validated the diode is installed in the correct direction as I can measure voltage on the output side - and it is dropping half a volt or so.
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Old 06-18-2021, 04:56 PM   #13
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Here's how I'd approach this. You need to figure out whether the voltage drop between the motorhome and the car is on the charging line or the ground line, or both.

1. Hook up the car to the motorhome, configure it for towing, and start the motorhome.

2. Measure the voltage at the motorhome end of the 7-pin connector, if possible. I'm guessing it will be OK, 13.5 volts or higher. Record the measurement. If you cannot get to the 7-pin, skip this step.

3. Measure the car's battery voltage at the posts. When mine was not being charged adequately the voltage was 12.5 volts or lower fairly quickly. Record the voltage.

4. Measure the voltage drop between the car's POSITIVE battery post and the 7-pin connector if you can get to it. Otherwise go directly to the motorhome's battery. That will take a really long wire but it can be a small gauge. Record the measurement.

5. Measure the voltage drop between the car's NEGATIVE battery post and the chassis of the motorhome. Record the measurement.

If you see more than a few tenths of a volt in this step, the ground wire is inadequate. The ground wire is the other half of the charging circuit but is also shared with the car's lights. Most people do not realize that an under-sized ground wire can be as big a problem as an under-sized charging line.

If you see a voltage drop of more than a few tenths of a volt in this step, get your car jumper cables. You are not going to jump anything. Rather, you are going to use the black cable to see if an inadequate ground wire is the problem.

Put the black jumper cable directly on the car's NEGATIVE battery post. Keep the red clamp well away from anything; you're not going to use it.

Put the other end of the black jumper cable on a good ground on the motorhome. Effectively you're creating a new, heavy gauge ground wire temporarily.

If the voltage you measured in step 5 drops to zero or very near it, put the voltmeter across the car battery posts and see if the voltage just jumped up. If so, you need to replace your ground wire between the car and the motorhome, probably just from the car to the connector on the car.

Once you know where the largest voltage drop is, on the charging line or on the ground line, you know which problem to tackle first.

If you do not have a clamp-on DC ammeter, that will make this job a lot easier. Consider buying one or borrowing one.

Please report back with the voltages you see and people can tell you the implications.

HTH,

Ray
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Old 06-18-2021, 06:46 PM   #14
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The first question that needs to be answered is how old is the battery in your car and what is the CCA rating?
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