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Old 05-29-2015, 12:34 PM   #1
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Confounding coach battery on 2014 AI

I'm new at everything here.

1. Buy used 2014 AI EXT from AS dealer, 7,000 miles
2. Coach battery doesn't seem to hold charge.
3. Do a ton of function testing and troubleshooting.
4. Take to dealer (1 hour away), advise of issue. Also advise that it may not be faulty battery
5. Ignored for three weeks then pick up van after paying $950 for new battery. No Lifeline warranty, not even pro-rated. No bill of sale for new battery, no warranty card.
6. They swore that they function checked it and it is super duper.
7. Van goes to bed with full battery (float charging), shore power disconnected, main battery disconnected and wakes up dead. Propane detector doesn't even have enough juice to work. Not enough battery to start generator. Inverter shows low battery fault.
8. Start truck for a few minutes. Turn on inverter and it takes about 5 minutes of clickety start up procedures. Shows 12.5 volts.
8a. LBC is set at 11. All other Magnum settings seem correct.
9. Turn on TV. Turn off truck. TV dies after 10 minutes, no juice.
10.Reconnect shore power. Takes about an hour to go through charging cycle...bulk/absorb/float.
11. Disconnect shore power turn on inverter. Ten more minutes of TV, then nada.

Questions. Any ideas on what the problem is? Anyone run into this before? Am I holding my mouth wrong. Does it seem like the dealer ripped me off? Any further troubleshooting ideas? It there something so obvious and simple and stupid that I am not seeing it?

Thanks for any help or advice.
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Old 05-29-2015, 01:00 PM   #2
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Some who know more of these things than I will chime in and give you good info, but.......it sounds as if something is on and draining your battery.

$950 sounds like a lot for a battery.

Seems to me your dealer should have dealt with this for free, if you hadn't had it very long.

Maybe make a bit of racket with them, and try to get at least partial reimbursement.

And, why no bill of sale or warranty?

If the dealer doesn't make it right, might contact the Mothership, as this sounds problematic on several fronts.

Hang in there, and welcome.


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Old 05-29-2015, 01:34 PM   #3
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A 2014 Interstate is well within the standard Airstream warranty, and as a used vehicle from an Airstream dealer, you should also have a bona fide warranty anyway from the dealer. So I cannot see why the dealer would want to charge you for a new set of batteries. You shouldn't let them get away with it.

Regarding the batteries themselves, they sold you a "new" set of Lifeline batteries - and they didn't provide you with any paperwork or warranty - and they appeared dead the next morning; and after you plugged into shore power they took an hour to go through bulk/absorb/float? If these "new" batteries were in perfect condition and had full capacity, it would take several hours to get into the float cycle. So I would say, either the batteries they gave you were also dead and had very little capacity, or possibly your Magnum settings are out.

Attached (hopefully) is a pdf of the recommended settings for the standard batteries.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf Magnum settings .pdf (309.1 KB, 35 views)
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Old 05-29-2015, 02:01 PM   #4
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The Airstream warranty does not cover the coach batteries. The Lifeline warranty is for one year and then prorated to 60 months so I should have had at least 70% of a warranty left on the battery. Maybe that's only for original owner. Batteries on line are about $650 and this outfit charges $140/ hour for labor. So $950 hurt but seemed reasonable. Of course, if I had known it was the batteries, I would have done it myself and saved $300. I thought the dealer would find the "real" problem.

Airstream warranty was transferred (for a stiff fee) and would cover issues with the inverter, wiring, other components or parasitic shorts, if the dealer was talented and committed enough to correctly diagnose the problem.

It is my understanding that the propane detector, motorized lounge and tank heaters are the only official electrical draws when the main battery disconnect is deployed.
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Old 05-29-2015, 02:47 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VAtom View Post
Batteries on line are about $650 and this outfit charges $140/ hour for labor. So $950 hurt but seemed reasonable. Of course, if I had known it was the batteries, I would have done it myself and saved $300.
You do realize that late-model Airstream Interstates have TWO house batteries, right? If only one was replaced, what about the other one? Did it test good, or did they ignore it?

Of course that doesn't explain an endurance on battery power of only 10 minutes. But I think I might have an answer there…
Quote:
10.Reconnect shore power. Takes about an hour to go through charging cycle...bulk/absorb/float.
11. Disconnect shore power turn on inverter. Ten more minutes of TV, then nada.
Hooking up shore power with the inverter/charger turned off will NOT charge the batteries! The inverter/charger has to be turned on, and it will default to charger mode as soon as it detects incoming 120vAC service. So basically, it appears from your description that the batteries weren't charging because you weren't actually charging them. I may be mistaken, but that's how I read your initial post, and it would explain the symptoms you reported.
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Old 05-29-2015, 03:17 PM   #6
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Once more into the breech

Quote:
Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
…Hooking up shore power with the inverter/charger turned off will NOT charge the batteries! The inverter/charger has to be turned on, and it will default to charger mode as soon as it detects incoming 120vAC service.
Thanks, I can't remember if that was one of my many undocumented attempts. I will try it this evening. The Magnum does say it's in charging mode. First bulk, then absorb, then float.

It still seems that they shouldn't have drained overnight without load after the drive home from the dealer

They did say they replaced both batteries which tracks with the price.
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Old 05-29-2015, 03:19 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Protagonist View Post
Hooking up shore power with the inverter/charger turned off will NOT charge the batteries! The inverter/charger has to be turned on, and it will default to charger mode as soon as it detects incoming 120vAC service. So basically, it appears from your description that the batteries weren't charging because you weren't actually charging them. I may be mistaken, but that's how I read your initial post, and it would explain the symptoms you reported.
Humm, Protag, with all due respect, and unless I've been wrong all along, I do believe the Magnum system is smart enough to not care whether the inverter is on or off, as long as shore power is available.
When my AI is not in use, it's always plugged into shore power in the garage, and I always leave the inverter to off and the battery disconnect enabled. And the batteries are fully charged when I'm ready to roll.
Perhaps the TrippLite works the way you describe?
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Old 05-29-2015, 03:58 PM   #8
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Vatom: Another possibility is the dealer didn't actually replace the batteries which would explain no warranty or BoS paper work.

Does the solar panel charge? Does the chassis battery stay charged?

UKDUDE: The TrippLite does only charge when either in Auto or Charge mode.
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Old 05-29-2015, 04:32 PM   #9
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Vatom: Another possibility is the dealer didn't actually replace the batteries which would explain no warranty or BoS paper work.

Does the solar panel charge? Does the chassis battery stay charged?
The remote solar display indicates charging, but I have no idea if it is lying to me or not. No issues with the chassis battery...Go MB! (although I did learn over the winter about the sooper seekrit disconnect for the chassis battery)

Incompetence, poor communication and poor coordination are somewhat excusable, if aggravating. But downright dishonesty or covering up is really disheartening.
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Old 05-29-2015, 04:55 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by UKDUDE View Post
Humm, Protag, with all due respect, and unless I've been wrong all along, I do believe the Magnum system is smart enough to not care whether the inverter is on or off, as long as shore power is available.
I was just going by what VAtom said, which was "disconnected shore power, turned on inverter." Which VAtom wouldn't actually need to do if the inverter/charger was automatically switching from charge mode to invert mode as soon as the shore power was disconnected— as it's supposed to do.

But I suppose I missed an inherent assumption somewhere that you guys all picked up on. Which COULD happen… now that I'm retired, my engineering analyticalness (is that a word?) has atrophied from lack of exercise.
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Old 05-29-2015, 05:01 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UKDUDE View Post
Humm, Protag, with all due respect, and unless I've been wrong all along, I do believe the Magnum system is smart enough to not care whether the inverter is on or off, as long as shore power is available.

When my AI is not in use, it's always plugged into shore power in the garage, and I always leave the inverter to off and the battery disconnect enabled. And the batteries are fully charged when I'm ready to roll.

Perhaps the TrippLite works the way you describe?

UKDUDE - you are correct. The 2014 AI has. Magnum unit. Protag has a 2012, the last year they installed the TrippLite units.


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Old 05-30-2015, 07:32 PM   #12
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My Lifeline coach batteries died on my 2014 AS IS after nine months, and coincidentally at a little over 7,000 miles last year. Since I bought new, I called Jackson Center(JC) to ask how to proceed. They told me the dealer could help. I went to the local dealer (which bought out the dealer I had purchased from in 2013) and was told to "pound sand" essentially by the customer service manager - he told me they do not handle the batteries and they did not know who did!

I called JC and they told me the dealer should have helped, but that they can't control the dealers. As I learned on this forum for many other matters, my next step was to contact the OEM, the Lifeline battery manufacturer, based in Cali. After some back and forth, we mutually discovered there were no lifeline dealers in my area. They asked me to take the batteries to a Batteries Plus store, and if they could document my batteries were indeed dead, they would replace them. BP did confirm and Lifeline shipped me two new batteries, which were actually almost fully charged when they arrived. They have been in place about 13 months now and seem to be doing fine.

One bit of advice from Lifeline was to keep connected with shore power when sitting for more than a few days, if possible. That differs from my IS manually which says to top them off every few weeks. Since that is what I did leading up to my dead initial set, I have since connected my shore power when the IS sits at home.
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Old 05-30-2015, 11:44 PM   #13
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Being a dealer and warranty center for both Magnum and Lifeline, here is the 'skinny' on the operational and warranty issues.

First, all Magnum inverter/chargers are indeed smart enough to sense the presence of 120 VAC shore or generator power and will respond to the power by immediately activating the charging section.

Also, as the Magnums are also very smart charges, you can and should keep your coach plugged in all the time, as the magnum will constantly check your Lifelines for proper charge and will keep them safely in float mode as required.

Your dealer definitely dropped the ball all the way around! You did the right thing by contacting Lifeline directly in your situation.

Glad test you got it resolved to your satisfaction.


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Old 05-31-2015, 12:32 AM   #14
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I'd like to also add here that in my opinion Airstream ought to bear some responsibility too since they have failed miserably to keep the Owner's Manual up to date over successive years. Certainly the 2014 Manual still refers to the TrippLite inverter/charger when the Magnum was already installed for that year. Had owners known that they can, and should, keep shore power plugged when their AI is not in use, it may have saved many owners from having to replace their batteries.
The 2016 Owner's Manual has had many of these omissions corrected and Is worth downloading.


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