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Old 07-22-2017, 12:34 PM   #1
1 Rivet Member
2005 25' International CCD
Oak Ridge , Tennessee
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 19
Charging questions


We're on vacation. Last night, the first night, we boondocked. The 12v lights were noticably dim and lasted about 10 minutes. We traveled about ,5-6 hours. That to me would be enough to charge the batteries? Today, we're on our way to a campground but have noticed at a gas stop, the power hitch won't lower. That tells me something ain't right. What am I missing? What should I check? The batteries are 2-3 years old. Looks like the power to the hitch lift would work if I am plugged in to the truck, but I got nothing...stumped. Disclaimer: we're newbies.
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Old 07-22-2017, 12:43 PM   #2
pmclemore's Avatar

2012 30' International
Walkerton , Virginia
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 2,880
Do you have a multi tester to see if you have power at the rear of the truck? Depending on your truck, the charge line may not be live. When I got my 2004 Chev Duramax, I found that the mega-fuse was not installed and that once I got that in, all worked fine.

The charge line is either the 11 o'clock or 1 o'clock position on the plug. The other is ground. I forget which....

And - if your batteries have not been fully charged up, you really won't get much charge from your tow vehicle anyway. It's a pretty slim straw.

Somebody, please, point me to the road.

AIR 3987
WBCCI 4596
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Old 07-22-2017, 12:45 PM   #3
Rivet Master
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Long Island , New York
Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 14,379
Sorry for your troubles. What is the battery voltage monitor reporting for the battery voltage? [after disconnecting from shore power and the tow vehicle, and waiting an hour]

There have been lots of threads on this recently, for instance:

If you scan the list of topics in this Batteries sub-forum you will see other relevant threads:

As Pat just mentioned, a single charge from the tow vehicle is not enough to charge dead batteries. If your lights failed, the batteries may have been damaged considerably before your trip. The best bet is to take them to an Interstate battery dealer for testing and replacement. As is, they probably need a couple of days of steady charging using shore power, or a plug-in 120-volt battery charger.

A good general source for RV battery info is here:

Good luck!


PS -- Have you checked the water level in each battery cell? Disconnect all charging, and wear safety goggles and gloves. Use only distilled water to fill. You could also buy a hydrometer at an auto parts store to test the specific gravity of each cell.
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Old 07-22-2017, 12:48 PM   #4
pmclemore's Avatar

2012 30' International
Walkerton , Virginia
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 2,880
Reading your post more closely, you said the hitch works when you are plugged into the truck; so forget about my first two paragraphs. But your batteries may not be charging.

Is your converter switch turned off?

Somebody, please, point me to the road.

AIR 3987
WBCCI 4596
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Old 07-22-2017, 01:47 PM   #5
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2002 30' Classic S/O
Melbourne Beach , Florida
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 4,147
If the tongue jack doesn't work when plugged into the truck, and was working before, then your truck is not supplying charge current to the batteries in the trailer. What year/brand is your truck? Some older trucks had a relay that was not installed from the factory that had to be installed to make the battery charge function of the hitch connector work. My 2006 F-150 was like that.

Further, I have read on here, but not independently confirmed, that the charge current from the truck will be not much more than 7 amps. Assuming it is that high and stays that high, that is only about 35-40 amp hours which is about 1/3 the capacity of a single Group 27 battery. If you have two, you are only restoring about 16% of your total capacity. If the batteries were depleted when you started, 16% isn't going to help much. Basically you can't count on the truck to charge the batteries enough to support boondocking. You will need solar and/or a generator.

What was the situation when you started out? Had you been plugged in to shore power long enough to put a good charge on the batteries (several days with the OEM converter, 24 hours or so with a more modern unit)? The batteries going dead after 10 minutes of lights is indicative of poorly charged batteries.

“You cannot reason someone out of a position they have not been reasoned into"
Al, K5TAN and Missy, N4RGO WBCCI 1322
2002 Classic 30 Slideout -S/OS #004
2013 Dodge 2500 Laramie 4x4 Megacab Cummins
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