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Old 06-11-2009, 06:05 PM   #1
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HELP Please! Just got it home, elect issues?

Ok, three hours of showing us how to use it, no problems, everything worked, sounded good, started well, etc. except water heater. Driving it home, I noticed (from behind--I was in the car) that the lights would dim intermittently--it was raining. Also, hubby reported that wipers would speed up/slow down/jam and he couldn't get it over 50. During the test driving, no problems today or earlier in the week. Now, can't get steps down and Amp gauge and other gauges are flicking every several seconds and you can hear a clicking near the battery.
Please help. The mobile RV guy who is coming out to teach us which end is up is not coming until Monday and I fear the battery is being depleted.
What is going on? Best guesses?
No smells, no weird noises.
And so it begins....
If allowed, I don't mind phone calls, just email me if you're willing.
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Old 06-11-2009, 06:30 PM   #2
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Sounds like your battery cable might be loose. Take them off the terminals, cleam them with a terminal cleaner and twist them on tight, try the ignition again.

Annette

P.S. it works with old cars it should work with an MoHo.
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Old 06-11-2009, 06:39 PM   #3
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How?

Alright, how? I can find the batteries, I can see the cables. How exactly do I remove the cables and can I get zapped? Are we talking engine batt or house batteries? If I plug in the RV into the 110 from my house and it solves the issue, is that confirmation that it is likely a battery/alternator thing? Thanks.
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Old 06-11-2009, 06:44 PM   #4
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You should be able to twist them off if not get a wrench and loosen the nut on the side of the cable. No you can't get zapped. Don't let the ends of the cables touch each other, or you they will or can short out.
If you dont have a terminal cleaner, clean the inside of the terminal and the battery post with some seel wool or a pocket knife, just get rid of the oxidation.

Annette
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Old 06-11-2009, 07:10 PM   #5
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Contact is good, batts look clean, no corrosion seen

The place where the cables attach are super clean and look new even--when I'm in the battery compartment I keep hearing a clicking noise coming from to the right of the engine batt, not the house batteries. The 12v stuff is all working fine, it's the engine battery things that seem haywire and now the engine won't turn over/start, just that struggling to turn over noise and the gauges flicker. THey are still flicking every few seconds, too.
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Old 06-11-2009, 07:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swanky View Post
Alright, how? I can find the batteries, I can see the cables. How exactly do I remove the cables and can I get zapped? Are we talking engine batt or house batteries? If I plug in the RV into the 110 from my house and it solves the issue, is that confirmation that it is likely a battery/alternator thing? Thanks.
You probably have three batteries, one engine and two house. To safely remove and install the cables, remove ALL the negative cable ends first, then go back and remove all the positive cable ends. Clean the terminals and cable ends, then install ALL the positive cables first, followed by the negative cable ends.
The "can't get it over 50" thing could be as simple as a clogged fuel filter or smashed flat exhaust pipe.
There is a relay that is supposed to switch to allow the engine alternator to charge the house batteries while driving, it is possible the relay is bad. Of course, there are a dozen other things it could be, but first check that and make sure the connections to it are clean and tight.
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Old 06-11-2009, 09:19 PM   #7
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No luck. Clicking/flickering continue, batt is draining

Strangest thing. Nothing that I know of is on yet the clicking next to the engine battery continues and each time it clicks the gauges flicker as do all lights, even those drawing on house batteries and even now that I have the coach plugged into our house electric. I have run a jump from the house to the engine battery to see if it will charge it but it does not seem to be doing anything and still IT CLICKS!

Anyone know what this is? The battery connections/cables are fine, clean, tight.
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Old 06-11-2009, 09:30 PM   #8
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Clicking at engine batt, losing charge, flickering gauges

Sorry if this cross-posting breaks the rules, but I'm frantic. We just brought her home this afternoon. During the week's first lesson from the PO, all was well, got her up to 65 easily, no problems, all electrical working like a charm. Same thing today as far as electrical. On the drive home, hubby could not get her past 50 and the gauges started flicking every few seconds as did the lights (it was raining, lights were on), and the wipers started to freak out and freeze up requiring my husband to lean out to get the driver's side wiper unstuck umpteen times. This continued after we turned off the motorhome, the clicking noise, the flickering gauges, and the drain on the engine batt. Now, even though I have plugged the motorhome into the house, the same stuff and everything flickers off every few seconds, even things that draw on the house batteries.
I have jumped the engine and house batteries and no change.

Any ideas? I don't want to have to call in a pro the first day I own this thing and I am hoping it's a simple thing that I can fix. I don't know diddly about motorhomes and engines but I'm not afraid or unwilling or unable to try easy things like battery replacement, etc. I am also not afraid to admit it's a job for Superman and pay a pro when that's the case.

Any help is greatly appreciated. 1982 280 Turbo Diesel LE (no name yet)
Thanks,
Audrey
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Old 06-11-2009, 09:32 PM   #9
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relays can disconnect when the power gets really low. the relay disconnecting can let the voltage climb back up and reclose the relay. a bad ground can also do this.

you need to use a volt meter to read the battery voltage at each battery and follow things from there if the voltage is ok until you find where it drops off.

i think there is a relay that lets you use the house batteries for starting the engine. can youy post a picture of the clicking relay?
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Old 06-11-2009, 09:35 PM   #10
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Clicking at engine batt, losing charge, flickering gauges

Greetings Audrey!

I would be more confident if the power plant was Vintage Chrysler/Dodge, but it sure sounds like a voltage regulator on its way out. That is the classic way that my older Dodges always acted when their voltage regulators were about to die. It could also be an alternator with a diode series beginning to fail.

Good luck in locating the Gremlin!

Kevin
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Old 06-11-2009, 09:52 PM   #11
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Will do in the morning. I have lost about a pint of blood to the mosquitoes and have called it a night for poking around. Thank you for your help and I will get pics tomorrow and post them. By then, I expect the battery to be kaput, but we'll see.
Thanks and have a good night.
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Old 06-11-2009, 09:53 PM   #12
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Hello Swanky,

You have given us very good clues. You said that when plugged into 110V the problem is solved. This tells us that when the batterys are recieving a charge from somewhere things behave better. If the cable connections are good at the engine battery we need to measure the DC voltage while the engine is running and when the engine is off. On a fully charged battery you should see something like 12.6 volts. A battery is actually half charged at 12.2 volts. When the engine is running its not uncommon to see 13.5 to 14.5 volts. If you can get the engine to jump start and you see that its over charging past 15 volts or so then your battery might be completely sulfated and in need of replacement. A little more diagnostic is in need to figure this out but dimming lights, slow wipers and possible low engine performance can all be linked to an under charged battery. Keep on the trail and you will figure it out. Everything likes to run on full charged batterys! You might just need an alternator.

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Old 06-11-2009, 10:07 PM   #13
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Shore power does not help

Sadly, the plug into the 110 did not do anything that I can tell except allow the house lights to be bright (when not flickering intermittently). The same clicking, same draining of the engine battery, all the same. Also, the panel that tells the status of the batteries shows the house ones are GOOD and the engine is now down to FAIR, whereas it was GOOD when we were picking it up. Does that change anything?

Fingers are all crossed that it's just a pooped out battery!
Tomorrow I will check the voltage, the relays and anything else that has been suggested.
Thank you.
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Old 06-11-2009, 10:17 PM   #14
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When the mobile repair guy comes out, make sure he brings an alternator with him.

John
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Old 06-11-2009, 10:42 PM   #15
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How much does a new alternator hurt?

We've never used this mobile guy, so what should I expect for a new alternator?
Thanks,
Audrey
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Old 06-11-2009, 10:54 PM   #16
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I can't venture a guess since I have no idea what the prices are where you are. The simplest thing to do is call the shop tomorrow AM and ask. Also, I don't know for sure if it is an alternator. Sounds like it to me and it would be good if he had one with him rather than having to go back to the shop and maybe order one, etc., etc.. You get the idea.

John
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Old 06-11-2009, 11:02 PM   #17
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16volts=bad battery

Hubby just informed me that it was running at 16 on the ride home. I think we have a winner. I'll take the battery up to an auto shop and see what they say, and probably come home with a new one. I'll keep you posted.
Thanks to all for your help.
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Old 06-11-2009, 11:35 PM   #18
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Start simple.

Hi, I see this is not a brand new unit, so I would start with checking the batteries first. A bad battery and/or bad connections can cause all sorts of problems. If the batteries are bad and/or the connections are bad, the alternator and regulator won't work properly nor will anything that runs on these batteries. Start with the basic/simple things first.
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Old 06-12-2009, 06:23 AM   #19
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Audrey, I merged your threads... this is one of those issues where all of the responses should be together. The suggestions you get will be more accurate if there aren't two groups of folks trying to diagnose the same issues.

That said, I'm not a mechanic, nor an auto electrician, but I did stay in a Holiday Inn Express once...

it could be a million things... fortunately, in the older mohos, you're dealing with straight mechanical and wiring... there's little that's computer controlled.

As ROBERTSUNRUS suggested, this is going to be a matter of troubleshooting right down the line. Could be a shorted-out battery; could be a bad ground; could be, could be, could be. It's interesting that the problem is affecting both the coach and chassis systems though... The only place they're tied together is through the ground(s) and charging systems. Otherwise, they should be isolated, so that perhaps gives you a couple of places to look.

Presuming that you have nothing obvious (burned wires, smoke, dangling wires)...

I'd start with the battery cables; and particularly the grounds. Make sure the cables are in good physical condition and that the contacts on BOTH ends are clean and securely fastened. Then check the batteries and charge them fully. Most alternators now have the voltage regulator built in, and I'd presume that to be the case in yours. You may need to pull the alternator to have it tested if you don't have the equipment to do it yourself. If the cables, alternator, and batteries are all good, then my best guess is that you have worn wiring that's causing a short somewhere... and that's probably going to take you a while to troubleshoot. You could have a dash switch that is shorting (lights or wipers or whatever)... you'll just have to track it down a piece at a time. Good luck!

Roger

on edit... it's also interesting that it started when you were driving in the rain and had the wipers going... I wonder what would happen if you pull the wiper circuit fuse...
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Old 06-12-2009, 06:38 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander64 View Post
Greetings Audrey!

I would be more confident if the power plant was Vintage Chrysler/Dodge, but it sure sounds like a voltage regulator on its way out. That is the classic way that my older Dodges always acted when their voltage regulators were about to die. It could also be an alternator with a diode series beginning to fail.

Good luck in locating the Gremlin!

Kevin
chrysler stopped using mechanical regulators in cars around 1970. i don't think that they'd keep using them in trucks but you never know.

as mentioned, the problem is in both systems which should narrow the possibilities. since the vehicle won't turn over from a weak battery, i'd start by disconnecting that battery, charge and test it and cintinue checking to see if it is being charged by the alternator. if it is then it would seem there is a heavy intermittent short, drain on the battery or a bad ground from one of the battery sets.
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