May 20, 2015
Filed under RV Tech Q&A
I have a 32-foot 1998 Bounder Class A and my problem is with refueling. Sometimes the coach will take fuel readily and at other times it only allows fuel to trickle in to the tank. I try to find stations with a slope where I can park with the front end down, which sometimes helps, but is not always possible. In Oregon, where self-fueling is not allowed, it is very irritating.
Darrell Inman | Auburn, Washington
This is a fairly common problem. Your fuel filler vent tube is probably pinched, or there’s a low spot that fills up with gasoline and blocks the venting action, which backs up fuel and causes the gas pump to kick off. Crawl under the motorhome so you can get a view of the fuel filler neck; a flashlight will be helpful here. Look for the vent hose, which is smaller than the filler hose, and check for sag that might trap fuel, or a place where the hose gets pinched or has a kink in it. If you replace any hose, make sure you use neoprene hose rated for gasoline, not coolant hose.
Diesel Loses Power — Comment
This is in reference to Jim Swinford’s “Diesel Loses Power” letter in the March issue. We had the same problem and we also have a Freightliner chassis with an 8.3-liter diesel. We were on our way home from a trip when the light came on warning of low coolant; we had not overheated nor did we have low coolant. I called the Freightliner hot line number that is on the driver’s-side window. I told them that we did not have any issues that would cause this problem. We were advised to disconnect the two wires, which I did and then I was able to drive home. We replaced the sensor but still had problems.
Freightliner told us to look for a bad ground and told us where to look for it on our chassis. We found the bad ground on the driver’s side at the front access behind the compartment. I accessed the area in front of the front wheel by opening the front genset slide. The bolt, nut and washer were still there, but very loose. I tightened it and the problem was solved!
Curt Gibson | Santa Clarita, California
Thanks for sharing your experience, Curt. Many diesels have systems that reduce power when potentially damaging conditions occur, such as low coolant, overheating, or low oil pressure. Anything that might “fool” the system, such as a faulty connection or sensor, can trigger a reduction in power.
Bad Ground Connection
We have a 2003 Newmar Dutch Star motorhome with 80,000 miles. The left turn signal works fine. The right turn signal turns both sides on. But there’s more. Turn the headlights on and both work fine. It’s been sitting for six months. I just took a short pretrip ride to get new tires.
Greg Rudowsky | New Rochelle, New York
There’s almost certainly a bad ground causing this, feeding back power into the circuit. First, check out the wiring integrity for the right front turn signal. If that doesn’t fix it, check the ground connections for the headlights and left signal. It could be corrosion in the bulb sockets and contacts on the bulbs or any wires that run to ground. Run a temporary ground jumper wire with alligator clips to verify/test it, and then repair as needed. If you find a lot of corrosion in the sockets, consider using special bulb-and-socket grease available at auto parts stores. For further information on this subject, consider reviewing the article “Lost Ground Connections” in the February issue.
Towing a Traverse
We are in our third year of RVing, and we own a 31-foot Four Winds Five Thousand Class C motorhome. Up to now we have not wanted to tow a dinghy vehicle, since we can take the coach just about anyplace. When we visited Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon we used tour buses, which allowed us to take in all the sights. Now we are considering spending the winter in the Southern states, and we feel we will need a dinghy vehicle. I currently lease a Chevy Traverse with front-wheel drive and the contract does not prohibit me from towing it. Since it has front-wheel drive I’m thinking a tow dolly would be the right option. Do you think the dolly is the correct option, and do state laws require breakaway brakes installed on it? The curb weight of the Traverse is 4,100 pounds. The gross combination weight rating (gcwr) of the motorhome is 17,600 pounds and the unloaded vehicle weight (uvw) is 11,990 pounds.
Fred Hommes | Shelby Township, Michigan
The Traverse is approved by its manufacturer for flat towing, so a dolly isn’t necessary. However, base curb weight (without options) is 4,713 pounds, not 4,100 pounds. Throw in some options, a baseplate, cargo, etc., and it could exceed 5,000 pounds. Although this might be within the gcwr (make sure you have actual weights of your motorhome, fully loaded for a typical trip with passengers), the weight of the Traverse could exceed the 5,000-pound rating of the motorhome’s hitch receiver, so you should weigh it as well. Braking systems for the towed vehicle are always a good idea whether required or not, but you can look up requirements by state and province at www.readybrake.com/state-towing-laws.html.
Charging AGM Batteries
I just purchased two new 12-volt coach batteries for my 2007 Winnebago View motorhome. These are AGM type, deep cycle, Group 31 (Exide Megacycle XMC). They replaced my two flooded cell 12-volt batteries that were almost 4 years old and would no longer hold a charge. It is my hope that these batteries will be better over the long haul, and also that they will last a lot longer than the flooded cell-type batteries. My question is: Am I able to continue to use the original converter/charger that came with this motorhome? It is the OEM unit used by Winnebago, and I believe it is 45 amps. Will this unit successfully charge these batteries? Or would you recommend a new type of converter/charger for these batteries?
Tim Taylor | Port Orford, Oregon
The charging process for AGM batteries is a little different than for flooded cell batteries. If they are not charged fully, don’t expect them to last any longer. The charger/converter in your coach is part of the Magnetec 7345 distribution panel. The charger section is not that efficient and will likely not charge your AGM batteries properly. You can consider upgrading the panel with a model 45TCRU converter section. Your best bet, without making modifications, is to charge the batteries independently of the converter in your motorhome using a three-stage battery charger.
TCRU is short for “temp-comp replacement unit” and the unit is 10 inches deep versus 7 inches, so there needs to be some space at the rear of the power distribution panel for this component to fit. This multistage charger has a temperature-compensating provision for more efficient charging, so you’ll need to route a cable from the panel to the battery terminal.
AGM batteries can handle the initial “bulk/accept” charging at 14.2-14.4 volts very easily, but they really want to float at voltages in the 13.2-volt range, depending on brand. Your existing converter floats at 13.6-13.8 volts.
Tire Inflation Concern
We have a 2010 Winnebago View with 215/85R16 Goodyear tires. I have always inflated the tires to 61 psi, according to the RV manufacturer’s inflation plate on the doorframe. On a recent trip, I got a flat tire and went to a nearby tire shop. Upon completion of the repair, the mechanic inflated my tire to 80 psi. When I told him I had them at 61 psi, as dictated by Winnebago, he told me these tires had an E rating, therefore they should be inflated to 80 psi, adding that the tire manufacturer knows the tires better than anyone else. My reply was that the coach manufacturer must know better than anyone else what sits on these tires, and must therefore specify accordingly. After a mean look on his part, he deflated the tire to 61 psi. What should I learn from this situation?
Yvan Jérôme | Laval, Québec, Canada
Tire manufacturers don’t have any way of knowing what vehicle a tire will be used on, or how it will be loaded, so the only inflation information provided on the sidewall is the minimum pressure recommended for the maximum rated load. The technician was apparently uninformed and did not understand tire loading. Vehicle manufacturers provide a placard of recommended inflation pressures based on actual weight and the gross axle weight rating (gawr) and gross vehicle weight rating (gvwr) for the specific model. I checked with Winnebago’s technical services department, and the posted pressures are based on inflation values necessary to handle the maximum rated load of the axles, as specified by the chassis manufacturer. In your case, Winnebago is recommending lower pressure because the motorhome is not heavy enough to require the E-rated tires to be run at the pressure for the maximum load. Running the pressure for the maximum load listed on the tire’s sidewall could cause an unnecessarily hard ride and uneven tire wear at the center of the tread. This again points out why it is important for owners to know the actual weight of their motorhomes, loaded for a typical trip. It’s even better to have individual wheel weights, which can be compared to the tire manufacturer’s load and inflation tables.