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Old 06-08-2017, 02:03 PM   #1
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Help! My Motorhome won't start...?

I am on a short getaway with my wife and this morning, when I tried to start the motorhome, it wouldn't start. I turned the key and all I got was a couple of clicks. I tried charging the batteries, disconnected the cables and cleaned them, don't know what else to do.
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Old 06-08-2017, 02:15 PM   #2
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Do you have an auxiliary start switch to tie your start and house batteries together? Can you start your generator and charge the batteries? Can you jumper from your toad?
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Old 06-08-2017, 02:20 PM   #3
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Do all of your lights go out when you turn the key or do you still have power to lights? The first thought is dead batteries. The next thought would be a safety interlock switch prohibiting the unit from starting. Make sure you are in park or neutral.
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Old 06-08-2017, 02:58 PM   #4
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I am on a short getaway with my wife and this morning, when I tried to start the motorhome, it wouldn't start. I turned the key and all I got was a couple of clicks. I tried charging the batteries, disconnected the cables and cleaned them, don't know what else to do.
Hey Ramzfan,

Yes, you do have a "Battery Boost" switch/toggle on the dash. I'm suspecting that you may have already tried using it by the time you read this but, if not, then try it. Hold it down just before you crank the engine. Now, if that doesn't help, I'd definitely check ALL the battery connections which, includes the negative battery cable-to-frame one(s). I've seen a few that were severely corroded/rusted due to neglect. There is also a secondary start relay system that does all the dirty work of connecting the batteries to the starter.

On my Horizon, that relay-start system is located on the frame, in between the basement A/C unit and the engine. It's one serious pain in the a$$ to get to if and when something goes bad on that system. I forgot where it's located on your Meridian. There are a couple of solenoids and a serious sized fuse in that system. Hopefully, you're not having trouble in that system.

Below are a couple of pics of that system. One of these days I'll learn just exactly HOW it works so that, if and maybe WHEN, ours does not start, and, it's not a battery problem, I'll know how analyze that system to be able tell if any part of it has gone bad. If you look at mine, you'll see that, being in the position it's in, (at least in our coach), why it got so corroded and rusted.

I don't know if this system is part of or, your exact problem but, it's good to know it's there and, part of the starting system. Other than that system and the batteries, not sure where to point you. You have NO park, only a NEUTRAL. And that of course, "could" be the issue too, but not likely. Keep us informed of what you find out as, any of us with that era coach/engine/chassis/transmission could have that problem at one time or another.
Scott









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Old 06-08-2017, 04:12 PM   #5
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Thanks you guys. I tried the momentary switch and the coach actually started. Then I let go and the engine died immediately. Could not start it again, even though it cranked continually. When I don't use the momentary switch and just try to start it regularly, the dash lights come on and then dim down to almost nothing as soon as I turn the key. I hear several clicks and then nothing. I am able to start the generator and run it.
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Old 06-08-2017, 04:33 PM   #6
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That sounds like you have an electrical issue on the main battery circuit. If it will run when the switch is held down joining both batteries but dies when released. I would suspect that you have an electric fuel shut off on the injector pump. There is not enough juice on the main battery circuit to keep the fuel solenoid open. In essence when you let go of the switch it shuts the fuel off just like shutting the key off.
If you need to get home you can jumper the aux start relay which will tie the batteries together. You can also check for a bad ground on the start battery cable to the chassis.
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Old 06-08-2017, 05:10 PM   #7
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You may just have a bad starting battery with a direct short in it.
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Old 06-08-2017, 09:32 PM   #8
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Thanks again you guys. I am able now to start the engine and get it to keep running when I release the switch. Even after running it for awhile though, if I shut it down, it wont restart with just the key in the ignition. Oh well, I can drive it and get it home (hopefully) It kind of acts like a bad ground somewhere, which I will search for when I get home.
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Old 06-08-2017, 10:33 PM   #9
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Keep us posted on what you find. Good luck getting home!!!
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Old 06-09-2017, 11:21 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Dsallach View Post
That sounds like you have an electrical issue on the main battery circuit. If it will run when the switch is held down joining both batteries but dies when released. I would suspect that you have an electric fuel shut off on the injector pump. There is not enough juice on the main battery circuit to keep the fuel solenoid open. In essence when you let go of the switch it shuts the fuel off just like shutting the key off.
If you need to get home you can jumper the aux start relay which will tie the batteries together. You can also check for a bad ground on the start battery cable to the chassis.

...... jumper the aux start relay which will tie the batteries together.

In all normal conditions, that "Aux Start" or, "Battery Boost" solenoid (as it's sometimes referred to) is AUTOMATICALLY tied together with the engine batteries, which allows for the engine alternator charge the house batteries. I say NORMAL because, he's having some sort of electrical issue in keeping the engine running.

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Thanks again you guys. I am able now to start the engine and get it to keep running when I release the switch. Even after running it for awhile though, if I shut it down, it wont restart with just the key in the ignition. Oh well, I can drive it and get it home (hopefully) It kind of acts like a bad ground somewhere, which I will search for when I get home.
There's lots of "One of the first things to do here is" to try. If it were mine, and I got it home. Before you take the time and effort to remove both engine batteries and run them down to be tested, I might try this first. Get your trusty VOM (volt ohm meter) and, check the chassis batteries at rest, without the engine running. Record the reading. Once the engine is started, immediately check them again and, record what kind of voltage is being presented to them while the engine is running. Compare the two readings.

If there's NO DIFFERENCE, you may have an alternator issue, loose belt issue, bad connections between the alternator and the batteries, and maybe a couple other places.

If there is a difference between the chassis batteries at rest and when the engine is running, you could just have a bad set of chassis batteries. If you consistently need the use of the Aux Battery Boost switch to start the engine, again, you may have bad chassis battery connections which, also include the negative battery to frame connection. Or, again, just bad batteries. Keep us informed.
Scott
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Old 06-09-2017, 12:25 PM   #11
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FYI, there have been for many years a BCC (Battery Control Center) in most RVs with a built in delay that senses the voltage at the chassis batteries. What it does is prevent charging of the house batteries while driving until the chassis battery is nearly charged to prevent excess draw on the alternator. Once it detects high enough charge on the chassis batt it activates the AUX solenoid to also charge the house batts. The AUX solenoid contacts often become pitted and carbonized after a few years of use. And the AUX solenoid is the same solenoid that has the switch on the dash for AUX starting.

The OPs issues may be more involved than just a bad AUX solenoid but based on age it should be checked, along with connections and battery condition.
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Old 06-09-2017, 06:49 PM   #12
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Well, I got her home and have been working on her all afternoon. I put in a new set of three chassis batteries (before I read FireUp's post) but that didn't seem to change anything. I got under the coach and removed, cleaned and greased the battery ground screws. I charged both of the engine batteries with a 10 amp charger. I do have a question though...When the coach is running, my battery meter that's built in to the coach, reads 13.2 on both chassis and engine batteries. When it's not running, the meter reads 12.3. Is this correct? What should the voltage be?
I am wondering, because I replaced both of the engine batteries last summer. I'm curious if one or both could be bad.
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Old 06-09-2017, 09:01 PM   #13
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13.2VDC is at the bottom end of the generally accepted charging level for an alternator, but without knowing more details of your exact set up, type of battery isolator, etc. it is hard to say much more. As to 12.3VDC resting with minimal draw that sounds low, 12.3V is generally considered about 70% charged.

As to battery failure, it needs to be tested with a battery load meter, this may be done with it still in the coach, volts don't tell the whole story. Also batteries can fail at any time, can loose capacity slowly, or die all at once. I once had one die while at a gas station less than a mile from my house. Car started fine at the house, went bought gas, and it was DEAD, not even a click. Had another one in my wife's car a couple of years ago, so dead it would not even jump start.
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Old 06-09-2017, 09:41 PM   #14
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FYI, there have been for many years a BCC (Battery Control Center) in most RVs with a built in delay that senses the voltage at the chassis batteries. What it does is prevent charging of the house batteries while driving until the chassis battery is nearly charged to prevent excess draw on the alternator. Once it detects high enough charge on the chassis batt it activates the AUX solenoid to also charge the house batts. The AUX solenoid contacts often become pitted and carbonized after a few years of use. And the AUX solenoid is the same solenoid that has the switch on the dash for AUX starting.

The OPs issues may be more involved than just a bad AUX solenoid but based on age it should be checked, along with connections and battery condition.
Jim,
His coach has no BCC. As don't many of the Diesel Winnes and Itascas of that era. The Auxiliary Battery Boost solenoid, is the sole provider for linking the alternator for charging the house batteries. It's wired in two different ways, both at the same time. I suspect it's possible that your '02 Horizon is somewhat close in operation. That solenoid is wired in such a way that when the toggle switch on the dash is pushed, it sends a signal to the solenoid to link both sets of batteries together for cranking the engine.

But, once the engine starts, another wiring system that leads to the same solenoid, automatically engages it and, that will link the alternator to the house batteries. Unlike a BCC, there is no "thinking" of which battery system has more or less of a charge, before sending a charge to the other set.

Our previous coach, a '99 Fleetwood Bounder 34V with the F-53 Chassis and the V-10, had a BCC in the front. I had to replace that board in there due to it having odd charging or, no charging issues.
Scott
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Old 06-09-2017, 10:01 PM   #15
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Well, I got her home and have been working on her all afternoon. I put in a new set of three chassis batteries (before I read FireUp's post) but that didn't seem to change anything. I got under the coach and removed, cleaned and greased the battery ground screws. I charged both of the engine batteries with a 10 amp charger. I do have a question though...When the coach is running, my battery meter that's built in to the coach, reads 13.2 on both chassis and engine batteries. When it's not running, the meter reads 12.3. Is this correct? What should the voltage be?
I am wondering, because I replaced both of the engine batteries last summer. I'm curious if one or both could be bad.
The "One Place" panel in the middle of the coach is a general information area for most of the coaches operations. But, this is why I suggested taking readings directly at the battery posts, to see exactly what's getting to them. By the way, there's something amiss here. You state you changed "three chassis" batteries and it didn't seem to change anything. Well, unless your battery tray is seriously different than mine, you should have only TWO "CHASSIS" batteries and THREE, coach/house batteries. And if you did change the actual THREE house batteries, then yes, you've not corrected your starting issue as, they have nothing to do with starting unless asked for by the use of the Auxiliary Battery Boost solenoid.

As has been stated, 13.2 is a tad low for general charging characteristics but, at least there is some charging because it's considerably better than what you're getting for a reading when they're at rest. And yep, we too have had batteries go dead almost instantly from the last time they performed flawlessly. Long ago, I started up the wife's Grand Cherokee to move it out of the garage to gain access to something and, shut if off. I got what I wanted and, got back into the Grand (no more than one minute after I had previously started it) to start it and put it back into the garage and, DEAD, completely DEAD!!!!

So, yep, it happens.

Now, if you have the standard "Medallion Infomation Center" on your dash, once you're engine is actually started, you can program that information center to display your charging voltage. And, if the batteries, ALL OF THEM are low, that information center should display close to 14.0 volts. What you're reading in that screen is the charging voltage that's going to both sets of batteries.

Keep us up on your progress.
Scott
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Old 06-10-2017, 09:34 AM   #16
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Thanks Scott. Yes you're right, I meant to say that I have two engine batteries and three coach batteries. I'm going to check the batteries with a multimeter today and see what they're doing per your instructions.
I do have the standard Medallion info center on my dash, but I never even look at it because I can't read it unless I'm down on my knees. I have thought about replacing it like you did, but just haven't felt it was worth the money. Maybe it is, now that I've got a problem.
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Old 06-10-2017, 10:08 AM   #17
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Thanks Scott. Yes you're right, I meant to say that I have two engine batteries and three coach batteries. I'm going to check the batteries with a multimeter today and see what they're doing per your instructions.
I do have the standard Medallion info center on my dash, but I never even look at it because I can't read it unless I'm down on my knees. I have thought about replacing it like you did, but just haven't felt it was worth the money. Maybe it is, now that I've got a problem.
You're quite welcome Sir. I kind-a figured you meant TWO chassis batteries. I always like to be on the same page when trying to analyze an issue. Yep, the earlier Medallion Info Screen was a pain to see from the average drivers eye height.And, it is a bit costly to obtain the more user friendly version but, it's a way better designed screen. I use mine quite frequently. Once you get the hang of how to manipulate it, you can easily bounce between screens to keep an eye on the most important stuff as you drive.

Battery issues cause a myriad of problems. Starting, or NOT starting the engine is close to the top problem. Not many take the time to learn a complete starting/cranking system. I know the basics but, if and when it should happen to me/ours, I'd just have to start at the basics and get deeper into it as I learned about the cranking system worked. As shown in my pictures, the starter relay system in our coach was severely corroded and rusted.

It's virtually impossible to gain access to it for any kind of diagnosis or repair, WITHOUT removing the basement A/C unit. Especially since things were SO corroded when I decided to take on that little project. I broke multiple studs and screws on the relays and mountings due to that corrosion. So, I ordered up a bunch of new parts, cleaned, wire brushed, sanded everything I could and, painted all of it.

I was not having any issues with cranking at the time I did it but, I figure the old cliche, "An ounce of prevention is worth......"

Oh, and like I stated earlier, DO NOT forget the negative battery cable ends, that attache to the frame. Mine were also severely corroded/rusted.

Anyway, just something else to think about.


To be more prepared for potential issues, one just needs to take a bit of time and learn some basics of how things like the coaches battery charging system(s) work, both engine and shore power. Once you learn how YOUR PARTICULAR coach charging systems work, you're way better off when things go south and need to analyze issues. Let me know what you find out.
Scott
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Old 06-10-2017, 06:58 PM   #18
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Scott, like I said, I removed, cleaned and greased the negative battery ends where they attached to the frame. I'm at a point where I wonder if the batteries are bad...? When I checked them with a multi-meter, they each register 12.7 volts. Is there a way to check cranking amps? This thing does the same thing each time I turn the key...everything lights up on the dash, the "check antenna" light goes on, and then it all dims, before I actually engage the starter. When I DO engage the starter, all I hear is a "click-click-click". Even when using the momentary battery switch, it seems to crank very slowly, until finally it starts. I have replaced the chassis batteries yesterday and the engine batteries last summer. Don't know where to turn at this point.
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Old 06-10-2017, 07:16 PM   #19
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yes there are clamp on battery load tester boxes, most autoparts stores have one they will test your batteries for free with, harbor freight also sells one for about $20. If you have more than one starting battery you will have to unhook to test them individually otherwise you will get a combined reading with no way to know if it is a 50/50 split.
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Old 06-10-2017, 07:50 PM   #20
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Scott, like I said, I removed, cleaned and greased the negative battery ends where they attached to the frame. I'm at a point where I wonder if the batteries are bad...? When I checked them with a multi-meter, they each register 12.7 volts. Is there a way to check cranking amps? This thing does the same thing each time I turn the key...everything lights up on the dash, the "check antenna" light goes on, and then it all dims, before I actually engage the starter. When I DO engage the starter, all I hear is a "click-click-click". Even when using the momentary battery switch, it seems to crank very slowly, until finally it starts. I have replaced the chassis batteries yesterday and the engine batteries last summer. Don't know where to turn at this point.
Steve
Hey Steve,
You're cracking me up Partner. The "Chassis" and "Engine" batteries are one and the same. Just messing with ya. Yes, as has been stated, there are ways to check your amps used when cranking. But, for your situation, it might be a bit more efficient for you to just take both cranking batteries out and, head down to your local auto parts store or, maybe if you have an actually Battery Store near by, and get them to put a load test on them. Many batteries can have what's called a "surface" charge where, it shows fairly high voltage, i.e. 12.7 and up, at rest with a volt meter but, throw a load against it and, ZAP they drop immediately to what ever is left in the battery.
Scott
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