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Old 02-14-2019, 07:18 PM   #1
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PSA - hydraulic jack alarms

Something happened to us today that was easily handled, but I wondered if everyone else here would know about this. So, I thought I’d post this just in case.

We left our campground this morning (after a month long stay) and the jacks down alarm would not stop sounding. I checked and all the jacks were up. Sometimes this happens and I have to push the all up button multiple times to get this to stop. Finally, the alarm stopped and off we drove. As we turned a corner - boom - the alarms and flashing lights were back. As we finished the turn all was quiet. Next turn it was back. It sure gets your attention. Luckily I know what it was and how to fix it.

20- months ago when we picked up our new Adventurer we had a leaky leveling jack. It was fixed the same day we picked up the coach but during that repair I learned that if your hydraulic fluid is even just a tad low in the reservoir the JACKS DOWN alarm will give you a jolt.

As a result I’ve always carried a quart of hydraulic fluid with me. But today was the first time I had to use it.

We stopped to fill up gas about 2-mi from our campground and added 1/8th of a quart to the reservoir. Problem solved.

As I said I learned about this on day one with my new RV, but maybe some of you have never had this happen to you. You wouldn’t want alarms going off and thinking you’ve got a serious problem while on the road.

So consider this a heads up in advance. Hope it helps someone.
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Old 02-14-2019, 08:56 PM   #2
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Very useful. Mine has been acting up like this off and on for months, mostly when heading out in the morning or on rough bumps. Have it in for this and some other work now and will see what the dealer says. Thanks for the tip.
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Old 02-14-2019, 10:10 PM   #3
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Don't you mean ATF? And not 'hydraulic fluid'? The jack systems on RVs I'm familiar with use ATF.

Hydraulic fluids, "Common hydraulic fluids are based on mineral oil or water." So putting in the wrong fluid could damage your system.
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Old 02-15-2019, 12:13 AM   #4
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Good question. I asked my Winnebago dealer for hydraulic fluid for my jacks. He gave me HWH Hydraulic Oil. I need to investigate this, it never occurred to me that this could be the wrong stuff. I don’t have HWH jacks, but my dealer said it was something that worked in Power Gear jacks as well.
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Old 02-15-2019, 05:36 AM   #5
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I was told Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF), same stuff used in your car transmission, is what you will use in your jacks. I carry a gallon of it in my Adventurer just in case.
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Old 02-15-2019, 05:48 AM   #6
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Straight from the 2016 Adventurer Manual;

Hydraulic Fluid Recommendation
The leveling system is filled from the factory
with AW-22S synthetic hydraulic oil that has
been specially formulated for use in the leveling
system and that is compatible with Automatic
Transmission Fluid (ATF).

DO NOT USE brake fluid or hydraulic jack
oil, which can damage the seals and cause leaks.
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Old 02-15-2019, 08:16 AM   #7
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We were receiving a jacks-down alarm on some turns (the fluid would move away from the sensor). We now know that when that's happening we are low on fluid. It's been a while since we've received a notification. I carry a bottle of ATF in my "tools" cabinet.
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Old 02-15-2019, 02:28 PM   #8
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Yes, I have experienced the "leaky jack" and had it fixed (replaced) a few weeks ago. Up until then I was putting in a few ounces of ATF every month to combat the "jacks down" alarm. I played with this leaky jack for several months until the replacement so I am quite familiar with the jack fluid reservoir, carrying extra ATF with me, adding it as needed and monitoring the occasions when a slight "bump" would trigger the alarm.

When the reservoir was "right on the edge" of not having enough fluid, the smallest of bumps would trigger the alarm. Then, adding even one ounce of ATF would remove the problem... until enough fluid leaked to create the condition once more. I sure hope the new jack works like its supposed to (so far so good).
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Old 02-15-2019, 08:45 PM   #9
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I had a chronically leaking jack, right side rear, and periodically added Tranni Stop Leak and it would stop leaking until the next time I tried to extend that jack too far or position it on an uneven parking site. Usually, I'd get one year out of the stop leak. A couple times just 6 months, and one time 2 years.
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Old 02-15-2019, 11:20 PM   #10
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I need to do more research, but HWH Hydraulic oil can be used or you can use ATF, either one. That seems to infer that the two are similar enough that the are interchangeable.

Quote:
The use of HWH Specialty Hydraulic Oil is recommended but Dexron or multipurpose transmission fluids can be used if necessary.
Once we get home I’ll find out for sure.
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Old 02-16-2019, 12:12 AM   #11
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Its always been my understanding that ATF and hydraulic fluid are essentially the same thing. That said, I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear that additives would make a difference in whatever application they're used in.
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Old 02-16-2019, 10:15 AM   #12
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Isn't it ATF with Dexron?


I'm not going to beat my dead house again, but my 2008 WB Destination had the alarm problem and it was not the fluid level. To make a long story short, 10 days at the WB factory in IA and they could not fix the problem. (Like said, long story). Dealer here could not fix the problem. (jacks were replaced)

Each jack has a "reed" switch (Magnetic switch) on it that shorts to ground when the jacks are up. All of the switches are in series and on the Level Best (Kwikee} pin 6 of the controller should be shorted to ground when all the jacks are up. This also was not my problem. The jacks would retract and alarm stop, then two to 3 seconds after the jacks alarm stopped the alarm would sound and stay on.

Problem fixed: (Workaround) Pull the control box, put a toggle switch on the red wire to the 4 pin connector, retract jacks and throw the switch to turn power off to the controller. Worked like a charm for 9 years.

If anyone having this kind of problem with Level Best, give me a holler and I can walk you through the simple workaround.
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Old 02-16-2019, 10:19 AM   #13
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I called my dealer's service dept. after narrowing down my 1st issue with the jack alarm and discovery of a leaky jack. They made this issue sound very common, immediately recommended the use any ATF that I could find at the store for filling the reservoir. They did caution about putting too much in... a little at a time. It worked and the leak continued, although slowly.

When I finally secured some warranty repair time they did not even blink an eye... replacement of the jack. Repair was not even a consideration.
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Old 02-16-2019, 11:23 AM   #14
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If any readers don't have any warranty left on their jacks, many hydraulic shops can/will repair the jacks and from what I've read over the years, very economically as they're fairly generic and use standard seal kits. You usually need to take them the jacks after having them removed.
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Old 02-16-2019, 05:19 PM   #15
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Some of the Kwikee Jacks are not repairable. Case in point was my 2008 WB. They would have to cut the casing to insert new seals and then re-weld the casing. You can imagine the problems that could cause. They stated they could do it but there would be no guarantee or warranty on the repairs.



Other systems I have helped rejuvenate. Hardest part was removing the jack for disassembly.
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Old 02-16-2019, 06:36 PM   #16
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I have a similar issue particularly when I start the coach after it has been sitting in the storage area for a month or so. I get the jacks down alarm with the jacks being in the up position. After silencing the alarm by pushing the reset buttons. When it first started I would retry retracting the jackes several times to no avail but found it would work a little while later. I now just reset the alarm and run the engine for about 15 minutes and try again and the jacks will go in retract mode and in a few minutes the Jacks up message comes on. I noticed that this seems to only happen when it is cold out rather than during the summers. I took it to the dealer when it first happened and nothing was found. Now I just wait it out and all is well. I haven't checked my hydralic fluid to see if it is low.
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Old 02-20-2019, 05:19 PM   #17
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Short term fix

On the highway through Phoenix, our alarm went off, and after pulling over and checking, I noticed that one of the jacks hadn't completely retracted... only 1/2 inch or so... my jacks are spring loaded but the springs were getting a little old and I think a bit of dirt on the piston wasn't helping. Either way, it happened again and after checking that I wasn't dragging a leg, I just pulled the power plug (a tiny 4 pin computer connector) from the board that was under my dash by the control panel for the jacks.



Since I don't wear my hearing aids when I drive the bus, it wasn't a real problem for me, but apparently the wife is easily irritated.



Since then I replaced all the springs myself and it hasn't happened again.
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Old 02-20-2019, 05:19 PM   #18
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I just drained mine and went full synthetic.
https://www.lci1.com/assets/content/...CD_0002088.pdf
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Old 02-20-2019, 06:57 PM   #19
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Had the problem, going around corners, or stepping on brakes caused the Jacks down alarm to go off. Once I figured it out, I added about 1/3 cup of ATF fluid specified in the manual to the reservoir, all was good for another year. Then condition happened again. Ok, I knew the solution, but where was the fluid going, I had no leaks.

I examined all the jacks, and lines, no leaks. But I did find several little bulges in the hydraulic lines outer coating, in random places. These little bubbles or balloons was where the fluid was going. We asked Freightliner, they said it was part of the coach, they couldn't fix it.

Jacks were holding fine, so we waited about 10 months until we travelled through Iowa and visited Winnebago. They replaced all the lines charged to our extended warranty plan, that was 4 years ago, so far, no repeats.

And as a point of interest, our power gear levelling jacks have no electric signal wires to them, only the hydraulic line. So all the controlling and such happens at the pump mechanism.
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Old 02-20-2019, 07:39 PM   #20
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ATF and HWH jack fluid are similar bur HWH fluid has the color removed so that if there is a leak it won't stain the surrounding walls etc.
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