Rv Tech Savvy: Daytime Running Lights … Don’t


Headlight Graphic i to illustrate article on daytime running lights

I have a problem with my 2003 Fleetwood Southwind on a Workhorse chassis. The daytime running lights no longer come on, and the dash indicator icon is out as well. Quotes for tracing the problems are astronomical. So I’m looking for your advice on where to start looking.

Roy Hughes | Albuquerque, New Mexico

Typically, this problem is caused by a failed daytime running light (DRL) module, but check fuses first. If you determine they are OK, the DRL is generally located (taped) in the wiring harness under the dash, below the instrument cluster. The GM part no. should be 12088547. Here is a URL that shows what it looks like: www.workhorseparts.com/12088547-Daytime-Running-Light-Module

If you can’t find one, consider getting a universal aftermarket kit, available on eBay for a few dollars. You should also consider,  or a nominal cost, downloading a wiring diagram.


Shasta Suspension Problem

My wife and I own a 1976 22-foot Shasta Class C motorhome on a Chevrolet G30 van chassis, with documented total mileage of 14,980 miles. My problem is a very rough ride, especially in the front of the van. Even a small rock causes a thud in the front suspension when driving. I have replaced all four shock absorbers to no avail. Being that the rig is 43 years old, would replacing the front coil springs help, or is there another problem that I should look at?

Stiles Gaffney | Terre Haute, Indiana

Regarding the statement “Even a small rock causes a thud…” I assume you drive mainly on pavement. Hitting rocks at speed can damage tires. Most of the impact is absorbed by the tires before it reaches the suspension. Make sure the tires are inflated according to a load-inflation chart for the actual load on the tires, and that the tire size and load/ply ratings are correct for the application. The entire suspension should have been thoroughly inspected, rather than just installing new shocks. This is especially true given the age of the motorhome, even if the mileage is low. Premium shocks (such as those from Bilstein or Koni) also give a better ride than economy (stock-type) shocks. Check the rubber bump stops. The rubber may have deteriorated or may be gone altogether. If the ride height is correct, you probably don’t need springs; however, if the front end still wallows and bottoms out with the new shocks, consider installing new heavy-duty springs because the original springs can lose some of their support over time. SuperSprings (800-898-0705, www.supersprings.com) offers a number of solutions for weak springs.


Noisy Cab

We just completed a long trip to Florida in our used 2008 Coachmen Freelander 30-footer we purchased two years ago. My question concerns road noise, not from the cabinets and stuff rubbing, but noise traveling down the road. The volume of noise [in the cab] is almost deafening; we can’t hear the radio or hold a conversation without yelling at each other due to the level of the road noise. What can we do? Would some sort of undercoating help? Also, what models of motorhomes are less noisy going down the highway?

Chris Eastman | Hampton, Virginia

The model you have is a Class C. Using a cutaway van chassis, the cab is essentially wrapped around the engine, which intrudes into the passenger compartment under the engine cover (aka “doghouse”). The quietest motorhomes are the Class A diesel pushers, which have the engine way behind the driver.

You didn’t specify if the noise that’s bothering you is from wind, the tires or the engine, or a combination thereof. It’s important to separate the sources before you can decide what to do. Wind noise may come from gaps around windows and doors or the removable engine doghouse. Considering you haven’t owned it since new, this may be caused by misaligned parts due to accident repair, or missing or damaged weatherstripping, etc. Insulation on the engine cowling may also be missing or damaged. Tire noise may be addressed by changing to a different and perhaps less aggressive tread pattern, combined with proper inflation pressures. If this is the case, usually just the front tires need to be changed to help the road noise. Mechanical noises may include sounds from cooling fans, exhaust and/or engine components, internal or external. Check the operation of fans, check for exhaust leaks, etc. If no problems are found, consider adding aftermarket sound and heat insulation, such as Dynamat (www.dynamat.com). Automotive stereo shops sell and install such products, or you can order online and see if a local RV service center will install it for you.


Turbo Hose Problems

I have owned a 2008 Fleetwood 40-foot Excursion with a Cummins ISC 8.3-liter engine for 10 years. I bought it used from a dealer with only 5,000 miles on the odometer. I fought for three years with a power problem. Finally, I took it to Neil MacKinnon Mechanical Services in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. A technician did a diagnostic on it and said it was a “compressor hose” blown out on the turbo. The bed and floor had to come out. When they got it fixed, he showed me where to set the Freightliner instrument panel to read the turbocharger boost pressure. So $2,500 later we were on the road and I couldn’t believe the difference in power. I noticed the turbo pressure went up to 36 psi.

Two years later, I was driving on Interstate 40 at Needles, California, and lost power again. I tried all the way home to find a shop that would get me in, but no luck. So, I limped it all the way home to Alberta. I took it to Cummins Canada shop in Edmonton; I was charged $600 for diagnostics, $80 for a compressor hose, plus labor. Afterward it had lots of power again.

Coming home from Arizona this spring, I lost power again. I had a hunch it was the compressor hose again, so I pulled in to Searchlight, Nevada, and called Cummins in Las Vegas. They were not interested and said if I couldn’t get help elsewhere, they would get to me in a week. So I called Good Sam ERS and asked them if they could find me a place in Las Vegas. They came back a few minutes later and said Hertz Auto Repair would look at it. I arrived in Las Vegas right at rush hour traffic and found the shop way back behind the Stratosphere Casino & Hotel. The technician was really obliging and assured me that he would have me on the road that night. His diagnostics consisted of handing me a two-way radio and told me to get in, put it in gear and hold the brake while stepping on the accelerator pedal. He hollered “hold it” and said there was a piece of rubber flopping up there. He couldn’t see what it was and we had to take the bed and floor out again. He still couldn’t get at it. So he crawled up in beside the engine and found a hose with a hole in it. Outside temperature was 95 degrees Fahrenheit and the motor was still hot. He finally got the hose off and handed to me. It was about 2 inches in diameter and 8 inches long, with a 90-degree elbow. Some 3½ hours after closing time and I was on the road. When I asked what the damages were, he asked me if $200 would be OK. I was so happy to be on the road.

Can you tell me why I keep blowing turbo hoses? Could the wastegate valve be sticking? Could there be a muffler restriction? Is 36 psi too much pressure? It is quite inconvenient and I am getting worried about taking it out on the road anymore. I have the instrument panel set so I can read the turbo psi, engine temperature and transmission temperature. The turbo boost psi reads as high 36 psi. The coolant temperature (depending on outside temp) reads 184 degrees and up to 205 degrees before a fan kicks in and cools it down to 184 degrees. The transmission temperature varies from 184 degrees to 194 degrees.

Gordon Wood | Oyen, Alberta, Canada

The coolant and transmission temperatures are right where they should be. I doubt that the exhaust is causing the problem. It should have a variable geometry turbo, so there’s no wastegate. I contacted Cummins (800-286-6467) on your behalf and discussed the problem. According to the tech person, the hoses are more likely to come off if they are not original equipment and/or if the clamps have been improperly tightened (too loose or tight), which may also distort the clamps, or if the engine’s power has been “turned up.”

Experts in the field suggest that normal boost on this engine is 23 to 25 psi, and maximum around 27 psi. If you’re using an aftermarket tuner, it’s possible the engine has been “turned up” for higher power and boost. If that’s the case, return the tuner to a more conservative or stock condition and check boost. Otherwise, it might be necessary to have a qualified Cummins service center determine the cause of the excessive boost pressure.


Having a Fit

I just received the May issue and was reading the response to David Corrasa regarding towing his Honda Fit. Your response said that if you tow with the front wheels on a dolly, you don’t need to leave the ignition in accessory position, but for flat towing, you do. I disagree with that answer. If the tow dolly has fixed wheels, you still need to leave the ignition in the accessory position so the steering wheel can turn and doesn’t lock. If the tow dolly is equipped with turnable wheels, then the steering wheel can remain locked.

Sue Beck | via email

Have a tech question?Yes, the steering column absolutely needs to be unlocked when towing a vehicle with four wheels on the ground. But when you tow with a car dolly with either pivoting wheels or platform, the dinghy steering wheel must remain locked. Some people suggest that if towing with a dolly that has fixed wheels and platform, the steering wheel must be unlocked. While that may seem logical to many folks, doing so could allow the vehicle to drift in turns and hit the dolly wheels. With the wheels strapped down, there is no need for them to turn right or left, nor should they be able to. It may seem counter­intuitive, but that’s the way it works.


Overweight Dinghy?

We have a 2011 Itasca Sunstar 35F motorhome on a Ford F-53 chassis with a Triton V-10. I flat tow a 2008 Chevy Silverado 1500 2WD pickup that weighs 5,100 pounds. I have towed the pickup for the past four years and I do not disconnect the driveline. I had a Remco lube pump installed and I installed a battery disconnect on the truck. I’m wondering if I am overloading the motorhome’s drivetrain by towing that much weight. The Ford has had a load of mechanical problems. Over the last four years the engine harness has gone bad, the transmission went out, the chassis A/C compressor went bad and the final drive and park brake assembly burned up. The coach only has 49,000 miles on it.

Frederick Hommes | Shelby Township, Michigan

Based on the weight you provided, the truck exceeds the tow and hitch rating of the motorhome. You should also weigh your coach fully loaded. The 26,000-pound gross combined weight rating (GCWR) minus the 22,000-pound gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) leaves only 4,000 pounds. So, depending on actual weight, you may be even more beyond the manufacturer’s ratings. The wiring harness and the compressor were unlikely to have anything to do with towing. Towing the truck, and exceeding weight limits, however, may have had something to do with the transmission and other mechanical component failure.


 



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