How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Chris (aka-Moose) Your Own Question
Chris (aka-Moose)
Chris (aka-Moose), RV Mechanic
Category: RV
Satisfied Customers: 44405
Experience:  16 years of experience
2499435
Type Your RV Question Here...
Chris (aka-Moose) is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I have a 2002 Fleetwood Bounder RV with a Ford Chassis. My

Customer Question

I have a 2002 Fleetwood Bounder RV with a Ford Chassis. My problem is that the starter will not crank the engine consistently. Most of the time it will not crank at all. However, sometimes after several attempts of turning the ignition key it will crank strongly and immediately start up only to die within a few seconds(once it continued to run till I got home and then the problem resumed. I have done the following: replaced the ignition switch; replaced the battery and cleaned all terminals of cables to battery; replaced the solenoids in the battery control center(the chassis solenoid was very hot after several start attempts and it appeared to have a burned look on the wire coil after I opened it. also the blue and black wires in the wire harness on the board that covered the solenoids were hot.). When I turn the ignition key the instrument panel lights and radio light come on but very dim(when it does start they are bright). I hear a clicking of the relays to the left of the battery control center when I turn the ignition. Is the problem the starter relay and if so which one is it?
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: RV
Expert:  Chris (aka-Moose) replied 4 months ago.

Welcome, I'm Chris (aka Moose).

When it will not crank, does it at least click once or multiple times?

Are the lights you mentioned that are dim when the key is in the run or start position?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Clicks once and there are no lights in the run position only in the start position.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I should add that When I tested it to respond to your question that is what happened. However, the other day I distinctly heard it click multiple times.
Expert:  Chris (aka-Moose) replied 4 months ago.

This is going to require doing electrical diag when this is occurring using a volt meter. Is that something you can do?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I have a volt meter but I do not have a wiring diagram. Therefore, I will need precise directions on where to place the probes. I should also mention that trying to use the auxiliary start system does not have any effect. Is it possible to pull one of the relays and substitute it for the starter relay.and see if this is the problem or is not one of your considerations? If so where is the starter relay relocated(I see five of them in two separate compartments).
Expert:  Chris (aka-Moose) replied 4 months ago.

Here is the wire diagram and star relay location.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/90220402/f53starter.pdf

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/90220402/relayloc.pdf

When the starting issue is occurring you need a helper. We are going to start in the middle of the starting circuit to see where we need to look for this issue. At the starter relay there are 2 large terminals and one small one. Alwasy one large terminal should have 12.6 volts battery voltage. When trying to start the small terminal should have the same voltage and the relay should be closed, sending power out to the starter. All terminals should be powered when trying to start. Let me know these results.

If you're confused on what to do now. You have already been charged the full question value. It's now time to compensate the tech that helped you. The only way I can continue to work here and help customers is by getting rated. If you're not pleased yet or plan not to rate me. Let me know so I can help more, close the post, or opt out. Please let me know if you're pleased with my help.

Thanks Moose.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I exposed the solenoid(what a job). Tested the near large lug(without the ignition on) and obtained the proper reading(12+ volts) Had my wife turn the ignition key while I had the negative probe of the volt meter on the negative post of the battery and the positive probe on the far large lug of the solenoid. The engine immediately cranked, started and continued to run for 10 minutes until I turned off the ignition. I then turned the ignition key to start 6 times and it immediately started each time and continued to run. Of course, I do not trust it to continue to do so. What is next?
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I waited a little over an hour and tried the ignition start and there was no cranking and the instrument panel lights were dim again. Do you suspect a bad ground some where?
Expert:  Chris (aka-Moose) replied 4 months ago.

Yes it could be a bad ground but we have to find out which one, there are ALOT. Were you able to do the test again when it would not crank after an hour. Finding electrical issues sometimes requires finding where the problem is not to narrow down the circuit to find where the problem is.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I tested it and there was no voltage out of either
the far large lug or the small terminal.
Expert:  Chris (aka-Moose) replied 4 months ago.

Is the far left lug the battery all the time lug or the one that gets power when trying to start. I can not tell from the diagram?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
It is the one that gets power when trying to start. The large lug closer to the front has power all the time.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
From this it appears to me that the solenoid is not receiving a signal to activate from the small wire on the solenoid. Recall that when it does start that sometimes it then dies within a few seconds but will then start and die again within a few seconds and then it will sometimes start and continue running as long as I let it and then later it will not crank at all but the instruments lights are on (but so dim you can barely see them) when I turn the ignition key. Also, the fact that the coach batteries do not crank the engine when the chassis battery fails to crank. It appears to me that the problem might lie in the ground terminal that is common to the coach and chassis batteries. It also seems to me that the key to all this lies in the fact that the engine dies sometimes after a few seconds after it starts.What is in the circuit to cause the motor to die? I admit that I certainly don't pretend to know whats wrong but want to remind you of the sequence of events in case it might give you guidance in you analysis.
Expert:  Chris (aka-Moose) replied 4 months ago.

Great, so we are making some progress, we know the issue is before the relay because the small terminal was not getting power when trying to start. Just a heads up if needed you can turn the key on and lay a screwdriver over both of those large terminals and start the vehicle if needed. Lets back up to fuse 7 under the hood. On the top of the fuse are test pins. When trying to start you should see battery voltage there. If there is not power there then we need to back up to the ignition switch next.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I connected the negative probe of the volt meter to the negative of the battery. The voltmeter registered only minimally to both sides of fuse 7 pins (Maybe one volt). Like maybe enough to very dimly light the instrument panel lights. Remember, I have replaced the switch underneath the ignition switch(I think it is the one that detects if the shift lever is in park or neutral).I note that in the circuit diagram you sent that there is a a box titled "Digital Transmission Range Sensor" . If this is the next check point I need detailed instructions on where it is located.
Expert:  Chris (aka-Moose) replied 4 months ago.

The TR sensor is on the right side of the transmission viewed from the front of the vehicle. Since the fuse is not powering up when starting the concern is before the fuse, not after it at the TR sensor. Can you do these steps in this file https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/90220402/f53ignition.png

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Last night I realized I had made a stupid mistake . When I was checking the starter relay I checked voltage at the small relay terminal rather than the wire leading to it. When I checked the proper way this morning(ie positive voltage meter terminal connected to the wire leading to the small terminal) it registered full battery voltage. I tried to crank the engine with all wires reconnected but no cranking and no voltage out of the other large terminal(the always powered terminal showed full battery voltage).I do hear a click from another relay or solenoid to the right with the attempt to crank. I tried your suggestion to start the engine by placing a screw driver over both the large lugs and did not get any cranking. I looked for the wires on the TR sensor and my 81 year old body's eyes and agility refused to cooperate so if this check is now necessary I will have to give up and have it towed to a repair shop if I can not get it started. I assume it is time to replace the starter relay solenoid. Right?
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
By the way do you have an opinion of what in the starting circuit would cause the motor to suddenly die a few seconds after starting sometimes ?
Expert:  Chris (aka-Moose) replied 4 months ago.

When I was checking the starter relay I checked voltage at the small relay terminal rather than the wire leading to it. Did you remove the wires during this test or was the wire making poor contact at the relay?

I tried your suggestion to start the engine by placing a screw driver over both the large lugs and did not get any cranking. When you crossed both large terminals you bypassed the ignition switch, fuse 7, TR sensor, and relay. You sent battery power to the starter. If both terminals had battery voltage in this test and the starter was not cranking then the starter is bad or has bad connections.

The only way a part of the starting circuit could also cause the stall is if the concern is at the ignition switch. On the starting circuit everything beyond fuse 7 is not used after the vehicle is started. Prior I had you test voltage at fuse 7 when trying to start and you got no voltage there.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I checked the wire leading to the small terminal with it off the relay. I agree that it should have cranked when I crossed the large lugs. Therefore, I checked the connection of the cable to the negative battery terminal and found some corrosion.. I have cleaned this up and am currently charging the battery before I see if this corrects the problem. Please refer to my initial statement of the problem where I said that the chassis solenoid in the battery control center had gotten very hot and I replaced it. Before,when I noticed that it was hot I had the RV connected to the 120 volt line and all batteries connected. Now I have just discovered that when I connect the 120 volt line to the RV( in order To keep the batteries charged) this same solenoid gets very hot. It does not get hot when the 120 volt line is disconnected and only the coach and chassis batteries are connected.Something sure seems wrong here!
Expert:  Chris (aka-Moose) replied 4 months ago.

When connected to land power there should be no voltage to the starting battery unless someone has wired the charging system to the starting and RV batteries. As long as the starting battery cables and posts has 12.6 volts then its okay and you can move on continuing to see why there is no power in and out of the starter relay.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
No one has touched the system except me after I started having the problem of cranking the engine. The first time I noticed that the chassis solenoid was getting extremely hot was after i replaced the the round silver solenoid to the immediate top left in the BCC. I took care to be sure that the terminals were correctly connected to this solenoid(ie, two black wires connect to the top small terminal and the yellow wire to the bottom small terminal. It was after this that I noticed that the Chassis solenoid which is to the top right of the BCC was getting extremely hot and the blue(top left) and black wires going into the wiring harness on the lower left of the fuse board were also getting extremely hot. I then replaced the Chassis solenoid. This does not seem to have made any difference and I am concerned that I have another problem other than starting that has not been identified. I am now charging the chassis battery before I continue with trying to start the engine by crossing the starter relay lugs. Is there anything else I should be doing?
Expert:  Chris (aka-Moose) replied 4 months ago.

If you can not get it to crank from the relay by crossing the terminals then you can do the same thing at the starter motor.

Expert:  Chris (aka-Moose) replied 4 months ago.

Hello again Chris here,

I am contacting you because the post has not been closed out. We have 7 days to get a confirmation that my help assisted you, or the post times out. When a post times out, that means its no longer on my active list (you reply I never know it.) You have already paid the fees to get this question answered, but it appears you're not pleased, or need more help.

Let me help some more. Is there anything else you feel I could offer so you would be pleased with my help. I have the option to call you if that would be better.

Thanks Chris

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Due to my concern that I did not have a good ground from the battery negative to to the chassis frame (there was some corrosion on both ends of the cable). I had the auto parts place put new connections on both ends . It is now well grounded. turning the ignition key gave no cranking. I thoroughly cleaned and sanded all contact surfaces on the chassis lug (and the small red wire connected to this lug). that lead to the battery control center. I have 12 + volts going to the solenoids that this lug connects . I checked the small wire going to the starter relay solenoid and got only a very minor movement of the volt meter(less than 2 volts) with the ignition switched turned to start. I then placed a screw driver over the two lugs on the starter relay and initially did not get any action I tried a couple of times and once it cranked the engine and it started but died within a second. More attempts to crank the engine via crossing the two large lugs on the solenoid did not result in any cranking. I am getting frustrated. I would gladly do a phone chat with you if you think this would be beneficial. I must tell you I am 81 years old and I will not be able to do any trouble shooting that involves difficult positions.
Expert:  Chris (aka-Moose) replied 4 months ago.

I do not believe I can help better over the phone since the diag steps needs you t take time to do the tests.

When the small terminal on the starter relay has low voltage when trying to start with the key. Do you get the exact same voltage at fuse 7 doing the same test?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
the same or no voltage. What is it that would cause the engine to immediately die after starting sometimes? It is very hot in Oklahoma. So I would want to do a phone chat in the cooler morning hours.
Expert:  Chris (aka-Moose) replied 4 months ago.

We can not diagnose the stall issue until we can get it to crank every single time with the key. I work till 3am in TN on here and sleep in late till about noon, then work a couple hours here then go outside and tend to my property and projects, then log back in after dinner.

We have to get fuse 7 powered with the key in the start position. Next test, access the ignition switch on the steering column. Do not unplug it, test the red/light blue wire for battery voltage when trying to start, this wire powers fuse 7 and the starting circuit. If the wire has low voltage check the light green/violet wires there are 2. Do they have low voltage with the key off or while trying to start?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I misread your response that you do not think phone chat is appropriate. Sorry.
Expert:  Chris (aka-Moose) replied 4 months ago.

No problem. I think the call would be way to long and a headache for both of us. You need time and both hands to do these tests. Plus a lemonade break in that heat.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Disregard my comment that I could not get cranking when I crossed the relay studs. I had the screw driver over the threads when I tried it before. I put the screw driver over the ends of the lugs and got cranking.
Expert:  Chris (aka-Moose) replied 4 months ago.

Did it start while the key was on when doing that jump and did it start?

Any luck on the tests at the ignition switch?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I did not have my wife with me to turn the ignition key when it cranked. However, this morning when I tried to crank by crossing the lugs it would not crank but I noticed a very light spark when I cross them. I checked the ignition switch red/light blue wire and got no voltage when trying to start. I got full voltage from both the light green/ violet wires. What does this mean and do you think that I have a bad connection at the starter causing it to not crank when I cross the lugs?
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Also, would a bad connection at the starter cause the motor to die?
Expert:  Chris (aka-Moose) replied 4 months ago.

A bad connection will not cause a vehicle to stall, that circuit is only needed to start the vehicle. Since you get no voltage out of the ignition switch when trying to start but you have voltage into this ignition switch, that means the ignition switch is bad and will need to be replaced.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
While retesting the ignition switch(which initially showed the same as before) suddenly while my wife turned the ignition switch it cranked and started up with the red/light blue wire showing battery voltage. It continued to run until I turned off the ignition. I then started it at least 5 times with the same result that it stared immediately and continued to run. Then it suddenly would not crank at all. As you will recall, I told you initially that I had replaced this ignition switch before I contacted you, but, as you advised , I replaced the ignition switch with a new one. I was not able to get the engine to crank(only got the radio to light up and maybe dim instrument lights(the sun was bright and I could not see well).For what it is worth(not much I admit) I think it must be a bad ground somewhere. Also recall that I am not getting the engine to crank(except once) when I cross the starter solenoid relay(only get a weak spark). What next?
Expert:  Chris (aka-Moose) replied 4 months ago.

I am out of ideas. I just do not think I can help you figure this out not in person. Would you like me to opt out and try another tech here.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
but only if they thoroughly read all that has gone before so I do not have to repeat it.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
As I thought about the switch fault analysis I agree that it had to be in the switch connection area where the problem is. I decided to see if the wiring going to the switch might be the problem. I think it is because by simply pushing around on the wiring harness I was able to get the engine to crank and start repeatedly. However, at times , it would only light up the instrument panel lights brightly but not crank and then as I continued to push(sideways) it would start to crank again. So apparently there is an intermittent connection to one or more wires in the wiring harness that connects to the ignition switch. Do you agree? And if so which wire(wires) should I concentrate on checking?
Expert:  Chris (aka-Moose) replied 4 months ago.

I have no clue if the next person will even help or if they will read everything. It is for sure electrical related but the results keep changing daily and I feel you are having difficulty following a wire diagram. I am just not seeing any progress which is why another may be able to help more efficient. Opting out now.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
FYI. I think I have finally identified the problem. I found corrosion on the terminals of the starter relay. After I cleaned these I was able to crank the engine consistently by crossing the two large lugs of the solenoid. The engine also immediately started and continued to run after about ten attempts.