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Ask Dave: Why won’t our RV’s jacks retract?

Dear Dave,
We have a 2018 Newmar Sport with an Equalizer Leveling System. We’re having trouble with our jacks not retracting. We had to manually retract them twice, then discovered what appeared to be a loose wire. We thought we had solved the issue, but upon leaving our campsite a pulsing tone was coming from the jacks’ keypad. The same problem occurred today when the jacks would not retract after the rig had been sitting (jacks down) for several months. What do you think may be going on? What might need to be replaced? —Pam, 2018 Newmar Sport

Dear Pam,
Over the years I have seen several different level systems used by Newmar such as Power Gear, Equalizer, and at times HWH. Lippert bought out Power Gear a few years back, so it could even be an LCI system. They all have the same function: A hydraulic pump pushes fluid through lines and valves to extend and retract jacks as well as slide room mechanisms.

First, the pulsing tone you heard coming from the keypad could have been the “jacks down” warning alarm. I’m not familiar with any of the keypads that have a pulsing tone for an error code. Most either have an actual message such as “Low Voltage” or a series of blinks. However, I have not had much experience with Equalizer, that I see Newmar used at times.

The first step when troubleshooting jacks

Either way, now you have a leveling system that will not retract. So, the first thing I would suggest is to verify power to the keypad and jacks. Does the panel light up? Most leveling systems are powered by the engine battery and need the key turned to provide power. If the keypad does not turn on, check to make sure there is not a fuse blown on the chassis fuse panel. Some models have a twist-in fuse on the keypad. If the panel does not power up, then you will need to trace 12-volt power to the controls. Have you tried it with the engine running to get full power from your alternator?

If the keyboard does engage and the jacks do not retract, check voltage to the motor. You stated you manually retracted them a couple of times, which I would assume you did with a cordless drill and hex-type insert. This would be on the motor, so you want to verify 12-volt power to the motor. I’m not exactly sure where Newmar placed their pump motor. However, several manufacturers have them out in the front—open to the elements! There is a solenoid that reverses the operation that can get corroded and or go bad. I have come across forums where switching the wires manually on the solenoid has worked temporarily.

Since you did have a loose connection earlier, I would suggest cleaning and refastening all connections, especially the solenoid and any ground connections. These can be what I call “gremlins”—as they can pop up for no apparent reason. The can work one day and then not the next. This could be due to temperature changes, moisture, or vibration.

Here is a photo of the battery bank of a 2015 Thor and the hydraulic pump next to it. Think this might not need a little TLC?

Here is the pump.

When you press the retract button, do you hear a click at the motor? If yes, it could be the motor is getting weak and has a higher amp draw at startup. In your description you did not mention any issues with extending the jacks. Each time it has just been a retraction issue?

Also, make sure you check your hydraulic fluid level, as low fluid will not allow them to retract. Sometimes when they sit for a long period of time, the fluid gets condensation and even air in the lines.

We just worked on a Thor with Lippert system that had a “low voltage” error and the “jacks down” light and beeper on constantly. The engine battery was weak and the house batteries were shot, so the alternator was not keeping up. We installed new lithium batteries in the house side and hit the battery disconnect. After a short run time, the “low voltage” disappeared. The “jacks down” warning was due to one jack having a weak spring. This is not the issue in your case, but you never know when the gremlins will come out.

With a little more information on the make and model of jacks and what you are seeing for power at the keypad, we might be able to narrow this down a little closer.

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.

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Jesse Crouse
1 month ago

Had a problem with only one jack on an 2006 Atwood Level Leg system. Found a reset procedure for it on the internet- can’t remember where now- was several years ago. Did the procedure and no further problems. I suggest calling the manufacturer or looking up on the internet with all of the precise info you can read off the jack/control panel. Good luck.

Richard
1 month ago

Call Equalizer systems…they are a great company to deal with. Should provide solution

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