RV owner stymied by stuck-out step

11

By Chris Dougherty

Chris Dougherty is a certified RV technician. Here is a letter he received from a reader while he was serving as RVtravel.com’s technical editor.

Dear Chris,
I have a 2011 Newmar Gas Class A. The steps automatically retract when the engine is started. They didn’t retract yesterday. The only thing that happened prior to this is the engine battery went dead and I started it from the house batteries. Any suggestions, since I can’t drive it with the steps open? —MaryAnn

Dear MaryAnn,
The step controller has several inputs: the ignition, the magnetic or mechanical switch, and the power switch on the wall by the door. When the ignition is turned on, the default is that it is supposed to retract the steps. With it not doing that, I am concerned that there is either a connection problem, a blown fuse or a controller issue.

Common step controller, courtesy Amazon.com

Try using the power switch by the door. Cycle it to ON and open and close the door. When the door is closed the step should retract. If it doesn’t, that’s two inputs that aren’t working, so I would then try testing the incoming power to the step using a test light or multimeter.

The owner’s manual for the step should be in the owner’s packet in the coach, which will show which wires to test. If not, the manual may be available online at the manufacturer’s website. If there is no power to the step, then testing the circuit back is the next thing, starting with the fuse or circuit breaker for the step.

If there is power to the step, then it is possible that the controller or motor has failed and must be tested. The only way to get rolling with the step retracted is to go underneath and jump the motor to 12 VDC and try to move it, or disconnect the mechanism so the step can be manually retracted and tied up until permanent repairs can be made.

Hope this helps!

##RVT835 ##RVDT1429

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Wayne
2 days ago

Reach around the door jam to get behind the bronze bullet switches—you might find a wire came off one of the switches. They are not tight fitting connections. If you need to get the steps in manually, crawl underneath and look for the actuator arms. They will be held in place by a cotter pin. Remove the pin and the steps can be retracted and fastened in place with bungees. Always turn off the power when under the steps working.

Don Baker
3 days ago

Also check that you have a good ground. With multiple switches not working there could be a bad ground.
I have a 2005 Country Coach and have had numerous issues in the past with not extending or not retracting. After troubleshooting I thought the motor was bad. I removed motor and cleaned the rotor commutator (the copper segmented ring at one end of the motor) reassembled and it has worked great since then.

Jennifer Fuller
3 days ago

Had the same issue. The wire to the motor had come loose.

Bob P
3 days ago

I had a 2002 Newmar Mountain Aire that I foolishly did not ensure there was not an obstruction in the way and when the steps retracted the motor burned up. Upon getting an new motor and controller and installing them I found the steps now operated backwards. When the door closed the steps extended, checking all the wiring it was wired correctly, I installed a toggle switch under the edge of the motorhome and went out first to activate the switch and went in last to turn it off. If I used the inside switch they wouldn’t work at all.

Al Hollister
3 days ago

Had the same problem. Read up on possible causes but checks showed nothing. After a bit of a scary drive with the steps out I remembered something about magnet activated switch. Checked the door and door frame and found the magnet switch on the door was there but no matching magnet on the door frame. Got my magnet screw retriever out and held it to the switch on the door and steps came in. Didn’t have any other magnet so for a temporary fix taped the retriever to the door frame. Drove till found a Home Depot, bought a small adhesive backed magnet, attached it and now 4 years later steps still retract.

Gene Cheatham
2 years ago

A freind’s motor home had a similar problem and he found loose connections to be the problem. One was so loose he was able to turn the nut several revolutions before it became finger tight.

Ted Kline
2 years ago

You did not mention checking the ground wires. There are two ground wires if either fail to ground to the frame the steps will not work. It is one of the first things I check after experiencing the steps not going out on my rig.

Bill Hunt
2 years ago

Be certain that you be extremely careful if you’re under the coach working on your steps. If they suddenly move you could lose body parts becaus they aren’t going to stop when they get to you.

Kenneth Merry
2 years ago

On the step issue, I have twice had the magnetic switch to come loose, after the second time I siliconed around it, step has not given me another problem in the three years since.

alex
2 years ago
Reply to  Kenneth Merry

Same iIssue happened in our 1 year old Mercedes chassis Class C. Stair extended but wouldn’t retract. On the door frame, I found a small magnet had come loose. There was also a small square of double faced tape with nothing attached as well. Putting 2 and 2 together, I reatached the magnet and presto, problem solved. At home, I replaced the factory tape with a much stronger 3M product. If this happens to you, be careful to replace the sensor in exactly the right position. I suspect the folks who assembled my RV didn’t position the sensor correctly and had to move it which likely ruined the tapes holding power.

Mark Nawman
2 years ago
Reply to  alex

MaryAnn, I’m not sure about your coach but my Entegra had three fuses for the steps. There were two in the outside bay under the drivers seat and one inside with the house fuses.

Mark