RV owner stymied by stuck-out step


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!


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Gene Cheatham

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

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

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

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.