Wiring A Malibu For Towing
Q: I have read in FMC about how to wire the lights on the Malibu for towing. Could you send me that info or tell me how to get reprints?
Walter Palmer, F93779
A: Family Motor Coaching has not published an article recently that addresses wiring towed vehicle lights. Because of the sophisticated electronics of today’s vehicles, older articles may not be applicable to current models. Many variables go into this project, and you may want to contact one of the towing equipment suppliers listed in the “Business Directory” on page 342 of the June 2004 issue of FMC, or online at www.fmca.com/bd, to find out what type of wiring kit your vehicle requires. Some kits tie into the towed vehicle’s lighting circuitry while others bypass this system and run directly off the motorhome’s electrical system.
Air Conditioner Repair
Q: Do you have a recommendation for a place to repair an air conditioner circuit board? I have used D.J. Gadget Electronics, located in Eustis, Florida, previously, but the company may have gone out of business, as the telephone number is now assigned to a private residence.
Loren Bates, F131535
Fountain Valley, California
A: We did find D.J. Gadget Electronics referenced on a couple of RV-related Web sites, but the phone number listed has been disconnected, so it’s possible that the company is no longer in business.
I don’t recommend having printed circuit boards repaired. The schematic is proprietary information and not shared, so the repair folks have to do a lot of guessing as to the value of destroyed components. Also, the integrated circuits are not always available, and commercial bench time for electronics quite often makes the venture uneconomical. But if you happen to know an electronics expert who works cheap, it might be worth a shot.
Q: I have a 2002 Monaco Knight and the steering is horrible. I have been looking into aftermarket steering controls and so far I have received information on two systems. These two systems differ greatly in cost. I would like some information to assist me in making an informed decision on which system would be the most cost effective. There are probably many systems out there, and if any are better than the two I mention below, please forward their names. I have information about TruCenter Steering Control from Blue Ox and the Howard Precision Steer Wheel Control system. I am trying to find out which system is the best product for the money. Could you please steer me in the right direction? (Pun intended.)
Timothy F. Roland, F339768
Port Aransas, Texas
A: Before trying to correct your steering problem with bolt-on aftermarket accessories, I would first have the coach weighed (front axle, rear axle, and each wheel individually) to make sure there isn’t a weight-balance problem. If the motorhome is overweight or the weight is not balanced properly, reduce or redistribute the weight. Next, have a reputable suspension shop align the coach “” have all axles aligned, not just the steering axle “” and inspect it for any free play in the steering linkage. Also have the technician inspect the rear suspension and make sure your tires are inflated to the recommended air pressure. In most cases, the previously mentioned tasks will correct a steering problem.
If the problem persists, contact the motorhome manufacturer and the chassis manufacturer with your documented efforts to correct the problem and request their assistance. But before doing this, make sure it is a chassis problem and not a question of weight, balance, or alignment.
Once the steering problem is fixed, there are several aftermarket items available that provide steering control assistance that are worth consideration. These mostly reduce driver fatigue and offer a higher degree of control in the event of a tire blowout. Read the product information, talk with people who have experience with the product, and use your best judgment for what will work best within your budget.
Q: My wife and I are new RVers and are learning the ropes of RVing, but one question remains unanswered. Could you tell me whether I should put something on the rubber seals that are around the slideouts? A neighbor suggested applying a product called 303. Another person said to put Vaseline petroleum jelly on them, and someone else said to just put plain water on them. I am trying to find out whether there is anything that will help keep the rubber from cracking as it gets older. I have asked a bunch of people and have gotten a bunch of different answers.
Dick & Marianne Boyer, F314522
Floral City, Florida
A: As with any preventive maintenance issue related to your motorhome, first check the vehicle’s owners manual. In it you should find preventive maintenance guidelines for all of the coach’s systems and components, including the slideouts. Follow these directions and your slideout seals should last for many years. Another option is to check with the coach manufacturer.
We contacted several manufacturers to find out what their recommendations were for maintaining the slideout seals on newer coaches. Representatives from two companies “” Monaco Coach Corporation and Winnebago Industries “” said that they do not recommend putting any type of lubricant on the seals. Both companies indicated that the seals are made of EPDM rubber, the same material used for many rubber roofs. EPDM rubber is designed to resist ultraviolet light, ozone, oxidants, and severe weather conditions for many years and requires no further protection. However, this material can be damaged by petroleum distillates, common in many cleaners. Use of products formulated with petroleum distillates can lead to irreparable damage to the seals (and rubber roofs). The Monaco representative indicated that the only preventive maintenance required is to keep the seals clean and dry, visually inspect them with the slideout extended to make sure they are not ripped or torn, and make sure that the wipe seals come in contact with the sides of the slideout box.
Fleetwood RV, which also uses seals made of EPDM rubber, has a slightly different stance. Clean Seal Inc., which supplies the seals that Fleetwood uses in its motorhomes, recommends using 303 Aerospace Protectant, a UV screening product that does not contain silicone oils, waxes, glycerin, or petroleum distillates. According to Clean Seal, this product is safe for use on EPDM rubber. Product literature for 303 Aerospace Protectant indicates that using the product will restore the seals to “like-new” color, luster, and gloss, as well as help repel dust, soiling, and staining.
For owners of late-model motorhomes that may have white slideout seals, the Monaco representative said that these are not UV-protected and should be treated with a product such as 303 Aerospace Protectant to keep them from premature deterioration.
Light Up My Life
Q: I am a new motorhome owner and would like some guidance. I live in Edmond, Oklahoma, and use a dolly to tow my small car. Since the car dolly has fully functioning lights, is it required to have auxiliary lights on the car itself, or do the dolly lights qualify legally?
Gary Tears, F345007
A: As far as the law is concerned, the need for taillights on the rear of the car depends on the state. Some states require lights on the rear of the car and some do not. However, prudence demands the rear lights for safety’s sake. I recommend using the additional lights. They could save you from possible injury, expensive repairs, and inconvenience should someone rear-end your towed vehicle because they couldn’t see that you were stopping. Plus, if you have a properly installed set of lights, you can travel in any state regardless of the laws there.