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Engine and its Maintenance Tips:  General maintenance information and everything not part of one of the three Engine sub-systems:  Engine's Fuel / Air System, Engine's Emission System or Engine's Cooling System.
Click on the Click to Cruiseto go to its Tip:
Click to Cruise Dodge D350 Pick-up Wiring Diagram and Repair Manual
Click to Cruise Engine and Transmission model numbers
Click to Cruise Engine Year
Click to Cruise George Kinnison’s Confirmation of Murphy’s Law   (Article)
Tips on Troubleshooting & Part Numbers
Click to Cruise Engine Computer Troubleshooting & Part Numbers (off page link)
Click to Cruise Engine valves
Click to Cruise Engine running rough at idle
Click to Cruise Engine Oil Pan Gasket Removal & Installation (Article)
Click to Cruise Head Gasket leak -- Compression in the Cooling System
Click to Cruise Engine Maintenance
Click to Cruise Engine Hoses
Click to Cruise Fan Belts
Click to Cruise Replacement Parts Belts, Hoses, Filters etc.
Click to Cruise Dip Stick
Click to Cruise Engine Oil
Click to Cruise Synthetic Oil vs. Regular Oil
Click to Cruise Oil Leaks
Click to Cruise MAP Sensor
Click to Cruise Relays: Starter, A/C & ASD 
Click to Cruise Distributor-Cap Fire
Click to Cruise Engine Replacement
Click to Cruise Alternator Charging System
Click to Cruise Exhaust Manifold Bolts
Click to Cruise Broken Stud or Machine Screw
Click to Cruise Maintenance Light Meaning and How to Reset it (off page link)
Click to Cruise Chrysler "Check Engine" Light Computer Codes  (off page link)
Click to Cruise Starter Overheating
Click to Cruise Starter Problems -- Diesel
Click to Cruise Starter not working. It just clicks!
Click to Cruise Starter not working. It won't even click!
Click to Cruise Starter Relay: Trouble Shouting Problems

-- Disclaimer --

Information on this Web Site is provided by members of the "Aero Cruiser Classics" Motor home Club. All information on this site is contributed by the club members or outside sources and is believed to be reliable; however, there is no warranty or guarantee that said information or advice is correct or free of defect. It is offered on a best effort basis and is to be used at your own risk.


Subject:  Dodge D350 Pick-up Wiring Diagram and Repair Manual
Tip:  For wiring diagrams, engine repair, etc. go down to your local library and check out one of the Automotive repair manuals. The one I use covers Dodge Pick-ups from 1974 through 1993. It is by Haynes, ISBN 1 56392 202 9. There are other manuals available from other companies. If your library doesn't have one, check with the garage that services your rig and the Internet is always there if you want to purchase one.   I picked a used one up on the internet for $5.00 including shipping.  
Keep on Cruisin' -- Tom Heald
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Subject:  Engine and Transmission model numbers

Tip:  Both the 23 and 29 foot Aero Cruisers have a Chrysler 360 C.I.D. (5.9 Liter) engine from a D350, 1 ton Dodge truck with an A727 Transmission. All of the front end, steering, wiring harness, computer, relays and dash equipment is supplied by the Industrial Engine division of Chrysler and comes from a full-size Dodge D350 pick-up. Check the sticker on your air cleaner to find out what year the engine is. It is always a year or two older than the model year. For example my 1990 Aero Cruiser has a 1989 engine.
Keep on Cruisin', Tom Heald
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Subject:  Engine valves
Tip:  Rick brought for show-and-tell the burned valves from the #3 cylinder that he replaced recently. As part of that job, he also rebuilt the heads.
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Subject: Engine Year

Question:  How can I find out what year the engine is?

Answer: Look on the engine air filter housing to get the year of the engine manufacture. The Aero Cruiser itself may be listed as a year or two newer then the engine. My 1990 Aero Cruiser has a 1987-8 engine.
Keep on Cruisin' -- Tom Heald
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Subject:  Engine running rough at idle

Tip: If your engine is starting to run rough at idle with no indication of ignition malfunction, check your in-line gasoline fuel filter (metal canister 2” X 4” mounted inside frame just behind right hand side of the transmission). Also, change carburetor air cleaner as it will affect gasoline mileage.
#102 Kinnison
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Subject:  Head Gasket leak -- Compression in the Cooling System
Question:  As I type, I'm broken down in Houston Texas. About a 150 miles from Houston, I began to smell antifreeze, even thought the engine temp. was only 210. I pulled over and found the catch bottle full and coolant all over. It seems I'm getting compression in the cooling system. A friend who is a Dodge mechanic seems to think these 360s are prone to do this, through what he calls a "steam port". If this is true it looks like I'll be pulling the heads. Has anyone else had this problem? Again so far on this trip the engine temp. has never gotten over 230 degrees.

Answer:  Well, I have it apart and the head gasket was blown on the left side 3rd cylinder back. The head bolt at that location was not as tight as the others. The machine shop tells me the heads have cracks and some valve seats are too bad to grind. They assure me that they fix this all the time, so for $385.00 I should be able to pick them up late tomorrow. Also the gasket kit with the "extreme service" head gaskets is $185.00.

It was no walk in the park to removing the heads. First thing I did was take out both front seats. Then just started taking stuff off 'til we got to the heads. We had cardboard down on the driver's side and manhandled the manifold and heads out through the driver's side door. Oh, before we "downed" it, I drove it 2 high on Linx-Levelers.

We got it back together and drove it late Friday afternoon. I struck out, from Houston, about 4:00PM Saturday for a friend's house between Centerville and Oakwood Texas. Everything was going fine for the first 30 minutes, when the oil pressure gage went to zero. The low pressure light and buzzer were not on, so I was concerned, of course, so I made a graceful and immediate exit from I-45. Come to find out the wire to the sender had gotten on the small tube that runs across the rear of the engine, from one exhaust manifold to the other, and melted to it. I pulled it loose and the gage went back to working properly. I stopped several times just to check the overflow bottle. Thankfully the level never changed.

After a visit with friends I headed for home, arriving at about 1:30 Tuesday morning. The little coach performed admirably, but the 6-7mpg is a pain on my 1000 mile odessy. I could have ridden the bike and stayed in motels much cheaper. But would not have been as "interesting"!!!
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Subject:  Engine Maintenance

Tip: If you have not done maintenance in a while, following is the list of things to check and service if needed depending on your engine type:
* Air filter for the computer - check for cleanliness
* In-line fuel filter
* Oxygen sensor
* Vacuum lines (especially to MAP sensor
* PCV valve
* Catalytic converter (should be done by a service shop
* Spark plug wires
* Engine timing (for carbureted engines)
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Subject:  Engine Hoses
Tip:  Check your hoses for deterioration. Old ones will be brittle and may not hold the pressure. When replacing them, do not over tighten the clamps.
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Subject:  Fan Belts
Tip:  Inspect on the inner side for cracking and replace as necessary. General rules of thumb, if you have not replaced them in the last three years, take a real close look.
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Subject:  Replacement Parts Belts, Hoses, Filters etc.
Tip:  Since I wasn't able to find specific references to replacement belts, hoses, etc. I thought I'd post what I've found for my newly acquired 1989 A-C. I believe that the engine is a 1988 model year based upon the following number: Chrysler LH 360-88-388 located below the Vironex Chassis VIN.

Dual Alternator/AC (120amp) belts: NAPA (Gates) 7612
Power Steering/Fan belt: NAPA (Gates) 7450
Air Pump/Fan belt: NAPA (Gates) 7480
Upper Radiator Hose: Gates GAT 21406
Lower Radiator Hose: Gates GAT 20046

Replacement Fuel Pump: Airtex 60519
Air Cleaner Element: Franz CA160
Fuel Filter: FRAM G3499

I'll post any additional replacement items as I come to them. jwdub1
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Subject:  Dip Stick
Tip:  Do you have trouble seeing where the oil is on you dip stick or better yet, where it should be? This may help. File a “V” notch at the upper and lower oil mark on your dip stick with a triangular file about 1/16 to 3/32 deep. Clean the dip stick carefully and put it back. You may still have trouble seeing the oil line but you should have not trouble finding the reference points.
#212 Petrovich
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Subject:  Engine Oil
Tip:  Recommended viscosity of oil depends on the temperature where the coach is being operated. With the mild temperatures of Southern California, straight SAE 30 weight is fine, but if you expect a significant change in temperature, stick with SAE 10W-30 which is good for temperatures above 0° F. Remember that certain oil viscosities such as SAE 10W-40 and 10W-50 are NOT recommended in Dodge engines.
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Subject:  Synthetic Oil vs. Regular Oil
Tip:  It comes down to personal preference. Some people report engine running cooler with synthetic oil. If you use regular oil and you drive in a climate where the temperature is relatively even, suggestion is that you use a single grade oil in stead of multigrade due to its longer life expectancy.
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Subject:  Oil Leaks
Tip 1:  Lon Waterson cautioned about assuming that your rear main seal is leaking just because you have an oil leak on the ground. Check the oil cover first and engine block to intake manifold interface. That may be the culprit.
Lon Waterson

Tip 2:  Make sure that the screws holding the valve cover are snug all around. Rear end of the covers is especially susceptible to oil leaks. Also, when changing the engine oil, replace the plastic washer on the oil pan bolt periodically. The gasket can get compressed to the point where it no longer does its job. 
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Subject:  MAP Sensor
Tip:  If Manifold Absolute Pressure sensor needs to be replaced, make sure you tell your mechanic or parts person that the engine is 5.9 liter from a D350 Dodge truck.
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Subject:  Relays: Starter, A/C & ASD

Tip:  Automatic Shut Down (ASD) relay failure will stop your engine.  It supplies power to the fuel pump, ignition coil, fuel injectors, and parts of the power module depending on what year your Aero Cruiser is.  The idea is to shut off fuel pressure and the ignition systems when the key is turned off to prevent fires, dieseling, and other problems.

It is located next to the dashboard fuse block on the drivers side and may be interchanged with the Air Conditioning relay in an emergency even though the one relay has 5 prongs while the other relay has 4.

The starter relay is located under the front hood on the right side.  See "Starter Relay: Trouble Shouting Problems" and "Remote Starter Switch" for additional information and pictures.

  • A/C Cut Out Relay 
    12 Volt-30 Amp
    Beck Arnley - 203-0012
    Fule - Power
    (Can also be used for ASD)
  • Starter Relay
    AR-201 NAPA Without Bracket
    AR-204 NAPA With Bracket
    5227300 Mopar 
    4111971 (hard to read *)
  • ASD - Auto Shut Down Relay
    Fuel & Ignition
    Mopar - 52331200 (hard to read *)

From George's Little Black Book   
* Note: some of the numbers are hard to read in George's notes and may not be correct so check them on the relay or a catalog before ordering.
Keep on Cruisin, Tom Heald
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Subject:  Distributor-Cap Fire

Tip:  Beware!  If you buy a distributor cap and rotor, and the rotor is for a bigger shaft, return both, not just the rotor, even though the distributor cap looks superficially to be the right size.  I learned the hard way.  I only bought another rotor the correct size.  It ran fine for the 20-mile test drive up and down a 1000-foot hill, so I thought all was well.  But a few days later we set out for a local beach.  We only got two miles when it backfired a few times and then quit.  I pulled over and saw smoke coming from under the motor cover.  I didn't want to remove the motor cover because it would feed air to the fire, so I tried aiming the fire extinguisher through the front wheel well at the back top of the motor where I could see the flames.  I was unable to stop the fire that way, so I went back in and risked taking the cover off.  Then I could see that it was the new distributor cap burring and aim the fire retardant straight into the distributor.  That put the fire out.  Praise God, an off-duty fireman had stopped and came in at that point.  He had already called 911 and he spent my second extinguisher making sure the fire was out.  The fire truck arrived a few minutes later and the CHP a couple minutes after that.  Wow, what a team!

Two hours later the Aero Cruiser was loaded on a Landoll trailer and hauled to my mechanic's shop.  It took me two days to find and replace all the burnt wires, vacuum hoses, distributor, cap, rotor, etc.  Now I have another few days work to replace the burnt insulation and clean up the mess.  But we thank God we didn't go the way of the Watersons' fire!
Frank DeRemer
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Subject:  Engine Replacement
Tip 1:  In August of 2004, after driving all day with our “new” Cruiser (we bought a 90/91 model), we were a quarter mile from home when something sounded like metal hitting the cooling fan. I stopped immediately and checked. The fan was just fine. I then noticed the wing-nut on the air cleaner cover was going solo. The bolt holding the cover in place had snapped off and proceeded to find its way down the carburetor throat into the engine. I guess the “ s— had hit the fan “ after all.

Fishing around through the carb. throat with a magnet didn’t accomplish anything, so after removing the valve cover and searching further we found damage to the valves and one piston and cylinder wall. This engine had been driven 154,000 miles, yet all the other pistons were still in exceptional condition. After getting repair estimates, I called George Kinnison who graciously shared information about the totally remanufactured engine he had introduced to our club. Next, through David Cavin at Chicago Power Systems, Inc., an engine was shipped to me. After receiving the engine and inspecting it, Chicago Power accepted my personal check on George’s word! I have only driven the Cruiser 350 miles since installation. So far it runs quietly, smoothly and powerfully.

Here are some stats:  LH360 Remanufactured Chrysler Industrial Stub Engine ass’y w/increased cooling water pump.  
Price $2375.00 
Shipping 345.00
Installation with many new parts (hoses, belts etc.) Approx. $1,700,00

Pete with his new Engine

Lowering the Engine 
Shot from above

Shot from below

#441 Pete Mondeel

Update:  Pete gave us an update on his engine. He said the engine runs great and he gets about 12.4 MPG on the flat terrain at 55 MPH and 8 to 8.5 on the hilly terrain. 
#441 Pete Mondeel

Tip 2:  Some of us have accumulated quite a few miles on our coaches and though no one knows how long our engines will last, there is a source where we can buy remanufactured engines. They are $2,500 plus $500 for shipping. See below for additional information.

Removal of the engine should not be difficult. There is a cross-member bolted to the frame that holds the transmission and the engine. Once this part is removed along with two engine mounts, the engine can be removed from the bottom.

Speaking of engine mounts, they are standard D350, 1-ton truck mounts and should be checked periodically for condition and separation. Poor engine mounts can allow engine to sag or twist under acceleration.
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Subject:  Alternator Charging System
Tip:  If you should loose your alternator for some reason (it went bad, belts broke, air conditioner compressor froze, etc.) keep in mind that you could still drive a long way. The electrical current needed for your ignition system will be supplied by your engine battery for a long time without being recharged. In an emergency, you could also connect your coach batteries to the engine battery and have even more current.
#212 Petrovich
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Subject:  Exhaust Manifold Bolts
Tip 1:  Check your exhaust manifold bolts periodically to make sure they are still there. The manifold is secured to the block, metal to metal – no gasket, with a combination of machine screws in some locations and studs and nuts in other. These bolts (technically, machine screws and studs) that hold the exhaust manifold to the engine head can break off due to extremes in stress caused by high temperature. Driving without them for a prolonged period of time can cause warping of the exhaust manifold and leakage of the exhaust gases into the engine compartment.

Removing broken studs from the engine head is no easy task. Common approach is to drill a correct size hole precisely in the center of the broken stud and clean out the remaining threads with a tap. Trying to use an “easyout” (screw extractor) can be a mistake. Remember that the easyout is smaller than the screw your are trying to remove and though it is harder it is also more brittle and can breake inside the hole creating a bigger problem. Trust me, I’ve been there. The best thing to do is to take your coach to a reputable shop capable of performing such a task. If you insist on doing it yourself, be prepared to eventually remove the engine head and take it to a shop. On the plus side, this will give you the opportunity to examine all components of the engine top side and replace as needed.
#212 Petrovich
Tip 2:  Bolts and screws that hold the manifold to the block are grade 5. Suggestion is to replace them with grade 8 if replacement becomes necessary. They have been known to brake from constant expansion and contraction due to extreme temperatures. Torquing of these fasteners is also critical since manifold is secured directly to the block without a gasket between them.
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Subject:  Broken Stud or Machine Screw
Tip:  If you are faced with a situation where you need to remove a broken stud or a machine screw, consider using left hand drill bit. You have to drill a hole into the remainder of the stud anyway, why not use the drill that works against the threads in stead of with them?
#409 Royston 
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Subject:  Starter Overheating
Tip:  Cal Harnetiaux reported a problem with his starter; it wouldn’t work. He discovered that the started was “fried” by the exhaust system. It’s a good idea to inspect your exhaust system to make sure that there are no sensitive components too close that could get damaged by the heat. That would include such things as: control cables, wiring, brake-lines, etc. If they are too close and can’t be moved, consider shielding them with heat resisting materials.
See the tips on: Exhaust System Wrap to cool things down  and
Replacing the Transmission and Throttle Control Cables at the end of the article.
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Subject:  Starter Problems -- Diesel
Tip:  Diesel Starter Adventure!  If you haven't been there already, you will be. You go to start your Cruiser and all you get is a depressing click. Your first thought is that the battery must be dead. No, everything was fine a while ago and everything else is functioning. Great! The starter died.

When the starter went bad on my 98 Dodge diesel, the dealer told me I needed a new one. $900 later I have learned a few things. I don't know if the gas Aero Cruiser uses the same starter, but I learned a lot about the diesel. The dealer wants $600 for the unit itself and about $300 to install.

The Cummins diesel in the Dodges use a Nippon Denso starter. Most support groups estimate that the starter itself is good for about 300K miles. What goes bad is the solenoid. The solenoid itself is as tough as the starter, but the contacts pit and corrode easily and 12volts can't punch through much corrosion.

To cure this problem, Larry Buck, up in Tacoma, Washington makes a set of oversized contacts and sells the kit for $35. He also sells the Nippon Denso starter, brand new, with the beefier contacts installed for about $400.


The whole procedure is about 4 hours or less. The toughest part is getting the starter in and out. All work must be done underneath, so if you have a lift, great. If not, any blocking or lifting of the front end will help.

As with any engine work, disconnect the ground wire on the batteries and set it so it won't swing back and make contact. If you have a disconnect switch, that is fine too. Crawl underneath and pull back the rubber boot covering the starter terminal. Disconnect the starter cable. Remember that this is a copper bolt so it is soft. Disconnect the solenoid trigger wire. If you get your contacts from Larry, you might want to invest a couple of extra bucks and get his new copper bolt kit.

The starter is held in with 3ea 10mm bolts. These are $8 ea from the dealer so try to be nice to them. These are 'star-head' bolts that have 12 points and mate perfectly to a 12pt, 10mm socket. Nothing else will fit. I tried. An 11mm, 6 pt will fit but slips under torque. I vowed to replace these bolts with standard hex heads, but I later found that the star heads were smaller and clearance wouldn't allow hex heads. The bolt between the starter and the engine wall has very tight clearance and will give you the most trouble. You will need a 12in extension to get to it. There is not enough swing room to use a open/box/ratchet end on any of the bolts. Loosen the top bolt first but leave it installed. It is the easiest to get to (you can't see it but it is easy to feel for). It will hold the weight of the starter while you remove the difficult lower two bolts. Then, holding the weight of the starter with one hand, back out the top bolt. There are no gaskets involved.

Once you have the starter on the bench, the rebuild is quick and easy. It just depends on how much time you want to spend cleaning things. Should take about 20 min. Larry includes good instructions with the kit. You don't need to open the starter, just the 3 screws on the solenoid end cap. The contacts are right there. When reassembling, remember: The bolts are copper and strip easily. Tighten firmly, but don't crank down.

If you are adventurous, you can bench test the starter. Using jumper cables, hook it up. Nothing will happen until you trigger the solenoid. Using a short hunk of 16awg or larger wire, and holding the starter FIRMLY (It's a torquey little dude), short the positive post to the trigger post. Stay away from the gear end and try to touch the nuts on the posts. Touching the treads might arc and mess them up. Just a touch will do. Don't hold it there. If changing the contacts fixed the problem, you will know.

Putting the starter back in is an exercise in frustration. That inner bolt is a bear to line up. Put the top bolt in first and hand insert it but don't seat or tighten. This will hold the weight but allow the starter to wobble a bit and give you some play room to get the other 2 gremlins in. This could take the remainder of the day.

Put the electrics back in in reverse order and you are up. Watch out for over tightening that copper bolt. This fix is waaay cheaper than $900. 

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Subject: Starter not working. It just clicks!
Question:  We just returned from a trip a while back and are getting ready for another when I tried to start Aero Cruiser.  The ignition switch just clicks the starter. New starter was installed two years ago. Just read your article on starter by-pass switch. Not sure I can find those cables/ wires. Any advice? Give us a call.  
Marvin & CeCe

Answer:  If it is clicking then the starter by-pass switch will not help. It is used to bypass the the starter relay to pick the solenoid on the starter. The clicking you hear is the starter relay or the solenoid on the starter. It is either your battery being low (most common) or it is the starter. It may just be the contacts that run the starter motor, the motor itself or the Bendix gear.  There are several tips on the starter motor and heat related problems from the exhaust.  See -- tip-run01.htm#t2002-03-08 & tip-run01.htm#t2009-07-08 -- which is for diesels but it is a good description of starter problems.  

To shoot the bug; crawl under and check the voltage at the Starter motor. If it drops quite a bit when you try to start the engine then it is probably your battery. If you hear or see the Solenoid click but not engage then the problem is probably in the starter motor: either a bad motor or the contacts that cause it to spin.  If you hear the starter spinning but not engaging then it is probably the Bendix gear that engages with the flywheel to turn the engine over. 

If you can't shoot the bug yourself take it to a good mechanic who will actually look at the starter before replacing it. In any case consider -- tip-ext05.htm#exhaust-w -- "Exhaust System Wrap" to cool things down and protect the starter and cables.
Keep on Cruisin', Tom Heald
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Subject: Starter not working. It won't even click!
Question:  Can't start, no crank, nothing... Check and charged batteries, still nothing. Well I read all the tip sheets about the starter problems, with overheating and such. I was able to jump the ignition wire to starter hot cable. And was able to start the coach that way. So I know the start works now. I think the connections to the starter are a bit corroded and my next step is to disconnect and clean up wiring and retest. "Metro"
Answer:  Possible problems are: the starter relay (up front under the hood on the right side) and the Transmission interlock switch in the starter circuit (found on the transmission so you can't start it in gear).
See -- Starter Relay: Trouble Shouting Problems -- and -- for more information and a typical wiring diagram. There is also a "fusible link" in the circuit as can be seen in the wiring diagram. It looks like any other wire, except it is designed to melt with high current. If it has melted, you won't start. 

It sounds like you tried all of the other common problems found in tip -- -- but review it to make sure. Let us know what you find. 
Keep on Cruisin', Tom Heald
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Subject:  Starter Relay: Trouble Shouting Problems
Tip:  When you try to start the rig and all you get is that sick feeling in your gut; you know you are in trouble. So what do you do? 

When you turn the key to the Ignition position you should see the lights in the dashboard display come on for a short while to test them out. If not then you most likely have a dead battery or the Ignition circuit or switch is bad or power to it is missing. 

The easiest place to test power from the Ignition switch is in the "Coach Electrical Box". The Ignition relay should pick and provide 12V power to the ignition terminal strip. Generally you will hear the "Air Compressor" running as soon as you turn the Ignition switch to the run position. 

When you turn the key to the Start position and it just clicks, then go to the "Starter not working. It just clicks!" tip. If nothing happens then go to the "Starter not working. It won't even click!" Tip. 

If you think it might be the "Starter Relay"; you can check it out as follows; however, it's hard to get a jumper or meter probe on the contacts without installing test points in the starter relay wiring.

  • Using a Volt meter you should see 12 Volts at terminal 1 (yellow 16 gage wire) from the Battery or the Ignition switch in the Run position depending on the year.
  • At terminal 4 (red 12 gage wire) you should see 12 Volts when the Ignition is turned to the start position.
  • At terminal 3 (brown 14 gage wire) the Solenoid line will have 12 volts when the relay picks.
  • Terminal 2 (brown & yellow 18 gage wirers) provides ground to the circuit through the "Transmission interlock switch" found in the transmission. If you don't have a good ground then the shift linkage or the interlock switch is out of adjustment or bad. It should provide ground when the transmission is in park.

With the ignition switch in the run position test the Starter Relay by installing a heavy duty jumper from (1) to (4). Note: this bypasses the ignition start switch. If it cranks then the relay is ok. If not then install another heavy duty jumper from (2) to ground. If it cranks then the relay is ok and the "Transmission interlock switch" is bad or out of adjustment. If not then the relay is bad and you need to replace it. See "Relays: Starter, A/C & ASD" for addition information and tips. You can bypass the relay and start your rig by using a jumper from (4) to (3) to pick the Solenoid on the Starter.  This is what the "Remote Starter Switch / Transmission Interlock Bypass Switch" does as described in the tip. 
Keep on Cruisin' -- Tom Heald
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