Saturday, January 29, 2011

Coach Steps

There are two types of steps offered by Lazy Daze - the standard manually-operated step and an optional electrically-powered step that automatically deploys and retracts when you open the coach door. Only you can decide whether the convenience of the automatic step is worth its cost. Another consideration is the location of the door, whether it is in front of or behind the rear wheels. If behind them, they will be subject to LOTS of road grime which can adversely impact the operation of the electric step. Kwikee decided to save money by not installing seals on the gear box and by using an unsealed electric window motor. One owner says he has spent as much time on repairing the electric step as on any other part of the coach.

The manual step has a simple flip-out mechanism - you merely lift up the front edge of the step and pull it out. You can even do it with your foot. The only maintenance required is a monthly lubricating of the pivot points of the mechanism.

The automatic step will deploy when you open the door to go in or out. When at a camp site, there is an over-ride switch that keeps the step deployed all the time.

Routine Maintenance

Manual or Power Step: The pivot points should be lubricated monthly, as noted in the LD manual.

Power Step: The power plug is subject to corrosion and should be treated with dielectric grease.


Things that can cause problems:

- Dirty master electrical plug, mounted up under the step where mud and water can get into it. Clean contacts and butter contacts with dielectric grease.

- Motor is locked up due to dust and dirt. Replace or disassemble and clean.

- Bad magnetic reed switch in door frame. Replace reed switch- available from Radio Shack and other outlets. A difficult fix since LD did not leave much excess wire.

- To retract step with a faulty reed switch, you can cut the motor wires and then, using a portable battery jumper, power the step back in. Kwikee does not include a manual retraction system.

-The gearbox is not sealed and can allow the buildup of large amounts of dirt, jamming the mechanism.

-Bent frame and arms, caused by impacts. Straighten or replace bent parts.

The motor mechanism makes a grinding noise

- The step mechanism hinge points are supposed to be lubed regularly. They can make noise if dry. The Kwikee gearbox and motor are not sealed and can fill with dirt and debris. They can make terrible noises and will even freeze up if extremely dirty.

The electric step is locked in the deployed (down) position

- You can hear the electric click when the door is opened or closed, switches are in the correct position. If you move the vehicle the step remains down.

- The owner's manual, for the Kwikee electric step, has a decent trouble-shooting guide that will walk you through the testing routine. It requires a volt-ohm meter.

- A couple of things to check: If you remove the screws securing the wall-mounted on/off switch, you will find a fuse mounted inside the wall. Check the fuse. Check the LD owner's manual for the location of the ignition override fuse (it's in the vans fuse panel) and the main power fuse (usually mounted inside the battery compartment). The locations will vary from model to model and year to year. Under the step, there is a wire bundle and plug that provides power to the control box and also the wires coming from the ignition switch and magnetic reed switch in the door. Separate the plug and make sure the contacts are clean. If you hear a noise when the door is opened and closed, the magnetic reed switch should be OK. Be happy, it is difficult to change due to the very short wires LD provided.

If none of this fixes things, you can remove the step's electric motor and force the step in. The step will need to be tied into position with rope or wire until repairs can be made.

Step is locked in the retracted position

- Remove the1/4 inch pin that attaches the motor drive to the step mechanism. The pin is located in the center of step towards the front of the drive link that comes from the motor and it has a carter key to keep it in place. If you can get to it with the step extended, removal should allow the step to be retracted and you can rope or wire it in until you figure out what the main issue is. Check to see if the carter key is jammed on an adjacent frame support which is really close in the retracted position.

Step "clunks" for 5 seconds when retracting

The control module senses when the step is fully open or closed by monitoring the motor's amperage draw, shutting the motor off when the step reaches the limit of its travel. When the step reaches the end its travel, the motor stops, rapidly raising the amperage draw, tripping the module. Whatever happens, the module is supposed to power down after 5 seconds. That it is making noises after the step is fully extended or retracted, would suggest something has broken in the gearbox or linkage, allowing the motor to continue to run without enough resistance to trip the module. The 5 second power down is what probably shuts the motor off.

If you get under your LD, off to one side of the step, you might be able to see what has broken while having someone operate the step. Caution: Keep your fingers out of the way; the mechanism is powerful enough to do some serious damage.

Not getting 12v power to the step controller (motor)

- If you remove the screws securing the wall-mounted on/off switch, you will find a fuse mounted inside the wall. Check the fuse. Check the LD owner's manual for the location of the ignition override fuse (it's in the van's fuse panel) and the main power fuse (usually mounted inside the battery compartment). The locations will vary from model to model and year to year. Once you verify that the fuse is there, consider using a Casio labeler to make a label saying "5A Fuse behind switch," and apply it to the switch itself.

Kwikee's website is loaded with manuals to aid in troubleshooting. You will need your step's model number to find the correct literature.

Manual step is bent

- When the step is behind the rear wheels, it's fairly easy to catch it on a curb and bend it backwards. Depending on how badly bent it is, the step may be either difficult to move or even fail to support your weight. Here's a method to bend it back into its proper position. Find a short length of 2x4, 4x4, or similar - two to four feet is good. Now go to a parking lot and back in toward the curb, stopping when the back of the rear step is a a few inches further away from the curbing than the length of your wood. Put one end of the wood against the curb and prop up the other end of the stick so that it will be against the back (left) side of the step frame. Gently back up, so that the braced stick will force the step frame forward. Go slowly and only a very short distance, then check the step. If you bend it too far to the right, it will be more difficult to bend it rearward. If you're out in the boonies, you can use a stump or embedded rock to brace the wood.

Manual step hard to move

- The step can be adjusted at the top where it is mounted. By moving the bolts farther apart to the outside position, the step was no longer squashed and can now move freely, as it was designed.

Contributors: Larry Wade, Bill, Tessa Hill, WxToad, Andy Baird, Lon

Revised 19 Aug 11

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