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RV Tech Savvy: Odometer Issue

Originally Published in MotorHome Magazine

We have a 2007 Holiday Rambler Vacationer diesel. The odometer went from 54,000 to 3,400 on a trip. The odometer continues to work, but the only way to get the correct mileage is from the ECM. I tried the odometer manufacturer, who wouldn’t respond by phone or email. I’ve called many odometer-repair places and no one will touch the digital odometer. Is there a place where I can get an ECM reader for mileage? Extended warranty coverage is a major issue requiring the correct mileage. Cummins charges $250 just to hook up a scan tool to the ECM.
Harry Johnson | Charles Town, West Virginia

Problems like this can be very frustrating. The mileage is stored in an EPROM chip, and the odometer is fed information via a CAN bus system. The units have problems with files going bad in the chip which, in turn, can no longer be processed correctly. There is no fix for that other than it just has to be replaced. The speedometer unit is made by Medallion Instrument Systems (part No. 6913-00279-19). I also tried contacting the company, but we have not heard back; it’s possible that the coronavirus (still going strong as of this writing) has affected its operations. You might try writing to them. I found Southern Electronics in Richmond, Virginia, to be familiar with these systems and not terribly far from you. For used parts, you might try Visone RV.

Noisy Leaf Springs
We have a 2008 Adventurer Class C motorhome on a Ford E-350 chassis. It was a rental from 2008 to 2012, when we purchased it. It had a lot of squeaks and rattles when we bought it, but the one noise I’ve never been able to fix is a squeak at the left rear leaf spring. Every time the RV sways, the left rear leaf spring squeaks. I could see that the spring wasn’t sitting straight and had broken the front bushing, so I removed it and took it to the spring shop. The spring shop replaced the rear bushing and supplied a shackle. The technician said the front bushing wasn’t replaceable, because it was bonded into the spring eye. He also said he could build a new upper leaf for more money than we had. So, I installed and torqued the spring again. It was okay for a week, then the noise was back.
I removed the spring again and took out the bad bushing, then returned to the spring shop. The spring shop was able to find and install a bushing. He also sold me a bunch of stuff like U-bolts, center bolts and shackles for both sides. So that makes two times for the left spring and one time for the right. Anyway, after all that, the noise is still there!
The only thing that stops the squeak is rain. For some reason, wet roads stop the squeak. I removed the rear shocks and disconnected the sway bar. The squeak is still there. I thought that if rainwater could stop the squeak, then WD-40 should do it, too. But no! The final thing I tried was to block up the rear of the RV and loosen all the rear suspension, then re-torque. Still no difference.
Bob Arnold | Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada

Squeaking springs is a common problem on older leaf-sprung vehicles. Many times, the insulators wear away and disintegrate. WD-40 doesn’t have enough film strength to make a difference for a significant time. Have helpers move the coach body up and down while you listen from underneath near the springs to verify the location of the noise. Carefully inspect the springs for signs of worn or missing insulator pads. They’re available through auto- and truck-parts stores, and at truck spring shops. The pads can usually be installed without completely removing the springs by loosening the U-bolts while the chassis is supported on jack stands or a hoist.

Sprinter Check Engine Light Problems
We drive a 2008 Itasca Navion on a 2007 Dodge Sprinter chassis with the six-cylinder Mercedes-Benz diesel engine and 39,000 miles on the odometer. This model has a battery disconnect to minimize loss of charge during storage. Beginning about four years ago, the “Check Engine” light comes on after reconnecting the ground and starting the engine. Occasionally, the “Bad Glow Plug” light also shows. Having worked with my local mechanic for nearly 30 years, I have great confidence in his knowledge and abilities. His code reader shows codes inconsistent with the smooth, problem-free engine function. So, he will delete the codes, turn off the warning lights and send me on my way. We’ve driven nearly 10,000 miles since first noticing the problem and have experienced no mechanical issues. Yet, having disconnected the battery for storage, the warning lights appear again when I next start the engine. I have no way to know when there’s a “real” problem with the engine. I’ve obsessively followed owners-manual procedures for disconnecting/reconnecting the ground, and I exercise the engine monthly while in storage. Trying to keep the battery charged, to avoid disconnecting, avoids the primary issue. The closest Mercedes service managers offer no suggestions but tell me that I must make an appointment to bring it in, which involves driving nearly 200 miles over two high mountain passes. I’d like to avoid this and hope you can offer suggestions for my local mechanic to pursue.
Leo Williams | New Castle, Colorado

I have heard of this problem occurring when the battery being reconnected is not fully charged. It appears to cause the OBD2 system to throw spurious codes, which if erased, don’t return during subsequent driving. I suggest that, in the future, you fully charge the battery prior to connection. It’s good practice to use battery maintenance chargers during periods of inactivity or storage anyway, and if you can’t plug the charger in, solar models are available. It’s also a good idea to carry an inexpensive scan tool. Some are even available with Bluetooth connections to your cell phone. I’d like to hear from other Sprinter owners who have experienced this problem and if/how they solved it.

More RV Tech Savvy Discussion

Ken Freund has been a contributor to MotorHome magazine since 1988, and has written Coach & Powertrain and its predecessor, Powertrain Q & A, for two decades. He has been an RV, camping and travel enthusiast since he was a child.

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