Battery Problems Auto Trail Arapaho

Discussion in 'The Beginner' started by Dennisad, Dec 18, 2015.

  1. Dennisad

    Dennisad Funster

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    We are new to motorhomes and never had a caravan. Purchased our second hand MH in April 15. We recently travelled to Spain driving down and back through France. On the last stop coming home I managed to flatten the battery overnight through I think leaving the light switch on even though it was on EHU. The next day we just waited for the battery to recharge via the EHU.

    When we got home we parked MH on our drive and had it on EHU and then for some weeks not connected, during which time I presume the solar panel kept the vehicle battery charged.

    About four weeks ago (due to moving home) we put the vehicle into storage (Storage is outisde so Solar Panel should charge the batteries). We did not turn off the shutdown button. Approximately 10 days later our tracker reported a flat battery warning. We went to check and sure enough the battery was completely flat, tried to recharge via a generator but after an hour 2.3v and half an hour later 2.2v. So have taken it off and had it checked at Arnold Clark, they have had it on charge for over 24 hours and it is only showing 11.4v, they advise a new genuine fiat 110Ah battery @£270+Vat. The current battery is a Yuasa YBX5019 12v 100Ah 900A, replacement cost for the Yuasa battery £86+Vat.

    So that is the story now to the questions:

    Do I need a new battery? I believe I do.

    Is Arnold Clark's advice re genuine fiat battery being required correct?

    Will a replacement Identical Yuasa battery as the one currently fitted not do the same job as the genuine fiat battery? I know what you pay is what you get.

    Should the solar panel charge the vehicle battery?

    Does the fact that the battery is flat mean the solar panel isn't working as it should?

    Can I get the solar panel tested?

    Should we turn off the shutdown button?

    Is there anything else that might cause the battery to be flat?

    Are we doing anything wrong?

    What I don't want to do is fit a new battery and for that to be drained because of the solar panel not working correctly.

    Any help will be very much appreciated.

    Dennis and Terry(My lovely wife)
     
  2. lunarman

    lunarman Funster

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    Hi I cannot answer all of your questions but the cost of a replacement battery seems rather high. My 2008 3ltr fiat had a Varta battery fitted from new by Fiat. I replaced it like for like with a battery purchased from battery megastore in Tewksbury for £94.5. http://www.batterymegastore.co.uk/product/I1/

    To ensure that the solar panel keeps the engine battery charged fit a battery master http://www.vanbitz.com/product/battery-master/

    Hope this helps.

    John
     
  3. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    And of course Arnold Clark will be supplying the genuine fiat battery.

    Go to Halfrauds, they will rip you off as well but it will still be £200 cheaper than those merchant bankers.
    oh, and yes, you do need a new battery....and if you let the new one go completely flat and remain so for a few days you will need yet another and so on and so on.
    A battery must be stored charged
     
  4. PhilandMena

    PhilandMena Funster

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    Hi, Firstly are we talking about the leisure battery or cab battery? If Cab battery then I would go with Fiat's recommendation for Fiat vehicle. If Leisure battery, then you cant go wrong with Vatra or Banner Energy bull. However, get then right type and for the right application.
    If you just do a swap your likely to end up in the same situation again unless you sort out your charging issue. I suspect your solar panel was not charging the affected battery in storage (probably Cab battery) as it was switched to leisure battery. Read your manuals to understand how to select different battery and this should solve your problem.
    Agree with papajohn about Halfords
     
  5. tonka

    tonka Funster Life Member

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    You need to leave the shutdown switch "on" to allow the solar to smart charge both batteries. BUT you need to make sure that the system is set to "solar smart" on the control panel above the door. This is presuming you have a solar panel fitted by Autotrail or someone has wired it direct into the Sargent unit.
    If anyone has fitted the panel any other way or with a separate solar regulator then its not going to work.
    Ref the cab battery, if its failing then just buy a same spec and fit it yourself. With a used Motorhome you really don't know what use the batteries have had.

    NOTE... The EHU charging system can also be selected to do cab, leisure or smart charge so you need to check what setting you have your system on... I will send you a link later when I get onto the PC..
     
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  6. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    Same scenario regardless of battery make.
    Genuine fiat battery at £270 + vat

    How much of that price is for the brand name...
    I put money on it being at least 60%.
    Unless the van is under warranty why line Fiat's pockets?
     
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  7. Silkcut1105

    Silkcut1105 Funster Life Member

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    sounds to me that the first thing you should check is ....have u got a battery master fitted .it just tops up engine battery when liesure batterys are full from solar panel, ,also check your solar panels are working possible that your alternator is faulty.stick a new one on and after a couple of days recheck voltage and go from there .hope this helps a bit
     
  8. PhilandMena

    PhilandMena Funster

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    Battery masters are not compatible with all Autotrail's. Recent Autotrails have the Sargent intelligent systems fitted and depending on model will be fine. Do not change your alternator without establishing if it is charging, a simple check could save you hundreds of pounds. I suspect the problem is simple, just a matter of selecting the right switches. Read your manauls.
     
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  9. mitzimad

    mitzimad Funster

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    your alarms trackers and radio all probably use a small amount of current when parked up, it would seem your solar is not wired to charge both batteries this may be the way its wired or you may be able to change it in your settings but leaving the van without any form of charging will flatten the battery mine last about 3 weeks
    dont buy the inflated arnold clark battery just get a compatible one exide or varta are reasonable makes
     
  10. tonka

    tonka Funster Life Member

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    As Philandmena states. Later Autotrail do not need a battery master. The Sargent unit has facility to charge leisure and engine battery both from EHU and solar. Also a solar regulator (120w) is built in so all you need is a connecting lead (£10).
     
  11. Dennisad

    Dennisad Funster

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    Many Thanks for all your responses. A lot to take in but I will research all you comments and let you all know the outcome.

    In the meantime any other ideas/advice more than welcome.
     
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  12. Dennisad

    Dennisad Funster

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    Hi Tonka

    What do you mean by connecting lead and to what does it need to be connected. I am a none to: None to Bright
     
  13. tonka

    tonka Funster Life Member

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    @Dennisad these links may help. If you dont already have them, well worth printing and keeping a copy in van..

    EC500 - http://www.sargentltd.co.uk/System Instructions EC500 Issue 2.pdf

    This is the connecting lead.. Used to connect a solar panel into the EC500 that way all the on board system facilities ie selectable and smart charging can be used.
    http://sargentshop.co.uk/epages/eshop328964.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/eshop328964/Products/WB1020

    One has most likely been used and fitted.. Just depends who did the solar as they sometimes can fit their own regulators.
     
  14. Doctor Dave

    Doctor Dave Funster

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    I would hazard a guess that Fiat do not make batteries so I would suggest that there is no such thing as a "genuine Fiat battery".



    Dave
     
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  15. Dennisad

    Dennisad Funster

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    Hi Tonka

    Thanks for the info.

    Dennis
     
  16. Dennisad

    Dennisad Funster

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    Hi Dave

    I suspect the same too.

    Dennis
     
  17. robnchris

    robnchris Funster

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    The Fiat cab is a very power hungry bit of kit, We could only last about a month parked on the drive before the batteries went flat.
    On our Arapaho we fitted a 120 amp solar panel and never suffered a flat battery again.
    Today I went into our Apache which also has a 120 amp solar fitted and the batteries were all flat, have just connected the EHU and will leave it like that.
     
  18. Dennisad

    Dennisad Funster

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    Thanks for the info, I do have a solar panel fitted, I think I need to get it checked to see if it's working properly.

    With the battery currently disconnected, will the solar panel still be charging the leisure battery? Is there any way I can check that it is?
     
  19. Dennisad

    Dennisad Funster

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    Thanks for the info, I do have a solar panel fitted, I think I need to get it checked to see if it's working properly.

    With the battery currently disconnected, will the solar panel still be charging the leisure battery? Is there any way I can check that it is?
     
  20. tonka

    tonka Funster Life Member

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    Days like today it will be very little going in.. If its a bit better tomorrow and especially if you get some direct sun, check the reading on the display. You should be able to scroll the panel and check the readings. Make sure everything is turned off. The panel will tell you what battery it is charging and how much ampage it is getting from the solar. Also look at the battery voltage,if your into 13v and only have solar on ( no EHU) then you know the solar is working.
     
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