kwikee steps troubleshootingOwning a recreational vehicle is trickier than you may think. The responsibility it comes with far exceeds that of owning a traditional house. The occasional roof leak and AC failure are the least of your worries with an RV.
Instead, there’s an entirely new set of woes you probably never thought you’d stress over in your lifetime, like jammed leveling jacks, uneven slide-outs, and fast-draining batteries.
But that’s the price you have to pay for all the perks an RV offers. You can’t enjoy the best of both worlds—comfortable living space and mobility—without putting extra effort into the vehicle’s maintenance and care.
Whether traveling full-time or on occasion, you must know how to troubleshoot issues affecting your RV’s performance.
Considering how many different components and equipment your RV has, it’s almost impossible not to encounter problems you won’t be compelled to fix.
Kwikee Steps Troubleshooting
One such component is the Kwikee Steps. Undeniably, it’s among the most neglected but frequently used equipment on an RV. Yet, despite using it every day, as you go in and out of your RV, it doesn’t get the attention it deserves, probably because, as most inexperienced RV owners put it, “it’s just a staircase”.
If you remove it from your RV, you’ll have to put another set of stairs, or climbing up and down won’t be easy. So, it’s as essential to your rig as the rest of the equipment you have.
Understanding the mechanism, construction, and vulnerabilities of your Kwikee Steps helps you prevent or fix any malfunctions that can make going in and out of your RV difficult. This article covers essential information about Kwikee Steps and its brand and some basic troubleshooting tips.
It also provides practical considerations when sprucing up or upgrading your Kwikee Steps.
A closer look at its construction
You may not notice it, but most RVs have automatic stairs to the main entrance. The most common brand RV manufacturers include in their designs is (you guessed it) Kwikee Steps, except those that have their own patented products.
This brand had already taken the outdoor recreation industry by storm before Lippert Components Inc. acquired it in 2014. The merging of the brands led to several product updates, and now it’s unparalleled on the market.
Kwikee Steps is well-accepted by most RV brands due to its many features. Each step of this staircase can carry up to 136 kg of weight and comes with an anti-slip surface. It’s also automatic, so it extends when you open the door and retracts when you close it.
The entire system, including the steps, consists of several parts, including an electronic board, a 12-DC motor, a gearbox, and a magnetic switch. There’s also ground to prevent dangerous voltages from burning the electronics.
You’ll only realize how complex and delicate some pieces of equipment are once you peer into their inner workings. While durable casings and insulation protect it, it’s not immune to damage caused by vibrations and the elements.
In short, your Kwikee Steps will malfunction at some point, and you must be ready when it happens because it will affect your daily activity.
Your Kwikee Steps requires the same amount of attention you give the engine, leveling system, and other vital mechanisms of your RV. It may not be as essential, but the fact that you use it daily means it’s more susceptible to wear than any other equipment.
It’s one of those “anytime now” moments you wish won’t happen, and unlike other components that only deteriorate after several years, your Kwikee Steps will start acting up just after a few trips.
The longevity of your Kwikee Steps depends on several factors, including how frequently you use it, how many people use it, and each user’s weight. Therefore, it would be best to consider these factors when deciding how much care you should give your Kwikee Steps from the day you purchased your RV.
However, some issues are bound to emerge no matter how you maintain this staircase, and those are the issues you must learn how to troubleshoot.
1. Not pulling in or out
Your Kwikee Steps is supposed to automatically extend when you open the door and retract when you close it, thanks to the magnetic switch triggered by the door. This tells us it’s not as automatic as presumed, considering the door serves as the trigger.
Notwithstanding, it’s a clever mechanism, which should be the first to be checked if the steps suddenly fail to extend or retract.
The magnetic switch is wired within the lower end of the door frame. If you haven’t fixed such a switch before, you should read up on the specific switch Lippert uses in their Kwikee Steps to avoid irreversible damage. Taking apart a section of the door and wall also requires work, and the potential damage is not easy to restore.
Then again, give it a shot if you’re confident you can fix it yourself with little guidance from Lippert technicians.
2. The steps are stuck
There will be instances when the steps won’t deploy or retract all the way (or creates a jittery motion). The first thing you should do is check if the magnetic switch is working. If it does, the motor is the most likely culprit. Every time the Kwikee Steps is switched on, the motor starts to work.
However, over time, the motor’s components wear out or loosen up, interrupting the motion necessary for adequately activating the steps.
Sometimes, all the motor needs is a tap to reset the misaligned brushes inside it. One solution you can try is to hit the motor with a rubber mallet until it works properly again. You must go under your RV to access the Kwikee Steps’ motor. However, if this doesn’t fix the problem, the motor is broken and has to go.
Check with Lippert for a similar motor, although you can also buy an aftermarket version, which is much cheaper but may not be as durable as the original.
If the motor is okay, check the gearbox for obstructions along the teeth of the brackets. It’s also possible that the linkages are damaged or need to be lubed up. Or, you’re probably dealing with a blown-up fuse during a power surge. The fuse protects the motor from damage. So, you must check the fuse first before considering replacing the motor.
3. Going up or down feels bouncy
It may be odd that Lippert designed the Kwikee Steps to be a cantilever. Instead of transferring loads to the ground, the steps reroute them back to the vehicle through the frame. That puts additional strain on the linkages and pins because now it doesn’t have vertical support that would counter and cancel gravity.
It will only take a few months before you feel your weight taking a toll on your Kwikee Steps. Soon, it will become bouncy and almost dangerous to step on.
The best way to fix the problem is to put a utility chair as an additional step at the base of the Kwikee Steps. This way, the steps are grounded, meaning weight is transferred directly to the ground. This doesn’t only make your staircase more stable, but it also prevents any severe damage to it in the long run.
FYI, the metal staircase alone (without the cover and lube) costs about a thousand dollars. That’s a lot of money for a replacement part, so repair is the most viable option.
Your Kwikee Steps is electrical. It requires enough power to enable the motor to push and pull a heavy metal staircase. That’s why if you check the connection that goes into your RV’s underside, you’ll see wires hanging down and connected to the staircase’s electronic board.
So if the Kwikee Steps isn’t working and none of the above components is broken, the wiring must be the culprit.
The grounding system may be too dirty or corroded that it can no longer stabilize the electrical flow. As a result, the excess current and voltage going into the circuit can be detrimental to the motor. Or maybe one of the wires has snapped, and now the circuit is broken.
Check the machine’s wiring system for disconnections and fix them right away.
Who would have thought such a simple piece of equipment could become a handful when it wears out? If you own an RV with Kwikee Steps, you will see this coming. And if you’re cautious enough, you’ll make sure to give these steps more TLC to at least delay the inevitable.
You could start by always putting a utility chair at the base of the staircase to reduce the stress along its frame. Or maybe you’ll lubricate its linkages more often.
The bottom line is that your Kwikee Steps requires more maintenance than other equipment in your RV. In short, you need to pay more attention to the changes in its performance and fix any issues before they get worse.
You must also invest in repair tools to avoid improvising, which sometimes leads to more damage to the equipment.