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Franckster

Fridge not working when towing

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I've been towing with my fridge running on the car's 12v system quite happily for a few years now. You can see that the fridge is working and receiving power when I'm hooked up to the car as the blue LED light shows constant. However, on the last trip I noted that the light was flashing which means that there is no power to the fridge. I've checked the fuses in the car and the van and they're all intact. I've had the wiring and connections to the car socket checked and there is a good 12v aux fridge supply to the tow hook when the engine is running. When I checked the consumer unit in the van, I found that it had broken away from the bulkhead and was loose. All the wiring is still connected... apart from one white plastic plug. It has a green and a white wire feeding it. I don't know if this is supposed to be plugged in somewhere? Could this be the 12v fridge supply? Any suggestions?

The caravan is a 2010 Coachman Pastiche 420/2 fitted with a BCA consumer unit.

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Have a look and see if there is a corresponding socket/lead that this errant lead might plug into. 

Check and see if there is 12v at this plug when the car engine is running, and none when the engine is switched off.

 

This might sound silly but there IS a slight delay between the engine starting up And the caravan electrics switching over.

 

A good trick is to switch the awning light on THEN start the car. If the awning light doesn’t go out then 12V isn’t getting to the switch over relay which controls the supply to the fridge. (Or the really is duff) 

 

Andy

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Thanks Andy. Checking through all of that tomorrow.

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Okay. With the awning light on and the car electric cable attached, I started the car up. I waited for ten minutes with the engine running but the awning light stayed on. Therefore, as you said Andy, the 12V supply isn’t getting to the switch over relay which controls the supply to the fridge. This has narrowed down the possibles but I'm not sure where to go from here. 

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My guess would be the habitation relay is either broken or is not getting power as a result of the consumer unit breaking away.

On my van earth is white.

When you say consumer unit do you mean the 12v bank of fuses or the mains 240v with breakers?

With car hooked up and engine off can you measure with a multi meter if there is any voltage at the errant cable, then do the same again with engine running.

 

My guess, the wire  is either the perm live or switched live.

 

Have you worked out what caused the unit to be pulled away.

Has the car to van wire been pulled at all?

 

 

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Thanks Jiffy176. I'll check all this today and come back to you with the answers. 

In relation to how it happened; We have a 2010 Coachman Pastiche 470/2. It's fitted with what I would call a consumer unit that encompasses the 12v fuse bank, the 240v breakers AND the dual stage 20a charger. It's all in one BCA unit which makes it quite heavy. This plastic unit has four fixing tabs at the back and these are used to screw it to a bulkhead under the bench seat. The tabs are not up to the task and with all the jolting about over the years during towing, they've snapped and the unit has been bouncing free under the seat. I understand that this is a common problem with those units.

I've now remedied the situation by using wood batons to secure it in place.

I've attached a picture of the loose plug below. As you can see, it's fed by two cables, white and green. Tracing these cables back, I can see that they go to another white plug which plugs in (along with all the other wiring) into the base of the 'consumer unit.' Can't for the life of me see where this other end plugs in though. Maybe it's not supposed to? Maybe it's an unused accessory power feed?

Loose cable.jpg

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Those plugs are quite hard to get out usually but a multimeter across it will tell you if there is any voltage in them, they could be a loom for a solar panel or something else as you say.

Check it isn't off the water heater or anything else, does everything else work ok.

Could you try another tow car just incase.

I would raise the rear steadies and raise as high as you can with the Jockey / front steady and start tracing from the 7/13 pin plug backward looking for damage or anywhere it has come loose.

BCA are really helpful if you phone them, they might be able to advise if the consumer has a habitation relay within or not.

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