RV generators are great for providing a reliable source of energy while on the road. They can power our lights, laptops, and cellular devices. But, what happens when they stop working?
If you and your family love camping in the woods, you may have been in situations whereby your RV generator interrupts the fun by shutting down after some time. If this has ever happened to you before, do not panic. It is a common problem in many generators.
Here’s why yours may be shutting off:
Several things may cause your RV generator to shut off without notice. The most common issues include low fuel and oil, as well as faulty mechanisms. These problems are usually the direct result of poor maintenance, such as inconsistent or improper use.
Keep reading to learn more about these issues and how they can be fixed:
What causes an RV generator to shut off?
As mentioned earlier, several things can cause your RV generator to shut down. Here’s a list of the most common issues:
1. Oil level
Oil is a vital component in your RV generator. As you use your generator, it is essential to note that its oil level will usually go down after some time. The oil becomes thinner in the oil tank when the generator is running. If the oil level is low, the generator will shut off casually.
When the oil goes way below the recommended line, the generator will stop working.
If you have not changed the oil after an extended period, it is time to get the generator some new oil. Check the oil filter, too, when changing the oil. When oil overstays, it blocks the oil filter, making it ineffective.
A carburetor is among the most vital components of an RV generator. Once you notice that your generator keeps shutting down after some time, first check for spillage in the carburetor.
If the fuel inserted was of poor quality, the carburetor will definitely get clogged. Besides, your generator’s float bowl may have poor quality fuel that comprises unusual products that make it difficult to work effectively.
Change the fuel frequently. If you keep the used up fuel in the generator’s engine for an extended period, the complex substances in the fuel may evaporate, leaving a thick sticky layer that resembles a varnish product.
If such substances get to your carburetor, it is a clear sign it is time to drain the fuel inside. Drain the old fuel and clean the carburetor thoroughly. To clean the carburetor effectively, you can use special carburetor cleaners. If the shut off persists even after cleaning, it may be time to change the carburetor completely.
3. Fuel filter
As the name suggests, the component filters fuel from the generator’s fuel tank before it gets into the engine. The component plays a significant role in maintaining the smooth running of the generator. However, the fuel filter restricts the amount of fuel that passes through it.
Clogging is the most common cause of the restrictions.
The fuel line is also another essential component to note here. It supplies fuel from the fuel tank to the engine. The fuel line also conveys the right amount of fuel. In case of any leaks within the line, there will be a poor fuel supply in the engine leading to shut-off.
Check if the fuel line and the fuel filter have any leaks. If there are any present, change the filter immediately.
For your RV generator to run effectively, keep the fuel level above 1/4 of the tank. RV generators have a mechanism that causes them to shut down if the fuel level is below the required amount.
4. Fuel cap
The generator’s engine gets fuel from the fuel tank, and the more it runs, the lower the fuel level gets. A small vent inserts air into the tank to maintain balance in the fuel tank. The amount of fuel that the engine consumes determines the amount of air inserted.
The tank may be limited to get the air needed if the vent’s cap is clogged. That can lead to a vapor lock condition, which may cause a generator to shut down.
To check if the vent is clogged, loosen the cap on the vent and run your RV generator. If your engine runs smoothly without shutting down, you need to replace the fuel cap. Trying to clean the cap is another option, but it is not worth it. A clogged vent cap does not survive for a long period.
5. Spark plugs
The purpose of spark plugs is to set fuel to a suitable condition in the engine. If the spark plug does not supply the spark, you will experience a constant shut down of your RV generator. You need to change your spark plug if your generator is shutting down relentlessly.
How to troubleshoot an RV generator that keeps shutting off
If your generator keeps shutting down, check your:
1. Fuel level
Manufacturers of most RV generators design them to shut off automatically when the fuel level drops below ¼ tank. The shutting off warns that you are running low on fuel. Therefore, make sure you fill the tank at least halfway.
2. Fuel shut-off valve
Check the fuel shut-off valve condition and ensure it is open when the generator is running.
3. Oil level
Ensure that your oil levels are not too low or too high. If the oil is too high, the overflow may cause it to shut off. Siphon out a small amount of the oil until it gets below the maximum line.
Filter checks can be complex since generators have three filters. Use the RV generator manual to locate the fuel, oil, and air filters. The manual usually indicates how often to clean or replace the filters. You can clean the filters, and air dry them but, it is essential to buy new ones.
If you do not recall the last time you changed the filters, it is best to replace them. If you are ordering the parts online, ensure the part numbers for the filters match. Check the numbers on the generator’s manual.
5. Fuel pump relay
To recognize a faulty fuel pump, listen to your RV generator. If it produces a loud “whining” kind of noise, it is faulty. However, if the pump relay is faulty, your generator will shut off automatically. Your fuel pump cannot receive an efficient electrical signal for proper fuel transfer to your generator.
6. Fuel lines
Apart from the generator stalling or shutting off, a strong smell of fuel may linger in your RV, or you may notice a leak in the line. If your onboard RV generator uses propane, it can be dangerous. A visible crack on the fuel line is one sign of a bad fuel line on its last leg. It is best to replace any fuel line with cracks immediately. Before replacing the lines, shut down the fuel supply.
Most RV generators that have not been in use for an extended period can have clogged components, including a carburetor. As mentioned earlier, when the fuel evaporates, it leaves behind substances that can cause clogging. Carburetor cleaners can help with that. Replacing the carburetor is the best solution.
An RV generator that does not start or does not turn has a poor battery connection or is on its last legs. The batteries can also cause other problems that will make it even difficult to start your RV generator.
Generators require sufficient cold cranking amps to turn the starter fast and catch the engine. You can visit an automotive part store for a load test to determine if they have a problem. However, if your batteries have served you for an extended period, replace them with new ones.
9. Spark plugs
Spark plugs corrode after some time, limiting them from producing a powerful spark. A generator with spark plugs that have lasted for an extended period may not run effectively. Walk into your local hardware store in the lawnmower and chain saw part isles and get your RV generator some new plugs.
How to get the most of your generator
Maintaining your RV generator regularly will help ensure that you get the most out of it and face the least problems. Here are some things to do:
1. Avoid overloading your RV generator.
If you overload your RV generator, it can overheat, and circuit breakers can trip. It is essential to calculate how much power you are pulling from the generator with each appliance you plug in to balance your usage to your unit’s output.
2. Avoid running your RV generator with no load.
A generator can be severely damaged if left running with no load. Since RVs require a lot of power, this is rare. However, when you plan to be away for some time, remember to turn off your RV generator.
3. Regular maintenance
Maintaining your RV generator regularly by replacing filters and oil on time will keep the machine running efficiently for an extended period with no mechanical breakdown. If it is a gas generator, make sure you use clean and fresh fuel only.
Luckily, faulty generators are easy to fix. At least, using the steps above, you’ll be able to pinpoint why yours may be shutting down.
If you found this article helpful, check out my other content on RV generators.