Power Gear Electric Jacks: Brake Rebuild Gone Bad

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The Providence has Power Gear Electric jacks and worked perfectly for 5 years on the road. The left rear jack became intermittent during our trip to the Canadian Maritimes last year and finally quit completely November 2013 when retracting them at the end of our stay in Navarre, FL. Fortunately, the jack quit in a fully retracted position. This is long but important to learn about many issues from service quality to service options as well as Power Gear Electric Jacks on motorhomes.


jack-motor.jpgThe Power Gear system consists of an automatic level controller, 4 all electric jacks with motor and brake. The controller senses the position of the jack full up or full down with a magnet embedded in the jack staff. This is to stop extension at its maximum and stop retraction when full up by applying a brake attached to the motor.

When a jack fails it is most likely (~98% of the time) caused by a bad brake, it gets corroded and finally just locks up. Why corrosion? Because the brake is mounted on the bottom of the motor and covered with a rubber boot. Mounted directly behind the rear wheels, it is subject to all kinds of dirt, debris and WATER when travelling in wet conditions. If the top of the boot is not sealed, it will leak water which eventually corrodes the metal parts in the brake and it locks up. The photo on the right shows the motor (yellow) and brake (black boot over the break at the bottom).

Brake Rebuild

brake-kit.jpgWhen arriving in Casa Grande, AZ for the winter I called my favorite local RV Service company (remaining anonymous at this time) to diagnose and fix my left rear jack. Here is the sequence of events:

  • Service technician came to my site to assist in diagnosing the problem.
  • Determined the jack needed to come off to determine failure. Could not do it at the site.
  • Scheduled appointment at the shop so RV could go on lift to get the left rear jack off. Lift was occupied so had to reschedule.
  • Left rear jack removed at the subsequent appointment and determined the brake was locked up and the motor would not turn. Motor was still working without the brake.
  • Estimated price for a brake rebuild kit from Power Gear was quoted at ~$160 plus shipping. Add 2-3 hours of labor and the cost was on the order of $450-$500.
  • My research showed Fleetwood sells the brake kit for $69. The service technician recommended the right rear jack also get new brake as a precaution to avoid future problems.
  • They ordered a brake at their cost and I ordered one directly from Fleetwood.

Here are the brake rebuild instructions from PowerGear: 3010001428 REV 0B Boot Brake Replacement.pdf.

Both rear jack brakes were rebuilt and worked. Service reduced their brake kit purchase to their cost. Total for the job: $517.

A Timeline of Events

April 2014

Departed Casa Grande, AZ on April 1st with our next stop Bishop, CA. When departing the Highlands RV Park in Bishop on April 13th, the jack controller indicated a left rear jack error when retracting. A visual inspection showed it was just an inch or two from being fully retracted. Upon further inspection I found a large ratchet socket in the jack pad that worked its way under the shaft enclosure prohibiting full retraction of the jack. Removed it, reset the jacks and retraction worked fine. Irritated but relieved it wasn't a serious problem with the jack.

We made our way up the California coast and in to Oregon; everything was working fine. It is important to note that the only wet weather we encountered was drizzle as we left the Oregon coast making our way inland with a stop in Eugene, OR then on to McMinnville, OR.

May 2014

After a several day stay in McMinnville, OR we prepared for departure and the jack controller indicated an error when retracting the jacks. It was the letf rear AGAIN!! Checked for obstructions ... none. Tried the reset procedure and the left rear jack did not respond. More than irritated now. Our next stop was Spokane and concluded I would seek assistance from R&R RV, a major Fleetwood RV dealer.

Even though it was their busiest time for RV service they scheduled an appointment in a week. The result was a diagnosis of a bad motor and a recommendation of replacing the entire jack, structure and all for ~$1,800. Not pleased because

  • They did not remove the jack to diagnose, just concluded the motor would not turn when voltage applied, and
  • Since there was no further diagnosis, I was not given the option to rebuild the brake or simply replace motor.

Assuming worse case it was a bad motor since the brake was just rebuilt the end of March, I quickly called Fleetwood and determined a motor/brake was $300 for the part. I could not imaging I need the entire structure. After discussing with the R&R RV Service Advisor, they agreed to just replace the motor/brake and would order the part. Part arrived, new motor/brake installed and we are back in business. It works again. Total cost parts and labor: $648.

I requested R&R RV provide me with the old motor/brake assembly.

Now for the UGLY!!

I examined the old motor/brake assembly and here is what I found (click on any photo to see larger slide show):

jack-rear-driver-2014-05-27-04.JPGjack-rear-driver-2014-05-27-03.JPGjack-rear-driver-2014-05-27-05.JPGjack-rear-driver-2014-05-27-08.JPGSeveral issues (left rear jack inspection):

  1. The first photo shows the silicon seal is sloppy and applied on a dirty part and boot was literally torn sometime during install. A plastic tie wrap was used (not shown) and not tight enough to assist in sealing. It was easy to get my cutter under the strap to remove it. The technician did not use the metal clamp recommended and provided in the kit.
  2. The second photo shows a bare lead damaged when the jack was reinstalled in Casa Grande. Since polarity can be plus or minus on these leads there is a high probability of a 12 volt short.
  3. The third photo shows corrosion on the bottom of the brake with the boot removed.
  4. The fourth photo shows corrosion on the inner part of the brake with the brake removed from the motor.

I applied 12 volts to the motor with the brake removed and the motor turned fine. Go figure. Thanks R&R RV.


The service rendered in Casa Grande was substandard, shoddy work and caused the new brake installed to fail because of the boot not being sealed and intallation problems.

One More Thing

Remember, I had Casa Grande install a new brake kit on the right rear jack too. Here's a picture of it:

jack-rear-passenger-arrow-2014-05-27-00.jpgThe white arrow points to the top of the boot where it is pulled away from the motor case. It also shows the plastic tie wrap used instead of the metal clamp provided in the brake kit. Another failure waiting to happen.

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1 Comment

Email sent to service company in Casa Grande:

I'm a full time RVer and spend winters in Casa Grande. Just last March your service department repaired an inoperable left rear jack on my 2008 Fleetwood Providence motor home. The repair involved replacing a corroded jack brake with a new brake kit from Power Gear. Total Norris charge: $517.

I am disappointed (an understatement) to report that the left rear jack failed in early May. Fortunately I was scheduled to be in the Spokane area and R&R RV (a Fleetwood dealer) was able to get me scheduled for another repair. Total cost for repeat repair: $648.

What was found is alarming and points to very unprofessional and shoddy workmanship.

It is important you get all the detail including pictures which can be found on my travel website at http://forney.org/archives/2014/06/power-gear-electric-jacks-brake-rebuild-gone-bad.html

I have had positive experiences with your company in the past and was surprised by this unfortunate occurrence.

I respectfully request you refund the $517 I paid for this unreasonable performance.

Please be sure the owner and service manager are copied.

Contact me at your earliest convenience to discuss.

Merv Forney

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