Monday, December 3, 2012

Retractable Steps Repair…

From Phone 054

Today 002I mentioned back in August while we were in Ukiah, California that our exterior steps started to lose a few teeth on the toothed gear that retracts them (see photo top right above). As a result the steps would slip a bit and needed assistance to be fully retracted. At first we used our 5 foot long awning hook to pull them in as they just needed a little assistance but later it became so difficult, Sharon did not have enough strength to push them all the way in. What started out as a nuisance finally became a pain in the butt that just had to be addressed immediately.

steps 007We were hoping to make it down to the Rio Grande Valley where we would have time to take care of our steps issue. Alas, I think we just barely made it as the last few times  I had to have Sharon turn the key while I stood outside to forcefully push them into the locking position and then I would come around to get back in through the driver side door. I honestly don’t think they would have retracted many more times even with assistance. Even after being forced in, if we went  over any rough road at all, passengers in cars going past us would point and do charades trying to tell us the steps had come part way out. Annoying to say the least.

I outlined in a previous blog that once we settled in the Valley I took the steps apart and had time to evaluate the problem it became apparent the problem was bigger than I originally thought. Researching our Kwickee retractable steps online revealed that this part was very expensive, $500-$800 since I had to basically buy everything but the steps themselves. The total assembly was $1100 to $1350… YIKES!!!

I sent emails to every parts place I could find and had just about decided that we would likely just replace these really expensive triple steps with a much cheaper two step unit and save about $500 or more.

Then one morning I thought I would check on EBAY and lo and behold I found a part that looked just like mine! I followed up with an email to see if the seller knew what model steps the part came out of and he didn’t. So I had him take several additional photos with a tape measure in various positions to ensure the bolt patterns were exactly the same (one of his photos above). All the photos seemed to verify the part was what I needed and was amazingly only $125.00 which included shipping! The no refund policy had me a bit worried but with the additional photos I was 99.5 % sure this was the part I needed.

Today 006When the part arrived I compared it to mine and they looked identical. I installed the part on Abbey and then asked Sharon to turn on the key to see if they retracted. After testing it several times it appeared to be working perfectly EXCEPT BACKWARDS! When it should have come in it went out and visa versa. I double checked everything and couldn’t see what the issue was with the polarity. Then I noticed a little “pigtail” piece (above photo) plugged into the one I took out and after I took it off and plugged it into the end of my steps Voila!!! it switched polarity and the steps now work perfectly once again.

Thanks to EBAY we may have saved a $1000.00 and at the very least we saved $400.00… Now, as luck would have it, we have a few extra dollars to spend doing something fun…


  1. We have bought a ton of stuff on eBay and Craig's list. Glad you got such a great deal.

  2. Buy some good beer with the extra dough, or send it to Novi, MI. JK
    Congrats on your ingenuity. What did we do before eBay and Craig's list? Oh, and your Christmas card is in the mail.

  3. WOW! This is a GREAT story. You took a big risk with no refund and it paid off. $1000 saved is a bigee! Congratulations.

  4. Great news, goes to show with a little work and research you can save some big bucks! Great job.

  5. That's great. Since my RV is so close to the ground (no basement storage), I opted to disconnect the stairs that were not working as use a step stool instead. I have been in a few of the class A's and 5th wheels here on the refuge and was surprised to have to walk down 5 or more stairs, including the stairs on the inside. Most of these stairs seem steep and not comfortable to walk down.

    1. yep, plan "b" was to go with cheaper steps and an additional portable set in order to save at least $400.00.

  6. Congratulations! That is a great success story!

  7. Amazing what you can do with research. I found sway bar bushings for our coach on line $45.00. Ford does not sell bushings have to buy the whole sway bar $400.00.
    Nice that you can do the work yourself too.