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Old 12-22-2008, 07:11 AM   #1
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1

I am writing to alert Keystone Cougar travel trailer owners of a serious safety issue we experienced. I would suggest any owner of a Keystone Cougar travel trailer with a polar pack take the time to look at their trailer to verify this is not happening to their own trailer for their own safety, and for the safety of others. Perhaps our issue is an isolated case, I have no way to know.

We purchased a 2008 26’ Keystone Cougar travel trailer, and have owned it for approximately 14 months when we had brake failure. We have about 10,000 or more miles on our trailer. While on the return leg of a recent cross country trip, the trailer brakes failed. Our brake controller displayed trouble codes indicating a short. At the first opportunity I pulled off the road, and crawled under the trailer to look for any obvious problems. I could find none. At our overnight stop, my attention was drawn to the dump valves. When I pulled the black water handle, the cotter key that is installed thru the dump valve shaft snagged and pulled a wire part way through the belly skin cover cutout. Our trailer came with the Polar pack, which consists of a belly skin cover on the underside of the trailer to protect it from the elements, and to help insulate. I removed 3 or 4 fasteners from the belly skin and pulled it down part way. I discovered the wires above the belly skin were not secured in any way. They were lying loose on the top side of the belly skin and on the top side of the dump valve shafts. I then found wires being pinched at both dump valves. Every time I would close a dump valve I was jamming the wires against the valve body. I also found bare and broken wire, and insulation that was badly damaged. None of this damage was visible prior to pulling the belly skin away from the underside of the trailer. The belly skin covers all wiring from view, and you need a good flashlight to look closely at the dump valves.

The next day we arrived home without incident. We consider ourselves very lucky. We decided to call Keystone KNOWING that our warranty had expired 30 to 40 days prior. After explaining what I found with the pinched wires, it was agreed that I should take the trailer to a dealer for a service evaluation, which I did. The dealer was also a Keystone retailer. An estimate of repairs revealed approximately 7 hours of labor, and included some replacement parts (damaged wires, fasteners, etc). It was submitted to Keystone by the dealer. Keystone denied coverage, citing our expired warranty period, which, as stated earlier, I knew was expired. I called Keystone back to question the non-coverage of this repair. The unsecured wiring that was pinched was not due to normal “wear and tear” but rather a maintenance oversight when the trailer was assembled. Until the belly skin was pulled away, the damage was not visible. Keystone eventually authorized 2 “courtesy hours” of labor for customer good will. I am thankful Keystone allowed some labor, but I was dismayed that they have not responded in a straightforward way to try and ensure this issue from happening again. I hope other Keystone travel trailer owners will at least take the time to take a close look at their own trailers to ensure their own trailer wiring is secured or not, and to try and protect themselves. Our brake wires happened to be the wires that got pinched, there are a whole bunch of other wires in this area, and most any wire could get grabbed and pinched. One can only guess at what other possibilities may happen with shorted out wires.

I truly hope Keystone will address this issue with their assembly plants and try to insure some inspection or check is accomplished prior to covering up this area with the belly skin. I believe certain precautions should always be implemented to avoid this from happening. I believe the word “Warranty” needs to be excluded, and the word “Liability” needs to be used. If some other trailer owner has had brake failure and has been involved in an accident because his brakes failed due to some carelessness at the time of manufacture then Keystone might be leaving themselves open to lawsuits!

Our brakes have been repaired. I have written, and sent pictures to Keystone with my concerns addressed to the CEO, and have started the complaint process with NHTSH. Pictures were taken during the repair process and illustrate pinch points at dump valve, and wires not secured.
Keystone has allowed another 2 hours of “goodwill time” since we have written to the CEO. We thank Keystone, but we wish we knew if Keystone is taking this seriously enough to at least try and do something within their company to insure the wire bundle is secure and not put the driving public at risk.
This exact letter was sent to a RV magazine about 2 months ago and another more detailed letter with pictures has been sent to NHTSH about 7 months ago. I discovered this forum and decided it would be a good idea to try and notify as many people as possible. To date I have not seen any thing from NHTSH or Keystone to try and do the same.

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Old 01-01-2009, 09:32 PM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 21
brake problems

My trailer also had a brake problem,but not complete failure. Left front tire will lock up under braking in the same spot, which is now frat spotted. This I know you'd see if drum or disk was out of round.
Anyway I really don't know what is happening with my trailer since I turned it back in over 4 months ago due to all the other problems it had,which included the braking/flat spotting.

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Old 06-06-2011, 04:07 PM   #3
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 1
Brake wiring issue

We have a 2010 Copper Canyon with similar issues. Hidden in the underbelly are unsecured wires for trailer brakes running lights turn signals etc. Our wiring got caught in the slide mechanism leaving us without turn signals or brake lights delaying our maiden voyage trip. After repairing these issues by our dealer we went our way only to have the taillight wiring get caught in the slide and ripped apart.
The brake wire connectors from the underbelly to the axle are cheap open ended connectors with no protection from the elements such as shrink tubing, weather packs etc. The wiring running to the brakes are draped over the spring and axle with no protection whatsoever. Our brake wiring broke at the connector on our way home from Arizona, luckily there was no incident. These are dangerous issues and I will also report them to NHTSA as well.
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Old 06-07-2011, 11:32 AM   #4
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Join Date: May 2011
Location: Carnation, WA
Posts: 190
Our Brake Wiring Issue

Our problem was different from those described above; however, it also represents a quality deficiency on the part of Keystone.

During February 2011, my wife and I purchased a new 24-foot Keystone Cougar . On the 27th of February, 2011 we commenced a trip from Seattle to southern California. On March 3rd, 2011 near Leggett, CA the Cougar developed a problem where one or more of the brakes would sometimes lockup in response to even the slightest application of the brakes on our tow vehicle.

Note: The specific location where we encountered the problem was on our return trip from Shelter Cove, CA - coming down the very steep (at least a 10% grade) and winding mountain road! This was no place to have brake problems!

(Sometimes the brakes would work OK, but over a short period of time, they began to get worse and locked up almost every time I applied the brakes.) I could not correct the problem by adjusting my brake controller. Believing this to be an unsafe condition, I turned off the brake controller and drove very slowly to the nearest rv repair facility (101 Trailer & RV) which was about 30 miles away in Willits, CA. (There was no Keystone authorized repair facility closer, and I believed it was unsafe to drive any further.)

101 Trailer & RV determined that the problem was caused by a brake wire rubbing against the metal rim of one of the trailerís right-side wheels. Apparently, it had been rubbing long enough for the insulation to be worn away and allow the brake wire to short out against the wheel rim. ( I have included a picture of the damaged section of brake wire.) 101 Trailer & RV cutout the damaged section of wire, spliced the two ends together, and installed a plastic sleeve over the wire to prevent this from happening again.

101 Trailer & RV charged us $40.00 for the repair. I requested to be reimbursed by Keystone for this expense, and they did provide a full refund.
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