ARB Elements Failure / Repair

drrobinson

Member
I've had an ARB Elements fridge/freezer for about 14 months and one day a few weeks ago I went to pre-cool the fridge before leaving on a trip and it wouldn't turn on. No lights on the control panel, no interior LED, no sounds, just dead.

I started trouble shooting by checking the hard wired 12v connection, all good. Then tried plugging it into 110 shore power just in case, no joy. So I called ARB for troubleshooting help. The didn't offer a whole look of guidance other than the typical, "check the fuses", which I did again, and they were fine. SO they wanted to do a warranty claim, but I can't local my receipt, so they sent me the service manual so I could perceiver on my own.

The service manual has a good diagnostic flow chart which I followed and quickly ruled out the compressor, and compressor controller which worked after jumping the controller. Then the diagnostics get harder, because essentially they suggest swapping the main circuit board, and the control panel circuit board until it works. Well without an inventory of parts that wasn't going to happen, so I pulled out the main circuit board and inspected for damage, seeing none, I moved on to the control panel circuit board, which requires you to peel up the touch pad which is glued down over the switch panel. This of course is a one way trip, because you can't reuse the part, but I had a good feeling about the control panel being the culprit since it had no lights or display at all. After inspecting the control panel circuit board I found this>

IMG_0522.jpeg

Which certainly looks suspect ;) Notice R5 and the corded pin on the main IC.

So I'm back on the phone with ARB, inquiring about how to purchase replacement parts. My suspicion was that the seal failed, and some moisture got into the cavity under the circuit board and cause the corrosion. My plan was to replace the circuit board, switch panel, switch panel seal, and the touch pad (since it cannot be reused). The very helpful person at ARB USA tech support put me on hold, and when they came back, announced the parts would be shipped to me at NO CHARGE!

In that moment I went from being mildly pissed that they wouldn't help me without my receipt on a 14 month old fridge under a three year warranty, to being really grateful for the accommodation they made giving me the parts I needed. I thanked them profusely and hung up. I got an email confirmation of my "order" and a note from the customer service person I spoke with, suggesting that I also perform the "Control Panel Drain Hole Modification", with instructions attached.

It appears there is a know problem with condensation building up under the control panel, so they have you drill a couple of holes in the cavity under the control panel (which is sealed) to allow for any moisture to escape. This make perfect sense based on the evidence I saw in my failed control panel.

So I'm posting this trivial sorted tale here so if anyone else has a similar problem, you will be able to quickly diagnose it. Unfortunately there really is no way to proactively do this modification because you have to pull the touch pad off to get to the control panel cavity to drill the holes, thereby destroying the touch pad and requiring replacement parts. On the other had, if you leave your fridge out in the elements (rain, snow, wind, heat) like I do, maybe it's worth ordering the parts and doing the mod at a time of your choosing, rather than waiting for an unplanned failure that will ruin your trip. God knows spoiled food and warm beer is not the worst thing that can happen, but who wants warm beer :oops:

Three days later the FedEx person dropped off the parts. Five minutes later my fridge is alive again!

A big shout out to ARB Customer Service for ultimately doing the right thing and helping out a loyal customer. After reading several horror stories about how their customer service had gone downhill recently, I was starting to regret my rediculously expensive fridge purchase, even though I really had no other options for a weather resistant fridge.

As a further testimonial, I'll mention this fridge stayed outside at 7500 ASL for two Colorado winters, numerous thunder showers, and some pretty hot days in Moab. Not to mention being bounced around on trails and covered in dust numerous times.

Maybe I'll cover it this winter 🤔
 

emulous74

Active member
Thank you so much for posting this, I reached out to arb for a new 12v cord last year and still haven’t heard back. Nice to know they treated you right.
 

Superduty

Adventurer
Thank you so much for posting this, I reached out to arb for a new 12v cord last year and still haven’t heard back. Nice to know they treated you right.

What is the reason for the new cord? Warranty? ARB has a reputation of excellent customer service, so I am surprised when i hear someone had a bad experience.
 
Last edited:

emulous74

Active member
Totally personal error, with the cord being damaged by my fridge slide. One would think they would offer a replacement on their website but I couldn’t find it so I sent an email and left a voicemail. Yes I could of been more aggressive, but IMO I shouldn’t have to.
 

WOODY2

Adventurer
Totally personal error, with the cord being damaged by my fridge slide. One would think they would offer a replacement on their website but I couldn’t find it so I sent an email and left a voicemail. Yes I could of been more aggressive, but IMO I shouldn’t have to.
There have been several posts about replacing the chord with a coiled one to prevent this type of accident FYI
 

Superduty

Adventurer
Totally personal error, with the cord being damaged by my fridge slide. One would think they would offer a replacement on their website but I couldn’t find it so I sent an email and left a voicemail. Yes I could of been more aggressive, but IMO I shouldn’t have to.
Have you gotten your replacement yet?

There are numerous retailers that sell a replacement original ARB cord.

Amazon (i tried inserting a url, but it's getting messed up from my phone)



If you want to buy straight from ARB (not sure if they sell direct) i would try calling them again during normal business hours (i think they are on Pacific time).

As mentioned above there are coiled ones that are sold out there, Absolute Wits End comes to mind. Even with the coiled one you will likely need to zip tie it out the way so it doesn't get caught in the slide.

I made my own coiled cord. With your damaged cord, you can likely still salvage the plug at the fridge.

Finding a coiled cord wasn't easy. I used Moroso 74115 16-Gauge Electrical Stretch Cord - 4-Foot


Then i attached the fridge plug end to it and put an Anderson SB50 on the other end, you could use a cigarette lighter plug if that's your set up.


Sent from my SM-G973U using Tapatalk
 

67cj5

Man On a Mission
It's pretty easy to buy a new cord from an ARB dealership I bought 3 for about 20 bucks US each.
 
Top