Ok guys, this is likely what you have. The gearbox has a large “pot metal” gear that drives the curved arm connected to your step. When it hits something before it is full out, it partially or fully strips some teeth.
(As an aside, my EE buddy says this shouldn’t happen, as the motor stops when the arm hits stops on the outer case and the force of hitting something foreign shouldn’t cause damage) a whole nother tech mental masturbation discussion.
When you “help” the step, it rotates thru the damaged area on the gear. Without assist, it sometimes gets past the bad area.
I’ve had 4-5 years service by flipping the gear 180° so the damage area is just outside the full rotation. Also, with a very small file, you may be able to rehab the damaged area. Kwikee does not stock this gear as a replacement. Have to buy the entire assy.
Punches point to 2 damaged areas. 1 old, so when I flipped it over, it was out of play. 2nd new damage now causes motor to stutter for 2-3 seconds after step out. Retracted fine with assist.
New assy I had on hand.
currently Gold Beach OR
ps assy and drive motor available separately, however, check motor pinion gear to make sure it’s not damaged.