98 Ford Taurus - battery dies sitting in driveway

rlake5

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Okay, I've been having this issue for the last few years, and the fix has just been to replace the battery under warranty. But it is getting to be a pain, and is frustrating. So here it is...

1998 Ford Taurus LX 3.0L OHV - pretty standard config, except the car is a little odd...
- power windows and mirrors, but NOT power locks
- AM / FM radio
- no cruise

I bought the car used in 2002, and it's generally been a pretty good car. One nuisance has always been that if left sitting for a few days without being driven, the battery seems discharged, sometimes to the point of needing a jumpstart. I have had it at the dealer in MD and PA (where I live now) and the dealer in MD found what they thought was the issue - the glovebox not closing fully, leaving the light on to drain the battery, which they fixed. It seemed to be better for a while, but is now back to it's old tricks. The alternator has been replaced within the last year; just had it tested at AutoZone and it is working fine. The battery was brand new from Wal Mart - this is about the 3rd or 4th battery replaced from them. The car was fine, wife driving everyday, she comes home on a Friday and parks it, drives our minivan with the kids all weekend, then continues to drive the van to work Mon and Tues. Go to start the Taurus Wed morning and no cabin lights, nothing - dead. This has been the similar pattern all along.

Searching online I found info about two TSB articles (11803 and 4695, both dated 8/1/1998) - SOME VEHICLES WITH MANUAL LOCKS BUILT BETWEEN 4/7/98 AND 7/17/98 MAY HAVE A CONCERN OF EXCESSIVE POWER DRAIN OR DEAD BATTERY. *TT (NHTSA ID #615301 and #615233 AUGUST 01 1998). Mine was built 6/98 - right in the middle of the problem area.

Can anyone shed some light on this issue?!?!? Please??? If I need to add more info to assist, I will be more than happy to do so!

Thanks,
Rod
 

greasemonkey

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Your vehicle should not have more tha a 20.5ma ( less than .03 of one amp)draw on battery. If it does there is a problem. Did not see the tsb you wrote up but did find one for abs system draw TSB 98-19-2. Which says that if there is water in the abs module connector this will cause an excessive draw on battery. They say to remove connector and apply dielectic silicone grease to repair this condition. But if there is a draw one of the easiest ways to find it is to pull fuses until draw is gone and then see what is on that circuit that is causing the draw. A good auto electric shop should have no problem finding this problem. Good luck!!! Greasemonkey :)
 

E.D.

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If the battery test is ok, then you need to find what is draining your battery by checking "PARASITIC CURRENT DRAW" from your battery. Your car has electronic MODULES that draw current when they are first connected. After they "settle down", in about 2 to 5 minutes, the parasitic current drain on you battery should be down to about 25 ma (milliamps) (.025 Amp). Do the following test procedure, and if you find your draw is too high, pull fuses one at a time to see if you can isolate the source of the excessive current draw.PARASITIC CURRENT DRAW TEST:Start with a fully charged Battery. Turn everything in the car OFF, close the door, remove the light bulb from under the hood so that nothing you know of is on. Remove the negative cable. Place a 5 amp fuse & a 1 ohm/10watt resistor in series with the negative cable, then wait a few minutes to allow the modules to settle down, then proceed. Connect a Digital Volt/Ohm Meter across the RESISTOR and do a simple voltage drop test. Results = for example, a .022v draw = a 22mA draw. When you have minimal computers/radios/etc a maximum of 25mA is optimal. If you have multiple computers/cell phones/alarms/etc expect a higher number to be normal, though the cell phones/alarms should be OFF for this test. Over 25ma should be investigated and Over 50ma should be corrected. Check manufacturers specs to be sure of what it should be for your vehicle.That ought to get you going for now.
Good Luck,
E.D. ISF
 

ironhead

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Just a note. Some of these new cars, especially Fords, will have a much larger current draw (I`ve seen 300ma) for up to 1 hour after the last thing is touched on the car. ( Key in ign, door or trunk opened or closed, Key Fob button pushed, etc. ) This is normal. Some of the computers stay on for up to 1 hour to see if you are going to do something else before they go to sleep. As soon as you do anything with the vehicle, they wake back up again. You need to hook up all your equipment then walk away for an hour, then come back and look at the meter to see what your actual draw is.
Guy
 

rlake5

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That's one of the things that makes this so irritating about this car - it has no bells and whistles! No key fob for remote entry, no keyless entry system - heck, as stated, not even power locks! No alarm system, no PATS key system. This car is so basic it's almost funny (it's even plain white). Factory AM/FM, so no goofy radio stuff to power. But leave it for a few days and it goes dead as a doornail.

Does anyone have any insight on the TSB info about the door locks. Here is where I found the article - http://www.carcomplaints.com/Ford/Taurus/1998/tsbs.shtml - go about 2/3 of the way down the page and you'll see the reference to it under the heading Electrical System : Battery.

Not sure how much troubleshooting I will be able to accomplish, but I will do what I can. Thanks for all thoughts and suggestions.
 

zoesam

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Had the same problem on a 92 Taurus. Like yours, no bells & whistles on the car to drain the battery. Only a clock, power windows
& power locks. Replaced the battery, still died after it sat for 3 days, so obviously it wasn't the battery.

Long story short, the radio had died just a little while b4 the battery problem started. We hardly use the car, so the radio not working was no big deal. Finally put 2+2 together, took a guess that the radio had a short in it that was draining the battery.
Pulled out the radio, let the car sit for 5 days & it started on the first try! Went to junkyard got an $8 radio & now both the
radio & the car work just perfectly!
 

NickD

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Is the problem worse when it's wet outside? Had the same problem with a Ford that sat outside with this "aways hot stuff" this one had a very minor windshield leak dripping water into the windshield wiper module and pulled about four amps when wet, perfect when dry. Other problems with Fords is they hook the high side of the alternator field coil to 12V, always, and if the slip rings get wet, will draw a lot of current, only Ford does that, everyone else puts the field transistor on the high side so the coil voltage is zero with the vehicle off. Solution, don't let the car get wet, or find where the water is leaking in. They are all using power MOSFET transistors in these always hot modules, and only takes a fraction of a microamp on the gate circuit to turn them on. Removing the PCB, drying it out and spraying it with MFR helps as that gives moisture protection. They use to do this, but I guess they want to give the stockholders a couple of extra cents.
 

thewrightman

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Finding it IS the BEST solution (and pulling fuses while monitoring current draw is the sure way to find it); BUT - battery disconnects are a quick and cheap solution until you find the time...
 
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