Unknown battery drain

DJM1972

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#1
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ENGINE
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DESCRIBE ISSUE....
Unknown battery drain


Year/1997 Make/Saturn Model/SC 2 Series 1.9 DOHC 150,000 miles


The battery is only a year old.


Last week I started noticing a dinging when I shut the car off and got out of the car. The kind of dinging as if you forgot to turn off your lights. Maybe I did leave my lights on but I don't think I did.

I also noticed my check engine light was back on.

I jumped started it this morning to get my codes ran at advanced but realized the battery drain erased my computer so I assumed I wouldn't be able to run codes.


I suspect something is wrong I'm just not sure where to start 1st.

Funny how it does this after we got all this rain in the last 3 weeks. Over the past year or 2 I've been silicon caulking the sun roof, door jam and part of the windshield. At 1st it was leaking on my seat but after siliconing the ba jesus out of the sun roof and door it only leaks a little down the door jam onto the floor.

After doing all this siliconing I'm worried the water might be going somewhere else into the electrical works.


I'm not sure if I'll try and drive it to work or not but if I do at least I can put it on a battery charger at work.


Thanks
 
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#2
Is the CEL on now- if yes there will be codes, there MAY also be codes stored in memory;

Anyway recharge battery operate and see if CEL reappears, Are you able to trouble shoot battery drains?
we could get you a wiring diagram if needed.

First suspect with electrical issues like this - AFTERMARKET add on's ie audio, remote starter, lighting, etc.


PS: A sun roof that leaks - who would have thought :)
 

DJM1972

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#3
Ok I went and had the codes ran.
P0656
Fuel level output
circuit history

I think I'll be ok to drive to work during the week. It went completely dead when I left it sit over the weekend.
 
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#4
Codes are not erased with a dead battery with OBD II, and this is what you have. Whatever that code was, was cleared when you recharged your battery, ha, could have been a low battery voltage code.
 

DJM1972

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#5
I guess I should consider a code reader. Been thinking about buying one for years spesially since all I've driven my whole life are 20 year old beaters. The one at advanced said it couldn't read all the codes though. Any recommended testers.
 

billr

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#6
Do you have an electrical multimeter? If not, you need that even more than a code reader. You need to check for current drain on the battery when all is supposed to off/asleep.
 
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#7
My latest problem is with batteries that self discharge, blame CAFE ratings, making these things smaller, tighter where flaking causes an internal short. But good to do a parasitic draw test first. Another new problem, always hot. This car is already 18 years old, how about a 9 year old Ford that developed a very small leak in the windshield side weather strip.

Almost undetectable rain water was leaking down under the dash at the side post getting electronics wet switching them on! Waking up to a dead battery, this was more than a five minute job. Had to get the windshield reset. Now I see on brand new vehicles even getting rid of the weather strip, more problems. One complete discharge of a battery will lose 20-40% of its original capacity, another one even worse. Seen some down to 10% that will start the car if not too cold, but zero reserve capacity if your alternator quits one the road.

Most generic scanners, if they do show a code, won't be in the book. Another dirty trick auto manufacturers use by encoding them. And practically all of them are not interactive.

Wouldn't mind seeing some post a good one that is reasonable in price. Getting by with Torque Pro for five bucks on my smart phone, and getting good results with an iCar bluetooth diagnostic plug adapter.

With OBD II, everything was suppose to be standard, well the diagnostic socket is, but ends there.
 

DJM1972

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#8
Well finally after all week I got a chance to work on this car.
dc voltage

14.55 with car running at idle

With car running and lights, radio, fan and four ways it fluctuates from 14.16 to 14.22 roughly


With everything off it reads 14.72 and I could see it going down because it was running. I should have done this test 1st so there was no residual build up.

I don't think there is anything wrong with the alternator. But I think I'm going to try another test on the alternator. Not sure how though yet since it is so difficult to get to.
I guess I'll take you up on the wiring diagram.
 

DJM1972

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#9
I just figured out that my multi-tester a Greenlee DM-20 doesn't have a high enough amperage rating to test for a parasitic draw in series.
Its only shows 3 setting on the dial. A--- 2000u, 20m and 200m.
It doesn't go up to 2 or 10 like in this youtube video.
I have to learn how to use these multi testers. Strange how I was able to test the alternator with the V--- 20 dialed in.
 

billr

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#10
There are ways you could use that meter for the test, but it is probably more practical to get another cheap meter that has a 10A range, those are pretty common.
 

DJM1972

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#11
Parasitic draw test .05 with my brand new tester on 10 amp setting

Correction the battery in my car is 2 yrs old. I bought one last year for my truck.

.05 you wouldn't think would be enough to drain the battery out over a night or 2.
 

billr

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#12
That 50 mA should be OK. Does it start at .05, or is it much higher and then go down as things "go to sleep"? If it starts out at .05, then I would try a lower range to get a more accurate reading. The lower ranges (200mA?) on both meters should be fused, so trying that isn't all that risky. The problem is, this may be an intermittent problem, you might have to keep doing that parasitic-draw test over-and-over (many different days) until you see a high draw, then start pulling fuses to see which circuit it is in. These kinds of things can be a real pain to track down, it literally took me years to find it in one of my cars!
 

DJM1972

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#13
I went out to double check my tests. And I couldn't seem to get either of my multi testers to work. After reading the manual with my new tester apparently I can only leave it on for 10 sec. and wait 15 minutes. I tried the battery drain test on 200ma and couldn't get a reading. I'm having a difficult time figuring out these multi meters let alone my car.
I think I'm going to take the battery out and the alternator out and take them to the auto store and have them tested. Since I can't seem to test them without question.
I think I'll give this situation another week and I'm going to be in the market for another chit y chit y bang bang a shit and git.
For the removal of the alternator. Do I just remove the tire and or from underneath.
 

billr

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#14
Underneath, through the RF wheel-well is the only way I would try to get the alt out. However, before you do that, take a voltage reading on the battery each time you shut the engine off. If the battery is up in the 13 to 13.5V range right after shut-down, then the alt has charged it OK. Later, if the battery is down quite a bit (like won't crank!) then it has to be a drain or bad battery, no need to go after the alt. Besides, I don't trust those alt tests in the store much... starter tests even less.
 
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#15
Put your meter in the 20V DC position, on a lot of these have to move the red lead either between volts or amps, also have an AC range that will always show 0 when measuring DC'.

If you run your engine at 1,500 RPM with the headlamps and blower at maximum and measuring 14.5V DC across the battery terminals, your alternator is okay. Can really put a full load on if you switch on your rear defrosters on it, combined would put at a 65 amp load on the alternator.

Do you have a maintenance charger the kind that outputs 13.5 VDC? If so can fully charger your battery with it and leave it on. If it has an ammeter, it should taper down to zero. How about a battery that no matter how long you leave the charger on will always draw 2-5 amps. These batteries have a high self discharge rate.

Another test is to fully charge it, then remove the negative battery cable, if it goes dead in the next day or two, your battery is shot.