Car electrical problem...help!

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by MegaMoonMan, Jan 22, 2007.

  1. MegaMoonMan

    MegaMoonMan www.megamoonman.com TFW2005 Supporter

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    I got a '99 Lumina last October with low miles for a very decent price. I think I know why now...

    When I got it, it had no problems, other than the power locks wouldn't work once in a while. They acted like they were stuck. Anyway, I drove it to work and back everyday, no problems - until it got cold. About a month ago, I went out on Monday morning after not driving it all weekend, and the battery was dead. Oddly, when I jumped it, the power locks flipped a couple times by themselves.

    I jumped it, and it was fine for the rest of the week, until the next Monday after a no driving weekend. Dead again. I then decided it was probably just a bad battery, and replaced it with a better one. It was fine for a couple of weeks, until today. Dead again, after the weekend of sitting.

    It seems I have a battery leak somewhere. I suspect the locks, so I pulled the fuse for them. Don't know if that fixed it or not.

    My question is this...is there an easy way I can hunt down the short using my multimeter? I'm thinking there must be a way to monitor the battery for drain while I pull each fuse, and see if the drain on the battery stops after each one. I'm fairly sure it's not the alternator, since the battery only dies after days of inactivity in a cold environment.

    I don't want to take it into the shop for something like this, they will charge me a ton for labor, and I know electrical problems can be some of the worst and most time consuming to pin down.

    Ideas?
     
  2. Gen. Magnus

    Gen. Magnus Everything is Awesome

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    Have you had the battery tested to make sure that it is actually dead? I had an issue like that not all that long ago and it turned out to be that the cable for the battery was loose (at the bottom, not at the battery). I have also had battery issues when the clamps around the battery terminals corroded away and were not keeping a solid circuit.
     
  3. MegaMoonMan

    MegaMoonMan www.megamoonman.com TFW2005 Supporter

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    I know the new battery is installed well (since I did it myself), but I didn't think to check the other ends. I don't think that's the problem, but it's worth checking out.

    The battery has never gone completely dead, it has enough juice to (dimly) power the interior lights. That's how I can tell it's not going to start when it does this shit - I open the door, and the light comes on very dimly. A few seconds of jumping is usually all it takes to keep it running all week (as long as I start it EVERY day) - sitting is what does it in every time. It's a very consistent problem.
     
  4. Gen. Magnus

    Gen. Magnus Everything is Awesome

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    have you installed a stereo or other piece or hardware recently? It sounds as if there is a slow drain on the battery.
     
  5. planetjacker

    planetjacker Critters burn real good. TFW2005 Supporter

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    Does your car have a light in the glove box? I saw on pimp my ride one time that that light was not turning off causing a power drain so they had gum wrapers holding the switch down. Anything simple like that could cause this type of problem. Also check under hood and trunk lights.
     
  6. MegaMoonMan

    MegaMoonMan www.megamoonman.com TFW2005 Supporter

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    I was thinking perhaps trunk light, but I'll check the glove box too.

    And no, I haven't installed anything.
     
  7. Gen. Magnus

    Gen. Magnus Everything is Awesome

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    Without any new hardware I would also recommend checking the lights. I'm sure you've checked but I have to ask - your dome light isn't staying on, is it?

    You're not having an issue with the starter, are you?
     
  8. planetjacker

    planetjacker Critters burn real good. TFW2005 Supporter

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    Yea it's easy enough just remove the bulb one at a time to see if the problem goes away. Not that I think you wouldn't know this but I work in service.
     
  9. MegaMoonMan

    MegaMoonMan www.megamoonman.com TFW2005 Supporter

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    No, it stays off, and no starter problems. I can't find anything that stays on. I just need to figure out how to track down the short, or whatever is draining the battery.
     
  10. NotFastEnuff

    NotFastEnuff I'm a smartass...

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    There is a way to monitor battery drain with a multimeter, but I don't remember right off. It's been a LONG time since I've done it. If I remember, you can just set it to 12v, and put the leads on the battery.
    Do you have an alarm or aftermarket (not Chevy) keyless entry? I know sometimes after alarms get some age on them, the door lock triggers (that lock/unlock the doors) can stick, making the locks continually cycle. It could also be unrelated to the door locks. As far as watching for a draw with the mm, where you may run into a problem is if it's a really slow draw, like it sounds. It may take a while for it to show on you meter. Good luck.
     
  11. Optimus-JD

    Optimus-JD Team Laser Explosion!

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    Stick an ampMeter inline with the Hot lead on the battery and monitor the current drain while you unplug stuff. When the drain drops, there ya go.
     
  12. MegaMoonMan

    MegaMoonMan www.megamoonman.com TFW2005 Supporter

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    Would I have to connect it between the positive terminal and the positive connection (so it becomes an actual part of the circuit), or do you think it would work to just connect it to the positive terminal and then to whatever the positive terminal hooks up to? Like this:

    +<-----[meter]------>+


    or this:

    +------------------+
    /\----[meter]----/\


    God, I should know rudimentary crap like this. I know it would work the first way, but I'd rather not fool around with having to disconnect the battery and hooking a meter directly into the circuit. I guess I will if that's the only way to do it, though.


    EDIT: I did a little research online, and it seems to be a common problem. The simplest solution is to get a 12V test lamp, and hook it between the battery and one of the battery connectors. If it lights up brightly, I have a parasitic drain. All I have to do is start pulling fuses until the light dims to find the bad circuit. I can't believe I didn't think of that, duh.

    Thanks for the help, guys! Now all I need is some free time and a nice day to do it.
     
  13. MegaMoonMan

    MegaMoonMan www.megamoonman.com TFW2005 Supporter

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    Well, I KINDA fixed it. I was right, the lock circuit was draining the battery. It hasn't died since I pulled the fuse for it, and it's been COLD.

    I think I can live without power locks for awhile, rather than rip the doors apart looking for a bad wire or component in sub-zero weather.
     
  14. Jux

    Jux Please, call me Steve. Veteran

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    Good to hear you got it worked out, Moonsie.
     
  15. MegaMoonMan

    MegaMoonMan www.megamoonman.com TFW2005 Supporter

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    Moonsie? That's a new one. I kinda like it.
     

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