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Battery drain

#1 User is offline   wolfman 

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Posted 20 January 2010 - 01:55 PM

I did some searching in the forums, and did not find any topics matching my problems. I have a question regarding a battery drain issue. When the car is sitting it is currently drawing 3.6 amps of power. This is up from 2.7 amps a couple of months ago when I had to sideline this project due to school and job demands, so I know this is a deteriorating issue. As expected, the car must either be started daily and driven, or be kept on a charger at all times when it's parked, or the battery will die.

I have been going through the two fuse boxes under the hood, and have narrowed the problem down to four circuits. This is where things get interesting, and I have included photos below to refer to. If I have either one of the headlight fuses installed, the drain occurs. I also removed the wires going to the power post for the second (front) fuse box. If I hook up either of the two wires shown in the photos, the drain will again return. Of course, everything collects in the main wiring loom, and this is where it begins to get uncomfortable.

My question on this is, what do the two disconnected wires go to? and is there a common point where the wiring tends to get damaged in the high mileage 4th gen cars? Thanx in advance.

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#2 User is offline   79/6.6 

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Posted 28 January 2010 - 03:14 AM

What you have is called parasitic battery drain. 3.6 amps is fairly high drain. IF what you say is correct, "If I have either one of the headlight fuses installed, the drain occurs." then your problem is in the lighting circuit. Check all wiring going to the front set of lights. Also check bulbs, sockets, and your headlight motors. Chances are if you ring it out with a meter, you will find a short down stream from your fuse block. Leave the fuse out, and ohm the circuit out. There is a headlight module, behind the drivers side headlight. This is ultimately what kills the power and turns on the power to your headlights. Check the module as well.
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#3 User is offline   wolfman 

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Posted 06 February 2010 - 06:55 PM

View Post79/6.6, on 28 January 2010 - 03:14 AM, said:

What you have is called parasitic battery drain. 3.6 amps is fairly high drain. IF what you say is correct, "If I have either one of the headlight fuses installed, the drain occurs." then your problem is in the lighting circuit. Check all wiring going to the front set of lights. Also check bulbs, sockets, and your headlight motors. Chances are if you ring it out with a meter, you will find a short down stream from your fuse block. Leave the fuse out, and ohm the circuit out. There is a headlight module, behind the drivers side headlight. This is ultimately what kills the power and turns on the power to your headlights. Check the module as well.


Thanks. Sorry for the long time responding. Other things have kept coming up to keep me away from getting this solved. Unfortunately, I have to rule out the circuit posted earlier. I went back to address possible common points for the four wires, only to find that when I plugged the meter in, it is now showing a 3 amp draw, even with the entire chassis electrical system disconnected. This is (again) leaving me at the alternator, starter, or cable. I've already had the alternator disconnected with no change, so I get to pursue the starter next, which coincidentally has positive and negative cables sharing a weather sleeve. I get to get back underneath the car, and I hate having to crawl around underneath. More on the subject when the weather once again decides to cooperate.
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#4 User is offline   79/6.6 

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Posted 06 February 2010 - 07:49 PM

Sometimes a bad alternator diode can cause a battery to run down. A good diode should only pass current in one direction. If it leaks current in the opposite direction, it may keep the charging circuit on when the engine is not running, causing the battery to run down. This kind of problem can be diagnosed several ways. If your voltmeter has an AC (alternating current) scale, switch to that scale and observe the charging voltage with the engine running. If the meter shows any AC voltage, one or more diodes are leaking and the alternator needs to be replaced. Or, just disconnect the alternator overnight and see if the battery stills run down. If the battery drain stops, you have found the problem. Replace the alternator. Keep us posted on your progress.
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#5 User is offline   wolfman 

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Posted 15 February 2010 - 09:40 PM

View Post79/6.6, on 06 February 2010 - 07:49 PM, said:

Sometimes a bad alternator diode can cause a battery to run down. A good diode should only pass current in one direction. If it leaks current in the opposite direction, it may keep the charging circuit on when the engine is not running, causing the battery to run down. This kind of problem can be diagnosed several ways. If your voltmeter has an AC (alternating current) scale, switch to that scale and observe the charging voltage with the engine running. If the meter shows any AC voltage, one or more diodes are leaking and the alternator needs to be replaced. Or, just disconnect the alternator overnight and see if the battery stills run down. If the battery drain stops, you have found the problem. Replace the alternator. Keep us posted on your progress.


I had tried the alternator before. I had a meter hooked up to the negative battery cable in such a way as to bridge the gap between the cable and battery. The drain was still there with the alt disconnected. The weather has once again gone foul, and my back is also out, preventing me from even considering crawling under the car.http://www.firebirdnation.com/forums/public/style_emoticons/default/crybaby.gif
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#6 User is offline   wolfman 

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 08:11 AM

My battery drain problem is solved. In my case, I actually had a defective METER, and it was giving me bad results. I did end up replacing the alternator as I had observed some signs of the rectifier beginning to get weak. My problem was actually in the battery cable, preventing the car from properly charging in the first place. The car has now sat for two days, and battery state of charge is still at 95%. I'm letting the car sit without being started for a solid week while I monitor battery S.O.C. to insure that the car will sit without dying. A new multimeter shows only a tiny amount of drain consistent with holding the memory in the ECM, Radio, and security system. All I'm waiting for now, is a new fog light switch to arrive so I can put the dash bezel back together. I'm finally seeing the light at the end of a very long tunnel on getting this car up to snuff. :hystlaugh:

This post has been edited by wolfman: 27 March 2010 - 08:11 AM

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#7 User is offline   1993TransAm 

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 02:34 PM

Congrats, Bryan! Amazing what a stupid defective meter can cause, eh?
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#8 User is offline   wolfman 

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 11:26 AM

View Post1993TransAm, on 27 March 2010 - 02:34 PM, said:

Congrats, Bryan! Amazing what a stupid defective meter can cause, eh?


No kidding. That damn thing had me tear the car nearly apart looking for a non existent short.
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#9 User is offline   FSTLS1TA 

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 02:51 PM

Yep sometimes it is just the little things that cause big problems.
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