Need Automotive troubleshooting advice... - Chicagoland Sportbikes
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post #1 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 10:56 AM Thread Starter
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Need Automotive troubleshooting advice...

2003 Lancer ES (Lancer #1)

I turn the key, not even a click. No big deal, charge the battery, right?.

So, I charged the battery, it works fine.
Go to restart after a few hours, not even a click.
Took the battery to O'Reilly's did a load test and charge. Battery certifies like new.
I verified that NOTHING is on in the car, no radio, no fans, no lights, etc...
Reinstall a fully charged battery, then the next morning, not even a click.

So.. I think to myself, one of two things can be the problem.
1 - The battery test was wrong, battery sucks. Replace the battery.
2 - SOMETHING is sucking energy from the battery overnight (parasitic drain)

SO... I pull the battery from my other Lancer, and swap them. Both batteries are fully charged.

The questionable battery has been working fine in Lancer #2 for 2 days. It is NOT the battery.

Meanwhile, Lancer #1 has managed to drain the Lancer #2 battery and doesn't even click.

This is NOT a alternator/regulator or recharging problem, as it KILLS the battery while it sits in the driveway overnight.

========================================


SO... what the heck do I do or try next?

I would love to figure it out or do this at home as funds are tight at the moment.

IF I can't figure it out at home, where the heck would I take this? Firestone? Dealer? What is the cheapest method of tracing this battery drain?

=========================================

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Being down a car at our house is a nightmare with a wife and four daughters all going to work. The car shuffling and picking up and dropping people off is a nightmare since no one works near each other.

===========
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post #2 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 11:04 AM
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Do you have vanity light or a light in the boot on?

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post #3 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 11:07 AM
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Check battery connections at the alt. Check ground. If the battery is draining use an amp meter between the battery terminal and the cable and start pulling fuses to see which circuit is draining the battery.

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post #4 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 11:07 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gone in 3 View Post
Check the terminals for any corrosion. Make sure the current is flowing properly from the battery to the starter.
No corrosion, perfectly clean cables and posts. I supposed I could test the cables, but remember, this thing starts FINE with a charged battery. Something is draining the power. It also jump starts just fine.

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Do you have vanity light or a light in the boot on?

Glenn
Nope, that is what I thought as well, I checked all things that have switches and ensured that they are all off. Even so, that would not drain a fully charged battery in 4 hours (that is the fastest it stopped working when I was testing it yesterday)

SOMETHING has to be draining that battery.

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post #5 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 11:08 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richfiero View Post
Check battery connections at the alt. Check ground. If the battery is draining use an amp meter between the battery terminal and the cable and start pulling fuses to see which circuit is draining the battery.
Start pulling fuses! Good idea!

I'll go pull all accessories, and optional fuses now.

===========
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post #6 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 11:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wink View Post
Start pulling fuses! Good idea!

I'll go pull all accessories, and optional fuses now.
Use an amp meter to see which circuit it is. Could also be a bad connection at the starter the extra power from being recently charged gets enough power to turn the motor. Feel the alt if its warm its shorting out.

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post #7 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 11:15 AM
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Battery — Drain Test

WARNING: Do not attempt this test on a lead-acid battery that has recently been recharged. Explosive gases may cause personal injury. Failure to follow these instructions may result in personal injury.

CAUTION: To prevent damage to the meter, do not crank the engine or operate accessories that draw more than 10A.

NOTE: No production vehicle should have more than a 50 mA (0.050 amp) draw.

NOTE: Many modules draw 10 mA (0.010 amp) or more continuously.

NOTE: Use an in-line ammeter between the battery positive or negative post and its respective cable.

NOTE: Typically, a drain of approximately one amp can be attributed to an engine compartment lamp, glove compartment lamp, or interior lamp staying on continually. Other component failures or wiring shorts may be located by selectively pulling fuses to pinpoint the location of the current drain. When the current drain is found, the meter reading will fall to an acceptable level. If the drain is still not located after checking all the fuses, it may be due to the generator.

NOTE: To accurately test the drain on a battery, an in-line digital ammeter must be used. Use of a test lamp or voltmeter is not an accurate method due to the number of electronic modules.

Check for current drains on the battery in excess of 50 milliamps (0.050 amp) with all the electrical accessories off and the vehicle at rest. Current drains can be tested with the following procedure:

Make sure the junction box/fuse panels are accessible without turning on interior and underhood lights.
Drive the vehicle at least five minutes and over 48 km/h (30 mph) to turn on and exercise vehicle systems.
Allow the vehicle to sit with the key OFF for at least 40 minutes to allow modules to time out/power down.
Connect a fused jumper wire between the negative battery cable and the negative battery post to prevent modules from resetting and to catch capacitive drains.
Disconnect the negative battery cable from the post without breaking the connection of the jumper wire.
NOTE: It is very important that continuity is not broken between the battery and the negative battery cable when connecting the meter. If this happens, the entire procedure must be repeated.

Connect the tester between the negative battery cable and the post. The meter must be capable of reading milliamps and should have a 10 amp capability.
NOTE: If the meter settings need to be switched or the test leads need to be moved to another jack, the jumper wire must be reinstalled to avoid breaking continuity.

Remove the jumper wire.
NOTE: Amperage draw will vary from vehicle to vehicle depending on the equipment package. Compare to a similar vehicle for reference.

NOTE: No production vehicle should have more than a 50 mA (0.050 amp) draw.

If the draw is found to be excessive, pull fuses from the battery junction box/central junction box one at a time and note the current drop. Do not reinstall the fuses until you are finished testing.
Check the wiring schematic in the wiring diagram for any circuits that run from the battery without passing through the junction boxes. Disconnect these circuits if the draw is still excessive.
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post #8 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 11:23 AM
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this might sound stupid, but check and make sure your belts are all there, too.

good luck

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post #9 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 11:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramenboy... View Post
this might sound stupid, but check and make sure your belts are all there, too.

good luck
Car isn't on, it's just sitting, so it's irrelivant.

Brian, does the car have an aftermarket headunit or alarm? I'd check to see if you have a short or maybe there is a lose ground
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post #10 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 11:40 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kerosene View Post
Car isn't on, it's just sitting, so it's irrelivant.

Brian, does the car have an aftermarket headunit or alarm? I'd check to see if you have a short or maybe there is a lose ground
doh.... didn't catch the part about the car not even running...

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post #11 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 11:41 AM
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Heavy duty switch at battery, flip it when done driving. Problem solved.

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post #12 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 11:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kerosene View Post
Car isn't on, it's just sitting, so it's irrelivant.

Brian, does the car have an aftermarket headunit or alarm? I'd check to see if you have a short or maybe there is a lose ground
If there was a short, a fuse would have blown (turning that circuit off). A lose ground would cause the circuit in question to not draw power. I think the best course of action is to do what Noodles recommended. Connect a multimeter in series with battery (in DC Amp mode) and look at the current draw. Pretty easy to do, just remove a battery cable and connect one lead to the battery terminal and another lead to the battery cable. Turn the multimeter on and check what the current draw is. Make sure the key isn't in the ignition and all the doors are closed. If it is more than .05A then you have something turned on that should not be on. In this case, pull a fuse and check the current draw. If the draw goes down then you know the problem is with that circuit. If the draw doesn't go down then go on to the next fuse. Be sure to read noodles' post as well as it has a bunch of safety stuff so you don't blow up your multimeter.

Quote:
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In motorcycle terms, that's like taking your Ducati to a dealer for service, and they hand you back a 1979 backfiring Honda 400 Hawk.. because after all, a bike is a bike.
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post #13 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 12:17 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kerosene View Post
Car isn't on, it's just sitting, so it's irrelivant.

Brian, does the car have an aftermarket headunit or alarm? I'd check to see if you have a short or maybe there is a lose ground
Nope, nothing aftermarket, this is as plain a car as you can possibly buy from Mitsubishi. Ground is NOT loose.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicago Performance View Post
Heavy duty switch at battery, flip it when done driving. Problem solved.
That is an EXCELLENT idea, and most likely the cheapest solution. I'll bet I could use a marine batter switch to do just that. I may end up doing that, hopefully not, but it may just be the interim ticket until I have some cashola.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AgentofDarkness View Post
If there was a short, a fuse would have blown (turning that circuit off). A lose ground would cause the circuit in question to not draw power. I think the best course of action is to do what Noodles recommended. Connect a multimeter in series with battery (in DC Amp mode) and look at the current draw. Pretty easy to do, just remove a battery cable and connect one lead to the battery terminal and another lead to the battery cable. Turn the multimeter on and check what the current draw is. Make sure the key isn't in the ignition and all the doors are closed. If it is more than .05A then you have something turned on that should not be on. In this case, pull a fuse and check the current draw. If the draw goes down then you know the problem is with that circuit. If the draw doesn't go down then go on to the next fuse. Be sure to read noodles' post as well as it has a bunch of safety stuff so you don't blow up your multimeter.
My electrical and multimeter skills are severely limited (impaired). I do have a multimeter, and perhaps can check some things this afternoon.

Battery is currently on the charger.

I have pulled all the fuses possible in the engine compartment and in the passenger compartment, that allow the car to still start.

I'll pull the charger in about 30 minutes, and see if it still drains down. If not, then the problem was with a light or accessory circuit. If it does drain down, at least I'll know it is none of those items I pulled.


Thanks to everyone for the help and the support so far!

Note: Derick - EXCELLENT info, thanks, I'll run through that list.

===========
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post #14 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 12:20 PM
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Wink -- if you need help with the multimeter just post up, I or someone else can explain
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post #15 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 12:26 PM Thread Starter
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I have three of them in the garage. I just suck at it, so I'll leave that to Greg. He'll be here for pool night later today.

Thanks though Derick, I appreciate the offer.

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post #16 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 12:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AgentofDarkness View Post
I think the best course of action is to do what Noodles recommended.
This right here just shows how awesome I am. I didn't even post and my "idea" is considered the best course of action

Quote:
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Noodles accepts no liability for the content of this post, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided, unless that information is subsequently confirmed in writing. Any views or opinions presented in this post are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Noodles.
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post #17 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 12:58 PM
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you've got a parasitic draw somewhere, use an inductive amp probe or amp meter in line on the negative cable and start pulling fuses in the under hood fuse box. That will help you narrow down the circuit with the draw.
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post #18 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 12:59 PM
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I know you said that the battery is dead just seating overnight. Have you tried checking the alternator? Start the car at idle, take out the positive terminal on the battery, MAKE SURE THE POSITIVE TERMINAL IS NOT TOUCHING TO ANY BODY/METAL PARTS ON THE CAR. If the car dies, alternator is dead.
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post #19 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 01:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayN View Post
I know you said that the battery is dead just seating overnight. Have you tried checking the alternator? Start the car at idle, take out the positive terminal on the battery, MAKE SURE THE POSITIVE TERMINAL IS NOT TOUCHING TO ANY BODY/METAL PARTS ON THE CAR. If the car dies, alternator is dead.
do NOT do this. Cars today are not meant to be run without the battery connected to the system. Some cars are okay with it but the most will end up with some form of latent electrical damage. Remember that a battery doesn't only start the car, it filters the power being output by the alternator.
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post #20 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 01:19 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Noodles, following your lead now...

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post #21 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 01:24 PM
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A DC amp clamp will be even easier to use than a multi meter as you don't have to install it in the circuit.

throw the clamp on with all the fuses in and battery installed. in other words, normal condition.

record reading from amp clamp. now stat pulling fuses till reading drops of dramatically. you found your bad circuit.




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post #22 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 01:29 PM
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id pull the battery out of the vehicle and see if it drains overnight.

bad alternator, yez i know you don't have it running
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post #23 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 01:39 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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id pull the battery out of the vehicle and see if it drains overnight.

bad alternator, yez i know you don't have it running
Been there, done that. Battery is fine.

Would a bad alternator have anything to do with it if it dies while not running?
It seems to me that the alternator comes into play while running in order to recharge the operating drain on the battery.

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post #24 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 01:40 PM
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As suggested the best tool you could use is an amp clamp (put it around the batteries positive cable and see how much current is being drained out).

Once you can see the current coming out, start trying to stop it, disconnect the alternator, start pulling fuses etc. When it stops, you've found your problem. If you want I can help but I can't get up there until Thursday after work. (I can bring an amp clamp if you don't have one).

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post #25 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 01:41 PM
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Quote:
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Been there, done that. Battery is fine.

Would a bad alternator have anything to do with it if it dies while not running?
It seems to me that the alternator comes into play while running in order to recharge the operating drain on the battery.
the diodes in the alternator can go bad, and drain the battery
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post #26 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 01:42 PM Thread Starter
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A DC amp clamp will be even easier to use than a multi meter as you don't have to install it in the circuit.

throw the clamp on with all the fuses in and battery installed. in other words, normal condition.

record reading from amp clamp. now stat pulling fuses till reading drops of dramatically. you found your bad circuit.
That sounds easier. At the moment, I just pulled almost all the fuses.

If it dies in a few hours, I'll know it is none of those circuits and I can reinstall all of them.

If it doesn't die, I'll know it was one of those circuits, and I can start reinstalling them in small groups until I narrow it down.

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post #27 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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the diodes in the alternator can go bad, and drain the battery
Ahh, ok. That makes sense. I know that they can test the alternator at O'Reilly's

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post #28 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 01:44 PM
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also, touch the relays to see if they are hot. could have a stuck relay or something on on that circuit.
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post #29 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taledarkside View Post
also, touch the relays to see if they are hot. could have a stuck relay or something on on that circuit.
you should probably let him borrow your scope




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post #30 of 56 (permalink) Old 06-15-2010, 02:07 PM Thread Starter
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Is there a simple way to test the relays?

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