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Old 09-03-2017, 12:10 PM   #1
Hoosier Rick
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2003 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default 2003 L200 battery runs down

First post on this forum. I bought this car for my mother back in 2009.
She no longer drives, so I have the car back.
Unless it is driven daily, the battery will be dead in less than a week. Battery has been replaced 3 times, probably froze when dead in the winter. Have to keep a battery maintainer on it pretty much all the time.
The car has advanced audio w/6 disc changer/dvd , auto a/c, heated seats, rke, etc.
Has anyone had a similar problem, or am I going to have to check it circuit at a time?

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Old 09-03-2017, 12:33 PM   #2
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 2003 L200 battery runs down

Even with all the accessories running, the battery isn't the problem as much as your probably describing a failing or faulty alternator. As with all main power issues, several things make up the main power system; battery, battery cables, their connections to starter and two main grounds (chassis and engine block), belt drive system (serpentine belt and tensioner), and alternator (fusible link to power the alternator from the starter connection). A simple home test may help determine which way to proceed.

At home, using a multimeter to measure standby battery voltage and with engine running should show two voltages. Battery voltage should be around 12.5 volts. Presuming good batteries were bought but drained suggests either something in the car is left on and killing the battery (larger than normal parasitic losses) or the drive belt/alternator system isn't supplying the car with all the power needed while recharging the battery after every startup. The alternator supplies all the electrical power a car needs while recharging the battery. The main reason for a battery is to power the starter otherwise a car doesn't need a battery one the engine's running. You may have read or heard of people disconnecting their battery while the engine's running without the engine dying. This is true but not suggested for testing because the battery serves as a voltage spike suppressor instead of the electrical and electronic systems suddenly seeing a spike that can damage things. Voltage spikes rarely occur but taking risks to prove a car will run without a battery may end in a worse case scenario with damaged electrical/electronic systems. An expensive test only the owner will pay for experimenting.

The alternator outputs between 13.3v-15v, averaging around 14.5v. Good alternators always output voltages higher than battery voltage; any voltage higher than battery voltage means the battery is being recharged, slower at lower alternator voltages, higher at higher alternator voltages. Seeing the same battery voltage (12.5 or less) with the engine running means either the drive belt is loose/missing, the fusible link wire supplying power to the alternator from the starter terminal connection to battery positive burned out or the alternator is failing/faulty. At home testing can be done and to check the status of the drive belt system. Store tests can check for a faulty battery and alternator. Your choice.

Parasitic drain from a light left on or other electrical/electronic devises like a cell phone charger or other accessory plugged in to power outlets need to be checked/eliminated. Current wise, parasitic current greater than 0.5 amp (500 milliamp) will drain the battery in a few days. Normal parasitic current of less than 0.03 (30 milliamp) are for powering memory (ecm, bcm, radio presets, OnStar, etc..

Even Tesla kills their batteries when a car is left unused (youtube video reports from some owners). A trickle charger is great for leaving a car unused for a week or longer and in winter freezing temps. It shouldn't have to be used for your problem if something is killing the battery or isn't being recharged while driving from a faulty alternator.

Last edited by fdryer; 09-03-2017 at 12:43 PM..

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Old 09-03-2017, 01:52 PM   #3
Hoosier Rick
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2003 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default Re: 2003 L200 battery runs down

Thanks for the reply.
I have not just replaced batteries, they tested bad before they were replaced.
Charging system checks out.
There is an excessive drain on the system. Battery will run down in a few days.
I was just looking for a common failure to save me some diagnostic time.

...
2003 L200
2002 S10
2001 Alero
2000 Jimmy
1967 C10

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Old 09-03-2017, 03:57 PM   #4
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2004 L-Series 2.2L Wagon
2004 L-Series 3.0L Wagon
Default Re: 2003 L200 battery runs down

Sounds like a large power draw somewhere. Here's how to isolate the area to look at more closely. You will need a multimeter for this test.

Disconnect the battery positive battery cable from the battery. Touch the black meter probe to the + battery cable. Red meter probe to the + battery terminal.

Start by placing your meter on 10 amps. You should not get any reading however with this setting. If nothing shows, put the meter on the next level down. What you are looking for here is current draw not amps however.

If nothing shows on the meter, keep reducing the setting on the meter until you do.

Most cars will draw apprx. 200 milliamps to keep the computers, radio presets etc active.

During this test, you will eventually get a reading. If that reading is much higher than 200 milliamps, start removing fuses one at a time until you find that curcuit. During all of these tests, the meter must remain hooked up as indicated above.

Once you know the fuse removed that caused the meter to read nothing, That is the curcuit to look at very closely. Might be something simple like a dome light, trunk light. cigarette lighter etc.

...
2004 L-Series Wagon 2.2
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Old 09-03-2017, 04:21 PM   #5
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2004 L-Series 3.0L Wagon
Default Re: 2003 L200 battery runs down

To clarify a point. Make sure the dome light/trunk light bulb, Cigarette lighter etc has been removed and that there is nothing else on that could draw power during these tests.

...
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Old 09-03-2017, 07:39 PM   #6
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2002 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
2002 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default Re: 2003 L200 battery runs down

Sounds like a light staying on or an open diode in the alternator. Definitely do the draw test to identify if you have over 250 milliamp draw. You can check for a defective mercury trunk light switch by folding down the back seat. These seem to be a problem on these cars. There is also a glove box light that is difficult to see with the glovebox closed. You may have to pull fuses to find the draw, I do this at work quite often.

...
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Old 11-25-2017, 11:36 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2003 L200 battery runs down

Update:
Car got to the point where it would not start after setting overnight. Battery tested bad. Battery was replaced under the free replacement period. I have been driving it daily, so it hasn't sat for mor than a couple of days, but has not failed since. Will be switching to my Jimmy soon for my winter driver, so we will see how it does with a longer sit time. Will have a battery maintener (either solar or electric) on it when the time comes.

...
2003 L200
2002 S10
2001 Alero
2000 Jimmy
1967 C10

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Old 11-26-2017, 04:09 AM   #8
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 2003 L200 battery runs down

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoosier Rick View Post
Update:
Car got to the point where it would not start after setting overnight. Battery tested bad. Battery was replaced under the free replacement period...... Will be switching to my Jimmy soon for my winter driver, so we will see how it does with a longer sit time. Will have a battery maintener (either solar or electric) on it when the time comes.
If you don't intend to use the car, a new battery will drain as easily as your last one. Either disconnect the battery and bring it indoors and immediately use a battery maintainer or leave it in the car and use the maintainer connected to it. All trickle chargers output less than 2 amps to never over charge but keep a battery fully charged indefinitely. If this car sits unused, its wiser to use a a battery maintainer, trickle charger or whatever its called as long as its a low current charger. Not using one simply guarantees a connected battery in a car will drain after several weeks of sitting.

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Old 11-26-2017, 09:04 PM   #9
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Default Re: 2003 L200 battery runs down

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
If you don't intend to use the car, a new battery will drain as easily as your last one.
I will definitely say so. The battery will slowly drain soon if a car isn't being run often.

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Old 12-03-2017, 09:28 AM   #10
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2000 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
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Default Re: 2003 L200 battery runs down

I have had this problem a couple of times with different cars. First, the alternator must put out more than 13.5 volts with the engine running to keep the battery up to full charge. If the battery drops below a certain voltage, this can cause some of the car's systems to malfunction so they continue to draw after they should have shut down. For instance, a memory power seat may not be able to move to its desired position, so keeps on trying. Stuck wipers have an overload to prevent this, but the seat doesn't. Some computer functions are like this.
- Check battery connections and grounds, including at the alternator and fuse box in the engine compartment.
- as mentioned above, remove the glove box light bulb.
- at this age, there may be a wire insulation break causing a "leak".
A slow drain will kill a new battery fairly quickly. Repeated deep drains will do this.

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