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Old 01-18-2009, 09:19 AM   #1
mjkiefer
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Default Battery drain

Have an 06 Saturn Ion battery drain problem............battery checks out fine, alternator checks out fine but somehow the battery is draining after the car sits for about 8 hours on really cold days. NOTHING is left on........I have NOT installed any aftermarket equipment in/on the vehicle. I don't know what could be draining the battery. Any ideas?

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Old 01-18-2009, 10:33 AM   #2
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Default Re: Battery drain

It's called a "parasitic load". Do a search on the topic and you'll see lots of potential causes and how to track it down using a digital volt meter (DVM).

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Old 01-18-2009, 10:37 AM   #3
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Default Re: Battery drain

Quote:
Originally Posted by mjkiefer View Post
Have an 06 Saturn Ion battery drain problem............battery checks out fine, alternator checks out fine but somehow the battery is draining after the car sits for about 8 hours on really cold days. NOTHING is left on........I have NOT installed any aftermarket equipment in/on the vehicle. I don't know what could be draining the battery. Any ideas?
First, check the trunk light. With the trunk slammed shut peek through a folded down rear seat.
If that's not the problem, get out your DC ammeter. Set it to at least 1 A. Pull each fuse in the fuse box and place the probes of the ammeter in series with the fuse terminals. Don't worry about polarity. You'll soon see which circuit is drawing the current. From there look for a short to ground somewhere in the circuit. If you can't do that, go to a shop that can, because that's exactly what they'll do at around $75-$100/hr.
Good luck and may the electrical force be with you.

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Old 01-18-2009, 10:44 AM   #4
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Default Re: Battery drain

Thanks for your replies! Just thought of this while in the shower (I do most of my "intelligent" pondering in there)................my driver's side window has not worked for quite some time. Is it possible that faulty wiring to the window could be draining my battery ever so slightly even when the ignition is off? It could be draining ever so slightly that it doesn't matter in warmer weather conditions, however, the problem is exacerbated in cooler temps. Just an intelligent thought from the shower. Thanks for any info.

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Old 01-18-2009, 10:49 AM   #5
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Default Re: Battery drain

That could do it - it doesn't take much.

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Old 01-18-2009, 11:02 AM   #6
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Default Re: Battery drain

Crazy thing..............just went out to see if the car would start. It did (temps didn't drop below 30 overnight so I figured it would. At any rate, the faulty window that hasn't worked for 4+ months now works! Go figure. I wonder if the shop I took it to yesterday inadvertently fixed it when they load tested the battery and the alternator? I'm taking it to the dealership Tues to have them check out the wiring on that window. There may be some kind of short. I bet that's my culprit right there. BTW: It's not the trunk light and I do not have a glove box light or hood light. The window is my only logical explanation.

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Old 01-18-2009, 12:39 PM   #7
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Default Re: Battery drain

2006. Are you still in warranty? 3 year 36,000 miles.

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Old 01-18-2009, 12:47 PM   #8
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Default Re: Battery drain

Quote:
Originally Posted by mjkiefer View Post
Just thought of this while in the shower (I do most of my "intelligent" pondering in there)................my driver's side window has not worked for quite some time. Is it possible that faulty wiring to the window could be draining my battery ever so slightly even when the ignition is off?
For those technicians out there, don't you just love those "oh by the way....".
As an electrician, while trying to troubleshoot someone's electrical problem, you ask them all the logical questions. Then after about an hour of getting nowhere, the customer gives you an "oh by the way". You then just shake your head when the "oh by the way" is the problem or it leads directly to the problem.
If you are getting service on anything, write down everything you can think of that affects the product or its operation. It will save you money!

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Old 01-18-2009, 02:01 PM   #9
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Default Re: Battery drain

I'd go with answering the warranty question first, asking Saturn service if there's an ignition switch problem (posted by many Ion owners when you have the chance to read Ion threads) second. If there's a weak/faulty battery, that would be next to check, in or out of Saturn warranty, then the battery cables.

The main question that may point in the right direction is; when turning the ignition key to START, is there absolute silence instead of hearing the starter turning the engine over? Dead silence suggests the ignition switch problems in freezing weather. Hearing the starter and engine turn over suggests something else......

The electric window theory won'y fly unless the window relay has a sticking set of electrical contacts continuously powering the window motor. You'll have to have the wiring diagrams to understand how this works otherwise the window circuits are disabled when the ignition is turned off. Remember, you cannot open or close the electric windows unless the ignition key is turned to the ACC(essory) position. The ignition switch is the MAIN power switch to almost every electrical circuit. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

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Old 01-18-2009, 02:43 PM   #10
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Default Re: Battery drain

FDRYER: When the car wouldn't start there was "absolute silence" (other than the normal interior beeps for door ajar w/keys in ignition). I did find it odd that it seemed as if the battery was totally dead b/c the engine wouldn't even try to turn over, click or anything. Forgive my ignorance, but if this is an ignition switch problem, two questions arise:

1. Why is it only happening in cold weather?

2. How is hooking up jumper cables suddenly making the ignition switch work?

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Old 01-18-2009, 03:18 PM   #11
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Default Re: Battery drain

Using the booster cables may indicate a battery or battery cable related problem so it requires testing the battery thoroughly and examining the battery cables for any signs of corrosion before looking into ignition switch related problems.

READ the past Ion threads about cold weather ignition switch related problems. The original ones are packed too much with grease and most likely preventing electrical contact for the START signal to enable the start circuit. Added to this problem is that Ions aren't directly wired from ignition switch to the starter but sends this START signal to the body control module (BCM) that in turn enables the starter solenoid that powers up the starter motor. The silence is the giveaway to the ignition switch grease related problem and not a sign of a dead battery. It can be but not according to your description. This new wrinkle in wiring is basically a way to use less current through the ignition switch for the starter solenoid and send a low voltage signal, instead, to the BCM that can now switch a smaller relay that sends the larger current needed to power the starter solenoid, a few amps. The starter itself will use anywhere from 50-150+ amps of battery juice but the starter solenoid uses a few amps. Ion start wiring changed and the ignition switch is a 'faux pas' or slight misjudgement of GM engineering. Either insist Saturn replace it under warranty or do it yourself. You may have to perform a Passlock (factory anti-theft) re-learn though and is relatively easy to do. Search the threads for the instructions.

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Old 01-18-2009, 04:35 PM   #12
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Default Re: Battery drain

I bought the Saturn from the dealership used last year. It has under 36,000 but is more than 3 years. Would it still be under warranty?

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Old 01-18-2009, 05:04 PM   #13
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Default Re: Battery drain

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I bought the Saturn from the dealership used last year. It has under 36,000 but is more than 3 years. Would it still be under warranty?
No. It's 3yrs/36k whichever comes first. Unless you purchased an extended warranty...

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Old 01-18-2009, 05:10 PM   #14
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Default Re: Battery drain

Not likely but it also depends on each Saturn dealership as to how they want to handle just-out-of-warranty issues. Some will go out of their way to resolve simple issues while others simply turn away unless you wave $$$ at them. You can have your battery/alternator system tested for free by almost any large auto chain store to at least have some idea of which way to go. Autozone, Advanced Auto, NAPA, Kragen, your local garage, etc..

Reading the first post again, if your battery, cables and alternator are fine then its most likely the ignition switch working intermittently. You can leave this as is, wish for the rest of the winter to be warm, schedule service with Saturn and take a chance if they will address this issue (for free or otherwise), or do it yourself. Its your call.

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