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Old 12-14-2017, 11:17 AM   #1
Melissa_M
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Default battery drain

My (interstate) battery is about 2 years old.
I just did the starter recently (october), and iirc I charged the battery at that time.
I use torque/OBD and have an innova scanner, and NEITHER one will show me the battery voltage. So I periodically have to check with a MM because I sometimes go a week or 2 without driving, and it's always short distance.

It's been a week or 2 since I drove the car, and just measured 7.6V with my MM. Had enough juice to be able to get the power door unlock/alarm with the fob. I do keep the OBD scanner unplugged. Occasionally my door doesn't get closed all the way, and that was not the case here. In those cases I think the battery usually measures 0V?(I have also turned the dome light off, I don't remember if that makes a difference with the door)

So why is my battery so low, but not dead?

I have had this nagging feeling for a while that I have battery issues, but it's kind of hard to monitor - because the OBD doesn't show me the value and I drive so infrequently.


Added bonus - my battery charger is squealing/buzzing, and just out of warranty.
It indicates I have it connected properly (attaching the neg is always tricky for me) but the light that shows it is actively charging hasn't come on. I think it takes a while when the battery is so low, but that noise is a bit worrysome.

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Old 12-14-2017, 11:44 AM   #2
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1998 SC2
Default Re: battery drain

That voltage would indicate the battery has actually up and failed. You will have to use a battery maintainer when the car is parked if you want to make these batteries last. Short trips do not ever recharge the battery, it just runs down slowly. That interstate battery is no good and should be replaced.

Couple of low cost maintainers that actually work. If you have Amazon Prime the 2nd link is probably the lowest cost.

http://www.batteriesasap.com/12un12v10bac.html

https://www.amazon.com/BLACK-DECKER-...ery+maintainer

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Old 12-14-2017, 11:55 AM   #3
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Default Re: battery drain

I suspect that you maybe have a parasitic draw somewhere and it isn't really a battery issue.

The most common one on the S Series is related to the power door lock switch that is used the most (typically drivers door). It's known as "chattering door lock" if you what to read up on it.

That said there's lots of other areas that could also cause a parasitic draw which slowly draws the battery down and they are not always easy to find. Typically you have to find the offending circuit on a fuse by fuse basis.

You may want to consider acquiring a battery maintainer to keep it at optimum charge seeing the infrequency you're driving. Some have quick connects that make it convenient to hook up without lifting the hood. The one I linked to above is one of many readily available.

Edit: I see OldNuc has provided similar advice in the time I've taken to write the above. It doesn't hurt to check the battery to confirm.

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Old 12-14-2017, 01:46 PM   #4
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Default Re: battery drain

An internal short in the battery is 10 times more likely than a parasitic draw. Either way the test is simple. Charge the battery and let it sit on the bench overnight and load test it in the morning with a load tester (voltage isn't a useful test).

To test parasitic draw you place an amp meter inline with the battery. You have to be a bit creative in doing in in that you don't want to deprive the car of power at any point in the set up or everything goes into "booting mode" and draws more power (radio does stuff computer, etc). So maintain a wire jumping to the battery while you set up and then remove the jump wire once you have the amp meter in place.

-Robert

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Old 12-14-2017, 02:19 PM   #5
Melissa_M
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Default Re: battery drain

I get that my present 7.6V is low, but why is the battery now needing replacement? Yes, I still need to resolve how it got like this - was it just my driving pattern, or a parasitic draw? I did remove/replace a bunch of fuses when doing the starter, so I guess I'll go wiggle those again.
With my OBD not showing voltage, I also haven't been able to monitor my alternator.

My battery charger is finally indicating that it is charging.
Looks like I can load test it after I get a tester. It needs to be disconnected from the car for that?

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Old 12-14-2017, 07:00 PM   #6
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Default Re: battery drain

No, you can load test in place but any terminal voltage with a no to minimal load of 7.6 volts indicates an internal battery failure, a dead cell or 2 usually. Completely discharged should show 11.2 volts NOT 7.6. A charger will eventually get enough charge that it will start but it will not ever hold a charge for long, dead again in 2-3 days.

Driving pattern is what kills them as it takes about 10 - 20 minutes of driving with all accessories, including lights, off to recharge the normal starter drain. Less than that is a slow decent to dead battery and maintaining a starting battery at less than a full charge rapidly destroys it.

My experience with Interstate low cost line of batteries was that I replaced them every 2 years if I want the car to start in the dead of northern Illinois winter. That was with adequate recharge time but no continuous maintainer.

This chart is for the type of battery you have in the car. SoC = State of Charge. The battery temperature does enter into this but anything below 11.7 V open circuit is a failed battery.
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Old 12-14-2017, 08:05 PM   #7
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Default Re: battery drain

I once had a problem with an Interstate battery drain as well...

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Old 12-14-2017, 08:13 PM   #8
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Default Re: battery drain

Melissa_M, what's the warranty period of your Interstate battery? With your multimeter, what's electrical system voltage after startup? What's voltage after your trip? You can measure at the power outlet.

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Old 12-14-2017, 11:01 PM   #9
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Default Re: battery drain

Battery is still under warranty.
Still charging it up, but how do you measure voltage at the power outlet?
How far should I drive for this test trip?

The SOC table helps clarify.
But of course I still have questions
So, if I left the door open, or headlights on (just an example), the battery would be 11.8V? Or if the alternator wasn't working, I'd eventually get 11.8V? I thought I had measured 0V once , when the door was ajar for a few days, but maybe I am wrong on that.

On another car, was able to start with ~10V (it was hard, and the battery was subsequently replaced.). How does it start with less than 11.8V (0%SOC)?

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Old 12-14-2017, 11:14 PM   #10
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Default Re: battery drain

As it happens the battery is technically at 0% charge at 11.7 V but if a load is still connected such as any light being on then the voltage will continue to decrease. Below that 0% SoC further discharge is destructive and will always shorten battery service life. Starting a car with initial battery voltage at 10v or so is highly destructive. Once the battery looks fully charged let it sit overnight and see what it reads in the AM. If it is below 12.6v to 12.8v then it is now a very weak battery. This is best accomplished if you also disconnect the negative cable so there is no load on the battery for the set time.

Using a maintainer prevents these types of problems. Batteries are expensive, maintainers are very low cost.

These batteries operate on a chemical reaction that happens and is reservable between a narrow range of terminal voltages -- or electrolyte specific gravity. Exceeding the normal narrow range results in a permanent degradation of the positive/negative plate material and is not reservable.

Last edited by OldNuc; 12-14-2017 at 11:21 PM..

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Old 12-15-2017, 12:55 AM   #11
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Default Re: battery drain

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melissa_M View Post
Battery is still under warranty.
Still charging it up, but how do you measure voltage at the power outlet?
How far should I drive for this test trip?

The SOC table helps clarify.
But of course I still have questions
So, if I left the door open, or headlights on (just an example), the battery would be 11.8V? Or if the alternator wasn't working, I'd eventually get 11.8V? I thought I had measured 0V once , when the door was ajar for a few days, but maybe I am wrong on that.

On another car, was able to start with ~10V (it was hard, and the battery was subsequently replaced.). How does it start with less than 11.8V (0%SOC)?
1-The center of every cigarette lighter/power outlet (negative grounded vehicles) is positive(+). Ground is the side housing. Simply sticking a red probe into the center of the outlet (always HOT directly from a fused connection) with negative probe touching any nearby bare metal chassis should display battery voltage. If you want to make it easier, cutting off an unused power plug can be made into a plug in voltage adapter with your multimeter. Just be warned - the center is 12v(+) and the side housing is ground. An instant electrical short will occur, briefly before the fuse blows, if the multimeter probe contacts the center and side at the same time. An alternative, if you aren't comfortable with this arrangement is measuring one of the fuses in the console (access is needed). Examine your fuses for metal pins on top - this allows measuring for voltage. Some fuses are switched so some careful measuring with ignition off should reveal hot fuses like the power outlet.

2-If you finalize setup to measure battery/alternator voltages, simply measure with ignition off, after starting up while idling and after engine shutdown. Any trip will do and give you and idea of battery and alternator voltages. With a good battery, either fully charged or not, battery voltage should be at least 12 volts, better if around 12.5v. This is stand by battery voltage before being used for starting. Measure voltage after starting as the starter draws a lot of current and is always being recharged - at high idle the alternator, provided the drive belt is tight and not slipping/squealing, should display anywhere between 13v to 14.9v as the voltage regulator automatically determines what voltage is needed to supply all electrical needs of the car while recharging the battery. Batteries recharge after driving 15-30 minutes with voltage never dropping below 12 volts. It doesn't matter how long or short your trips are. You're assessing the entire battery, alternator and drive belt system by measuring standby voltage, cold engine idling, after a trip before engine shutdown and after engine shutdown. Record voltages for a few trips to see a pattern.

3-Main power; battery/battery cables and their connections/drive belt system/alternator. All should be examined for anything unusual.

4-All good batteries never show less than 12 volts. If you measure battery voltages lower than 12 volts, either the probes are incorrectly used, not making good electrical contact or the battery is failing from either premature failure, a drain in the electrical system or the alternator/drive belt isn't providing power to recharge the battery. Measuring voltages between 13.5v-14.7v indicates the drive belt and alternator are allowing the battery to be recharged for the next start.
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Old 12-15-2017, 08:30 AM   #12
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Default Re: battery drain

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
1-The center of every cigarette lighter/power outlet (negative grounded vehicles) is positive(+). Ground is the side housing. Simply sticking a red probe into the center of the outlet (always HOT directly from a fused connection) with negative probe touching any nearby bare metal chassis should display battery voltage. If you want to make it easier, cutting off an unused power plug can be made into a plug in voltage adapter with your multimeter. Just be warned - the center is 12v(+) and the side housing is ground. An instant electrical short will occur, briefly before the fuse blows, if the multimeter probe contacts the center and side at the same time. An alternative, if you aren't comfortable with this arrangement is measuring one of the fuses in the console (access is needed). Examine your fuses for metal pins on top - this allows measuring for voltage. Some fuses are switched so some careful measuring with ignition off should reveal hot fuses like the power outlet.

2-If you finalize setup to measure battery/alternator voltages, simply measure with ignition off, after starting up while idling and after engine shutdown. Any trip will do and give you and idea of battery and alternator voltages. With a good battery, either fully charged or not, battery voltage should be at least 12 volts, better if around 12.5v. This is stand by battery voltage before being used for starting. Measure voltage after starting as the starter draws a lot of current and is always being recharged - at high idle the alternator, provided the drive belt is tight and not slipping/squealing, should display anywhere between 13v to 14.9v as the voltage regulator automatically determines what voltage is needed to supply all electrical needs of the car while recharging the battery. Batteries recharge after driving 15-30 minutes with voltage never dropping below 12 volts. It doesn't matter how long or short your trips are. You're assessing the entire battery, alternator and drive belt system by measuring standby voltage, cold engine idling, after a trip before engine shutdown and after engine shutdown. Record voltages for a few trips to see a pattern.

3-Main power; battery/battery cables and their connections/drive belt system/alternator. All should be examined for anything unusual.

4-All good batteries never show less than 12 volts. If you measure battery voltages lower than 12 volts, either the probes are incorrectly used, not making good electrical contact or the battery is failing from either premature failure, a drain in the electrical system or the alternator/drive belt isn't providing power to recharge the battery. Measuring voltages between 13.5v-14.7v indicates the drive belt and alternator are allowing the battery to be recharged for the next start.
Great info!
I don't quite get why I measure voltage after trip and shutdown. Voltage at idle tests alternator and voltage under load checks the belt, right? As I'm in a bit of a time crunch, I was considering just getting a warranty replacement after only checking my idle voltage.

I didn't quite finish charging last nite, but it was reading 13.xV. This morning it is 12.6V. This has been a usual pattern, which I assume was due to the MM measuring a surface charge , and is normal? Afaik the charger is 'smart' and does not overcharge.

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Old 12-15-2017, 08:59 AM   #13
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Default Re: battery drain

If the battery is still under warranty, why give yourself all this grief?

Just take it back to where you bought it from and tell them you are having issues with the still under warranty battery. They should check it and if found faulty will replace it as per the terms of your warranty.

Nothing is perfect in this world and batteries can and do go bad.

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Old 12-15-2017, 09:12 AM   #14
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Default Re: battery drain

Bottom line is you should get that battery replaced. Then you will either use a maintainer or drive for a longer time for each start or this will continue to be the story. The other option is a periodic 16-24 hours on the smart charger and install a combination starting-deep cycle battery. The modern car/truck/boat starting battery will not survive any sustained discharge events or being maintained in a less than full charged state.

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Old 12-15-2017, 09:24 AM   #15
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Default Re: battery drain

I am really just trying to understand , as much as I can. I do certainly appreciate the advice and patient help. I am incredibly grateful for this resource.
While I can see my driving pattern appears to be the issue here, seems like I should also check alternator function, which I will do shortly.
I will also get a maintainer - I had thought that periodic charging would work but apparently not. Is the Battery Tender Junior an acceptable option?

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Old 12-15-2017, 10:24 AM   #16
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Default Re: battery drain

Depending on what you mean by "Battery Tender Junior" then they work for exactly what you are experiencing. Having a free alternator check is a good idea as it could be a contributor to the problem.

These types of issues are primarily the result of the car usage pattern. It looks like you have one of those multiple short trip at low speed driving patterns which is about the worst usage pattern. This would be considered as harsh operating conditions in the owners manuals for recommending oil change and maintenance intervals. This is identical to NYC taxi cab service, it just does not seem that way to the normal user.

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Old 12-15-2017, 12:24 PM   #17
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Default Re: battery drain

I wasn't sure if the BT Junior was rated for cars, or just motorcycles. The manufacturer website didn't spell that out clearly enough for me. The next model up ( plus) appears to be needed for AGM battery, which I do not presently use.

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Old 12-15-2017, 01:30 PM   #18
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Default Re: battery drain

The Black and Decker maintainer I linked to above (from Amazon) is rated for all types of battery maintenance charging. The other link also works well but it is not designed to be permantly mounted under hood. Will maintain either 6v or 12v batteries which does imply motorcycle but they are still vehicles that use a 6V starting battery. The charger mounts in the car and permanently connects to the battery with a cord available to the outside of the car for easy connection. Several other people had battery issues similar to yours and this type of a maintainer has solved their problem without inducing any new issues.

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Old 12-15-2017, 01:49 PM   #19
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Default Re: battery drain

CTEK is another option. Here's the link to their product line >> https://smartercharger.com/

I run the Multi US 3300 model on my ATV through the winter months to keep the battery charged. I use the ATV for plowing and the winch can draw the battery down pretty fast. I attribute the longevity of my near 14 year old OEM battery to the use of this device and it's patented desulphation function. I have it set up with a quick connect.

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Old 12-15-2017, 01:59 PM   #20
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Default Re: battery drain

OP, how cold is your weather now? How short is your typical drive? How long is the car sitting without use?

Point is, frequent 5 mile trips are no problem for me, and letting the cars sit for several weeks (even a month +?) is no problem. No battery tender, of course. I only charge batteries if they have been sitting several months, and even then just to be sure they stay above 12V to avoid sulfation.

Use of a battery tender may help you, but may also be just a crutch to mask the real problem.

Temperature does affect your "battery experience", and I am in a mild environment, hence the question about your temps.

Personally, I prefer the Interstate batteries...

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