Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 10-15-2011, 04:41 PM   #1
Patriotic
 
Chuck's Avatar

 
1973 23' Safari
North of Boston , Massachusetts
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 4,533
Images: 260
Phantom load in tow vehicle

Something is draining my battery within 48hrs, if the vehicle isn't driven. The truck gets used for something on most days...its not used for commuting to work. The wife uses it as her daily driver, but every now and then, a day passes where it doesn't get driven, and the next day, its dead.

I haven't been able to isolate the problem. I thought it might have been some accessories that I installed...snow plow lights, plow power supply...those have been disconnected. My mechanic said that he's seen brake controllers do this, so I disconnected that. still a problem. Anything else is connected to "keyed" circuits.

So, how does one isolate the device that is drawing power?
__________________

__________________
Air:291
Wbcci: 3752
'73 Safari 23'
'00 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4 QC
Chuck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2011, 07:48 AM   #2
1 Rivet Member
 
Et Cetera's Avatar
 
Currently Looking...
Lynn , North Carolina
Join Date: Aug 2011
Posts: 5
This is an Ez draw check: remove the negative battery cable, hook up a 12 volt test light (inexpensive & available at auto parts store) between the negative cable and battery post. It the bulb lights, you have a draw on the battery.
Unplug suspected items (things that are powered with key off) until light goes off.
You have then found your draw. Repair/replace as needed.
If the light doesn't come on when you hook it up, check for loose belts, bad battery, etc.
Et Cetera
__________________

__________________
Et Cetera is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2011, 07:52 AM   #3
Rivet Master
 
Currently Looking...
Nowhere , Somewhere
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 6,421
Blog Entries: 2
Might just be a bad battery. jim
__________________
avionstream is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2011, 08:27 AM   #4
Patriotic
 
Chuck's Avatar

 
1973 23' Safari
North of Boston , Massachusetts
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 4,533
Images: 260
yeah, but on a modern vehicle, there is always going to be a small load on it, isn't there? Its not supposed to be much, but its always there. (just the memory for the radio pre-sets..other very small draw never-completely-asleep computers, etc). So a test light on the battery isn't going to tell me much. what I need to know is, "what is drawing, that shouldn't be drawing?".

I should have mentioned that the battery is new. I had the wife take it back to the place of purchase (Sam's club) to *test* it, and bless their hearts, they just replaced it. great customer service, but it doesn't answer my question, ya know?
__________________
Air:291
Wbcci: 3752
'73 Safari 23'
'00 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4 QC
Chuck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2011, 08:33 AM   #5
Well Preserved

 
1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 20,189
Unplug the harness to the alternator, and re-test. The alternator may have an internal problem that makes it stay energized, and it will draw the battery down in a day or two. You can also feel the body of the alternator, it may be warm even if the truck hasn't been started that day.
__________________
Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup.
Terry
overlander63 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2011, 10:01 AM   #6
Patriotic
 
Chuck's Avatar

 
1973 23' Safari
North of Boston , Massachusetts
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 4,533
Images: 260
"re-test"...what is the test?
the test-light thing mentioned above? would that not light up under "normal" small draws from the radio, etc?
__________________
Air:291
Wbcci: 3752
'73 Safari 23'
'00 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4 QC
Chuck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2011, 10:06 AM   #7
Rivet Master
 
Road Ruler's Avatar
 
Currently Looking...
St. Catharines , South Western Ontario
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 2,364
Images: 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Et Cetera View Post
This is an Ez draw check: remove the negative battery cable, hook up a 12 volt test light (inexpensive & available at auto parts store) between the negative cable and battery post. It the bulb lights, you have a draw on the battery.
Unplug suspected items (things that are powered with key off) until light goes off.
You have then found your draw. Repair/replace as needed.
If the light doesn't come on when you hook it up, check for loose belts, bad battery, etc.
Et Cetera
ET has the right idea.

What you have is known as a parasite battery drain issue. I went through the same thing last year with our Infiniti. What is better than a test light is a Digital meter that measures milliamps.
If I remember correctly a 1 to 3 milliamp draw is normal but in my case I had a 50 milliamp draw which was bring my battery down in 48 hours. In my case it was a fault in the radio electronics bd which was allowing the radio to stay on all the time without indicating that on the interface. This was fixed by reworking the bd.
There are a multitude of things that can cause this type of drain. Would suggest you jump on the net and do a search. Chances are your problem has happened to someone else and it has been talked about on the net.

Once you have the meter in place check the reading. Then start to pull fuses (one at a time) to see where the draw is coming from.


Good luck. Not fun but a challenge.


*Note the dealer wanted $2,000 to replace radio. Me and a pal fixed it for $0. and a half days work. We are both retirees from the major computer company so have the skills to diagnose and repair.
__________________
Airstreams..... The best towing trailers on the planet!
Road Ruler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2011, 10:25 AM   #8
Rivet Master
 
richinny's Avatar
 
2011 34' Classic
Westchester Cty.NY , / Miami FL
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 3,122
check the oblivious first ;-)

is the refrigerator light staying on? oops, it isn't a trailer. check for glove box lights, underhood lights, trunk lights, etc. the mercury switches can fail.

like in a trailer, if you get that high draw or test light goes on, start pulling fuses until it goes out/down to find out what circuit it is on. i'd do the radio last to avoid reprogramming if you don't have to. some radios require a security code to reactivate them.
__________________
Ricky
2012 F150 Super Crew 5-1/2' bed Ecoboost 4x4 3.73 elec. lock diff. Propride hitch
give life. kidney & pancreas transplant 9/9/06
Ingrid-my unofficial '"World's Oldest Streamer" 1909-2008 R.I.P.
richinny is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2011, 10:57 AM   #9
Patriotic
 
Chuck's Avatar

 
1973 23' Safari
North of Boston , Massachusetts
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 4,533
Images: 260
Ok...no problem shutting down the radio, if thats the most likely candidate.
The thing is, I don't know how to test the current draw with my multi-meter. I know how to test for voltage and continuity; how do you set the meter to test for current?
__________________
Air:291
Wbcci: 3752
'73 Safari 23'
'00 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4 QC
Chuck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2011, 11:14 AM   #10
Rivet Master
 
Road Ruler's Avatar
 
Currently Looking...
St. Catharines , South Western Ontario
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 2,364
Images: 39
You need a digital meter that has a MA setting.

Put the meter between the - battery post and the disconnected - battery cable (ground). Note the reading. Then start pulling fuses. If you think it is the radio start with that fuse first. This is all done with the vehicle turned off.

As rich noted check the obvious 1st.
__________________
Airstreams..... The best towing trailers on the planet!
Road Ruler is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2011, 11:54 AM   #11
Don't forget your cat nap
 
Ag&Au's Avatar
 
Port Orchard , Washington
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 4,464
Images: 1
Quote:
Originally Posted by zigzagguzzi View Post
Might just be a bad battery. jim
This idea didn't seem to get carried forward. I think it is quite possibly the problem. Every old bad battery I can remember replacing had this exact symptom. They wouldn't hold enough of a charge to start the car for more than about 24 hours. This is the time of year that this becomes more obvious as nights and mornings get colder.

Ken
__________________
Ag&Au is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2011, 04:41 PM   #12
Patriotic
 
Chuck's Avatar

 
1973 23' Safari
North of Boston , Massachusetts
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 4,533
Images: 260
Here's what I came up with:
disconnected negative cable, and set the multi-meter to "A DC 20Ma".
reading was about 4.5. Started pulling fuses, and re-checking the reading. There is a power distribution center under the hood, right next to the battery, which contains all of the "big" fuses and relays, and even a few smaller ones. The alternator connects in here, as well, on a 140amp fuse.
(disconnecting that didn't show anything, and the alternator itself wasn't warm, fwiw). The only thing that showed a drop was the fuse marked "50 amp-battery". I figure that must cutoff everything, although, the reading didn't go to "0", it did drop down to around 1-ish. There was about a 1.25 drop when removing one of the fuses marked "comp control".

So then I started checking the fuses in the panel thats inside the cab. First thing I noticed is that with the driver's door open, I can't get any reading on the meter. (?). must have something to do with the dome light circuit. So I checked again with the door closed, and the reading comes back...but now its at 3.5. (??).
So I continued checking each of those circuits, with the door closed. It continued to hover at about 3.5, until I pulled one fuse marked "I.O.D.".
(what the heck is a "I.O.D"??). Anyway, the reading dropped down to 1.5. test light wouldn't illuminate at this level, either.

{aside: I noticed that this particular fuse has this plastic housing around it...don't know what it is, or what its for, but it prevents the fuse from being easily pulled out of the fuse block. I notice that the airbag fuses have these housings around them, as well. }

So anyway, I start suspecting the overhead console/dome light. This truck has a dome light in the center of the ceiling, like most vehicles, but it also has this console at the front, just behind the rear-view mirror, with a compartment that houses a garage door opener, a couple of push-on courtesy lights, and a pocket for your sunglasses. Neither of the lights is working at the moment. I figure that one has a burned out bulb. The other, I removed, because the switch broke, and the light was stuck in the "on" position. That happened months ago...not sure when it was. maybe some time last winter?
Anyway, the way the lights function is that you push up on the lens. there is no external switch; inside the housing is a push-on switch that goes "click-click" when you push up on it, and the light comes on.
So one day the wife reports to me that one of those lights is stuck "on". I went to investigate, and when pushing on the lense, it just flaps around loosely. no more "click-click"...and the bulb was on. So I took out the bulb to keep from killing the battery, figuring that if there's no bulb, there won't be any current flow. Never replaced the switch mechanism, but it was clear that this is a non-standard thing that isn't going to be found off-the-shelf at napa or autozone. It looks like the clicker-mechanism is built into the console housing; obviously not ever meant to be replaced.
This time, I pulled the whole console off the ceiling, and unplugged it from the cable that supplies power to the whole fixture. I'll re-check the current flow during half-time. (Pat's are on.)
__________________
Air:291
Wbcci: 3752
'73 Safari 23'
'00 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4 QC
Chuck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2011, 05:21 PM   #13
Patriotic
 
Chuck's Avatar

 
1973 23' Safari
North of Boston , Massachusetts
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 4,533
Images: 260
oh, well. just re-checked, with the entire console un-plugged. draw is the same. 3.2 or so...with the fuse pulled, its down to 1.
__________________
Air:291
Wbcci: 3752
'73 Safari 23'
'00 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4 QC
Chuck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-16-2011, 05:40 PM   #14
Well Preserved

 
1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 20,189
Rtfm

The I.O.D. fuse is the Ignition-Off Draw fuse. It is supposed to include a snap-in retainer that allows the fuse to be disconnected without removing it from the fuse block.
Check the electronic shift transfer case to make sure it isn't drawing power, like it's trying to shift range when you're not running the truck.

So sayeth the Owner's Manual.
__________________

__________________
Meddle not in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy, and taste good with ketchup.
Terry
overlander63 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Van Conversion/Small Motorhome as tow vehicle? TG2500 Tow Vehicles 0 10-16-2011 07:07 PM
Tow Vehicle for 27' Overlander pyrenees Tow Vehicles 9 05-06-2011 09:18 PM
The ultimate tow vehicle! I found it! brad1 Tow Vehicles 8 03-21-2011 08:47 PM


Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:02 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.