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Battery drain?

This is a discussion on Battery drain? within the Technical / Maintenance forums, part of the General Discussion category; Got a weird thing going on, I had a few things go on my truck and after replacing them but ...

  1. #1
    You're crazy man. matt trakker's Avatar
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    Battery drain?


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    Got a weird thing going on, I had a few things go on my truck and after replacing them but not driving it for a few days the batt. was dead.

    I swapped the battery with another and ended up having to change my alternator (stud on back of it broke when I was trying to clean my grounds and connections...)
    A few days after that my battery was dead again when I got my new alternator in.

    With the new alternator, it charges better than before, my lights don't dim occasionally and the volts used to drop randomly as well. It charges at about 14 volts then drops to maybe 13.7 when it warms up. When I shut the truck off, battery is at 12.75, but later on in the day if I don't use it, it's down to 12.39ish.

    Tonight, after not using the truck since sometime yesterday, I checked the voltage with my multi and it was at 11.9. Truck still started fine, didn't even crank slow.

    Could I just have a chitty multimeter? I don't get it, I thought you needed 12 volts to start the truck? I thought there was a way to use the DM to check for a drain, disconnecting a batt cable and then pulling fuses 'til you find the circuit?
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    Registered User Alexander's Avatar
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    Re: Battery drain?

    If the engine is warm, it won't need as much juice to crank and start (unlike winter when evrything is frozen solid). Sounds to me like a bit of parasitic drain. Check to ensure everything is turned off (Dome and other interior lights). The OBS don't have as many computers that could stay on as the nbs, so, it's probably something easy like that (hopefully)... You'll probably have to do the checks on the individual circuits though to ensure there is no large draws while the vehicle is off. Just be sure to wait atleast 20minutes after shutting down to ensure all the computers have gone to sleep, or you'll get false readings.
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    Re: Battery drain?

    Thats weird, same thing has been happening in my 05. Sometimes if I even drive around and then let the truck sit for 10 min or so then go to start it it will seem like I have a weak battery, if I leave it for a day or so it starts really slow aswell. I tested the battery and under load aswell and it passed with flying colors. Gonna try another battery just incase and see if it helps.
    Let me know what you find.

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    You're crazy man. matt trakker's Avatar
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    Re: Battery drain?

    Yeah, I'm confused too. I have yet to find any dome lights or anything sticking on...
    I'm going to get a new Optima batt. and see if that helps, but also, I have an amp mounted under my drivers seat that came with the truck, and that's tapped right into the battery, directly. I wonder if that's doing it.

    I'll probably have to get a new multimeter too...the must make one with an ammeter setting right? I heard you need to use that.

    Thanks
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    Probably on a rig. Colin B's Avatar
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    Re: Battery drain?

    I've been chasing the same problem in my truck for about 3 months. Your voltage dropping down is pretty normal I think, I know my dads 95 burb will drop down to 11.7 if its been sitting for a while but it never goes below that.


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    Re: Battery drain?

    Quote Originally Posted by matt trakker
    Yeah, I'm confused too. I have yet to find any dome lights or anything sticking on...
    I'm going to get a new Optima batt. and see if that helps, but also, I have an amp mounted under my drivers seat that came with the truck, and that's tapped right into the battery, directly. I wonder if that's doing it.

    I'll probably have to get a new multimeter too...the must make one with an ammeter setting right? I heard you need to use that.

    Thanks
    Yeah, that *might* be it ... an amplifier is supposed to be hooked up directly to the battery (make sure there's an inline fuse on the amp's power wire that's fairly close (6"-1') to the battery), but there should also be a "Remote Turn-On" wire that runs from the back of your head unit (or other switchable power source), to the amplifier itself. If this is hooked up incorrectly, your amp may be staying on constantly, which definitely will drain the battery over time.

    Check for that and let us know!

    -John
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    Re: Battery drain?

    matt I just went and checked mine and it's been sitting for over a day and its at 11.73 now I have a new good multimeter and a new good battery. I think your numbers a perfectly fine in my opinion..plus if the amp was drawing all the time youd have a dead battery very fast
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    Re: Battery drain?

    I know on my 99 obs tahoe with the 5.7, my positive battery cable was too tight and created fractures around that terminal. whenever i hit a bump or floored it it separated, then would go back. when pulling the battery out the positive terminal actually broke off!! I replaced it with a bada$$ red top optima....did the same thing in 2 weeks!!! ERRR I wound up getting a top post conversion kit from autozone, a nut and bolt, and electrical tape......Ive been able to salvage that dry-cell with the conversion kit...Its been 11 months and no problems since. Just pisses me off that it came from the factory like that and there wasnt a re-call on it.....

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    Re: Battery drain?

    Quote Originally Posted by DraKhen99
    Yeah, that *might* be it ... an amplifier is supposed to be hooked up directly to the battery (make sure there's an inline fuse on the amp's power wire that's fairly close (6"-1') to the battery), but there should also be a "Remote Turn-On" wire that runs from the back of your head unit (or other switchable power source), to the amplifier itself. If this is hooked up incorrectly, your amp may be staying on constantly, which definitely will drain the battery over time.

    Check for that and let us know!

    -John
    I'll definitely look into this, quite frankly the prev. owner of this truck did a lot of dumb things. One time the amp kept cutting out, and I found out after some searching that it was grounded to a screw that holds the plastic cover for the 4wd floor shifter on, which wasn't really grounded and kept coming loose. I ended up grounding it to a bolt in the floor nearby under the carpet. There IS a fuse for the amp circuit near the batt but I'm going to look for the wires going from the HU to the amp and see whats up. Thanks for that!
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    Re: Battery drain?

    Quote Originally Posted by ruger4d4
    matt I just went and checked mine and it's been sitting for over a day and its at 11.73 now I have a new good multimeter and a new good battery. I think your numbers a perfectly fine in my opinion..plus if the amp was drawing all the time youd have a dead battery very fast

    Makes me feel a little better...

    Do these OBS usually have lower than average charging systems? Seems like I see a lot of posts about this stuff. My old Suburban charged a lot higher it seems.
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    Re: Battery drain?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeyTruck
    I know on my 99 obs tahoe with the 5.7, my positive battery cable was too tight and created fractures around that terminal. whenever i hit a bump or floored it it separated, then would go back. when pulling the battery out the positive terminal actually broke off!! I replaced it with a bada$$ red top optima....did the same thing in 2 weeks!!! ERRR I wound up getting a top post conversion kit from autozone, a nut and bolt, and electrical tape......Ive been able to salvage that dry-cell with the conversion kit...Its been 11 months and no problems since. Just pisses me off that it came from the factory like that and there wasnt a re-call on it.....

    Well, one of my reasons for wanting an Optima is so I can do the big 3 mod...hopefully this will help out, I never saw that happen before with the cracking terminal but I see the damn things stripped out all the time!

    I think my dad put those top post things on his 88.
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    Re: Battery drain?

    Quote Originally Posted by matt trakker
    I'll definitely look into this, quite frankly the prev. owner of this truck did a lot of dumb things. One time the amp kept cutting out, and I found out after some searching that it was grounded to a screw that holds the plastic cover for the 4wd floor shifter on, which wasn't really grounded and kept coming loose. I ended up grounding it to a bolt in the floor nearby under the carpet. There IS a fuse for the amp circuit near the batt but I'm going to look for the wires going from the HU to the amp and see whats up. Thanks for that!
    Yeah... so did the previous owner of mine...

    When I got my truck, it had about 125 lbs of dirt and mulch and stuff both on top of and beneath the bed liner, down the tiedown mounting channels in the rails, the tailgate was full of dirt, it doesn't have a tailgate handle cover, broken interior door pull on the passenger side, no driver's side armrest (the only thing I haven't fixed), not to mention the stereo. It was supposedly installed by Circuit City, and they ran the amp power wire to the side of the under-hood FUSE PANEL... not the brightest bulbs in the box, if you ask me. Not to mention the amp was underneath the passenger side of the bench, and there had been some water getting in there somehow (left a window open, perhaps?), so all the connections at the amp were corroded and rusted, and the whole bottom of the amp was rusted too! I'm still not sure if that caused any long-standing problems, but I got her running great with a little TLC - that's all these trucks need :) (well, that and regular maintenance, like any vehicle).

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    Re: Battery drain?

    Does anyone has a spec as to what "normal" parasitic draw should be?
    My 94 goes dead in about 2.5 weeks. I'm starting all my draw checks tomarrow am.

    Just got a new, to me, toy to help. Snapon Vantage Graphing meter and low amp probe.

    Alexander was saying 20 mins to allow the computers to go to sleep. is this on the OBD1 systems also? Or the newer stuff?

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    Re: Battery drain?

    How about checking the neg. batt. cable where it's grounded to the frame.


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    Re: Battery drain?

    Can a bad ground cause that?

    I think my neg cable actually goes to the engine block on my truck. BUT, my ground cable from the engine to the frame is broken, and the one from the body to the frame is pretty nasty too, it's all green. I added a new one from my exhaust manifold to the frame sort of haphazardly...I doubt this is doing any good.

    I've been driving my truck for a week and a half, hasn't failed me yet...I dunno. I'm still planning on a new battery at least, I've been hella busy so I haven't gotten to anything...

    Where does the frame to engine ground cable connect to ON the engine?
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    Re: Battery drain?

    Well, almost 2 months later and I still haven't totally solved this-

    Last week I didn't use my truck for about 2 or 3 days, went to start it and it was dead, wouldn't crank. Battery was at 11.7.
    I'd had enough, that Delco battery was from 1999 or so, and finally put a RedTop in there...it seems to actually charge a lot higher than it did before now, around 14 when it's cold.

    It hasn't died yet, but when I shut the truck off, the battery is always around 12.2v. With my old one it would be at 12.7 volts right at shut off. Is this because of the Optima being a dry cell? I have checked it in the morning before starting and it's at like, 12.02.

    I've had my amp disconnected from the battery for a week too...I don't know if that's making a difference. You can tell a difference in how it starts when you've been driving all day, it cranks fast, but the next morning, it sounds slower (not super slow though)...

    I've also got an old alarm system in the truck I don't use...I wonder if that could be doing it. I haven't figured out how to yank it out of my truck.
    Last edited by matt trakker; 11-24-2007 at 11:23 AM.
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    Re: Battery drain?

    Quote Originally Posted by matt trakker
    Well, almost 2 months later and I still haven't totally solved this-

    Last week I didn't use my truck for about 2 or 3 days, went to start it and it was dead, wouldn't crank. Battery was at 11.7.
    That makes it sound like you have a dead (or vey weak cell) in the old batt. A battery with a weak cell will still give relativly normal voltage readings, but it cant develop/deliver rated current. Thats because the one cell in the circuit isnt delivering its share of the current.
    Also, as batteries age they build up deposits on thier plates (from normal charge/discharge cycles). These deposits can allow the battery to self discharge - even it if werent hooked up to anything, the battery would still go dead. I believe, due to the Optima's design, plate deposits are uncommon (more prevalent in wet cell batteries)

    Quote Originally Posted by matt trakker
    I'd had enough, that Delco battery was from 1999 or so, and finally put a RedTop in there...it seems to actually charge a lot higher than it did before now, around 14 when it's cold.

    It hasn't died yet, but when I shut the truck off, the battery is always around 12.2v. With my old one it would be at 12.7 volts right at shut off. Is this because of the Optima being a dry cell? I have checked it in the morning before starting and it's at like, 12.02.
    the batt was from '99.... yeah, it was time to change it - Usually, five years is doing pretty good.! You were pushing your luck anyhow.

    In order for the vehicles electrical system to charge the battery (or for any battery to be charged), the voltage has to be higher than the battery. No voltage difference, no current flow.... and therefore no charge. So, when the vehicle is running you'll see about 14+ with the meter at the battery, however, once the truck is shut off, the battery will tend to return to its "normal" voltage which is closer to 12. Even with parasitic drains (less than .5amp) a good battery should hold up for months.

  18. #18
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    Re: Battery drain?

    Thanks, that's just the info I was looking for.

    I always figured it would revert back to the 12 or so volts, I was just afraid that it would drop down from whatever I shut the truck off at and keep going past 12...which is sort of what my old one was doing. I didn't realize the other battery was from 1999 until I took a closer look, I had a cheaper new one in there earlier this year but it seemed to keep dying as well...it was a Wal Mart battery.

    Being the obsessive compulsive person I am, I checked the volts again with the truck off after it was sitting today and it was at 12, still started right up. I hooked my amp back up again too.
    I'm just going to see what happens for now...hopefully that whole problem is fixed but I don't want to jinx myself.
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    Re: Battery drain?

    Deffinately replace all ground connections...and ad a few if you feel it's necessary.
    I just did all mine recently. I even noticed the elec windows go up and down quicker.
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    Re: Battery drain?

    make some new grounds and see if that helps at all too.. i took some 4 gauge and started going ground happy haha

    batt to frame
    alt. bracket to frame
    body to frame
    cleaned the original battery to block too

    the digital voltmeter in my headunit used to read 13.9 at idle now i'm at 14.4.. at startup with high idle, its not uncommon to see 14.6-14.7..

    stop by napa and ask for gm side terminal adapters if you like making things clean like i do.. haha they look like factory pieces
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