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Old 12-28-2012, 07:46 AM   #1
BHW OP
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Auto battery questions

5-6 year old battery in my truck was dying. I don't drive it often, and after sitting for a week, the battery would often be too low to crank. I'd put it on the trickle charger and it would be OK for a day or two, and then I'd let it sit again. So, I replaced the battery. Brought home new battery, installed it and truck wouldn't crank, low battery, turns over slowly a couple of times then nothing. Put new battery on charger overnight, next day it cranks fine. Two days later I drove the truck about 8 miles. Cut it off. When I went to restart it, low battery again. I'm now thinking alternator? SO I get it jumped, and drive it home, worried that there won't be enough juice to run the ignition, fuel injection, etc if the alternator is really out. But I make it home. Cut it off and restart it, fires up no problem.....wtf? I had recently replaced the (+) terminal....the old one was worn and wouldn't tighten up. I noticed the (-) cable lead was the same way, worn enough that I couldn't tighten it down snug...so I replaced it last night. Multi-meter is showing 14.4 across the battery with engine idling. Battery was showing 12.69 last night and 12.45 this AM.

So, did I get a bad new battery? Was it the loose leads? Is there a parasitic drain....dropped .25 overnight?
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:38 AM   #2
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Take the vehicle to autozone and have them run the diag on it. Its free. It will tell you right away whether its a bad battery or alt.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:52 AM   #3
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+1 on getting the alt tested at an auto parts store.

Your symptoms might be caused by a loose/flaky electrical connection somewhere. Like a loose ground or something.
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Old 12-28-2012, 10:13 AM   #4
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YM&M of the truck? Maybe you have a stuck accessory relay that's keeping a communications subsystem running when it shouldn't be.
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Old 12-28-2012, 11:39 AM   #5
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Yeah, I think you might have something causing a parasitic draw. Autozone test won't show you that, I don't think. If you have an multimeter that can do amps, you can put it in series with the battery and check the draw while the engine is off. If it seems high, let it sit for a few minutes, sometimes there are computer systems that run for a little while. Draw should be under 0.05A. If you don't, try disconnecting the negative terminal, charging the battery, then (after taking it off the charger) letting it sit for a few days. It should start up and run when you hook up the battery, since the car will be unable to drain it while disconnected. Also at some point after charging, after it sits for 6 hours or more, but before you start it up, check the voltage on the battery. A new battery will read 12.8~12.9V after sitting over 6 hours (the time lets the surface charge dissipate). As the battery ages, this resting voltage will get lower and lower (ie. a well worn battery might read 12.3V). This isn't a definitive gauge of battery health as other modes of failure can show good voltage without load, but low voltage under load, but it can be a quick-and-dirty metric to keep an eye on battery health.

If it does turn out that you have a parasitic draw, pull fuses while you watch the meter. When the current draw drops to something normal, you've narrowed down your defective circuit.
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Old 12-28-2012, 06:13 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by troidus View Post
YM&M of the truck? Maybe you have a stuck accessory relay that's keeping a communications subsystem running when it shouldn't be.

2000 Toyota Tundra.

I've checked the battery 3 times since last night. Immediately after letting it idle for several minutes the battery was at 12.69. I've checked it a few times today and it is staying at 12.4. I just checked it, and it's been sitting now for about 24 hours.


The Tundra does not power the AC outlets (cig lighter) with the ignition off. I'm going to check the battery every day for a week or so and see if it drops. I'm till puzzled how a new battery wasn't charged from the store? Unless my terminal clamps were so worn that it wouldn't flow the juice.
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Old 12-30-2012, 10:08 PM   #7
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Battery was down to 11.5v today.
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Old 12-31-2012, 12:08 AM   #8
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How to Test a Car Alternator
There are two ways to test the voltage coming from the alternator.
If you don’t have good access to your alternator, then you can simple test the alternator by touching the positive multi-meter probe to the positive terminal on your battery and likewise the negative probe to the negative terminal on your battery.
You should now be getting a reading on your multi-meter display.
If the alternator is working well, your multi-meter should read somewhere in the vicinity of 14 volts (typically 13.8-14.2).
If it is reading excessively higher than 14 volts (greater than 15 volts) it is possible that the voltage regulator on your alternator is faulty or going bad.
If it is reading lower than 13-14 volts, there are a number of possibilities as to the reason.
First, it is possible that your engine idle speed is too low for the alternator to put out sufficient voltage/power. Try revving up the engine to 2000 RPM or higher and take a reading. If the voltage is still too low, check to be sure all the connectors on your alternator are tight and that the alternator belt is not slipping and is spinning on the pulley correctly. If it is still not putting out sufficient power, then the alternator’s voltage regulator could be bad or the alternator itself may need replaced.
A car alternator needs to be putting out at least 13-14 volts (ideally between 13.8 and 14.2 volts) to effectively charge a 12 volt car battery.
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:11 AM   #9
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Multimeter shows 14.4v with the engine idling...so the alternator is working...at least it was when I tested!

My concern now is whether or not I got a bad battery, or have a parasitic drain.
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:53 AM   #10
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Battery down to 10.5 this AM.....won't crank over. Taking the battery to have it tested...and if it passes will start pulling fuses to look or parasitic drain.
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Old 12-31-2012, 08:54 AM   #11
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measure with an amp meter. set meter to DC amps and a high scale, put the + meter lead in the "amps" socket. remove one battery lead and use the meter leads as a "jumper" to re-make the circuit.

it's good form to observe polarity but the moderns digitals really won't care, the reading will be the same except for the sign. if you have an analog meter... different story, reverse polarity might cause damage
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:03 AM   #12
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Any ADDED electrical accessories on the rig? ANYTHING?
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:30 AM   #13
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I just went thru this exact scenario with my 97 Suburban. I thought for sure I had a bum new battery as I had checked for a parasitic draw and had a .03 reading on my amp meter which to me didn't seem like enough to kill a new battery. After about 3 months and starting to worry that I was doing harm to the battery or wasting my warranty I hopped in the vehicle one evening to look for the receipt and noticed that the light in one of the mirrors in a flip down sun visor was staying on. I flipped it up and down a few times and it would go off like it should but after a minute or so would come back on so I snipped the wire and no more problems.I haven't redone my check for a draw yet but You would think the clock , memory , and the cars computer would have to have some parasitic draw.
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Old 12-31-2012, 09:49 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BHW View Post
Battery down to 10.5 this AM.....won't crank over. Taking the battery to have it tested...and if it passes will start pulling fuses to look or parasitic drain.
You can't do a proper test on the battery unless it is fully charged.
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Old 12-31-2012, 10:02 AM   #15
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After sitting overnight put your hand on the alt. if its warm then have it rebuilt
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