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Old 08-31-2009, 07:27 AM   #1
J.Leonard
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Default problem with battery?

OK, so Im having a wierd problem with my newly purchased 2003 baja. Basically for the past week or so after parking my car (truck?) for the night and I try to start it, the battery is dead, or at least acts like it. I jump it with my jump start box and it starts up fine as long as I dont leave it sitting for long, but let it sit for a few hours and its done again. My jump starter has an alternator tester and it it tested out fine, so im not sure what the problem is, as far as I have been able to tell from my internet searches its some sort of short. Anyone have any experience with this sort of thing?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 08-31-2009, 08:12 AM   #2
kev m
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Well, you said it, the problem is with the Battery (or the connections).

Remove the battery, charge it fully and then take it to a dealer or auto parts store for a carbon-pile load test. I suspect the battery is just plain toast and not holding a charge.

While you're at it though, follow the cables down to the motor, remove the cables and clean up the connections real good, then reconnect the cables.

Lastly, and I doubt this is an issue, but it doesn't hurt to check, put an ohhmeter across both ends of the cables, then lightly pull back and forth on the cables, looking for changes in resistance. If there are internal breaks in the cable you may see resistance spikes which can lead to a borderline battery not having enough juice to operate the starter. But honestly, the vehicle is just a little young for that (unless things have been futzed with too much, then all bets are off).

Oh yeah - as for shorts - shorts themselves shouldn't drain a battery so much as they should pop fuses. A short means that because of a problem (usually wiring with broken insulation) the power from the battery can bypass the load of a circuit and find a quicker/easier way back to the negative side of the battery (completing the circuit in a SHORTer path). The problem with a short is that in bypassing the load (resistance) the battery can dump too much power (amperage) all at once, which overloads/heats up the effected portion of the circuit (normally blowing any fuse on said circuit). If the short was SOOOO short that it bypassed the fuses/circuit breakers you'd see sparks and the effected wires would probably melt/weld themselves to the chassis (it pretty much could only happen on the battery cables themselves as I think just about everything else is protected by some sort of fuse or breaker for that reason).
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Old 08-31-2009, 10:15 AM   #3
J.Leonard
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good information kev! I forgot to put it in the original post, but the battery is brand new. I will definitely be trying out your suggestions as soon as I can.
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Old 08-31-2009, 10:24 AM   #4
kev m
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Brand new huh? Well, that would make me more suspicious of a bad cable/connection.

Not that a brand new bat CAN'T come bad from the store or fail unexpectedly, but yeah, the chances arwen't high at all. Still it's troubleshooting 101 to confirm it is good before wasting too much time testing other variables.

Lastly, there can be a parasitic load on the battery that is pulling it down. Not sure what it would be. Can you hear anything cycling with the key set to OFF???

Last edited by kev m; 08-31-2009 at 10:36 AM.
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Old 08-31-2009, 10:37 AM   #5
J.Leonard
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nope not a thing.
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Old 08-31-2009, 10:44 AM   #6
kev m
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You can always use an ammeter to confirm whether or not there is a parasitic load.

But if there is no parasitic load, and the battery is good, and the alternator good , then it's gotta cables/connections...
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Old 08-31-2009, 10:58 AM   #7
moonzie
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More simply - it's your battery. Personally, I've seen this happen so many times I wouldn't even bother having it checked, especially if the battery is over 2 years old.
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Old 08-31-2009, 11:24 AM   #8
kev m
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moonzie View Post
More simply - it's your battery. Personally, I've seen this happen so many times I wouldn't even bother having it checked, especially if the battery is over 2 years old.
well, like I said from the start it's a good thing to check, but I try hard to remember to never jump to conclusions when troubleshooting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by J.Leonard View Post
good information kev! I forgot to put it in the original post, but the battery is brand new. I will definitely be trying out your suggestions as soon as I can.
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Old 09-02-2009, 07:06 AM   #9
J.Leonard
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OK, so as a quick update, me and a buddy of mine used a voltage meter to check out the various parts of the electrical system. wiring seemed good, alternater was right at 14V, battery seemed good. The only thing that was off was the ground wires seemed to be corroded, so we sanded the contacts a bit until they had a good connection, but no change; The battery still dies if left for a few hours. With the testing we did find that the battery does seem to have a drain on it. When the engine was turn off, the voltage on the battery dropped pretty swiftly, about the same as my friends jeep battery when he left his birghts on his headlights on. SO to be sure its not just a crappy battery I have disconnected the battery for tonight to see if it will drain itself out. If it does, its the battery, if it doesnt then there is probably a drain somewhere and I will go to town testing the fuse box for power to see if I can narrow down what is pulling the power.
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Old 09-02-2009, 11:14 AM   #10
kev m
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Smart man, sounds like you are doing everything right.

Keep us posted!
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Old 09-02-2009, 05:48 PM   #11
J.Leonard
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Thank you kev. Hopefully I can find the problem. Reconnected the battery today and it started right up with no problems. definitely not the battery. so now to check the electrical.
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Old 09-02-2009, 08:40 PM   #12
bprich
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Do you have an aftermarket stereo, amp, or lights...possible places for drainage.
Here's one I learned the hard way; the cargo lamp (switch to left of steering column) is NOT switched through ignition (always hot).
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Old 09-02-2009, 10:12 PM   #13
Hawk296
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if there is a large parasitic load, when you reconnect a battery cable you should notice a sizeable spark.

At this point you need to hook up an ammeter and measure current draw with the car off and key out of the ignition. It is normal to have some current draw as there are things like the clock, radio presets and ECU keep alive memory which use it.

However, if there is something with a lot of load, the ammeter will show it. while monitoring current draw, start unplugging fuses until the current draw is reduced. This will help you to isolate which circuit is giving you a problem.

some common items on a subaru- parking light switch on steering column, make sure its off ( you would have noticed this as the parking lights would be on).

-cargo light is always hot as well.

Problems ive found on subarus... Alarm system. If they malfunction they can really drain the battery.

aftermarket alarm/remote start, same as above.

aftermarket stereos/amps cd players etc etc.

Ive also had a main relay stick on me. This is the one that supplies power to all of the sensors etc. In my case i found it because i could hear a high frequency electrical noise from the IAC valve when the car was completely shut off. Turns out the main relay was stuck and still providing everything on the engine harness with power.

just a place to start. Good Luck! these kind of problems can be some of the hardest and most frustrating to diagnose.
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Old 09-03-2009, 10:36 AM   #14
kev m
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Good advice Hawk!
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Old 09-03-2009, 07:03 PM   #15
J.Leonard
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OK, so now I have absolutely no idea whats going on.

Went through the main fuse box with a voltage meter by pulling the fuses and checking the contacts to see what systems were getting power when the car was turned off. Just checked the little ones at first, but the interior lights/clock was still getting power as was the horn. I didnt do anything else with it that day. let it sit for a few hours before work and it started right up, that was a little wierd but sometimes it works when its not sitting for a really long time, so nothing outside of what I would expect yet. On the way to work my check engine light goes on ?!?! what? It's not blinking, so im not tooo worried about it. I go to work, do my thing there and when I get out to my car it starts up with no problem, usually it is unable to be started without a jump at this point, thats unusual and the check engine light is still on. I was planning to pull one of the fuses to help narrow down the problem when I got home, but instead I just parked it as normal to see what would happen. today I go out to the baja and again it starts up flawlessly, check engine light still on. I go out to advanced auto parts and have them check it for me and apparently the error is for my low fuel sensor. This is not entirely unexpected since the last time I had b Baja in the shop they said that the check engine light came on for that reason and they cleared it.

OK, so does anyone know why pulling the fuses might suddenly fix my problem with the drain on my battery as well as cause the problem with the low fuel sensor to register once again?
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Old 09-04-2009, 08:42 AM   #16
kev m
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It's a long shot but did you pull only fuses or relays too? Sometimes corrosion can built on a relay allowing it to short and actuate the circuit. Cleaning the contacts can prevent this and removing/installing the relay CAN knock off some corrosion.

That said, it's a longshot.

I don't think we have this one solved yet, but keep us posted.
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Old 09-05-2009, 04:09 PM   #17
J.Leonard
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Yea, thats kind of what Im thinking. The symptoms are gone, but not the cause. Im pretty sure I only touched fuses though Im not 100%, mostly becouse in all honesty I dont really know what a relay looks like, but the ones I pulled all looked very much like fuses. I know which ones I have checked and which ones I havent, Ijust havent looked in the manuel to see which ones they were.

The vehicle is also completely stock. I have done no modifications to it in any way. It does not have an alarm system and it still has the stock radio.

The best I can figure is that the problem was actually with the ECM. Even though the battery was so low that it did nothing to start the car, I think there was at least a little power left and I actually reset the ECM when I removed the battery; which could explain why the CEL came back on after it was cleared by the dealership.

Obviously its all speculation, but who knows.
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Old 09-06-2009, 12:19 PM   #18
BrunoShield
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Something to think about. My wife's 98 Sable had the same problem, but only on wet or snowy days. It turned out that the ABS unit has a connector on the top (stupid engineering) that would fill with water and turn on the ABS pump even with the power off! The only indication was a flickering ABS light on the dash.

Corrosion somewhere certain could cause your problem too. Copper Oxide becomes very conductive when it's wet. I've found a good shot of WD-40 and a toothbrush do wonders. Oh, the relays are black cubes about 1 1/4 inches square in the fuse box. Corrosion in the sockets could cause all sorts of odd behavior and rapid battery drain.
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Old 09-07-2009, 11:37 PM   #19
J.Leonard
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yea, so ne relays were touched. However strangely enough this weekend, the battery drain problem came back. I tried disconnecting the battery again to see if it would fix the problem again, but we will see.
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Old 09-08-2009, 08:42 AM   #20
kev m
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FYI relays usually look like little boxes with 4 or 5 terminals on them.

Good luck, keep at it.
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