HOW TO TEST BATTERY DRAIN - Ford Powerstroke Diesel Forum
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Old 07-12-2008, 03:00 AM
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HOW TO TEST BATTERY DRAIN

I need simple help. I have a 97 ps crew cab, no mods. 2, 850 cca batteries purchased about 6 mos ago. sometimes I don't drive my truck for a few roblem is after sitting for those few days the batteries have drained down to the point that my truck will start, but spins slowly. gauge shows charging after start. and will charge up and start easily after driving for while. does this each time it starts. both batteries show about 12.3v. HOW DO I TEST FOR ELECTRICAL DRAIN WHILE SITTING? I read something about disconnecting battery cables and checking dor a draw, but not sure. Thanks for all your help. TERRY.
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Old 07-12-2008, 03:54 AM
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I've wondered the same thing. I hope someone comes along with an answer. Shorts can be very difficult to isolate. I bought a new Camaro in '78 and immediately took it on a road trip. Had to remove battery cables every night or it would be dead in the AM. Turned out to be a short where the cable passed thru the firewall. Even the dealership couldn't find it the first 10 times I took it in.

Good luck!
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Old 07-13-2008, 06:58 AM
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Battery drain

There was a post on the fourm that gave a method. If not look for a generic solution on the web.

The problem you described, however, sounds a lot like a bad battery. They are easy to test. Take vehicle to A-zone, or shop with a battery tester and put a load on the battery. In a dual battery system disconect the batteries and test one at a time for better accuracy!

If you have a Harbor Freight Tools/Northern Tool near by you can get a simple battery and alternator tester for around $25.00.

Had a similar problem with one of ours and only one battery tested bad. Bettery than replacing both batteries.

Good Luck
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Old 07-13-2008, 07:07 AM
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Eagle is right about it may be a weak battery. However, I've always heard and found this posted on another site:

If one battery is bad the other is close behind. It is best to change both batteries at the same time as the old battery will draw down the new one and will shorten the life of the new battery. Best to get -if available- 1000CCA batteries
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Old 07-13-2008, 08:56 AM
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One quick way to test the battery is to have an assistant hold a voltage meter on the battery while you crank the engine over. The battery should not go lower than 10 volts.

To check for a drain: make sure that all lights are off and there is nothing that is supposed to be drawing power. Then disconnect the main ground cable, tap the cable on the negative post, if there is a small spark you have draw in the system.
Note that there may be a very small spark because of radio memory or ECM draw.
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Old 07-13-2008, 10:48 AM
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Battery Draw

Another way to test for a draw is to disconnect grounds on both battery's, use a test light between the battery post and the termanal on each one at a time. If the light glows, you have a draw. The brighter the light the greater the draw. No light, no draw. If the light does come on, find the fuse boxes and remove one fuse at a time till the light goes out. Then you have found the circut causing the draw. The ECM and the Radio will not cause the light to come on.

Just because the Battery's are new does not mean that they are still good, especially after being discharged to a point where they will not start the vehicle. Take them out and have them tested. Advance auto parts, Auto Zone, or most places that sell bettery's will do this for free.

Good Luck


Rick
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Old 07-13-2008, 02:33 PM
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down the drain

Hey Rick,

That is a great tip to isolate battery drain. Some volt meters have an audio signal that will help you find the drain in a one man operation. Just listen for the tone to go out.

We purchased combination battery tester and alternator tester (one cost $19.00 the other $50.00) The $19.00 dollar one will test up to a 100 amp draw and the $50.00 up to 500 amps. Once a month we test the batteries and alternator(s) on our ambulances as a matter of heading off problems before the begin.

Now we keep them plugged up on shore lines so the batteries stay hot over night. Sure enough we have found a bad battery or two and replaced them before we got to a no crank situation.

Believe me there is nothing worse than going to pick up a patient in a parking area that requires you to shut down (due to fumes getting back inside the building emergecny room) and not being able to crank over your ambulance.

If you think it is embarrasing asking for a jump from a stranger, try a rival ambulance company!
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Old 07-13-2008, 04:55 PM
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You need a DC ammeter,with a range of 0-10 amps or 0-20 amps in order to test for a leak. Virtually every newer truck has whats called "flea power"...a very low current range in the milliamp range.This is current drain that is normal.(clock,remote doorlock reciever ,cpu initial power circuit etc.What your looking for is current in the quarter amp or more range that should not BE there. Without having a 97 to play with ,I cant tell you the normal value.
The method to isolate ,is to connect the ammeter in series,after a point that the two batteries come together.Expect a small initial surge.Do NOT turn the key on while connected or you will blow a fuse in the meter. Once you establish an abnormal drain current...start removing fuses one at a time.

To test your batteries for health...pick up a battery hydrometer for two bucks at walmart...if the caps are removeable on you batteries.Its very effective.It will reveal everything except batteries with high resistance which occurs when batteries sit for months uncharged.
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