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Battery Discharged Overnight?


Gardd
06-26-2011, 01:58 PM
My Taurus (1999 SE Wagon / Duratec) was just fine & dandy yesterday while getting groceries & running errands.

I wanted to pop out to the store this afternoon and it wouldn't start - the battery is too low to crank the engine. I've taken the battery out and hooked it up to a charger. The battery is new(ish), bought last November.

What could have caused an overnight discharge like this? The car hasn't had any electrical problems whatsoever before, and I'm pretty sure nothing was left on overnight.

It's been really rainy for the past few days with a lot of sudden heavy downpours, and late yesterday through the evening the humidity was 100%. Like a steambath, very uncomfortable.

I might be barking up the wrong tree but could the moisture & humidity have caused a short or something?

danielsatur
06-26-2011, 03:01 PM
If the battery terminals were dirty or loose, the alternator couldn't charge the battery good.

shorod
06-26-2011, 04:02 PM
Do you have a multimeter and understand how the basic functions on it works? To offer much help, we're going to need to start with some voltage measurements with on the battery terminals with the engine off, on the battery cables with the engine off, and at each of these locations when the engine is running. If you're unable to get the engine started, then knowing what the battery voltage drops to when the starter is engaged at each of these locations will be important as well.

-Rod

Gardd
06-26-2011, 04:43 PM
Thanks, I don't have any experience with that kind of thing but I have a buddy who'll be willing to help with multimeter measurements. Probably tomorrow (if he's not out golfing :naughty: ) - and besides I think the battery won't be fully recharged until late this evening.

Thinking back over the past while - I had the transmission cooler lines replaced last week and when I took the battery out today I noticed that the mechanic had installed a new connector on the negative battery line, and he put a lot of protector gunk on the cleaned terminals. Red on positive, blue on negative.

I didn't ask for a new connector when the transmission lines were replaced so I guess the mechanic noticed I needed a new one and threw it in as a freebie. I wonder if this has something to do with today's surprise. But the new connector isn't loose or anything; he did a good job with it and it's solid.

Anyway I'll post again as soon as I can get multimeter measurements.

Thanks again!

Gardd
06-27-2011, 08:46 AM
Well, my friend's going waaay out of town on a golf trip today so I'll try to get a digital multimeter at lunchtime and I'll test the battery as soon as I get home late this afternoon. Probably high time for me to get a multimeter and learn how to use it anyway.

Gardd
06-27-2011, 04:58 PM
Multimeter's a nifty little thing. I'm glad I bought it. I'll probably be testing everything with reach for a while and driving everyone around me nuts. :wink:

Battery terminal test results after recharging (I forgot to test the cables - will do so later if you think it's necessary):
- Not installed in car: 13.34 volts
- Installed in car, car not running: 13.20 volts
- Installed + car running: 14.42 volts
- Installed + car not running: 13.17 volts

Is the dip to 13.20 volts after being connected normal?

Glad to see it's receiving a charge from the alternator while running. Is 14.42 volts about right?

I'll check the battery voltage again after supper.

One thing I noticed - when I bought my battery charger last November or December and charged the previous / old battery it took about 10 hours to charge and reached 100%, and the charger said "full" then shut off automatically.

This battery charged for about 20 hours, and stuck at 90%. The charger never said "full", never shut off.

So... battery might be shot?

Your thoughts would be appreciated!

shorod
06-27-2011, 09:00 PM
None of those readings would raise a flag with me. They all seem pretty good. But, yes, letting it sit in the car for awhile will be a good test. Also, if your multimeter has a "Min" setting, use that, have it connected across the battery, and start the engine. The "Min" reading should tell you how low the battery voltage dropped when the starter was turning over the engine. If your meter does not have a Min feature, then have someone else start the engine while you watch the meter to see how low the voltage drops. If it drops below 10.5 Vdc, your battery is suspect.

-Rod

Gardd
06-28-2011, 04:18 AM
13.08 this morning after sitting overnight.

Thanks much for the tip re: the min setting and 10.5 volts while starting the engine. I don't know if this meter has such a setting but I'll take a look. If not I'll have someone start the car while I watch the readout.

I don't like that anticorrosive gel that the mechanic put all over the terminal posts & cable clamps. There's lots of it and I had to scrape a bit off the terminal tops in order to be able to get a reading with the meter probes. I wonder if this gunk has something to do with the battery only reaching 90% on the charger.

I'll watch the battery levels this week and on the weekend I'll clean the gunk off the contact areas, put the battery back on the charger and watch how it does. Not sure what to use to get the gunk off; I'll have to think about it. It's like glue and probably not water soluble.

danielsatur
06-28-2011, 07:55 PM
How old is the battery, it might not be holding a charge like it's once did!
Any Auto parts store will do a battery load test for free,

Gardd
06-28-2011, 08:02 PM
The battery's about seven months old.

Gardd
06-30-2011, 01:08 PM
Um... I think I know why the battery discharged.

I'm not at home right now to check it out in person but I just got a call saying the cabin heater fan came on all by itself a few minutes after the car was turned off.

This is the first time one of us has seen this happen but I think it's probably the reason why the battery discharged last Saturday night into Sunday - the fan must have come on while we were not in or near the car and it ran without our knowing until the battery finally pooped out.

I'll check the car as soon as I get home from work in a few hours but my immediate thought is that perhaps there is a problem in the ignition switch - after all, doesn't it control power to the accessories?

Anyone ever seen this kind of thing happen before, where the heater fan comes on all by itself when the car isn't running & accessory power is off?

How would I go about testing this, or should I just have a mechanic look at it? Is there a blower control module or relay that I can look at myself?

I'll post again after I've checked the car out myself. Maybe for the time being I'll have to pull a fuse in order to stop the fan from coming on. Not sure what else in the car would be on the same circuit but I guess I'm gonna find out soon.

FYI I checked the car & battery charge this morning before I left for work and it was okay, the fan was not running.

Sheesh.

Gardd
06-30-2011, 01:55 PM
Buddy of mine just e-mailed and said it could be relay #23 gone bad in the box in the engine compartment. I'll take a look when I get home.

danielsatur
06-30-2011, 02:07 PM
Some unswitched circuits are connected to BAT fuse's, see owners manual.

1) Disconnect the Neg side of the battery and connect an AMP meter in between, check on how many Amps are being drawn with ignition key off.
2) Isolate BAT fuses one at a time until there's no amps being drawn.

Gardd
06-30-2011, 04:53 PM
Got home, yup the blower fan was running with the car off.

I pulled the relay from the #23 position, which is "Blower Motor Relay" according to the owner's manual; nothing else on this circuit. Fan is off now.

Battery dropped below 12 volts with the fan on since this morning so I pulled it and it's back on the charger.

I took a close look - I think the battery be faulty even though it's relatively new. I read reviews of this battery model (a Canadian Tire house brand) and some rate it highly while others said it's garbage and they went through battery after battery while still on warranty.

There seems to be a few tiny droplets on top of the battery but I don't know if it's really leaking acid or if I'm just seeing a bit of moisture that accumulated under the battery cowl. If it's faulty that would explain why it wouldn't go past 90% on the charger earlier this week.

I don't have any litmus paper - is there a way to test the droplets to find out if they are indeed battery acid?

I'll look into the BAT fuse thing after I've recharged the battery and bought a new relay on the weekend.

danielsatur
06-30-2011, 05:05 PM
There's probably another relay of same type in the engine compartment you can roll with.

Gardd
06-30-2011, 05:50 PM
I took a close look with a bright light and a magnifying glass - the battery definitely has a very slight leak around the plastic caps on top. Hard to see but it's there.

It's still under warranty so I'll demand a replacement on Saturday and at the same time I'll hit the parts counter for a new relay - and I'll hope this will be the end of this week's problems!

Gardd
07-01-2011, 10:29 AM
THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING...

:banghead: :banghead:

I took the fan relay out last night and left it out. Recharged the battery overnight (it's definitely leaking slightly as I said) but it'll get to 90%.

This morning I put the battery back in and the ABS and oil lights come on dim.

Start the car, the ABS and oil lights go out, but the Airbag light comes on and stays on.

Stop the car, the Airbag light goes out but the ABS and oil lights come back on.

I put the fan relay in and after 20 seconds the fan comes on.

But wait, there's MORE! Now, periodically the dash emits a series of beeps which may mean a fault in the airbag system (as I read online just now).

AND... while the car is off the tach needle twitches very slightly once in a while.

[insert a whole string of cusswords here]

I left the fan relay in, but I disconnected the battery and will just let the damn car sit for a while while I mow the lawn and treat myself to a beer afterwards.

I Googled around for discussions on bizarre behaviour like this and saw one where the owner suddenly dealt with a whole series of things like I am, including a failing battery - all the problems went away as soon as he changed his battery. And that's just what I'm going to do tomorrow morning (I'd do it today but everything's closed due to our Canada Day holiday).

shorod
07-01-2011, 01:28 PM
Faulty Transmission Range Sensors (TRS) have been known to cause goofy electrical issues as well, but I'm not sure I could tie it to any of the issues you are experiencing. It may be worth searching the forum for though.

-Rod

Gardd
07-02-2011, 10:53 AM
Got back from the service center and well, the situation is as clear as mud. :banghead:

They put the battery on the tester and they say it's okay. 12.67 volts, 781 amps, passed the temperature test. So they refused to give me a new one under warranty.

They said it's normal to see a few drops of acid on top. Say what? Is this true or bull?

I am not convinced myself as the battery won't go past 90% on the charger.

I also didn't get a fan relay as they don't stock these but at this point who knows if the relay is indeed bad or if the blower fan running while the car is off is really a symptom of something else.

As for the car itself, it runs fine on the road. However:

- The airbag light that stayed on yesterday is off now when the car is running. I still get beeping once in a while though.

- The ABS and oil light still come on dimly when the car is off; they go out when it is running.

- In the parking light at the service center I heard a clicking noise under the dash behind the glove box. It's intermittent and the clicking seems to occur at the same time the speedometer twitches.

- I put the fan relay back in and sure enough the fan came on though the car isn't running. So I pulled it.

Anyway, I'm stumped, worried, and really fed up. I guess I'll have to sink some money into having a mechanic figure it out. I'm no good at trying to figure out if there's a short somewhere.

I will look up info on TRS problems & side effects though.

shorod
07-02-2011, 11:45 AM
I realize this won't be of much help either, but if you don't find where others have had similar symptoms from a TRS, carefully check your major ground connections. The dimly glowing lights and clicking relay sounds a lot like a grounding issue.

-Rod

Gardd
07-02-2011, 01:00 PM
Thanks, I'll definitely keep the grounds in mind. Is there a way to check with a multimeter fairly easily instead of following wires in the engine compartment or under the car somewhere?

My buddy is coming over this evening - we'll try the battery from his car in the Taurus just to see what happens. At least this would be a no-cost way of proving that the battery is or isn't the culprit. The garage told me this morning that it's normal to see a bit of acid on top, I am not convinced.

Gardd
07-03-2011, 05:56 AM
The ground on the neg battery cable is solid. Haven't tried to check any others.

Tried the battery from my buddy's car last night - no change.

After the battery swap I moved the ignition relay to the fan relay position and let the car sit - the fan didn't come on. I put the ignition relay back leaving the fan relay slot empty and the warning lights on the dash went out. Started the car, put the fan relay back in, and turned it off... and the fan came on in a few seconds as did the warning lights.

I also had a new symptom for a couple of minutes - the power door locks wouldn't stay down. Lock the doors and a second later they'd all unlock. WTF? But then they started operating normally again.

I have a slight suspicion that the aftermarket anti-theft system might have something to do with all this. I bought this car as a pretty new used vehicle years ago. The original owner had installed the system and I immediately found it really annoying and I always keep it switched off. But if the battery is removed the system will re-arm as soon as the vehicle has power again. I don't know what brand the system is; all I have is a one-page instruction sheet listing the model number as AS-1202 with no manufacturer info. If this were my system I wouldn't want my name on it either.

While tinkering last evening I started the car a number of times in order to watch the dash lights - and I also turned the aftermarket system on & off half a dozen times. Anyway when I finally turned off the aftermarket system for the last time the car seemed normal. All the dash warning lights were off and the airbag light didn't come on while the car was running. As of this morning the lights are still off and the battery's charge is ok.

I could be very wrong in suspecting the aftermarket anti-theft system. I read somewhere else that the TRS is an input to the OEM Remote Keyless Entry system and maybe that's why I had few weird minutes of magically unlocking doors. But the aftermarket system is also tied into the RKE.

Anyway later today I'll put the fan relay back in then I'll take the car out for its re-learning drive, and we'll see how it behaves. If it acts up again I think I'll ask the garage later in the week to see if the OBD is throwing any error codes.

In the meantime I'll stop boring everyone with my long posts and I'll be back when / if there's something concrete to report... :runaround:

Knifeblade
07-04-2011, 02:58 AM
U may be onto something with the aftermarket anti-theft thing. Think of this, most anti's draw power continuously in order for their sensors to pick up some no-key entrance or fooling around with the ignition, such as that. Now, I don't know exactly where the installer sliced into your wiring, where he placed any sensors, or where he accessed the power supply {but I would bet it is a constant on lead}. Try to "unpower" the thing completely, you have a draw that is weakening your battery, and possibly doing very bad things to the normal electrics of your ride.

shorod
07-04-2011, 07:15 PM
I also had a new symptom for a couple of minutes - the power door locks wouldn't stay down. Lock the doors and a second later they'd all unlock. WTF? But then they started operating normally again.

Have you ever noticed your "Door Ajar" light remaining on even after the doors were closed? This is a pretty common issue on the Taurus (and some other Fords) due to a sticking door ajar switch integrated in to the door latch mechanism. I don't think it would be the source of all your other issues (I too think you should continue to investigate an aftermarket system install) but may at least allow you to check one thing off the "Gremlins" list.

-Rod

Gardd
07-04-2011, 08:04 PM
Never had a door ajar light problem and thankfully it wasn't one of the gremlins on the list this past week!

I'm glad & relieved to say that the car has been just fine since my last post on Saturday - knock wood! No mystery lights, the battery seems to be holding its own, there have been no airbag warning beeps, and I haven't heard that relay clicking behind the glove box. Tach hasn't twitched either.

I'm not convinced the battery is in perfect shape despite what the garage told me after testing it but I haven't seen any more leakage on top and its voltage isn't bad at about 12.5 volts this evening, a bit higher than the value I obtained this morning. I'll keep measuring it a couple of times a day for the next while.

As for what was going on, who knows really but my money is on the stupid aftermarket anti-theft system being behind all the weirdness.

Without having a full understanding of all the electronic systems & how they work together, what I'd like to think happened is the fan relay went bad and the fan ran all night without our knowing it. Drained the battery way down, and the aftermarket system went into some kind of sustained error state that affected the GEM (or something) when I tried starting the car on Sunday June 26th.

This past Saturday when I turned the aftermarket system on & off (half a dozen times in 2 minutes with a few engine restarts after the battery swap test) it may have reset.

I haven't put the fan relay back in yet - I have had my fill for now and I'm going to leave well enough alone for a few days. Besides I can't find relay in stock at the local shops so I guess I'll have to visit a Ford dealer for a new one. If I put the old one back in and it is indeed bad I want to have a new one at hand to replace it with.

Gardd
07-14-2011, 05:44 PM
Here we freaking go again.

The car has been absolutely fine since my last post. Battery's been holding its charge at between 12.3 and 12.5 volts.

I get home from work this evening and the first thing I hear when I walk in the door is "the car won't start".

Checked the battery, it's down to just over 6 volts.

The car started and ran normally yesterday.

I haven't bought a new fan relay yet. I guess my previous theory may be out the window but I am still suspicious of the aftermarket anti-theft system as ten days ago the weird problems went away after I turned the system on/off a number of times.

Take a look at the attached picture and let me know if you think the droplets & dried whatever-it-is looks normal to you.

danielsatur
07-14-2011, 08:00 PM
Some unswitched circuits are connected to BAT fuse's, see owners manual.

1) Disconnect the Neg side of the battery and connect an AMP meter in between, check on how many Amps are being drawn with ignition key off.
2) Isolate BAT fuses one at a time until there's no amps being drawn.

Do a Google ''Youtube auto battery discharge''

shorod
07-14-2011, 08:52 PM
You cannot really do the above mentioned test for a good 45 minutes after closing all doors and connecting the current meter. There will be some items that are not yet in standby mode so the current draw may still be around 1 amp until that happens.

Have you verified that the brake lights are not on when this discharge happens? I've been seeing others, as well as myself, that have been having brake light switch problems lately with their Ford products. Mine was fine, then left me stuck at work one evening with a completely dead battery (around 4 volts).

-Rod

Gardd
07-15-2011, 04:06 AM
I haven't seen anything on at all - no brake lights, nothing at all.

Will be testing as much as I can this weekend with my multimeter - thanks for the reminder re: letting the car sit for 45 minutes to ensure everything is powered down.

What do you think of the battery picture - the droplets & obvious dried accumulation on top?

On the way home from work this afternoon I'm going to stop by Wal-Mart and buy a new battery anyway. I don't like the droplets I see on top of the existing battery and as I said way up in an earlier post when these shenanigans started, it won't go past 90% on the charger. I just don't trust it.

shorod
07-15-2011, 07:02 AM
I don't really think the droplets are anything to worry about, but I don't know the history of the car to know if those droplets have been there awhile, if they may be indicative of an overcharge, or if they are due to something unrelated to the battery (last time it was cleaned, an underhood cleaner that was used, etc.).

-Rod

Gardd
07-16-2011, 07:59 AM
The droplets on top of the old battery are definitely acid. This morning I mixed a bit of baking soda with water and put a tiny bit on the affected area of the battery, and it fizzed like hell for a second or two.

I'll put the new battery in this morning (and turn the antitheft system on/off a few times just to be sure), then I'll take the car out on the road then run some errands. I'll test it a few times during the day and I'll also watch for brake lights staying lit when they shouldn't be but like I said I haven't noticed this so far.

If I wanted to test for overcharging - is it simply a matter of putting the multitester on the battery terminals while the car is running, or does the alternator itself have to be tested by a different method?

Gardd
07-16-2011, 11:12 AM
I put the new battery in.

The car exhibited the wonky behaviour I've described before including magically unlocking doors. After I turned the anti-theft system on & off a few times and started / restarted the car and left it idling for 5 minutes it settled down and acted normally. It was just fine on the road and was still okay when I got back home.

Took readings a few times & about. Battery charge is normal, alternator reading is normal (measured across the battery) while the car is revved up to 1500, and also running at idle.

I'm still thinking it has something to do with the anti-theft system OR maybe a relay under the dash - power door lock relay maybe? I heard something click right before the doors unlocked themselves.

While out we didn't use the power door locks as a precaution.

Will do some reading about power door lock relays etc. They are way up high under the dash and a real pain to get at.

Will likely do an amp draw test later today too to see if there's a parasitic drain.

danielsatur
07-16-2011, 01:53 PM
Found a good DIY video, see GOOGLE ''Youtube auto scotty kilmer battery drain''

Gardd
10-16-2011, 10:33 AM
Been a while since I posted about this...

Since installing the new Wal-Mart battery in July the car has been absolutely fine, BUT I left the interior fan relay out and we also haven't used the power door locks all the while.

This morning I had to go on an errand and I thought, what the heck - I'll put the relay in and see what happens.

Car was fine on the way to the store. When I got back in the car there was a beep coming from the dash. So I took the relay back out (and it'll stay out), started the car and the beep stopped. Drove around for a bit and I headed back home.

Get home, turn off the ignition - and those mystery lights on the instrument panel came on just like I saw last June/July. Disconnected the battery; I'll reconnect it later today and I'll watch the car like a hawk again.

So we're back to square one but at least this morning's test tells me the problem is somewhere in the fan circuit. I guess with the cold weather coming I'm just going to make an appointment at our Ford dealer and let them figure it out.

Scrapper
10-16-2011, 11:04 AM
Been a while since I posted about this...

Since installing the new Wal-Mart battery in July the car has been absolutely fine, BUT I left the interior fan relay out and we also haven't used the power door locks all the while.

This morning I had to go on an errand and I thought, what the heck - I'll put the relay in and see what happens.

Car was fine on the way to the store. When I got back in the car there was a beep coming from the dash. So I took the relay back out (and it'll stay out), started the car and the beep stopped. Drove around for a bit and I headed back home.

Get home, turn off the ignition - and those mystery lights on the instrument panel came on just like I saw last June/July. Disconnected the battery; I'll reconnect it later today and I'll watch the car like a hawk again.

So we're back to square one but at least this morning's test tells me the problem is somewhere in the fan circuit. I guess with the cold weather coming I'm just going to make an appointment at our Ford dealer and let them figure it out.
when you unhooke neg cable off did it have a high spark or did you notice? if it realy sparked something is on or shorted out bad.

Gardd
10-16-2011, 11:51 AM
when you unhooke neg cable off did it have a high spark or did you notice? if it realy sparked something is on or shorted out bad.

No spark at all when I disconnect or reconnect the negative cable. I just tested it a couple of times and I watched very closely.

shorod
10-16-2011, 05:26 PM
Does your Taurus have the automatic climate control or the manual knobs?

-Rod

Gardd
10-16-2011, 06:15 PM
Auto. Got an idea?

shorod
10-18-2011, 06:38 AM
With the auto climate control, the fan speed is controlled with a solid state motor controller. It's more likely something could fail and cause a current draw with the solid state controller than a simple switch and resistor assembly. You might try unplugging the blower motor controller, reinstall the relay and see if your drain goes away. If so, you've identified the part causing the drain.

[edit] I guess you could go one step further and disconnect the signal wire from the blower motor speed control and confirm that doesn't cause the drain to stop. If that did, then it would suggest the DATC module is calling for the blower motor even when the key is removed from the circuit. One concern I have now that I look at the wiring diagram more closely is the blower motor relay coil only gets power with the key in the Run position.

The source for the switched side of the relay is hot all the time, but if the relay is working, it should be cutting power to the speed control once the key is removed. The next step maybe needs to be confirming that power to terminal 86 of the relay is not present when the key is off, then try swapping the relay with another one. If you're comfortable reading wiring diagrams, send me a private message with the request and an e-mail address for you and I'll send you the 4 PDF pages.

-Rod

Gardd
10-19-2011, 09:42 AM
Thanks for the info & offer but that is beyond my comfort level and abilities. I'd rather have a mechanic do it.

I have a day off today so I thought I'd futz with the car.

I reconnected the battery and the two mystery lights on the instrument cluster came on as I expected. I ignored them and got the stupid anti-theft system settled down. Started the car and it ran ok. Stopped the motor, and the lights came on again.

Restarted the motor and um... pounded the dash with my fist all around the heater/radio panel and the glove box.

Stopped the motor and the mystery lights didn't come on. Hmm.

Checked a few times since then and it's still okay.

As the battery was disconnected for two days I'll take it out for a drive on the highway to let the engine relearn its idle & trim etc.

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