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Old 24th Mar 2005, 01:23 PM   #1
The Purple Bunny
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Car trouble.

I have a '93 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera S. Several months ago, I accidentally left my interior light on at work and drained the battery. We replaced it with an Interstate battery from our shop, but during the winter, my car wouldn't start. We jumped the battery, but at least 3 times now the battery has ended up drained, and the car won't start.

I have left nothing on inside the car, no lights, nothing. The only thing that stays on is the interior clock. Our mechanic can't find anything inside or outside the car that is constantly on to drain the battery, and almost every day I crank it and it struggles to start, and today it's dead again. He even got it fully charged up one day, with no signs the battery is bad, but it's been struggling to start ever since.

Would this call for a new battery, assuming the current one is bad? Or what else could I be looking at?
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Old 24th Mar 2005, 01:59 PM   #2
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An alternater will not charge a dead battery. If you can fully charge the battery with an external battery charger, and the battery still drains down overnight, then the alternater itself may be bad. To tell if it`s the battery, the alternater, or something else, start one night with a fully charged battery and dicconect the battery and see if it`s drained overnight, if not, the battery is fine. Next night disscconect the big power wire from the back of the alternater and see if it`s drained in the morning. I`ve seen alternater pass the bench tests yet still drain a battery when the motors not running. if it`s still drains, then your looking at possably something else in the car draining the battery like a stuck relay or something.
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Old 25th Mar 2005, 08:46 AM   #3
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Sounds like a dead cell in the battery to me. Its just cooincidental that this happened at the time you left the light on. You can test the battery by starting it with a multimeter hooked to the battery. Under the starting load, if the voltage drops below 9 volts, the battery is shot. If the voltage doesn't drop below 9 volts, you have another drian. Possible but unlikely IMO.
Another possibility is the alternator isn't charging correctly. Ususal this is caused by the diode trio failing in the alternator. To test this, using the multimeter again, check the battery. If the voltage is below 12 volts, the alternator is gone. It should be charging between 12.5 to 14 volts

And Rukee? I have charged many a dead battery with the alternator of a car once the car is started. I have push started cars (with manuel trannys) with dead batteries and the alternator has charged the battery back up The only cars I know of that won't do so are Saturns.
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Old 25th Mar 2005, 10:23 AM   #4
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A older style generater will charge a stone dead battery, but an alternater will not.
Some alternaters will only return what was just used so if you start with a half charged battery, driving around may not fully charge it back up.
Least wise that was the way the place that rewinds armatures and rebuilds electric motors explained it to me.

In order to put a load enough on the battery to show a dead cell, I don`t think the average person is going to have tools to do that.
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Old 25th Mar 2005, 10:34 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rukee
A older style generater will charge a stone dead battery, but an alternater will not.
Some alternaters will only return what was just used so if you start with a half charged battery, driving around may not fully charge it back up.
Least wise that was the way the place that rewinds armatures and rebuilds electric motors explained it to me.

In order to put a load enough on the battery to show a dead cell, I don`t think the average person is going to have tools to do that.
Then how do you explain what I have doen with cars that have Alternators. Not generators. Alternators. Generators haven't been used in what, 40 years? I had a 1973 Mercury Capri, I killed the battery. Push started it. That charged the battery. Never had another problem starting it and NEVER put it on a charger. And it had a alternator, not a generator. What those people told you at the rewinding place are dead wrong. Did the same thing with a late 80's Plymouth. Did it with a 85 Mustang. I didn't have a charger at home to use. Didn't need one. Either jump start for automatics or push start for manuals. And many other mechanics will tell you the same thing.

The only tools needed to load test a battery is a multimeter Ruk. I know. That and maybe another person to turn the ignition. The act of starting the car puts the battery under a load. You then read the voltage being drawn from the battery with the volt (multi) meter. How complicated is that? What other tools do you need? You're making it much more difficult than needs be. I worked as a mechanic for many years. I have the Technical degree (associates degree in automotive technology) as well. I know whereof I speak.
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Old 25th Mar 2005, 11:31 AM   #6
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a multimeter only reads voltage, it doesn`t put a load on the battery, and running the starter will not give an acurate load to read the voltage as the car starts too quickly. A multimeter is alright for testing alternater output if you take a volt reading before starting the car and then after, you should see a nice increase as the alternater kicks in.
The tool I use puts a messured load for 10 secs on the battery independent from the rest of the car and then you read the voltage before load and after.
If the starter is the problem, testing it your way would indicate the battery is at fault when in fact the starter is drawing too many amps and sucking the battery voltage down..
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Old 25th Mar 2005, 03:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rukee
a multimeter only reads voltage, it doesn`t put a load on the battery, and running the starter will not give an acurate load to read the voltage as the car starts too quickly. A multimeter is alright for testing alternater output if you take a volt reading before starting the car and then after, you should see a nice increase as the alternater kicks in.
The tool I use puts a messured load for 10 secs on the battery independent from the rest of the car and then you read the voltage before load and after.
If the starter is the problem, testing it your way would indicate the battery is at fault when in fact the starter is drawing too many amps and sucking the battery voltage down..

DUH!!!! How simple a diagram do I have to draw out for you Ruk? You attach multimeter to the battery. You then turn the ingition over to turn the starter. THe STARTER puts the load on the battery. Multimeter reads the draw on the battery. This has been a tried and true way to load test a battery for YEARS Rukee. What rock have you been hiding under? I have NEVER had a bad starter give a false reading on the battery draw. NEVER. And I was mechanicing for 20 years.
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Old 25th Mar 2005, 04:02 PM   #8
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Old 25th Mar 2005, 04:40 PM   #9
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well, gee, I quess these specialty tools I have here for testing the load holding ability of a battery and the amp draw of a starter are of no use at all for diagniosing such problems as this huh?? All I ever needed was just a mutimeter and a helper to turn the ignition huh??
Ford starters are specially prone to over amp drawing, and when testing with just a multimeter at the battery will show low volts durring cranking, but theres nothing wrong with the battery, but you obviously know everything so....
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Old 25th Mar 2005, 05:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rukee
well, gee, I quess these specialty tools I have here for testing the load holding ability of a battery and the amp draw of a starter are of no use at all for diagniosing such problems as this huh?? All I ever needed was just a mutimeter and a helper to turn the ignition huh??
Ford starters are specially prone to over amp drawing, and when testing with just a multimeter at the battery will show low volts durring cranking, but theres nothing wrong with the battery, but you obviously know everything so....
I don't claim to know everything Ruk. But this I DO know. I have lived, breathed, sweated and bled automotive repair for prolly about as long as you have been alive. The 20 years I mentioned above is after my degree in the field. In actuality, I have worked on cars all my life.
You don't HAVE to have a fancy gizmo to diagnose a dead batter or a bad alternator. I have NEVER been wrong on my diagnosis using a mutimeter. NEVER. Sure, those fancy roll around thingamajiggys are nice to have. I've worked in shops with them. But necessary? No. I can do just as much with a multimeter as as I can with one of those. The difference is the expense of the tool. I'd much rather use the multimeter as it is more versatile than that gizmo you roll around.
In this case Rukee, you are dead wrong. You have presented 2 falsehoods. I call you on them.
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Old 25th Mar 2005, 05:23 PM   #11
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You have 20 years, that`s great, you still wanna just use a mutimeter, that`s cool with me. You`ve been lucky and never seen a starter drag a battery voltage down, ever?, that`s fine too. I have.
I don`t trust just the multimeter, it will not give you the amp draw, it only shows the voltage change, and slowly too. They didn`t make these tools just to sell tools. The battery tester will test the battery with a know load, and for a set time, it messures with a computer chip the voltage waver and gives an acurate report of the battery condition. When you roll the starter, how much load are you putting on the battery?? 10 amps? 50 amps?? do you even know? If you are getting a voltage reading of 7v durring cranking, without knowing the amp load, how do you know the probem? Power = amp x volts
so when cranking if you had 7 volts on the multimeter at only 5 amps load, then yes the battery is bad, but if you have 7 volts with a 300 amp draw, then the battery is fine, I don`t know why you can`t understand that that a multimeter alone may not give you all the info you need to diagnios the problem correctly.
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Old 25th Mar 2005, 05:24 PM   #12
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Ummmm... Rukee? A multimeter also can measure amps, milliamps, resistance among many other things.... You don't know much about multimeters, do you? What would you do if your fancy machine broke down? How much would it cost you to replace it? How do you think mechanics diagnosed battery/starter problems before the advent of your fancy dancy gizmo?
Luck ain't got a damn thing to do with it. Its knowing your tools and how to use them. Luck? Over 20 plus years? Literally hundreads of diagnosis. Gimme a break. If it was luck, then by the law of averages, I would have run out and been wrong.
There goes your luck theory. Wanna try again?
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Old 25th Mar 2005, 05:33 PM   #13
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Really, dude, you take the wires off and put in a ampmeter inbetween whatever to messure the amps, your multimeter is going to take the whole load of the starter??
The unit I use to messure starter amps has HUGE battery connecters on it, it mounts between the positive battery termenal and the pos cable and all the amps from the car goes thru it when you run the starter, a handheld multimeter would melt.
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Old 26th Mar 2005, 10:54 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rukee
Really, dude, you take the wires off and put in a ampmeter inbetween whatever to messure the amps, your multimeter is going to take the whole load of the starter??
The unit I use to messure starter amps has HUGE battery connecters on it, it mounts between the positive battery termenal and the pos cable and all the amps from the car goes thru it when you run the starter, a handheld multimeter would melt.
Bullsh!t. If that were true, the first time you plugged one into an electrical outlet it would fry. You don't know a damn thing about multimeters, do you.

Lets even forget household electrical current. What do you think electricians in manufacturng plants use to test voltage and amperage? Not your little roll around thingamabob. They use a multimeter. What do you think power company technicians use to test in the field? Multimeters.

And you say it would melt..... shows how much you know.


Mutimeters have connectors on them too bub. Bigger is better? Try hooking your gizmo up to the fuse box to test a circuit. Can your fancy machine even help diagnose circuitry problems outside the battery/starter? Can it measure resistance? Milliamps? Hmm?
Guess what, its called a MULTImeter for a reason.

You misunderstand as well what the multimeter does. It MEASURES the load the starter draws. Just like your fancy dancy newfangled roll around thing.
Not everyone can afford, or need to buy, your fancy machine to do a little self dianosis on vehicles electronics and circuits bud.

But YOU obviously know everything......
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Old 26th Mar 2005, 11:08 AM   #15
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You know the diffrence between us??
I can respectfully dissagree with you.

Do me a favor will you please and look at the front of your multimeter at the amp area, what is the max amps rated??
10amps max is it on most handheld multimeters.
A multimeter will read starter amps but only with a special adapter like this one or this one.
You use a voltmeter to check for low voltage while cranking, if I see low voltage while cranking I find out why.
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Old 26th Mar 2005, 11:57 AM   #16
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Let's keep the flaming and trolling to a minimum in here, okay?
Civilised discourse, gentlemen, one or both of you may even learn something.
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Old 26th Mar 2005, 06:53 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rukee
You know the diffrence between us??
I can respectfully dissagree with you.

Do me a favor will you please and look at the front of your multimeter at the amp area, what is the max amps rated??
10amps max is it on most handheld multimeters.
A multimeter will read starter amps but only with a special adapter like this one or this one.
You use a voltmeter to check for low voltage while cranking, if I see low voltage while cranking I find out why.

Hmmmm... this one seems to measure up to 20 amps... and thats just the first Google I found.... wanna try again?

EDIT: And I would also like for you to explain why I haven't had a multimeter melt in my hands. And don't call it luck.
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Old 26th Mar 2005, 06:58 PM   #18
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..considering the average heater blower motor runs on a 20 amp fuse, you might wanna try again if you plan on hooking it up to a starter motor.
You accuse me of not knowing how to use a multimeter propperly, I think it`s you who doesn`t understand how to use one fully. I`m trying to be as suttle as I can here dude. You do understand that to messure amp load with a handheld multimeter without the adapter I listed you remove one wire to the device and wire the mutimeter between and let the juice run through the meter right??
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Old 26th Mar 2005, 07:01 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rukee
..considering the average heater blower motor runs on a 20 amp fuse, you might wanna try again if you plan on hooking it up to a starter motor.
You accuse me of not knowing how to use a multimeter propperly, I think it`s you who doesn`t understand how to use one fully. I`m trying to be as suttle as I can here dude. You do understand that to messure amp load with a handheld multimeter without the adapter I listed you remove one wire to the device and wire the mutimeter between and let the juice run through the meter right??

And you accuse ME of not knowing how to use a multimeter? Multimeters have PROBES. DUH! You know. Those silly little wires sticking out of them that you use to PROBE the contact points you are testing? Why on EARTH would you disconnect a wire to run it THORUGH a multimeter?

You still didn't answer my question...
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Cat Fuzz: "Yeah, the deficit grows because we have to fix the military everytime a Democrat guts it." :rolleyes

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Old 26th Mar 2005, 07:04 PM   #20
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Probes?? They are just wires. A probe would be a temp probe, or an adapter like what I posted above.
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