What is draining my battery?


Old 01-26-05, 08:05 AM
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Unhappy What is draining my battery?

I have an 86 chevie astro. The battery was dying, but an old one, so i replaced it. Something was draining the battery and continued to do so even with the new one. I replaced the alternator. This was my first attempt at doing so and i am so afraid i might not have done it right as the battery continued to drain even after the alternator replacement. Reading my book i read that if the celenoid was bad on the starter that this could cause the problem aslo. I took out the starter and the parts store said it was a bad celenold, but since the starter was almost new that the alternator, if hooked up wrong, could have fried the celenoid. I put ina new starter and the problem continues. If the alternator is hooked up wrong maybe it fried the new celenoid as well. I go in a vicious circle. how can i test the alternator to see if it is hooked up right? Is there a way? It took many hours to put it in and i had to borrow tools to do it. Will i have to take it out and start over?
Help me. Brad
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Old 01-26-05, 03:13 PM
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Can you not restart the van right after you turn it off or is the battery draining after the van sits a while?

If the car is running fine with no problems once you get it running and the lights stay bright all the time when driving and the car starts fine right after turning it off, the alternator should be fine. If you want, you can have it tested free at a local parts store such as auto zone or advance auto. They should be able to test it with it installed and the engine running. The only time the starter solenoid should be getting power is when the key is in the start position. If you want to test it to see if its draining the battery, or anything else you think may be draining the battery, disconnect it or pull out the fuse for it and see if the battery still drains.

If the battery is draining after the van has been sitting a while, it could be an alarm system if you have one, a light not turning off, maybe the glove compartment light, radiator fan not cutting off, a short somewhere, or something else.
Old 01-27-05, 09:26 PM
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There's a rinky dink voltage tester you can buy that plugs into the cig lighter slot that will read you out your voltage. This is the same model I borrowed from a friend http://www.cetsolar.com/voltmeter.htm

If your between 12.0 and 12.9 when the car is off your battery is just fine. When the car is on your alternator should be pumping out 13.8 to 14.8 volts and if that's the case its working fine too.

The electrical system sucks but if everything is still stock problably nothing is shorted so you might have a sticking relay or something. There was a guy that came out to my house once with a mobile diagnostic system in his van who was able to find things like that maybe you can find one.

You problably have the alternator in fine.. anything backwards or crossed would blow a fuse or melt something. I'm not sure about an 86 astro but if it has a positive, a negative, and a 3rd wire it might not be receiving the charge signal from the computer. Correct me if I'm wrong here but alternators dont charge the battery at all times unless the load dictates a need for this so if yours is a 3 wire the van might not be telling it to engage the generator.

I recommend grabbing a volt meter to check though
Old 01-27-05, 09:40 PM
Join Date: Dec 2001
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I've seen a cig lighter voltage meter at walmart for $15, no LEDs though, just the voltage reading.
Old 01-28-05, 06:18 AM
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what is draining my battery?

Thank you so much for all the excellent advice. I will keep it all in mind as there was much i did not know. As it worked out, it was my alternator, and it seemed not to be the answer even after I installed a new one, as the belt was loose and slipping. A new belt, and installed tightly, along with the new alternator, seems to have done the trick. Thanks again. Brad
Old 01-28-05, 04:01 PM
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Join Date: May 2003
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What kind of drain did you have? Was it a key off drain? Did it sit overnight and then the battery was dead? Or was it a Key on drain? Riding down the road and when you turn it off then it is dead and wont restart?
Old 01-31-05, 06:41 PM
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One of the things that can drain a battery is what i call grounds,now to check your battery for grounds,if your battery has white lines or streaks running down the side of your battery those are grounds,and its just enough to cause a small amount of contunity from the battery positive to a grounded part on the car,this could be caused by over charging the battery so just spot check your battery for grounds.

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