96' Caravan, battery discharging


Old 08-25-06, 12:43 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Williamsport and Blue Bell, Pennsylvania
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96' Caravan, battery discharging

I have a 96 grand Caravan, which sat for about a year at my parents house. Until this spring, it could be started up and run without any problem. By May, it was dead. Charged the battery, ran the engine for a half hour. Dead in a week. Repeated the same process a month later.
Decided to replace the battery since it was more than a few years old. Same situation as before, a fully charged battery drains completly in 1-2 days.

With a jump, I drove it to college, made the 4 hr drive just fine.
Now that it is sitting again, it is of little use until I get this fixed.

My troubleshooting:
I clipped on my portable pattery pack to provide power for diag.
My ammeter showed a draw of 14 amps when I first put it on the battery cable. After about 15 minutes the load was up to 21 amps. Even after pulling ALL of the fuses (both dist ctr next to battery and fuse panel below dash), the draw was still there. The interior light circuit runs 4.5 A.
>>>My conclusion is that there is a short on a non-fused wire. What might that be? All wiring is original (no accessories have been added since purchase).<<<

I have a background in electrical, but am no auto mechanic.
I can take it over the auto dept at the college, but will not do that until I have a good idea about where the problem resides to provide them with some direction about the problem (as to avoid the whole vehicle from being disassembled and opening up any other cans of worms).

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Old 08-25-06, 01:50 PM
Join Date: May 2001
Posts: 516
If you pulled all the fuses and it made no difference it has to be something connected directly to the battery. If there are a number of things have the battery charged and disconnect one thing at a time when you have no drain work on that circut.
Old 08-25-06, 02:16 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Owen Sound Ontario Canada
Posts: 541
I know that the head lights are on their own circuit.
It is on a circuit breaker which resets itself within the switch.
Old 08-25-06, 04:56 PM
Join Date: Jan 2001
Posts: 93
Try this unplug the alternator see if the battery still discharges. Ihope this helps. Keep me posted.

Old 08-26-06, 09:14 AM
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Location: Hamilton County, Ohio
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Yes, unplug the alternator and see if the power draw disappears. A bad regulator, which is built into the alternator, will allow power to flow from the alternator to the battery when the car is running, and from the battery to the alternator when the car is stopped. In fact, the alt may feel warm or hot when the engine is cool as it dissipates heat from it's windings.
Old 08-26-06, 02:07 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Williamsport and Blue Bell, Pennsylvania
Posts: 502
Where is the easiest place to disconnect the Alt.?
Is my guess correct that a pair of the large wires from the battery go to the alternator?
Old 08-26-06, 06:28 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Owen Sound Ontario Canada
Posts: 541
I just came back from my dads place from fixing his Chev Suburban.
It was stalling at lights sometimes and would not start until I put gasoline into the engine.
Tried a MAP and a TPS and a fuel pump and relay.
My dad noticed that when it did it, the battery voltage gauge would go down. This was not discovered until later on.
When that was taken into account I figured it was a voltage draw that grabbed enough voltage that it robbed from the ignition coil and stalled the vehicle. When we went to restart the engine would only turn slowly and the injectors would not spray.
Long story short. I pulled the starter off because I seen a live short happen in a solenoid before and caused erratic symptoms.

The starter drive would go in and out most of the time and then sometimes it would jam and not retract fully back. It would go just enough to retract the pinion gear out of the way. It could still deliver power to the starter windings to some degree.
There was a burnt smell.

Just thought I would let you know that Shorts can happen in the strangest places and do the weirdest things to the nicest people.

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