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 Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?

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GMFreak8
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Sun Aug 30, 2009 10:44 pm

deekster_caddy wrote:
GMFreak8 wrote:

How would I go about hooking up a voltmeter? I have a $30 one from radioshack, I dont know if that would do it.

That's good about the voltage spike. I hope my battery isn't shot. It's less than two weeks old. I had to replace the old battery. Every time you'd go to charge it the battery would literally smoke and hiss. I don't hear a fan or anything running after I shut the car off.

Just grab some alligator clips or have somebody help you. Or you can usually find a terminal block you can wedge the tips into... (but careful with that trick!)

I have a radioshack voltmeter too, it reads digital and is surprisingly sensitive. Would be helpful to have a friend reading the voltmeter while you are pulling fuses...

Cool thanks. I can grab some alligator clips from Radioshack that are made for car batteries next sunday (only one store that I work at has them). I actually work at radioshack, so I get a nice discount on those things.
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Fri Sep 11, 2009 5:54 pm

Just an update on this. I've pulled fuses and let it sit overnight. I started by pulling a lot of fuses and then slowly narrowed it down. I tried the HVAC system, the lighting system by pulling all fuses associated with those functions, and now I think I've narrowed it down to the ELC/IP fuse or the PCM fuse. I'm not exactly happy, considering both are involved trying to find the issue from there.

Do you know of any common drain issues associated with the Riviera? I asked a few people around town that own these cars and they say they've had dead batteries numerous times after the car sits overnight, but never anything as bad as I have.
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Fri Sep 11, 2009 7:31 pm

Didn't you have another post recently about the ELC pump not shutting off? Or was that somebody else?
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Fri Sep 11, 2009 7:43 pm

No, same person, two of the same questions in two different post's.
I just figured that out.
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Fri Sep 11, 2009 7:50 pm

Yup, same one. I figured I'd post an update in the thread that I originally made for it. Sorry about that.

I tried today using the voltmeter and pulling fuses. Unfortunately it seems the voltmeter I have doesn't like a constant voltage for a longer period of time. I smelt something burning and fried the internal circuit in the voltmeter. So it's back to the drawing board. This parasitic drain has got to be the most frustrating thing I've ever encountered. Nothing like getting up in the morning and finding the car dead as a door nail. Wouldn't be so bad if the battery was in the engine compartment where it should be, but no it's under the seat.

It's extremely odd that this only seems to occur at night....
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Fri Sep 11, 2009 7:59 pm

Until you find the source of the problem I'd suggest disconnecting the Battery at night and using a memory saver that you plug into the cig. lighter with a 9 volt battery. It will keep the memory on the radio and PCM unless the parasitic drain sucks that down too.
Didn't you mention you think you've isolated it to the ELC fuse.?
You could pull that fuse every night till you find the problem.
If your not already doing that.!
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Fri Sep 11, 2009 8:08 pm

Rickw wrote:
Until you find the source of the problem I'd suggest disconnecting the Battery at night and using a memory saver that you plug into the cig. lighter with a 9 volt battery. It will keep the memory on the radio and PCM unless the parasitic drain sucks that down too.
Didn't you mention you think you've isolated it to the ELC fuse.?
You could pull that fuse every night till you find the problem.
If your not already doing that.!

Well I haven't narrowed it down for certain yet. I'm pretty sure it's the ELC/IP fuse that's causing the issue, but not completely sure. I wish I knew exactly what that fuse controls. I pull it and I can unlock but not lock the doors, the IP panel glows but gauges and odometer won't display. So who knows what's really connected to that fuse....
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:33 pm

There are a couple other things. How far is your headlight delay set and how old is your battery? Check how the fog lights and stereo are wired - your parasitic load might be in the stereo wiring?!?

Try setting the headlight delay to a minimum (slide the lever under the headlight knob all the way to the left) and see if that helps.

Probably the easiest way to nail this down would be to get to Sears and buy a "Clamp-on" DC ammeter - then just guide the loop around the wires to see which ones are still passing current but should not be. For wires packed tight in the harness this will take some doing, but is still do-able. Sears sells these in the tool department, set you back $80 or less, look up "clamp on DC ammeter" on their web site to get an idea of what's on offer.

Albertj
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:38 pm

albertj wrote:
There are a couple other things. How far is your headlight delay set and how old is your battery? Check how the fog lights and stereo are wired - your parasitic load might be in the stereo wiring?!?

Try setting the headlight delay to a minimum (slide the lever under the headlight knob all the way to the left) and see if that helps.

Probably the easiest way to nail this down would be to get to Sears and buy a "Clamp-on" DC ammeter - then just guide the loop around the wires to see which ones are still passing current but should not be. For wires packed tight in the harness this will take some doing, but is still do-able. Sears sells these in the tool department, set you back $80 or less, look up "clamp on DC ammeter" on their web site to get an idea of what's on offer.

Albertj

I actually saw those clamp on meters. I might pick one up. I might end up bringing it to the dealer though, because it looks like something it going to have to be replaced.

I already set my lights to minimum delay, the battery is literally only a month old, and it's was doing it even before I installed the stereo or fog lights. When I replaced the battery, it seemed good for about a week, and then it started doing it again. IDK if that gives anyone a clue....
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:58 pm

What battery did you replace the old one with???/
Did you get an AC Delco with the same CCA rating and the same CA Rating???
CCA = Cold Cranking Amps
CA = Cranking Amps
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:21 pm

Rickw wrote:
What battery did you replace the old one with???/
Did you get an AC Delco with the same CCA rating and the same CA Rating???
CCA = Cold Cranking Amps
CA = Cranking Amps


...yep you really need to use the proper battery with the proper vent connections or you will have a proper mess. Won't have enough power and the acid fumes will eat a hole in the floor in a matter of months. But you know that so...

If the wiring is not bone stock factory the first thing - well one of the things- the dealer will have to do is disconnect the non-stock stuff. Don't wig out when this happens.

Albertj
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:39 pm

GMFreak8 wrote:
albertj wrote:
Probably the easiest way to nail this down would be to get to Sears and buy a "Clamp-on" DC ammeter - then just guide the loop around the wires to see which ones are still passing current but should not be. For wires packed tight in the harness this will take some doing, but is still do-able. Sears sells these in the tool department, set you back $80 or less, look up "clamp on DC ammeter" on their web site to get an idea of what's on offer.

Albertj

I actually saw those clamp on meters. I might pick one up. I might end up bringing it to the dealer though, because it looks like something it going to have to be replaced.

This tool would be considered a requirement for any further troubleshooting on this job. I would say most of your exploring with it should start under the back seat, looking at the major power distribution blocks one at a time.
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:41 pm

Also, you mention having amp and subs - you have disconnected them you say. How were they connected and are they really really completely disconnected? What other aftermarket electronics are installed? How are they connected and switched?

These will be good things to check with your ammeter as well.
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Fri Sep 11, 2009 11:19 pm

The battery is a duralast gold specifically made for underseat applications. It's got the vents connected. It has 140 reserve capacity, 1000 CA and 840 CCA. Only a month old too. I've disconnected all audio equipment wiring (everything is directly connected to the battery and fed off that) quite a while ago. I'm 100% positive that it's not the issue. As I said before it was doing this before I put the stuff in. I also ran this stuff in a 1990 Buick Park Ave that had a crappy battery and a weak alternator with no issues.

Here's another update on the situation. I last drove the car about 6 hours ago. I went out about 30 minutes ago and the battery was just about completely dead. Just had enough power to turn the lights on and make the starter click a few times before dying out. Now the car can sit for literally 8 hours during the day and not have a problem starting. I last drove it about 45 minutes before parking it around 6PM. So the car sat about 6 hours and was dead when I went out to start it 30 minutes ago. The only difference between starting it in the daytime and when I parked it at 6 was the fact that the auto lights had just come on. That's the only variable that I can see that's even remotely different.
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Sat Sep 12, 2009 6:55 am

Let's go back to the beginning. The Duralast is an AutoZone product, correct. Then bring the car to them without back seat installed and have them load test battery and confirm that your "new" battery is indeed capable of holding a charge and your charging system is putting out the correct amount under load also.
We've been assuming just because it's a new battery that that isn't the issue, but it could be. Also you said you checked the output of the alternator using the voltmeter on your jumpbox. Not a reliable charging system test in my opinion. And even if you used your small voltmeter, the one that fried because it was hooked up "Too Long", I wouldn't trust any reading you got from that voltmeter either.
My recommendation is to go back to the basics and start off knowing the major components in the system are good. Battery and Alternator (charging system). These tests are free at AutoZone or any of the chain auto parts stores.
It won't take long to do this and you'll be sure you are starting your troubleshooting at a known Good point. Who knows maybe one of those guys might see something you missed. Highly unlikely, but even a blind squirrel can find a nut now and then.
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Sat Sep 12, 2009 7:20 am

I would also recommend having the battery retested. It needs to be fully charged before they test it, but what you are describing sounds like a bad cell to me. I'm guessing this style battery sees a lot of shelf-time in the stores.

How many volts do you have with the engine running? With the car off? Then disconnect the battery - How many volts are at the battery? What about after an hour (still disconnected)? Then hook the battery back up - now how many volts at the battery?

I'm just probing for proof that it's a drain and not a bad battery. But the ammeter will tell you this information better.
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Sat Sep 12, 2009 1:58 pm

Kyle,
Take Derek's and Rick's advice...bring the battery back to where you bought it and have it tested. I bought one each from both AutoZone and Advance Auto last year for each of my Rivieras and both turned out to have a bad cell. Originally, I thought it was just the electronics design of my 92 Riv's which are known to have high parasitic drain. My recommendation to to buy exclusively/only an Interstate battery.
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:47 pm

I've sold Interstate batteries in a previous life and had very good luck with them. Very low failure rate. I think I had 2 in a years time and we sold a lot of batteries and installed a lot of them. Used Interstate exclusively. The only times I couldn't install an Interstate was on some very old / vintage vehicles
Highly recommend them and the company took back the bad ones with no arguing.
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Sat Sep 12, 2009 9:41 pm

Thanks guys. I'm going to do that monday. I think this is a combination of a few issues honestly. It's just funny that whenever I disconnect the IP/ELC fuse it starts right up in the morning. Although what's also funny is when I first got the new battery it wasn't doing this then it started again. So it could be the IP/ELC circuit is drawing just enough amperage to drain a already bad battery that may also not be getting a correct charge from the alternator.

I refuse to use interstate batteries. I've honestly had better luck with Duralast. The last three interstate batteries in all my cars developed major issues after only a few years being able to hold a charge. The one in this car was an interstate and it smoked and hissed when you tried to charge it. The date stamp on that was only one year. Speaking of date stamps, I checked the stamp on this duralast and it was produced in july of 2009, so it's not too old at all.
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Sat Sep 12, 2009 9:41 pm

Oh and today the car developed a new problem. The signal stalk wiper control doesn't work. The only way I can use the wipers is to press the wash button. Oh the joy....
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Sat Sep 12, 2009 10:03 pm

For such a low mile car you are having your share of issues.
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Sat Sep 12, 2009 10:44 pm

The issues are probably a contributing factor into why the car has such low miles. Wonder if Kyle has a service history on the car - that is, the receipts/description of prior work done on it. Might give us all some troubleshooting ideas.

I wonder how the foglights are wired?

Albertj
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Sun Sep 13, 2009 7:51 am

As far as Interestate vs Duralast - I reached my fill with crappy parts from autozone, they get the cheapest of cheap. I was never a big fan of Interestate either, and I used to work at a store that sold them. I always got Die Hard Gold batteries for years and years, and they all outlasted their 'life' by several years, but today their quality is not what it was back then. For the Riv I got one from GM. As far as I'm concerned Delco is the only battery I'll put under the back seat...

One of the big issues with different brands of batteries is that there are only like 3 plants in the country that actually manufacture them, so no matter what the brand name is, it's really one of those 3.
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Sun Sep 13, 2009 5:10 pm

I do have to admit that the GM battery that came with my previously owned 1997 Riv lasted over 9 years!! It still had the original battery when I traded the Riv for an Eldo.
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PostSubject: Re: Parasitic Drain Issue. Any Advice?   Sun Sep 13, 2009 5:39 pm

For what it's worth i will replace my battery with another AC Delco as well if they still make this battery by the time i need one. The previous owner told me he put a new OEM replacement in before he sold the car to me.
The battery he replaced was the original one to the car from the factory.
He knew because he bought the car new. That's a damn good track record for a battery. I'm sure some of it's extra long life can be attributed to the fact that it is mounted inside the car as opposed to under the hood, but still is quite impressive.
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