What can cause a battery to drain

what can cause a battery to drain

8 Things That Will Drain Your Car Battery

Alternators with bad diodes can cause battery drain. An alternator with a good diode allows current to flow in one direction. A bad diode can leak and allow the current to flow in the opposite direction. When this happens, it may keep the charging circuit on after the . Apr 23,  · Why the Battery Drains Overnight A slow battery drain when everything is off is called a parasitic power loss. This happens when something – a glovebox light, an amplifier, any electrical component – is pulling power from the battery when it shouldn't.

One of the things that car owners dread is finding out that they cannot start their vehicles when they are … Continued. By Car Bibles Staff June 10, One of the things that car owners dread is finding out that they cannot start their vehicles when they are rushing for an appointment.

This often-overlooked part of a modern vehicle starts the system vause runs the engine as well as the electrical components of the car. With caj battery dead, it would be almost impossible to start the draon. But why did the battery die anyway? Regardless of how religious you are in your post-drive car checks, there will always be instances when you forget something.

You may leave the bxttery on dran fail to close the trunk cqn. You may also forget to switch off the dome light in the passenger cabin the moment you stepped out of your car. These things are examples of human oversight. While some modern vehicles now have alerts to warn the vehicle owner if something is still left on, older vehicles may not be so lucky.

At the same time, this piece of bartery equipment is responsible for charging the battery. If there is a problem in this battery charging system, you can also experience battery drain. It is possible that the problem is not in the alternator itself, but the other components that run it. For instance, worn-out belt tensioners or loose belts can keep the alternator from functioning in wuat optimal manner.

Mechanics call it the parasitic drain. However, one has to understand that parasitic drain is a normal occurrence. If not, then how do you expect it to perform its batterj duties? Other examples are radio presets and vehicle clock. These devices rely on power from your battery to keep them operating. The real issue is when you have defective fuses, faulty wirings, or faulty installation of electrical components.

As mentioned, the alternator is a critical piece of car technology that performs two basic things. In instances dain the diode in what does dave ramsey say about buying a car alternator has gone badthen it keeps on charging the system though the engine is already shut off.

When you start the engine in the morning, you will not be able to since you already have a discharged car battery. Other issues with the alternator can also lead to insufficient charging of the power cells. This is related to the second function of the alternator: recharging the battery. And the only way you can keep the alternator running is by taking cahse vehicle on longer drives.

If you turn off the engine before the alternator can recharge the battery, then the power cells will keep on draining. Extremes in temperature can also favor the buildup of lead sulfate crystals. This can lead to longer battery charging times, ultra-short battery life, and battery failure. Sulfation in batteries can impair the effective conversion of chemical energy into electrical energy. Rust has a way of affecting the composition of the chemicals involved in the conversion of chemical energy into an electrical one.

It is best to check the integrity of your cables. If you see any sign of corrosion, then you should xrain it up as soon as possible. Cab for loose battery cables, the problem here will be difficulty in starting your engine.

This is what is no interest financing easy to fix, though. Everything has an expiration. Even with the latest advances in car battery technology, we have yet to find a system that will last a hundred or so years. The reason is simple. The passage of time brings with it factors that can undermine the durability of these devices. For us humans, we call it aging. For non-living things, we call it normal wear. Most batteries come with a lifespan of about 3 to dan years.

Batteryy, this figure has its basis on normal driving conditions. This should save you from the dread of not being able to start your car when you need it most.

Sign up today to stay tuned. Human Oversight Regardless of how religious you are in your post-drive car checks, there will always be instances when you forget something. Bad Alternator Diode As mentioned, the alternator is a critical piece of car technology that performs two basic things. Excessive Short Drives This is related to the second function of the alternator: recharging the battery. Temperature Extremes Extremes in temperature can also favor the buildup of lead sulfate crystals.

Old or Weak Battery Everything has an expiration.

Reasons Your Battery Won't Hold a Charge

A parasitic drain may also occur when certain devices that are supposed to shut off–like an electrical relay, for example–remain on after the engine has been turned off. One way to test the lawn mower for this condition is to check for a current draw while the engine is turned off. Disconnect the positive battery cable from the battery.

Dan Ferrell writes about do-it-yourself car maintenance and repair. He has certifications in automation and control technology. Before you replace a discharging battery, perform some simple tests. When you car battery discharges soon after shutting down the engine, it's commonly caused by one of three things:.

Many battery-related problems can be diagnosed at home with a visual inspection, a digital multimeter, or an inexpensive hydrometer, available at most auto parts stores. This guide shows you how to apply some simple tests to find the cause of your battery failure. These tests are easy to apply for the average car owner. Still, you'll be advised when it's time to take your battery to a shop, if necessary, to confirm a diagnosis.

So let's find out why your car battery doesn't hold a charge. Many times, problems with a battery that will not hold a charge can be traced to poor battery maintenance. For example, you may forget to check battery electrolyte level, check the terminals for corrosion or looseness, or make sure that the battery is held in place to prevent physical damage.

Start a battery discharge diagnostic with a visual inspection. A simple inspection may help you quickly spot problems that can lead to battery problems.

For a better inspection, it is a good idea to disconnect the battery and check it on a bench or similar surface. However, before disconnecting the terminals from the battery, you may want to use a memory saver to keep the computer memory alive and other electronic devices settings see the Saving Your Computer Memory box below. If you don't want to buy a memory saver now, you can use a 9V battery instead.

Connect the 9V battery to the car battery terminals before disconnecting the cables. Once you have your car battery on a bench,. If the battery is damaged, replace it. Also, make sure all the hold-down hardware is in place and clean the battery tray. You can use a memory saver or a 9V battery to preserve your car's memory.

For one thing, this keeps you from losing settings on devices like stereos. Also, on modern vehicles, the car's computer memory obtains information during engine operation from many different system sensors, including ignition timing and injector pulse width, so that it can improve driveability.

If your computer loses this information, the relearning process may take hundreds of miles of engine operation. Corroded, loose or damaged terminals can prevent the alternator from charging the battery. Photo courtesy of Jay Dugger on Wikimedia. The battery terminal test helps you check whether your terminals are making good contact with the battery posts.

Basically, the test measures voltage drop between the battery post and its terminal. High voltage drop indicates that the charging system has difficulty supplying adequate charging voltage to the battery. This means in turn that the battery has difficulty supplying power to the starting and fuel injection systems and other circuits during cranking and start up time.

Corroded battery terminals won't allow the starting system to function properly, or the charging system to recharge the battery. Cleaning the battery terminals is a simple procedure. Use a digital multimeter to test your battery and other systems affecting battery charge. Free maintenance batteries those without removable caps come with a charge indicator test indicator eye that tells you whether your battery is charged green eye , needs a charge no color visible , or the battery needs replacement yellow eye.

The battery voltage test is especially useful on maintenance-free batteries because it can quickly tell you the state of charge and battery condition. On regular batteries those with removable caps you can do a test using a hydrometer, which can also tell you whether your battery is working see the Hydrometer Test section below. If you get a reading between If you were suspecting a battery problem because you had difficulty starting the engine, or you had problems with another electrical circuit, or the alternator warning light on the dashboard is coming on charging system problems , your problem is not with the battery.

If you get a voltage reading below It's possible you have problems with the battery itself see the "state of charge" table below. Charge the battery and repeat the test. If you get the same readings and problems after charging the battery, you may want to take the battery to a shop for a battery load test. This is one of the best ways to confirm battery condition. Still, the following tests can shed more light on the condition of your battery before you take your battery to the shop.

Continue with the following tests. Photo courtesy of Silverxxx on Wikipedia. Another quick test you want to do before proceeding is to do a quick charging system check. Make sure both negative and positive battery cables are properly connected and clean. Note that you should get a steady reading.

If the reading fluctuates, check the charging system wiring for a loose connection; other possibility is a faulty alternator or voltage regulator. If your reading is lower or higher than your specification, than you may have a bad voltage regulator. Consult your vehicle repair manual; it might tell you how to do some quick alternator checks.

If your battery seems to be in sound physical shape, and has good, clean, tight connections, it is possible the battery is leaking its charge. This can happen when you allow the battery to accumulate a layer of dirt or acid, especially around the top.

This test is simple and quick. And all you need is your voltmeter. Leaving your headlights on or other electrical device after shutting off the engine will discharge your battery. Photo courtesy of Michael Sheehan on Wikimedia. Power leaks are not the only causes of power drain on automotive batteries. Another common source of power drains are parasitic loads.

A parasitic load comes from electrical or electronic devices usually a light or accessory that remain active after you shut off the engine and remove the key from the ignition. Practically all modern vehicles use a little power after the engine shuts off, for example for the radio, dash clock, alarm, and computer modules. But these small normal parasitic loads can turn into power drainers if you leave your car parked for a few days without starting the engine. Old batteries are more susceptible to this type of power drain than new ones.

Also, abnormal parasitic loads may suddenly appear. These come from electrical shorts or worn out devices that cause a circuit to remain live when it shouldn't—a worn-out or bad relay, or a module or switch that causes a load to remain on after you turn off the ignition switch.

If you are not aware of the problem, the parasitic load can drain power off your battery overnight. You can locate many abnormal parasitic loads using a simple method. During this drain test, make sure to keep the doors and trunk closed so that no light bulb or dome light remains on. Also, loosen the under-hood light bulb to turn it off, if necessary. If you detect a parasitic load, you'll need to have access to the fuse box or power box.

If the fuse boxes are located inside the cabin, keep the front door or doors open, but use a clamp or similar device to keep the door switches in the off position. You may want to use a memory saver or connect a 9V battery across the battery terminal for this test see the text box Saving Your Computer Memory above.

If you recently installed or upgraded equipment or modified a circuit, isolate that circuit by pulling its fuse and check amperage draw. A hydrometer can reveal the state of charge and health of your battery. Photo in the Public Domain. Like the voltage test, a hydrometer test can let you know the state of charge and health of your battery in a few minutes.

This test can also reveal a failure. This test is done on batteries with removable caps. The test measures the specific gravity of the electrolyte in each cell. It compares the specific gravity density or weight of the electrolyte to the water. Since electrolyte is heavier than water, a hydrometer test can be used to tell whether your battery is charged, discharged or ruined. You'll do this test using a hydrometer, an inexpensive tool you can buy at most auto parts stores or online.

Hydrometers come in one of three basic types: ball type, needle type or float type. If possible, get a hydrometer that incorporates a thermometer so that you can compensate your readings to ambient temperature. Follow the instructions that come with the specific tool you use. Hydrometer results are a general indication of the state of health of your battery. If you need to confirm or do further tests, you may want to have a shop perform a battery load test.

This tests are a better indicator of battery performance. Alternator diodes connected to the yellow wires allow current to flow in one direction. Photo courtesy of Glogger on Wikipedia. Alternators use diodes in a rectifier to direct current flow out of the alternator and prevent that current from flowing back.

But diodes can go bad. Usually when this happens, you'll see the headlights, dashboard lights and stereo lights dim or flicker during engine operation. And the problem may cause battery power to drain back into the alternator when the engine has been shut off, leaving you with a discharged battery. To test for a bad alternator rectifier:. The problems above are the most common reasons a battery refuses to hold a charge. But, if you still can't find the source of the problem, you may have an issue in another system.

For example:.

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