Parasitic Battery Drain?
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Thread: Parasitic Battery Drain?

  1. #1
    dgs
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    Parasitic Battery Drain?

    At 179K, my Ody's battery will go dead overnight. Happened first two Sundays ago and I thought one of the blasted reading lights had been left on again. Put it on the charger after work, but no lights on. Battery is 5 years into an advertised 7 year life, So I took it to Autozone and had them test it. They hooked their cart up to the van and pronounced the battery and charging system in good order.

    I chalked it up to a fluke and kept driving it. It was fine all last week, and then Sat. AM it was dead again. Charged it during the day Saturday and it started fine. It sat in the driveway and on Sunday AM it was dead again. Uh-oh.

    Charged it several hours on Sunday and checked it with my multimeter. I pulled the neg. battery terminal off and put my meter, set on amps, between the cable and the battery. It read 3.2 amps, so it seems I've got a short.

    So, my questions are:
    • What is a normal 'at rest' current draw for a '99 EX? The clock and maybe some other things draw something, right?
    • Also, I read here that some cars computers will 'fire up' when power is connected, causing a momentary current. Is that true on the Ody? How long do I need to wait to get a measure of the real drain?
    • Anyone else experience a parasitic battery drain in an Ody and what was the cause?

    Thanks!
    DGS (aka salguod)
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  3. #2
    dgs
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    Just found this thread with some info on the rest current ('dark current', I guess). I should be seeing ~30mA, not 3.2A. So I've got a short somewhere.

    Time to start pulling fuses, I guess.
    DGS (aka salguod)
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    2005 Mazda3 - Sunlight Silver, 5 door
    1960 Thunderbird Convertible - Raven Black, Red leather, 17" Boyd Junkyard Dogs
    1995 Jayco 1207KB

    Gone:
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    1993 Escort LX - 184,000 total miles

  4. #3
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    Yep, 30ma might be a little low, but surely 500ma would be more than I'd expect.
    2013 Smoky Topaz Odyssey Touring
    2008 Saab 9-3 2.0T to replace the Integra
    2002 MB EXL-RES(sold at 137k miles)
    1994 Acura Integra GSR(sold in 2009 with 195k, stolen from new owner after only 7 months!)

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  6. #4
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    Yes, normal "off" load current should be 30-50mA from what I have measured on several newer cars, and this is way higher than it used to be 20-30 years ago (so yes, this does cause the battery to go dead faster than it did in days past).

    And on my VW Passat and a Honda Civic that I used to have, I had to wait for +/- 30-40 seconds for the off current to drop down to it's stable level, something to do with the theft deterrent system I think.
    Last edited by redmondjp; 02-03-2009 at 12:55 AM.
    2001 Odyssey EX 206K miles, 99K on the 3rd tranny, now running Dex III ATF with Lubegard Friction Modifier (black bottle)

  7. #5
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    You are correct about the tiered step-down of the battery drain. I don't have the graph handy, but it is indeed something like 30-60 seconds before it drops to a deep-sleep level.
    2013 Smoky Topaz Odyssey Touring
    2008 Saab 9-3 2.0T to replace the Integra
    2002 MB EXL-RES(sold at 137k miles)
    1994 Acura Integra GSR(sold in 2009 with 195k, stolen from new owner after only 7 months!)

  8. #6
    dgs
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    Another question:

    When I connect the battery, I head a click from behind the passenger headlight. it's hard to pinpoint, but the most likely candidate seems to be the small box with some ABS controls that's ahead of the main fuse box and under the cruise control box (modulator? I don't have my manual handy).

    Is a click in this area normal when connecting the battery?
    DGS (aka salguod)
    Hidden Content
    2010 Saturn Outlook XR - Cocoa Brown with black leather interior
    2005 Mazda3 - Sunlight Silver, 5 door
    1960 Thunderbird Convertible - Raven Black, Red leather, 17" Boyd Junkyard Dogs
    1995 Jayco 1207KB

    Gone:
    1999 Odyssey EX - 203,000 total miles
    1993 Escort LX - 184,000 total miles

  9. #7
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    No, I think that's abnormal.
    2013 Smoky Topaz Odyssey Touring
    2008 Saab 9-3 2.0T to replace the Integra
    2002 MB EXL-RES(sold at 137k miles)
    1994 Acura Integra GSR(sold in 2009 with 195k, stolen from new owner after only 7 months!)

  10. #8
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    That little box contains the ABS pump motor relay, the ABS fail-safe relay, and the radiator main fan relay. All should be deenergized if they key is out.

    Pull the cover off and remove the relays and see if your click goes away.

    Alternative.... Pull fuse 3(7.5A) from the drivers under-dash panel, and that should shut off the radiator fan relay.

    Fuse 48(20A) in the underhood fuse-relay box will shut off the ABS pump motor relay for sure, even though it goes through the ABS fail-safe relay first, and should already be off.

    The ABS fail-safe relay has no direct fuse controlling it. Power for it comes from the ABS control unit directly. It looks like you can disable the ABS control unit's power input by removing.....

    Fuse 4(7.5A) from the drivers under-dash panel.
    Fuse 47(20A) from the under-hood fuse box

    These last two are also needed to completely disable the ABS control....
    Fuse 9(10A) in the drivers under-dash panel shouldn't do anything in the keys-off position, but you never know.
    Finally, fuse 14(7.5A) in the passengers under-dash panel should do nothing if the pump motor relay isn't energized. It looks like it's intended as a feedback to say the pump is 'probably' running.
    Last edited by SuperDad; 02-03-2009 at 07:14 PM.
    2013 Smoky Topaz Odyssey Touring
    2008 Saab 9-3 2.0T to replace the Integra
    2002 MB EXL-RES(sold at 137k miles)
    1994 Acura Integra GSR(sold in 2009 with 195k, stolen from new owner after only 7 months!)

  11. #9
    dgs
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    Thanks for the info, II've got a service manual, but not the wiring manual. I may not get to check it until the weekend. In the mean time, the wife gets the Mazda, I drive the van and I pull the negative battery cable every time I park it.

    Oh well, worse things could happen.
    DGS (aka salguod)
    Hidden Content
    2010 Saturn Outlook XR - Cocoa Brown with black leather interior
    2005 Mazda3 - Sunlight Silver, 5 door
    1960 Thunderbird Convertible - Raven Black, Red leather, 17" Boyd Junkyard Dogs
    1995 Jayco 1207KB

    Gone:
    1999 Odyssey EX - 203,000 total miles
    1993 Escort LX - 184,000 total miles

  12. #10
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    If you have an multimeter with 20A capability, the narrowing of the problem should be a 30 minute task.

    Best and easiest method would be a clamp-on ammeter. Grab one lead off the battery and clamp-on and you're ready to go.

    Option B would be a few wraps of wire around one of the leads, and measure the current across that wrapped wire. It'll be a small fraction of the actual current, but should be enough to let you know as things change dramatically. Its especially nice since you don't need to disconnect anything.

    Sadly, without the electrical manual, the task is much more difficult.
    Last edited by SuperDad; 02-03-2009 at 10:27 PM.
    2013 Smoky Topaz Odyssey Touring
    2008 Saab 9-3 2.0T to replace the Integra
    2002 MB EXL-RES(sold at 137k miles)
    1994 Acura Integra GSR(sold in 2009 with 195k, stolen from new owner after only 7 months!)

  13. #11
    dgs
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    My multimeter has only a 10amp range. My first reading as described above was made by removing the negative cable and placing the meter between the loose cable and the neg. post.

    Can you describe how I should use my 10amp meter with option B (I assume) to check it? Wrap wires where? Place my multimeter leads where?

    As you might have guessed, I know enough to be dangerous, but I really would like to learn. I understand the process of pulling a fuse, check the current, replace it and pull a different fuse, check the current and repeat until you find the circuit that eliminates the drain, I'm just not sure how to hook up my meter to get a proper reading.

    Thanks
    DGS (aka salguod)
    Hidden Content
    2010 Saturn Outlook XR - Cocoa Brown with black leather interior
    2005 Mazda3 - Sunlight Silver, 5 door
    1960 Thunderbird Convertible - Raven Black, Red leather, 17" Boyd Junkyard Dogs
    1995 Jayco 1207KB

    Gone:
    1999 Odyssey EX - 203,000 total miles
    1993 Escort LX - 184,000 total miles

  14. #12
    Registered User William Wiles's Avatar
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    You CANNOT measure a DC current with an inductive pickup. You have to place the meter in line with the circuit. 10 amps is fine for what you are doing as long as your idle current is not over 10 amps. Just place the meter inline with the battery lead as you did and remove selected fuses until the high current stops. If you have any third party attachments to the van try disconnecting those first.
    2004 EX Odyssey.
    All posts made by me are in reference to the gen 2 Odyssey.

  15. #13
    dgs
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    OK. The only accessories or mods are a trailer hitch (installed last spring) and my radio wiring mod to run sound from my TV/DVD to the rear speakers. That's been in place for over 6 years.

    The trailer wiring is all inside the van, exiting the left rear panel where the jack is. I didn't drop the bumper to run it outside to the actual hitch.
    DGS (aka salguod)
    Hidden Content
    2010 Saturn Outlook XR - Cocoa Brown with black leather interior
    2005 Mazda3 - Sunlight Silver, 5 door
    1960 Thunderbird Convertible - Raven Black, Red leather, 17" Boyd Junkyard Dogs
    1995 Jayco 1207KB

    Gone:
    1999 Odyssey EX - 203,000 total miles
    1993 Escort LX - 184,000 total miles

  16. #14
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    Some newer clamp-on units can indeed measure DC current, but my suggestion about the wrapped wire is clearly non-workable.

    Be aware that on most multimeters, the high-amp connection is a separate jack which is UNFUSED and NOT disconnected from ground when you switch the selector switch away from the (10A or 20A) selection.

    This means if you aren't careful, you can have a nasty surprise when you go to measure the battery voltage after you've been checking for parasitic losses and accidentally short the 600 cold cranking amps through some 16 gauge meter leads. Its an easy mistake to make.

    I've never made that mistake with an automotive battery, but I have done accidental shorting several times, and its never a good thing.

    I'd still start with the relays you know shouldn't be turning on. They probably don't draw 3.2 amps, though.
    2013 Smoky Topaz Odyssey Touring
    2008 Saab 9-3 2.0T to replace the Integra
    2002 MB EXL-RES(sold at 137k miles)
    1994 Acura Integra GSR(sold in 2009 with 195k, stolen from new owner after only 7 months!)

  17. #15
    dgs
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    Thanks all.

    Haven't done any further checking yet, but this AM (at something like 3 degrees outside) when I re-connected the battery, there was no spark and no click from the RF. Same when I got to work and pulled it, nothing when I touched the negative cable. We've got a multimeter here, I'm going to go check current at lunch (when it'll have warmed up to 22, woo-hoo!) and see if the drain is gone.

    Good news may be that I located my problem, the bad news is that I don't really know what circuit it was or when it'll come back so I can find out.
    DGS (aka salguod)
    Hidden Content
    2010 Saturn Outlook XR - Cocoa Brown with black leather interior
    2005 Mazda3 - Sunlight Silver, 5 door
    1960 Thunderbird Convertible - Raven Black, Red leather, 17" Boyd Junkyard Dogs
    1995 Jayco 1207KB

    Gone:
    1999 Odyssey EX - 203,000 total miles
    1993 Escort LX - 184,000 total miles

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