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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-03-2019, 07:11 AM Thread Starter
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Battery dies multiple times

I have a 2001 Intrepid that I purchased last November. It has a 3.2 engine. The following month the car wouldn't start and I jump started the battery and car started ok for the next month and wouldn't start again so I had the battery replaced. Around that time the driver's side electric seat wouldn't move backwards so I replaced it with a used one.

About 2 months ago, the car wouldn't start again so I had it towed to a mechanic. He said the one of the battery ground cables was exposed and it fried the battery so he repaired the cable and replaced the battery.

Last month, car wouldn't start again. It wouldn't jump start so I had it towed to same mechanic. The battery was completely dead so mechanic replaced it at no charge. I asked him to check alternator and he said it was a little weak but not enough to justify replacing it.

A few days ago, I noticed the driver's side electric seat wouldn't move backwards (just a clicking sound when I pushed the button). Yesterday, the car wouldn't start.

I think the electric seat and battery problems may be related. There are no other symptoms.

Any ideas on what is causing the battery to die?

Last edited by eagle4x; 05-03-2019 at 07:52 AM.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-03-2019, 11:45 AM
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Shot in the dark but is your glove box light on? Your seat just clicking sounds like a motor is bound.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-03-2019, 12:39 PM
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"He said the one of the battery ground cables was exposed and it fried the battery so he repaired the cable and replaced the battery." That doesn't make any sense.

The +12 volt cable from the battery is close to the passenger-side tie rod. In the earlier production cars, the cable was too close and would rub on the tie rod, wear thru the insulation and short the battery to ground. But I was thinking they fixed that problem at the factory well before 2001.

You'd probably notice if your brake lights were always on, but a battery draining happens on these cars when the brake light switch gets out of calibration. Verify that the brake lights aren't staying on. If they are, we can tell you how to calibrate the switch.

How much does this car get driven? With a good battery, the normal ignition-off drain current will discharge it in about 3 weeks, quicker if the battery is old.

Can you measure the voltage at the battery with the engine running just above idle with the lights and cabin fan turned on? It should be between 13.5 and 14.5 volts (the PCM adjusts it towards the higher end of that range in warmer weather, and towards the lower end of that range in colder weather). If it's not much above 13.5 *and* it doesn't get driven a lot, the partially charged battery could drain between uses. Let us know what the voltage is with the engine running a little above idle.

Check the condition of the green fusible link branching off of the battery pos. cable near the battery. It is the connection between the alternator and the battery. It can get eaten up with battery acid if not cleaned off. When a lot of copper gets eaten away, the resistance in that cable goes way up, so the alternator can't charge the battery very well. Check it for a lot of the white battery acid residue growth.


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Last edited by peva; 05-03-2019 at 12:43 PM.
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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-04-2019, 03:03 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by KxWarrior View Post
Shot in the dark but is your glove box light on? Your seat just clicking sounds like a motor is bound.
Actually, I had a problem with the glove box not opening and I pulled on the corner of it and it stayed partially open about a half inch. I replaced the box and noticed the switch that controls the light was in the other top corner of the box and that stayed tight against the switch so that wasn't the problem, but excellent guess. Thanks for the input.
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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-04-2019, 04:35 PM Thread Starter
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"He said the one of the battery ground cables was exposed and it fried the battery so he repaired the cable and replaced the battery." That doesn't make any sense.

The +12 volt cable from the battery is close to the passenger-side tie rod. In the earlier production cars, the cable was too close and would rub on the tie rod, wear thru the insulation and short the battery to ground. But I was thinking they fixed that problem at the factory well before 2001.

You'd probably notice if your brake lights were always on, but a battery draining happens on these cars when the brake light switch gets out of calibration. Verify that the brake lights aren't staying on. If they are, we can tell you how to calibrate the switch.

How much does this car get driven? With a good battery, the normal ignition-off drain current will discharge it in about 3 weeks, quicker if the battery is old.

Can you measure the voltage at the battery with the engine running just above idle with the lights and cabin fan turned on? It should be between 13.5 and 14.5 volts (the PCM adjusts it towards the higher end of that range in warmer weather, and towards the lower end of that range in colder weather). If it's not much above 13.5 *and* it doesn't get driven a lot, the partially charged battery could drain between uses. Let us know what the voltage is with the engine running a little above idle.

Check the condition of the green fusible link branching off of the battery pos. cable near the battery. It is the connection between the alternator and the battery. It can get eaten up with battery acid if not cleaned off. When a lot of copper gets eaten away, the resistance in that cable goes way up, so the alternator can't charge the battery very well. Check it for a lot of the white battery acid residue growth.

1) Brake lights do not stay on.

2) Car is driven about every 2 - 3 days.

3) After jump starting the car, I took it to Advance and AutoZone to check the battery and alternator. Both places useless to do that, so I bought a voltmeter and watched YouTube video how to do it myself (all tests at approx. 1500 rpm's).
a) Battery with and without load 13.4 volts.
b) Alternator with load, black lead to bat, red lead to alt case = .15, OP said don't want reading over .1, if so, then you have a problem.
c) Alternator with load, red lead to bat, black lead to neg nut on alt = .35, OP said don't want over .3

4) I did not see a green fusible link branching off the battery because the pos and neg connections are below the air filter, and I did not see any links between above the air filter from the battery to the alternator. If any acid on a fusible link on the battery connections below the air filter, I'm sure the mechanic who replaced the battery about a month ago would have cleaned it. There is no acid build-up on battery connections above the air filter or on the connections to the alternator.

Questions:
1) Is it normal for battery voltage to stay the same @ 13.4 with and without load?

2) Both of the alternator tests failed. If your recommendation is to replace it, is it a difficult job? I have replaced a water pump, serpentine belt, and AC Compressor / Dyrer on other types of vehicles, so I know how to turn a wrench.

3) I noticed that while engine idling, I heard intermittent sparks I think near the spark plugs. Could that cause the battery to drain or the alternator to not charge battery properly?

Last edited by eagle4x; 05-04-2019 at 04:50 PM.
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-04-2019, 09:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eagle4x View Post
1) Brake lights do not stay on.

2) Car is driven about every 2 - 3 days.

3) After jump starting the car, I took it to Advance and AutoZone to check the battery and alternator. Both places useless to do that, so I bought a voltmeter and watched YouTube video how to do it myself (all tests at approx. 1500 rpm's).
a) Battery with and without load 13.4 volts.
Thatís a little low, but the spec. for making that check is 2500 rpm. At lower rpm, it can be more load dependent and may not be up to the min. 13.5 volts. The warmer the ambient air, the closer it will be to the 13.5 volts.
b) Alternator with load, black lead to bat, red lead to alt case = .15, OP said don't want reading over .1, if so, then you have a problem.
That must be neg. lead of battery to alt. case. That would be checking the integrity of the ground connection between alt. and battery. I donít know where the .1 volt spec. came from, but if that spec. is right, your measurement is saying the ground connection is a little weak. Check that the nut at the neg. jump post connection is good and tight.
c) Alternator with load, red lead to bat, black lead to neg nut on alt = .35, OP said don't want over .3
The nut attaching the red wire to the alternator is the + voltage out of the alternator. So you must have the red lead of the meter on the pos. battery terminal. Again, Iím not sure where the .3 volt spec. came from. That test is measuring the integrity of the green fusible link that I mentioned. A high reading would indicate that the fusible link may have been partially eaten away by corrosion like I mentioned.

4) I did not see a green fusible link branching off the battery because the pos and neg connections are below the air filter, and I did not see any links between above the air filter from the battery to the alternator. If any acid on a fusible link on the battery connections below the air filter, I'm sure the mechanic who replaced the battery about a month ago would have cleaned it. There is no acid build-up on battery connections above the air filter or on the connections to the alternator.
Itís not the presence of battery acid, per-se, on the link that will immediately cause problems. It is the fact that over time, the acid eats copper away making the link thinner and higher resistance than it should be. After that happens, even if the acid is cleaned off of it, the problem of the link being thin (due to missing copper) will still be there. No mechanic will see the condition of the link copper because it is covered with insulation. The insulation would have to be partially removed to see if the acid seeped under the insulation into the copper and ate some of it away. You canít just look at the insulated link and tell if it has been damaged, but if the surrounding insulation and pos. battery cable and terminal were ever covered with the white battery acid residue for a bit of time (say, a couple of years or more), thatís when the residue migrates into the fusible link and damages it. Because that area is out of sight - out of mind, that is quite often the case with these cars.

Questions:
1) Is it normal for battery voltage to stay the same @ 13.4 with and without load?
See my previous comments on that. RPM needs to be higher than 1500 for a valid test. The alternator output voltage will always be a little load dependent. Also - the higher the ambient air temp., the closer to 13.5 volts it will be, but it should never be below 13.5 above 2000 rpm if the load is below the current rating of the alternator.

2) Both of the alternator tests failed. If your recommendation is to replace it, is it a difficult job? I have replaced a water pump, serpentine belt, and AC Compressor / Dyrer on other types of vehicles, so I know how to turn a wrench.
Not too difficult a job on the 3.2. Thereís a round rod brace (coming from the cyl. head) that is bolted to the lower back end of the case - hard to see, so you may not know itís there - but you do now.

3) I noticed that while engine idling, I heard intermittent sparks I think near the spark plugs. Could that cause the battery to drain or the alternator to not charge battery properly?
Hard to say what that is. If itís something like the pos. battery cable shorting against something making the sparks, then yes - that would drain the battery when the engine is off. Trace the pos. Battery cable to look for damaged insulation allowing a direct short to the engine or body (or the passenger-side tie rod like I mentioned before.
Good luck!
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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-04-2019, 10:38 PM Thread Starter
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Good luck!
Can the fusible link be accessed by removing the air filter box or does the passenger side tire have to be removed?
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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-05-2019, 08:51 AM
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I believe you can go either way on that.
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-08-2019, 10:04 PM
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Next time the car wont start before you jump it check voltages at the jump terminals and then check at the battery itself.

Any difference between volts at jump terminals or battery terminals will point you to cable or battery problems. You have a short history with the car, but the battery has been changed a couple?? times. As Bill and Ronbo say the cables (not JUST the fusible link) do degrade over time. 01 MY battery/starter cables might very well be 18-19 years old. If the are original or even possibly changed maybe 10 years ago might be time again.

If things do point to alternator I recommend OEM rather than something from one of the alll makes/all models parts store. In fact I personally feel so strong about the OEM alternators (denso) that I would probably go to junkyard and pull one off a wreck. Note again 98-01 will swap right in. 02+ have different connectors.


The air cleaner just pops out of the fender should give you good look at the cable coming up.

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Last edited by mnitetrain; 05-08-2019 at 10:07 PM.
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