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I have a 2001 Intrepid, 3.2, and has a battery drain problem, and has been an issue for several years. New alternator installed last summer.

Purchased a new battery 2 years ago, and each time battery drained, I took it to auto parts store for overnight charge.

After the last overnight charge a few weeks ago, car wouldn't start after sitting for 4 days.

The BCM was replaced, and after installing it the lights on climate control panel and radio light (not previously working), started working, so I assume problem fixed.

Mechanic suggested installing another battery and he had a good used one he gave me and installed it, and I waited 8 days, checked battery voltage and it was 12.19, and car started, so I assume problem solved.

A few days later (last Saturday), I started the car and drove it 10 miles, and today I tried starting it, but wouldn't start, so had to jump it. After jump starting, verified no lights were left on, tested battery...voltmeter reading 12.7, turned on headlights and voltmeter reading 12.19.

It's perplexing that car started after sitting 8 days but wouldn't start after sitting 2 days.

Suggestions for troubleshooting this?
 

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First and foremost, check all the battery connections; and the alternator fusible link (a couple inches up the battery cable in a smaller cable attached to the main one) for corrosion or bad connections---that was a common problem area, especially for "up north" cars. If the alternator fusible link is corroded it will not charge properly. If all that is good, here is how to find a draw:

Disconnect the positive cable on the battery. Connect a test light, or a volt meter (preferably) between the positive battery post and the disconnected positive battery cable.

Voltmeter will tell you how many volts are being drawn, test light will just illuminate if there is a draw.

Start removing fuses one by one. Once the test light goes out, or the volt meter goes to zero, after removing a fuse, you've isolated the circuit. If nothing changes removing the fuse, put it back.

Figure out what is on the circuit. Anything with a major draw (enough to light the test light, or show more than 10 volts on volt meter) will kill the battery. There are some normal draws, (radio memory etc) that will always show some voltage on a volt meter. Start unplugging components one by one that are associated with the circuit that you isolated. Same thing, light goes out, you've isolated the component drawing the voltage.

To test, you can leave the component unplugged and see if your battery dies still. Most of the time it is aftermarket crap, like radios, stereo systems, alarm systems, etc. If your car has any of that I would just start there. Otherwise whatever component you isolate is likely bad.
 

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Hi daytrepper,
I’m the mechanic helping the OP with the battery drain and the overheating (different thread).
The car had an obvious drain , the odometer and oil light would stay on with key off and removed. The BCM was replaced and that was resolved and the climate control panel began to work again as previously stated.
At that point I did the drain test with a test light and a multi meter amp clamp. ( as you know the computer plays around for a couple of minutes doing tests or such). After it calmed down, The battery draw was about 30 milliamps. Normal. That battery, although only 2 years old, would go dead in a couple of days. It had been deep cycled I think 3 times. So I think it was permanently damaged. Then the sequence outlined by the OP took place. I did not have my test light or MM with me today. So I don’t know about a drain but we did start the car twice , , later, without a jump assist with no problems. So I suspect a poor connection as you mentioned. Btw, Alternator charging at 13.9 volts. Headlights on.
 

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Hi daytrepper,
I’m the mechanic helping the OP with the battery drain and the overheating (different thread).
The car had an obvious drain , the odometer and oil light would stay on with key off and removed. The BCM was replaced and that was resolved and the climate control panel began to work again as previously stated.
At that point I did the drain test with a test light and a multi meter amp clamp. ( as you know the computer plays around for a couple of minutes doing tests or such). After it calmed down, The battery draw was about 30 milliamps. Normal. That battery, although only 2 years old, would go dead in a couple of days. It had been deep cycled I think 3 times. So I think it was permanently damaged. Then the sequence outlined by the OP took place. I did not have my test light or MM with me today. So I don’t know about a drain but we did start the car twice , , later, without a jump assist with no problems. So I suspect a poor connection as you mentioned. Btw, Alternator charging at 13.9 volts. Headlights on.
Yep I'd look over the connections first, especially the fusible link next to the battery. Everything may be ok charging system wise but if that fusible link is corroded the alternator wont be able to fully keep the battery charged. Alternator might show 13.9 at the back of it or at the battery, but if that connection is corroded, amps are not getting there. The fusible link may look fine at first glance but in the past I've had to kink the wire or even cut the heat shrink to find the corrosion. This is a common issue.

If all that is good, perform draw test again. That is assuming the battery tested good to start with.
 
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Daytrepper said:
...Alternator might show 13.9 at the back of it or at the battery, but if that connection is corroded, amps are not getting there...
Speaking of measuring at back of alternator or at the battery, it would be informative to measure at both places (with engine above 2000 rpm). Comparing the two measurements would tell you if there is a problem in the path from alternator to battery (including the fusible link and the connection between the battery cable clamps and the battery posts). If there's high resistance anywhere in that path between alternator and battery post, you'll see a significant difference between those two readings.

For the two readings, the meter leads would need to be placed (1) on output post of alternator and alternator case or engine block, and (2) on actual positive and negative posts of the battery - not the cable clamps, but actually on the posts of the battery.

So if the two readings are close to each other, positive and negative (ground) paths between alternator and battery are good. If significant difference in the two readings, then there's one or more bad (high resistance) connections in that path.

The visual and physical checks that Dan mentioned are absolutely necessary, but the comparison of the two measurements will give you an overall verification of the health status of those areas.

To make the measurements, you'll need a helper to be maintaining the engine speed at 2000 rpm or above because you'll need both hands to handle the meter leads.

See wiring diagram below. Notice path from alternator to battery thru fusible link, and Point "C" connecting positive jump post to PDC.

The PCM reads system voltage off of either Fuse N or Fuse G (not sure which - both go to the PCM) in the PDC thru the ignition switch as its reference for regulating the system voltage thru the alternator. This also emphasizes the importance of the health if the connections at the positive (and negative) jump post and cable clamp connections at the battery (as well as the fusible link) for regulating system voltage.

41336
 
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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
While looking through threads on this issue, some other ideas that could be cause if other tests mentioned in this thread do not identify the source of the battery drain:

1) Check to see if glove box light turning off when glove box door closed by opening panel on end of passenger side dashboard...will try this today. Just checked...no glove box light. Also, don't recall if hood light on my car, but will check...just checked...no hood light. License plate light working.

When I went to the car this am, one of the 2 dual interior lights was on. I was pretty sure all interior lights off yesterday. Can these lights turn on by themselves if there's a short in the wiring?

2) OP said he checked cable on starter and it was good, and then he replaced the starter and it fixed the problem. What components of starter can cause a battery drain?

Someone posted "There should be a ground cable going from the negative jump post to one of the tranny/engine bolts" There is no extra cable on neg post of my battery that I'm aware of...should there actually be one as he described?
 

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Negative jump post is not on the battery. It's a stud attached to passenger-side strut tower - two nuts (take 15mm wrench) securing two cables to the stud.

Also, where you see Positive jump post mentioned, it's not on the battery - it's next to the a.c. compressor.

Another battery drainer is if the brake light switch (located at brake pedal) gets out of adjustment, the brake lights will stay on. That switch is powered even with igntion turned off - so your brake lights will be on all the time - so will run the battery down overnight.

You'd think people would notice their brake lights on, but they wouldn't necessarily notice in the daytime, and if you think about it, if you're getting out of your car and going into a store, or work, or your house, you may not even walk anywhere that you would see the lights. In any case, it's happened to more than a few on this forum over the years, including yours truly. There are posts that tell you how to adjust the switch without removing the switch. The procedure in the FSM has you remove the switch to adjust it - totally unnecssary, and can lead to creating problems, and it's quicker without removing it. I'd post the instructions, but I'm short on time.
 

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I usually do check voltage at the actual battery posts. Sometimes I"m a bad boy and don't do that on the LH cars. Have to remove the headlight and air cleaner. Also, I check for a voltage drop across key locations in the charging/battery system.
Thanks guys, for posting these indepth answers and advice.
 

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Could not locate the fusible link near the battery. However, there were some wires leading from the + battery under a sleeve underneath the upper intake, and if that's the link, then appears the upper intake would have to be removed to get to it.

Would some post a pick of fusible link from their Intrepid?

Rechecked alternator/battery system.
Batt. Volts static. 12.25
Ran engine 2000 rpm with headlights On
13.9 volts at the battery posts (removed air cleaner and headlight).
Checked voltage from battery to PDC and various other points. No variation in voltage.
Checked for voltage drop. Battery to alternator, to PDC. 0.1 volts Max.
All appears normal to me.
 

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The Fusible link will be part of the Positive battery cable near the positive battery post terminal. It will be within the cable sheath and not visible.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Today, cruzcar stripped about a foot of the sheathing from around the positive cable, and did not see a fusible link. About 2 years ago, I took the car to a shop about 2 years ago because the battery died, and the battery in the car was fairly new so I asked to evaluate why battery died. The mechanic said part of the positive cable had burnt due to leaning against something hot and they spliced about 6 to to 10 inches of the positive cable with a new wire...the splice was about 6 inches from the battery terminal. If the fusible link was cut out and not replaced when the splice was done, could that be causing the battery drain?
 

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Love how you leave these details out.
 

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Maybe get a positive cable from the wrecking yard and put it back to original?

Don't know how the "splice" was done. Best bet is to go back to original.
 

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Maybe get a positive cable from the wrecking yard and put it back to original?

Don't know how the "splice" was done. Best bet is to go back to original.
Actually, I found a positive cable I had pulled from an Intrepid...attached is a pic. There is a green wire in the middle that looks like a splice in similar location as splice on my positive cable, but color of wire on splice on my positive cable is black, but no extra wires as described in this thread, so where is the fusible link located on the wire?
 

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That's not a stock cable. It's been modified.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
That's not a stock cable. It's been modified.
Since there's a splice in same location from one in pic as on my car, maybe it was a short cut remedy to remove the fusible link and splice the wire to fix a battery drain.
 

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Actually, I found a positive cable I had pulled from an Intrepid...attached is a pic. There is a green wire in the middle that looks like a splice in similar location as splice on my positive cable, but color of wire on splice on my positive cable is black, but no extra wires as described in this thread, so where is the fusible link located on the wire?
That green section is the fusible link. It sounds as if it has been cut out and replaced with regular wire on your car. In that picture, thats how the positive battery cable would look from the factory. It connects to a junction up above the battery to supply the main cables to the rest of the car. The smaller wire with the green fusible link is the alternator feed.

I would definitely check those connections and see if there is any where else someone has been in there splicing or changing wiring. If it wasnt done correctly those connections could be broken or corroded.

When I went to the car this am, one of the 2 dual interior lights was on. I was pretty sure all interior lights off yesterday. Can these lights turn on by themselves if there's a short in the wiring?

2) OP said he checked cable on starter and it was good, and then he replaced the starter and it fixed the problem. What components of starter can cause a battery drain?

Someone posted "There should be a ground cable going from the negative jump post to one of the tranny/engine bolts" There is no extra cable on neg post of my battery that I'm aware of...should there actually be one as he described?
So the headlight switches have been known to go bad and cause the interior lights to come on randomly. Thats the most common possibility, other than that it could be a door switch.

There are two negative cables attached originally to the stud up on top of the shock tower. One goes to the battery, the other down to a transmission-engine bolt near the starter.

It seems your battery cables may have been patched in so I would verify you have the correct ground wires in place.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
That green section is the fusible link. It sounds as if it has been cut out and replaced with regular wire on your car. In that picture, thats how the positive battery cable would look from the factory. It connects to a junction up above the battery to supply the main cables to the rest of the car. The smaller wire with the green fusible link is the alternator feed.

I would definitely check those connections and see if there is any where else someone has been in there splicing or changing wiring. If it wasnt done correctly those connections could be broken or corroded.



So the headlight switches have been known to go bad and cause the interior lights to come on randomly. Thats the most common possibility, other than that it could be a door switch.

There are two negative cables attached originally to the stud up on top of the shock tower. One goes to the battery, the other down to a transmission-engine bolt near the starter.

It seems your battery cables may have been patched in so I would verify you have the correct ground wires in place.
I think the wire spliced on my cable same diameter as the red cable, unlike the green wire on the cable in the pic I posted, which is smaller in diameter than the red cable, so I assume the green wire has different composition, and if so, in what way? If the splice on the wire on the cable on my car is not corroded and if it was connected correctly, could it still be the cause the battery drain?
 

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I think the wire spliced on my cable same diameter as the red cable, unlike the green wire on the cable in the pic I posted, which is smaller in diameter than the red cable, so I assume the green wire has different composition, and if so, in what way? If the splice on the wire on the cable on my car is not corroded and if it was connected correctly, could it still be the cause the battery drain?
A fusible link is a different type of wire; which is meant to "blow" like a fuse if there is a short or overload-----when this happens they usually burn out quick in a puff of smoke-- like a fuse.

They are a different size than the wire they are protecting because they are rated, like a regular fuse, to a certain amperage. They are often smaller than the wire they protect because they are rated to protect the maximum amps the particular components on the circuit can handle, or output; vs the amount the wire itself can handle continuously; which is always higher.

Example, usually a 12 gauge wire is protected by a 16 gauge fusible link.

If the splice was done correctly and is not corroded, it wouldnt cause a battery drain, however, if it is not a fusible link, if there is ever a short or an issue in the alternator circuit, you have no protection on it now; so, a short could result in a fire rather than the fusible link blowing and cutting off the power.
 

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...Rechecked alternator/battery system.
Batt. Volts static. 12.25
Ran engine 2000 rpm with headlights On
13.9 volts at the battery posts (removed air cleaner and headlight).
Checked voltage from battery to PDC and various other points. No variation in voltage.
Checked for voltage drop. Battery to alternator, to PDC. 0.1 volts Max.
All appears normal to me.
So you're saying that you checked voltage between alternator and battery, and it's less that 0.1 volts? If so, that says that the splice connections to the wire that was put in place of the fusible link are good.
 
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