vehicle mechanics question

bigv

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My HS son drives a '08 Ford escape. Has a replaced motor with about 130k miles. Overall a fairly clean good running car. Last winter the battery went bad so I put a new one in. This winter, with a battery less than a year old it kept dying over night (not every night) or at school when sitting. Couldn't understand it as I have an older hunting pickup sitting next to it with older battery and it never dies. Anyway, kept jumping etc. Put charger on it for 24 hours. It fired up and he drove it for a couple days then dead again in morning. I wondered if alternator? so I had a local mechanic come and get it and plug in to see if a code would read. Nothing. He thought bad battery or a drain. Finally, took battery out and back to place where I got it. They tested it and said stone dead. Replaced for free. I take it home, slap it in and it fires right up. Think awesome, just a bad battery. Next morning my son leaves for school....dead. What the hell! It has to be drain?? How do you find it? Do I pull all fuses one a time to check. I don't have a heated garage space to do anything. If I take it in, it'll cost me a ton of money to find it. Car is worth probably $2500 is all. Or could it be something else???
 


Petras

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Have your alternator tested. should be able to do this either in the vehicle or on the bench. I'd suggest removing it from the vehicle and taking it in to oreillys or napa or any of the local part houses. Pretty sure they will do it free of charge. There may be a short in the alternator that is causing a power drain. the other possibility could be that maybe the alternator isn't chargin at full capacity. This can be tested easily with the alternator still in the vehicle. Start the vehicle and then use a voltmeter to check the voltage across the battery. Witha properly chaging alternator, the voltage should read somewhere in the 13.5-13.7v range.
The next question I have is does it have an aftermarket remote start system? If so, unhook the power for it and see if the problem goes away.
 

NDbowman

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guy beat me to it, i was going to post a similar video. watching youtube has helped me find the voltage drain on a tractor and my moms toyota. Can be a little time consuming but keep at it and you'll find it.
 

bigv

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Thanks for tips. Well...the local mechanic plugged it in to his code reader deal to see if it showed any issue. You're saying that won't necessarily show an iffy alternator like I originally suspected?
 


db-2

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Get a Dodge Cummins.
I can spell Cummins right now due to advice from others on here. So, thanks. Why we are on here for the answers. db
 
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bigv

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Have your alternator tested. should be able to do this either in the vehicle or on the bench. I'd suggest removing it from the vehicle and taking it in to oreillys or napa or any of the local part houses. Pretty sure they will do it free of charge. There may be a short in the alternator that is causing a power drain. the other possibility could be that maybe the alternator isn't chargin at full capacity. This can be tested easily with the alternator still in the vehicle. Start the vehicle and then use a voltmeter to check the voltage across the battery. Witha properly chaging alternator, the voltage should read somewhere in the 13.5-13.7v range.
The next question I have is does it have an aftermarket remote start system? If so, unhook the power for it and see if the problem goes away.
Does not have a starter. But I do suspect alternator too.
 

riverview

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newer vehicles have parasitic draw but to kill it overnight you must have a drain on the battery. any aftermarket parts added? radio, fog lights. you can pull the ground cable off and install a test light between the cable and ground on the battery and pull fuses util the test light goes out to find your drain.
 

Petras

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Thanks for tips. Well...the local mechanic plugged it in to his code reader deal to see if it showed any issue. You're saying that won't necessarily show an iffy alternator like I originally suspected?
For the most part, a n alternator with a voltage draw like a short isn't going to show up on a code reader. Depending on the vehicle, an alternator that isn't properly charging MIGHT show up as a low voltage fault... on an older vehicle like this, I'd bet it won't. a simple drive to the local parts house and ask them to test if the alternator is charging will clear up any questions about that. should only take about 5 minutes. Or, if you happen to have a voltmeter you can check it yourself real easily...
this video gives a quick easy option for testing the alternator for a short at home if you ahve a volt meter...
 


1lessdog

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If you think its the alternator start it and unhook the battery. If it stays running alternator is good. My guess you have a dead short somewhere.
 

espringers

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"I take it home, slap it in and it fires right up. Think awesome, just a bad battery. Next morning my son leaves for school....dead."

^^^^ this tells me/us its not the alternator ^^^ if you put a brand new battery in, started it, didn't leave it running for a long time or drive it, and then it was dead the next morning, then the alternator can't be playing a roll in your problem. you have a random parasitic draw and if it will drain a battery completely just whilst sitting at school, its not a small one (although it sounds like that happened to an already shot battery that likely froze after going dead). the video guy posted should be the ticket. if you don't feel comfortable, any mechanic worth their hourly rate should be able to do the same thing without breaking your bank.
 

espringers

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he brings up a few good points right away. we had one that would drain if we didn't pull the key out of the ignition.

kid got an aftermarket stereo? amp?
 
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bigv

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nope. Had a plug in blue tooth adapter but I made him dump that. Didn't affect it.
 

watson

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Kid had the same vehicle and problem a couple years back. Check it in the dark, his was just the glove box light staying on, broken plunger button. Another problem is under hood light if yours has one
 


guywhofishes

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Thank God for DIY youtube videos. I’ve saved thousands of dollars (and hassle) fixing things myself. Some of these guys make it so understandable.

I regret not taking shop classes and such - what an idiot I was!
 

Auggie

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Bandaid treatment would be to put a switch on the battery. It'll get old popping the hood and flipping the switch all the time and your radio will reset, but it'll always start. Then when it warms up, go through and find the electric bleed.
 

Petras

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"I take it home, slap it in and it fires right up. Think awesome, just a bad battery. Next morning my son leaves for school....dead."

^^^^ this tells me/us its not the alternator ^^^ if you put a brand new battery in, started it, didn't leave it running for a long time or drive it, and then it was dead the next morning, then the alternator can't be playing a roll in your problem. you have a random parasitic draw and if it will drain a battery completely just whilst sitting at school, its not a small one (although it sounds like that happened to an already shot battery that likely froze after going dead). the video guy posted should be the ticket. if you don't feel comfortable, any mechanic worth their hourly rate should be able to do the same thing without breaking your bank.
not trying to call you out but this is not correct. A short in the alternator can 100% have an effect on the battery when the vehicle is not running. In fact it will have much more of an effect on the battery when the vehicle isn't running that it would if the vehicle is running. At least when the vehicle is running, the alternator is producing energy to replenish the battery.
Simply shutting the motor off does not cause a mechanical break in the wire going from the alternator to the battery and the alternator to ground (frame of the vehicle). This is a hard connection and if there is a short in the alternator, it provides a path from positive to ground through the case of the alternator.
 


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