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  #1  
Old 17th March 2009
lwaldron lwaldron is offline
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Default 03 9-3: Battery Repeatedly Drains, Mechanic Clueless

2004 9-3 Linear bought used in October 2008. Brand new battery installed, one month later is completely drained. Dead cell discovered in battery. Mechanic also checks for any power draw. None found. Battery replaced, then drive on.
Three months later, new, replacement battery is completely drained. This time, no fault found in battery. Nevertheless, mechanic still can detect no power draw. (I don't leave anything turned on the car, don't have an Ipod, don't charge the cellphone, don't have a subscription to OnStar.) Mechanic is utterly stumped. Mechanic says, "Goodbye and good luck."
Does anybody have any suggestions? Has this happened to you? Is there a fix?
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  #2  
Old 17th March 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lwaldron
2004 9-3 Linear bought used in October 2008. Brand new battery installed, one month later is completely drained. Dead cell discovered in battery. Mechanic also checks for any power draw. None found. Battery replaced, then drive on.
Three months later, new, replacement battery is completely drained. This time, no fault found in battery. Nevertheless, mechanic still can detect no power draw. (I don't leave anything turned on the car, don't have an Ipod, don't charge the cellphone, don't have a subscription to OnStar.) Mechanic is utterly stumped. Mechanic says, "Goodbye and good luck."
Does anybody have any suggestions? Has this happened to you? Is there a fix?
sounds like an alternator going bad, but strange you're not seeing any other electrical gremlins
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  #3  
Old 17th March 2009
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insert ammmeter between positive term & cable read the display..
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  #4  
Old 17th March 2009
lwaldron lwaldron is offline
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I'm about to go pick the car up from the mechanic (Harloff Automotive in La Mesa, CA... San Diego). They tell me they can find nothing drawing power. They speculate that it's the OnStar system, somehow turning the hazard lights on. I don't subscribe to OnStar. They say, well, it's still in the car, and it might be turning your hazards on. This sounds like B.S.
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  #5  
Old 17th March 2009
lwaldron lwaldron is offline
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Aerojon said, "insert ammmeter between positive term & cable read the display.."

What do you mean by "ammmeter"? I assume you mean I should insert whatever it is between the battery's positive terminal and the metal part that attaches the battery cable to the positive terminal. What do you believe I will, or will not, find by doing this?

THX

Last edited by lwaldron; 17th March 2009 at 03:35 PM. Reason: Grammar
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  #6  
Old 17th March 2009
jpk jpk is offline
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An ammeter reads current draw (amps). this is akin to measuring the volume of water flowing through a pipe.

To measure amps, all of the power being drawn from the battery must run through the ammeter. You must disconnect one of the battery terminals and attach the ammeter between the cable end you removed and the terminal post it came off of.

Most consumer multimeters will measure up to about 10 amps.

You're looking to measure what's known as "parasitic draw" off the battery. Things like the clock and radio memory, onstar box, computers, ignition key sensors, etc... This should amount to no more than about 200-300 milliamps once the body module has shut own (about 3 minutes after you shut off and lock the car) I don't know what the spec is on these cars when the body module is active, but I'd imagine it's on the order of 3-5 amps.

Have the dealer disconnect and remove the onstar box, it's useless anyway (Onstar no longer supports the analog box) They should have the fiberoptic loopback connector you need to close the loop; if you raise enough stink about it, they should do it for no charge (it's about a $2 part and 10 minutes work)
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  #7  
Old 17th March 2009
brianl703 brianl703 is offline
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A clamp-on DC ammeter is a better way to measure the current, because you do not have to disconnect the battery, only clamp it around the battery cable, and they're not terribly expensive, I think Sears has one for about $60. Most clamp-on ammeters only measure AC but there are DC ones available and the prices aren't as high as they used to be.
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Old 17th March 2009
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There were some old reports of problems with the steering lock draining the battery. I can't find the threads.
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Old 17th March 2009
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I don't think the symptoms necessarily indicate parasitic draw. The first battery lasted a month and then had one dead cell. Defective battery; not all that uncommon. The second battery lasted 3 months and I assume the car was driven regularly during that period. Although parasitic draw may reduce the life of the battery, it's not the only possibility. The ammeter is still a good check to do, just remember that our cars have a gradual power reduction scheme, where some systems go to sleep after something like 20 mins., and other systems I think take longer. In other words, it may be normal to see an amp or two draw during the 1st 20 mins., but that should eventually decrease to (I'm guessing here) no more than few hundred milliamps. Anyways, you could have gotten a second defective battery, or you may have a problem with the alternator. In years past it was possible to have a diode go bad in the alternator, allowing some AC into the system that would fry a battery. I tend to believe that could still happen on today's alternators.

Was battery no.2 able to be recharged?
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  #10  
Old 17th March 2009
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I am agreed with cadcamjim.
the new battery maybe defective by internal short-circuit dropping the power until die.

in sleep mode car battery consuming is less than 0.075A or 75 mA with alarm vigilance mode.
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  #11  
Old 17th March 2009
amschrad amschrad is offline
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How far or long do you drive the car for each day? A couple miles or for over 15 minutes? My wife drives our 9-3 vector to work and back daily which is across town (3-5 minute drive). Over a months time the battery had died a few times and would need jumped constantly in the cold weather. The mechanic explained that the amp draw on the car was greater than the charging system was replacing in the 3-5 minute drive. It was a simple case that baffled me. I doubt this is the issue though.
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  #12  
Old 17th March 2009
lwaldron lwaldron is offline
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Amschrad, my 5-days-a-week commute is 12 miles, each way. That's about 20 minutes, with some of that time spent at freeway speeds (80mph here in San Diego). The car engine heats up completely (needle to middle of gauge) during the trip.

My mechanic swears up and down this new, replacement battery is in correct shape. They recharged it, and, right now, everything's back to normal. That won't last.

Steering lock is an interesting speculation.

During this particular episode with the battery, it became clear that symptoms of the battery's dying process include door locks popping up (or locking down) spontaneously while driving, and car alarm going off for no apparent reason while driving, also when parking. I've removed the horn fuse, so I don't bug people in my condo complex.
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Old 17th March 2009
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Also you could put voltmeter over battery terminals while engine is running to roughly see if alternator is charging battery. If it does, voltage should be around 14 volts, if it's lover (let's say 12-13 volts) or higher (15v)- something is wrong with charging circuit or alternator.
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  #14  
Old 18th March 2009
woodchukker woodchukker is offline
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I have exactly the same problem and it is extremely frustrating. There doesn't seem to be any kind of pattern to when the battery 'dies' at all, on a random morning I try and start the car, click click click click, nothing.

Hook up the charger for an hour or so and vroom there she is.

I have measured the charge voltage to around 14volts, seems to indicate the the alternator is fine. If the battery was not being charged the car should tell me by way of warning light or SID, correct?

The only other reason as mentioned previously must be 'parasitic current draw' (the nasty parasites). I have just SID'ed the alarm to 'doors only' mode to see if that helps, but of course I have no way of reproducing the error as it is totally random. Otherwise my car is standard, no extra aftermarket equipment there to drain the battery.

There might be an error code to read off i guess, don't have a reader though, any recommendations here greatly received.

Otherwise I am stumped. I could measure the current draw at rest of course, but this will only tell me that something is pulling power, not what it is. So then it will be a case of pulling out fuses etc.... Something for nice summer evening me thinks, beer in hand
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  #15  
Old 23rd March 2009
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first at all check with a battery tester.

never recharge a battery by internal short circuit battery, it might exploded.
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  #16  
Old 23rd March 2009
lwaldron lwaldron is offline
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Default Body Module

Here's the latest:

Since Harloff Automotive was clueless, I finally gave in and called the guys at Swedish Auto AB, down by Lindbergh Field airport. These guys are real SAAB geniuses, but a loooong way from my house. Anyway, the guy said, with those alarm-going-off and doorlock-popping symptoms, you need to see a dealership. Only a dealership has the factory-authorized SAAB computer gizmos required.

In San Diego County, that left two choices, Marvin K. Brown in San Diego, or Continental Motors in Oceanside. Marvin K Brown does SAAB, Hummer, GMC & Buick... not exactly a specialist, and not a place with a highly-regarded service department. That left Continental Motors, which IS highly-regarded for repair, but is a 100-mile round-trip from my driveway.

This morning, I bit the bullet, and drove the SAAB up to Oceanside, dropped it off with Continental, and rented a car at Hertz.
Around 3p, Continental called me, said the problem is something called a "body module", said they'd get the part overnighted, hoped to have it done by noon tomorrow, approx 600-dollars, and, get this, they'd "adjust the price" to cover one day of car rental. Wow.
Obviously, the proof will be in the pudding, but so far, they've impressed me.
I'll update when I get the car back.
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  #17  
Old 24th March 2009
lwaldron lwaldron is offline
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Searching the internet, I can't find anything that's called a "body module" for a SAAB. I wonder what he really meant.
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  #18  
Old 24th March 2009
MetZenDS MetZenDS is offline
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The "body module" he is talking about is the Electronic Chassis Control Module (same thing, different name). Not really known to go out- but would cause the symptoms your describing. If it does not fix your problem, make sure the dealer refunds you %100.
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  #19  
Old 24th March 2009
lwaldron lwaldron is offline
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Thank you for that info.
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  #20  
Old 24th March 2009
lwaldron lwaldron is offline
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Wow. Searching the internet, I still can't find the part, even using the name "electronic chassis control module".
I just want to educated myself on what this part does, and also figure out what it should cost.
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