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Discussion Starter #1
My battery is running down periodically, and seemingly more and more frequently.

The battery's only about a year old. Also, I replaced the voltage regulator about 8 months ago.

At first, about four months ago, it got so I'd just charge the battery every other weekend. Lately it's been once a week, and the last charge only got me through a couple days. I'm pretty thankful my father-in-law gave me his jump-starter.

Voltages are consistent battery to starter to alternator. Also, the car runs just fine with whatever accessories on once it's started, so I really don't think it's the alternator.

After the last recharge (2 amp trickle) this voltage was 12.36. Today, when it wouldn't start, voltage was 14.56 around the system.

I was getting a fair amount of corrosion on the battery posts, with a whole lot more on the negative post. I applied a bunch of vaseline and did away with that effect, but noticed a bunch of yellow dust near the negative post tonight.

This had me thinking I needed to replace the negative lead, but the consistent voltage (down to the hundredth) around the system has me thinking ignition switch/barrel or cable from key to starter. BTW, I've always (year and a half I've had it) been able to pull out the key in the first two positions, in reverse or not.

If I had infinite money, I'd have a shop replace the alternator, and I'd replace the battery, cables, ignition switch/barrel/reverse lockout and be done with it. I don't, so any thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Cool!

What level of current am I looking for? Really I'm just asking if I should set to amps or volts and about what level, since you said "ammeter." That's amps, isn't it?

Will this require the full switch/cylinder/reverse lockout replacement, or could I get away with just the switch?
 

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Ammeter setting measures current, which is what you want. Best tool to use is an auto-ranging digital multimeter; if yours is not auto-ranging, set to 100 mA. If your reading exceeds this, set to 1 A.

With ignition key turned to "off," there should be no current flowing under the conditions I detailed in my link.

You would only need to replace the switch itself (the capsule with electrical contacts), not the lock cylinder or anything else.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hmm.

I've been on vacation, so just now got around to checking things out with my multi-meter.

No reading on ignition switch.

Ranged to 200 MICRO amps, the reading bounced around 15 and 24. Continued to do so no matter which fuse or relay I pulled.

Oddly, now I can't get it to read even that. Possible that something needed reseating, so I accidently fixed it?
 

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You will always see a small currant draw as you have permanant live circuits, such as the clock, what your looking for is 2+ amps. 2 amps being drawn from a 40amp-hour battery would be dead flat in 20hrs.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
So at least sitting, everything in the electrics adds up pretty well. Where's my juice going?

It didn't have quite enough to start when I left for vacation. I was gone almost 2 weeks and it wasn't MORE dead when I got back.

I'm thinking something about starting the car is sucking way more than it should. How would I diagnose and isolate this? Maybe I should just go ahead and replace the battery and starter cables.
 

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smckinley said:
My battery is running down periodically, and seemingly more and more frequently.
I dealt with this for about two years, intermittently. The solution was quite simple and I've no problems since.

The ground wire that extends from the the alternator to the alternator mount needs to be checked. The trouble begins on mount end of the wire, where corrosion builds-up and interferes with the ground. It might appear to be attached nicely, but that's the kicker. Simply disconnect (i.e., cut) the wire from the mount and never return to that spot for a ground. Also, remove the wire from the alternator.

Replace that old wire with a similar gauge wire of about 2 ft (0.6 m) length. Find any other suitable engine mount location for a ground. Choose one that is more accessible than the former mount. I've used a bolt located somewhere near the left (driver's) side of the intake manifold, but any other location is fine.

This is an easy fix. If it doesn't work, well, you haven't invested much time, effort, or money.

Good Luck.
 

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The best thing is to know if the battery can hold the charge, some batteries show good voltage yet this is just a memory affect and have very little current stored as the plates can move and its game over for that battery, shock is a killer for batteries.

I just replaced my Bosch under warrenty as one of the cells inside had failed,

You current draw should not be more than 100 milliamps i would say with the key out the ignition, that is one tenth of an amp, even with an alarm and clock and any other memory function on your CD player and audio equipment.

even if its 200 millamps its ok, once the current drain gets upto 500 milliamp this is not so good, you need to start unpluging things to discover the power drain.

500 millamps for 12 hours is 6 amps sounds like very little but it an accumaltive affect, alternators do not charge batteries to 100% of there capacity there just not that great, you will only get a battery upto 75% health on a stock alternator, and thats is everything is well.

The ground cables as suggested is a good idea, these should be check first before replacing them if need be.

us a heavy 4 gauge with double insulation, do not us the audio cable as this only has a single insulation and will get soft under cranking.

hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
The ground wire thing sounds quicker than the testing and even trying to see if my battery needs a warranty claim. Thanks. I'll try that.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I'm knocking wood, and didn't want to post too soon, lest it fail, but it seems to be fixed. I used to only get about five starts between visits with the battery charger, and I've done a good 20 or so by now.

I used a four-guage battery cable to replace the alternator ground, running it up to a bolt on the clutch. It looks kinda clunky, but seems to work.

Thanks MDMunn!
 
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