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Old 09-28-2008, 01:08 PM   #1 (permalink)
lyd
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Battery drained overnight after install of tach on '97 metro. Advice?

I'm completely stumped on this one. Installed a cheezy Sunpro tach and a vacuum gauge last night. Drove around for a bit. All good.

This morning when I went down to start it, I got the dreaded click. Took a bunch of plastic apart again to verify my connections, and I don't see any problem.

The tach is 4 wires, Red, Green, White and Black. Black is ground, I took that right to the battery. Green is signal, that's going to coil negative, the Brown/White wire. Red is switched power, supposed to be hot in run only. After perusing the schematics in Chilton's, I chose to take it to the rear defogger circuit, since it was right there and easy to grab. Per the manual, and verified this morning with my meter, that line, Yellow/Green coming into the switch, is only live when in run or start. White wire is for instrument light/dimmer. I took it to one of the two hot wires on the instrument dimmer switch. I believe it was the Orange/Green. Lights on the gauges are not dimming with the OEM panel, but they are also not on when the headlights are off, so that should not be causing my problem. Verified with meter.

Wiring on the vac guage is just a hot and ground for a single bulb, and I have those spliced to the white and black wires from the tach.

So... where the heck did my juice go overnight? It's a brand new battery, which not only pretty much rules that out as the failure point but really ticks me off to be deep-discharging it like this right away. Darned things aren't cheap.

The only other thing I can think of is a high-resistance short somewhere, not enough to pop a breaker but still drawing current. Thing is, I really wasn't into all that much to install this, and I triple checked all the connections this morning and saw no issues. I do have a couple of lame butt-crimped splices, but they are solid and clean. Or as solid and clean as such a connection can be, anyway. I would normally have soldered and heat-shrunk, but it was late and I was being lazy. The rest of the connections are those inline snap and splice thingies. In any case, none of those points are hot with the key and headlights off.

After charging it up this morning and checking all those other connections, I verified that the charging system in the car was fine. Then I shut it down and have been checking the battery voltage periodically since then. It has only been about an hour, but it settled down to about 12.75v and seems to be staying there so far. Using an inductive meter on the + cable, I'm not reading any amperage draw at all out of the battery with the car shut down.

I would not be obsessing over this at this point, but I am pretty certain I didn't leave anything else on, and nothing is more freaking irritating than battery that konks out unpredictably.

Sorry for the longwinded post, but I wanted to make it clear that I have checked everything I know to check. And still have no idea!

Can anyone offer a hint?


Last edited by lyd; 09-28-2008 at 01:23 PM..
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Old 09-28-2008, 04:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I've had a bad voltage regulator drain the battery while just sitting for a few hours. I'm not saying that's the problem, but might be worth looking into if the problem continues. I've also seen nearly new batteries have dead cells in them. Before doing anything else I'd have the battery load tested.
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Old 09-28-2008, 04:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
lyd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ford Man View Post
I've had a bad voltage regulator drain the battery while just sitting for a few hours. I'm not saying that's the problem, but might be worth looking into if the problem continues. I've also seen nearly new batteries have dead cells in them. Before doing anything else I'd have the battery load tested.
Well, when I said new battery, I guess I exaggerated slightly. I have been driving on it for about 4 weeks.

Still, good ideas. I have a good old-fashioned carbon pile tester here, I'll see what that has to say when I get a chance. Unfortunately it won't be now, because I have to head out to a family thing. Regulator seems to be OK based on my charging system checks earlier, unless it is some intermittent problem.

Here's hoping all my worrying was for nothing and the problem was just this: As I was removing my meter and closing the hood, I noticed that the positive clamp was not completely tight on the battery terminal. It had a bit of wiggle to it. Now, it sure seemed to be making plenty of contact just the same, but if I am really lucky then the battery was never drained at all, and that connection was just too loose to carry the current to crank. Now that I think about it, the charger was not really putting out much amperage when I hooked it up. I had it set for 6 but the battery was drawing like I had set it for 2. Perhaps I just wiggled the clamp back into better contact when I clipped the charger lead on. Long shot, but hey, hope springs eternal.

I tightened it down good and solid, so we'll see.

Thank you for the reply.
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Old 09-28-2008, 05:09 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lyd View Post
Well, when I said new battery, I guess I exaggerated slightly. I have been driving on it for about 4 weeks.

Still, good ideas. I have a good old-fashioned carbon pile tester here, I'll see what that has to say when I get a chance. Unfortunately it won't be now, because I have to head out to a family thing. Regulator seems to be OK based on my charging system checks earlier, unless it is some intermittent problem.

Here's hoping all my worrying was for nothing and the problem was just this: As I was removing my meter and closing the hood, I noticed that the positive clamp was not completely tight on the battery terminal. It had a bit of wiggle to it. Now, it sure seemed to be making plenty of contact just the same, but if I am really lucky then the battery was never drained at all, and that connection was just too loose to carry the current to crank. Now that I think about it, the charger was not really putting out much amperage when I hooked it up. I had it set for 6 but the battery was drawing like I had set it for 2. Perhaps I just wiggled the clamp back into better contact when I clipped the charger lead on. Long shot, but hey, hope springs eternal.

I tightened it down good and solid, so we'll see.

Thank you for the reply.
Did you clean the battery posts and cable terminals good before tightening everything up. It's possible if it has been lose long that it might have some corrosion effecting the electrical connection.
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Old 09-28-2008, 09:26 PM   #5 (permalink)
lyd
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Quote:
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Did you clean the battery posts and cable terminals good before tightening everything up. It's possible if it has been lose long that it might have some corrosion effecting the electrical connection.
I'm a long time believer in being anal about the condition of your battery connections, but in this case it had only been loose since the previous evening when I had it apart to take off a no longer used power lead into the passenger compartment as long as I was monkeying with the ground side anyway. I did give it a cursory brushing, though. Could have been just enough corrosion overnight to make the difference. I'll find out in the morning if that was it, one way or another.
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Old 09-29-2008, 12:30 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I am guessing your battery issues will be fine now.
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Old 09-29-2008, 04:40 PM   #7 (permalink)
lyd
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I am guessing your battery issues will be fine now.
Give the man with the mullet a cigar! Yep, that must have been all it was. No troubles this morning.

Thanks guys, for holding my hand while I worried like a grandma. ;-)
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Old 09-29-2008, 04:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks guys, for holding my hand while I worried like a grandma. ;-)
Anytime grandma!!

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