battery drain - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 40 (permalink) Old 11-14-2018, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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battery drain

I just got my '86 veloce spider out of the shop with a new distributor, regulator, alternator and battery.
. I've started it up every day and , with my mechanics recommendation, have kept a battery tender on it.
He told me that it would drain the battery enough in 3 or 4 days that it may not start. Said that was common for this car. I'd never heard mention of that issue . But I left town for two days, forgot to put the tender on and sure enough the brand new heavy duty battery drained to.6 volts. My little charger would not put a charge on so took it to a shop and had a charge . It showed 12.8 volts. after an hour it was 12.6 another hour 12.3. the next morning flat dead.I had made sure every obvious switch was off.
The gazillion wires and connections are daunting and could lead to my holiday vacation spent searching every nook and cranny. Can anyone offer a clue where a practical place to begin looking would be? Is there a common , often problematic connection that should be first to inspect?
Any word of advice would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks
Jess
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post #2 of 40 (permalink) Old 11-14-2018, 06:34 PM
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A common place for a battery drain is one (or both) of the footwell lights. The lens is also a 3 position switch. One position is off, one is 'always on' and in between is automatic (on/off with the door jamb switch). They are not very bright and easily switched to 'always on' by an errant foot. Also check that the light in the glove box (if you have a light in there) shuts off when the compartment door is closed.

As a counterpoint to your mechanic's recommendation, our '84 Spider can sit for 2-3 weeks and then start up just fine.

Most lead/acid batteries do not recover from a full discharge.
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- -~ 1981 GTV-6 ~
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post #3 of 40 (permalink) Old 11-14-2018, 07:21 PM
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Definitely not normal for any car to drain the battery just sitting there in a couple of days. Weeks or months maybe. If you are reasonably handy with a multimeter I would get a wiring diagram for the car and chase circuits. If your car had these symptoms before it will be a more involved process, if it's a new, post shop visit problem then it will be in an area your mechanic was mucking around. Not knowing enough about the situation I would also recommend a different shop to get work done. Just the shear recommendation to put a battery tender on if parked for 2 days is a weirdness red flag for me.
If these was a pre-existing battery draining draw and you have the right tools and knowledge, or sense of adventure.... Then after the battery is charged up and installed to disconnect the ground cable from the battery, put a suitably rated ammeter between the ground cable and the neg post of the battery, then start pulling fuses one at a time until you find the circuit with the errant draw. Then use your wiring diagram and chase the circuit. Just my thoughts. Others will likely chime in with better ideas like ghnl's advise above.

Cheers,
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post #4 of 40 (permalink) Old 11-14-2018, 07:29 PM
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A nice wiring diagram is a good idea. I will take the liberty of asking BB member Papajam* to send you copies of his awesome color-coded wire diagrams. They make chasing Alfa electrons a lot easier. I took my copies to an office supply store and had them print out 11" x 17" color copies then plastic laminate them - perfect for use in the garage.

* New members don't have access to PM's (Private Messages). This was done to slow down the spammers.

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post #5 of 40 (permalink) Old 11-14-2018, 08:53 PM
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I'm pretty good with electrical issues, so here's some ways to find a parasitic leak. Do these things with the key out of the car and the doors, trunk and hood closed - or the pins pushed in.

1. You have a pretty large electrical "leak". The battery voltage is dropping fast. The first thing I'd recommend is to charge the battery, then disconnect the negative terminal and make sure the battery voltage isn't dropping. If it is, you have a bad battery.

2. If battery is good, the next check is to remove all fuses. Make sure you mark the amperage somewhere if it's not on the fuse block. Check the battery drain. If it's there, you're getting very close - continue to #3. If not, skip to 5.

3. Remove the battery terminal and put a ammeter in line.

4. Remove the cables from the alternator and check the current. If it drops you have a bad diode in the alternator - if you're handy, you can fix it yourself. If not, take it to the auto parts store and get a good rebuilt one or buy a brand new one. If it doesn't drop, then you need to pull each relay, one at a time. Watch for the current to drop - if it doesn't, then there's something that is wired directly to 12V that's causing the drain. Could be a radio, power antenna or a miswired pump. Disconnect each one until you find the culprit (current will stop).

5. Remove the negative cable on the battery and put an ammeter in line.

6. Put each fuse back in, one at a time until you find the one that's causing the power drain. The current will go up when you find the circuit that's draining power. When you find the circuit, you need to test the "item" that's using up the power. ONE WARNING. DO NOT HOOK UP AN OHM METER TO A COMPUTER OR YOU RISK FRYING THE CHIP.

Good luck!

It'll take time, but you should be able to find it.
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post #6 of 40 (permalink) Old 11-15-2018, 03:09 AM
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Your private messaging permissions have been turned on. If you would like a wiring diagram, please send me your email address.

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post #7 of 40 (permalink) Old 11-15-2018, 04:37 AM
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I received a color coded wiring diagram for our '85 spider. Very helpful and thank you papajam and everybody else for all the assistance. This Alfa community rocks!!
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post #8 of 40 (permalink) Old 11-15-2018, 06:28 AM
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Nice post autobroker

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post #9 of 40 (permalink) Old 11-15-2018, 06:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by papajam View Post
If you would like a wiring diagram...
Trust me, you will like it!

- - Eric
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~ 1984 Spider Veloce ~
- -~ 1981 GTV-6 ~
Mebane, North Carolina


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post #10 of 40 (permalink) Old 11-15-2018, 07:52 AM
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I use a "test light" instead of a VOM between the neg. battery cable and the neg. battery post. You can easily make one with wire, clips, bulb holder and a bulb, or use the pointy screw driver with a bulb in the handle pre-made version. Easy to see from a distance. Remember to disconnect the interior light and key buzzer switches from the door jambs while playing with the fuses. I have removed the bulbs from my floor lights so that they can't accidentally get turned-on with a foot. Also, I found that the digital clock on the center console can draw a lot more power from your battery than you would think. I disconnected that as well. My 86 Spider can sit for many many weeks and will still start.

ALFA ANDY
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post #11 of 40 (permalink) Old 11-15-2018, 02:55 PM
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I found out the hard way that if a radio is turned off, it will still draw juice just to hold the memory. When we go on a trip and the cars sit for several weeks, I proactively remove the radio fuses to stop the drain. Works well.

If you remove the fuses from the fuse box, remember to find and remove that radio fuse if not in there. Don't know about the Spiders, but they are often located in a different location. Took a while to find them in the 164s.

Del

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previously owned since 1964:

62 Morris MiniMinor 850, 67 Austin 1275 Cooper S (Downton 3/4 race), 64 Giulia Sprint GT (1st red one made), 72 Fiat 128 Sedan, 75 Alfetta Sedan, 78 Alfetta Sedan, 78 GTV, 81 GTV6, 86 GTV6
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post #12 of 40 (permalink) Old 11-15-2018, 03:51 PM
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You should do a load test on the fully charged battery and test the charging system.
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post #13 of 40 (permalink) Old 11-15-2018, 07:30 PM
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The odds are that a fault in the charging system wouldn't likely drain the battery, but just keep it from being recharged.

I suspect he has a major drain, more than my suggestion of radio memory drain. With one of my older Alfas, I put a load meter on the battery to read the drain, and then pulled one fuse at a time to see what happened, what the meter read. It's how I found a similar fast drain. Told me which circuit had a fault.

This, provided that the battery itself has been found to be ok, ie, no bad cells, etc.

Del

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1989 Milano, Shankle Sport
1991 164S, stock
1994 164LS (~Q)
1972 Morgan 27

previously owned since 1964:

62 Morris MiniMinor 850, 67 Austin 1275 Cooper S (Downton 3/4 race), 64 Giulia Sprint GT (1st red one made), 72 Fiat 128 Sedan, 75 Alfetta Sedan, 78 Alfetta Sedan, 78 GTV, 81 GTV6, 86 GTV6
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post #14 of 40 (permalink) Old 11-15-2018, 11:52 PM
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A fault in the charging system would not drain the battery?

1.Yes, it could, if there is a fault in the alternator.

2. If there is no problem with draining, then a constantly undercharged weak battery could show the same symptom.
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post #15 of 40 (permalink) Old 11-16-2018, 02:46 AM
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I could use one for a 1989 spider with air !!
thanx much !

Last edited by Bullethead; 11-16-2018 at 02:55 AM.
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