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Discussion Starter #1
Hi folks, I’m having a real headache with battery drain problems on my 2011 159 TI 2.0jtdm I’m hoping for some help…. I have read all threads on this issue but can’t find an answer.

So the current phase on my journey is to fit additional earth straps, could anyone who has done this and have had it solve their battery drain issue possibly post some pics to show where you have fitted the new strap to and from?

The long story (in short format) is as follows:
  1. Exide EA900 (Battery code 115, 90Ah, 720 CCA) battery 3 years old draining by 0.1v per day so that it’s essentially flat in 5-6 days of no use. Worse in cold weather.
  2. Battery voltage checked with engine running, multimeter reads 14.2v
  3. Battery voltage checked after 30 mins drive, multimeter reads 12.6v
  4. Battery reconditioned using a battery charger. Initial voltage reads 13.2v, however battery drain remains and still goes flat in about 5 days if unused.
  5. Battery tested (at a well known mountain bike retailer) - all ok.
  6. Car locked overnight using key and not fob - excessive battery drain remains.
  7. Battery tested at my mechanics - all ok, however deep discharge test is borderline.
  8. Battery charged to 12.6v using alternator, negative terminal disconnected and voltage measured daily without using the car. Voltage at terminals drops at a slower rate and settles at 12.45 to 12.4v for a number of days.
  9. Pulled one fuse at a time for a number of circuits including blue and me, lights, heated seats and alarm system. Left overnight in each case and battery voltage checked in the morning, still draining.
  10. Checked for parasitic draw using a multimeter on several occasions and monitored for up to 4.5hrs whilst bonnet latch microswitch and alarm are activated. At all times the current reads up to 160mA for the first 30 seconds (maximum) and very quickly settles to around 30mA where it remains steady for the duration of monitoring.
  11. Added an earth bypass by connecting a jump lead from the negative lead at the battery terminal to a point on the gearbox housing. Before doing so the jump lead was tested for continuity with a multimeter - all ok. No change to battery drain.
  12. Booked the car into an auto electrician who couldn’t find any parasitic drain after monitoring for half a day.
  13. Installed a new battery - Yuasa 3096, Battery code 096, 76Ah, 680 CCA. Battery voltage checked and all ok. However battery drain still remains at the same rate of 0.1v per day.
  14. Earth cable under battery tray disconnected, inspected and reconnected - found to be completely clean and free of corrosion at connections. Cable tested for continuity with multimeter - also ok.
  15. Earth cable from battery negative lead to body of car disconnected, cleaned and reconnected. Earth cable tested for continuity with multimeter - all ok. Battery drain remains!!! 😫

Any thoughts? As far as I can determine, the battery is ok - certainly the Yuasa is, I suspect the Exide was eventually not at full strength, the car is charging the battery ok, there is no parasitic drain, and the earths are ok (I think).

I’m stuck. Don’t want to get rid of the car as it still drives great and I like it too much to let it go. But at the moment I am having to disconnect the negative lead from the battery every time it is left for any period of time, which has me looking pretty silly in the office car park every morning :oops:.
 

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I'm sure you will get a more knowledgeable answer, but with my basic knowledge:
Alternator is charging and you've got a new battery, but your weather is cold, you may have a slight drain (eg ecu related) which is so slow the auto electrician did not dig deep enough to detect.
Don't sell the car
Possibly see how it goes in warmer weather. Anyway lifting the bonnet in the carpark could be viewed as cool! Especially given its a stunning alfa!
Then take it to a good recommended guy for a look if it persists.
If you do not have a good quality charger, they are good at around 100 quid eg Ctek and stick it on overnight if you have a garage.
 

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You say that there is no problem with the battery....and yet you say that there is no parasitic drain! One of those statements is clearly wrong or your battery would stay full when not driven.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
You say that there is no problem with the battery....and yet you say that there is no parasitic drain! One of those statements is clearly wrong or your battery would stay full when not driven.
Hi Alfaitalia,

This is what I believe to be the case and from reading around I was under the impression that there could be other reasons why a battery is losing electricity e.g. a bad earth - is this not correct?
 

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I don't think so....I can't see how a bad earth would cause a battery to flatten. Normally that causes fault codes to pop to or slow starting etc....I have three extra grounds (earth's) in my car engine bay......just to be sure I don't get that problem!
 

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I don't see why a bad earth would have any effect on battery drain...... Actually quite the contrary..... ;)
I would check what the actual current drain is, using a (m)A meter..... That's a much better way of measuring battery drain then voltage (probably what the auto electrician would have done)
If you then measure a drain, you can pull the fuses in turn to find the actual circuit causing the drain.....

edit: I see alfaitalia beat me to it re earth ;)
 

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I dont think a bad earth will cause battery drain but for the sake of a few quid it wont hurt. I fitted an extra earth to my 159 simply as the body to engine cable failed and it was tricky to get to as I was away from home at the time. I fitted it from the battery to body earthing point just forward of the battery to a cam box bolt, I think it was about a 24inch cable and routed nicely so all looked standard.

I helped a mate with a battery drain issue a while back on a range rover, we used an amp meter between the battery and a removed positive terminal and then pulled out fuses and relays in turn untill the current dropped to find what was causing it, it turned out to be the fuel pump relay stuck and running the fuel pump all the time.
 

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The only way to do this is a meter on view while pulling fuses (and after the system power down at about 60 seconds)
 

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The electrical circuit through the battery is via the earth, so a bad earth cannot possibly cause a battery drain - as said, more likely to prevent it. Most likely to be something daft like a boot light or glovebox light remaining illuminated due to a faulty switch. As old engineer says - only foolproof way is to check current drain whilst pulling individual fuses - despite it being tedious.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the replies so far. I'm getting that it's not an issue with the earth and that it is one of two things - either a bad battery or a parasitic draw.

I'm convinced the battery is ok, as it holds charge when disconnected from the car's electrics. The confusing bit is the parasitic draw. As I said in my original post, every time I check this using a multimeter (with bonnet open but microswitch activated and car alarmed) i get a steady reading of around 30 milliamps after 30 secs which remains unchanged for the full duration. I've checked this for up to 4.5hrs after locking the car.

This is nowhere near consistent with the amount of battery drain I am getting and I understood that 30 milliamps is a perfectly acceptable 'resting draw'. Should I still pull fuses and look for a significant drop from 30 milliamps to determine the problem circuit?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I dont think a bad earth will cause battery drain but for the sake of a few quid it wont hurt. I fitted an extra earth to my 159 simply as the body to engine cable failed and it was tricky to get to as I was away from home at the time. I fitted it from the battery to body earthing point just forward of the battery to a cam box bolt, I think it was about a 24inch cable and routed nicely so all looked standard.

I helped a mate with a battery drain issue a while back on a range rover, we used an amp meter between the battery and a removed positive terminal and then pulled out fuses and relays in turn untill the current dropped to find what was causing it, it turned out to be the fuel pump relay stuck and running the fuel pump all the time.
Thanks. Yes, I think I will install some additional earths anyway just to avoid the other issues
 

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When you say the battery is effectively flat in five to six days, do you mean that it won’t start, or just that the voltage is down to 12ish? I ask because as you say, 30mA drain is normal, and the voltage on my 156 SW which has 33mA drain does much the same as yours, but it will still start after that time.

Battery voltage is only a guide to state of charge when the drain current has been zero for 24 hours. This afternoon I measured mine: 12.31 V. I then disconnected the battery and left it. This evening it’s up to 12.48V which is probably getting close to representing its actual state of charge.

So you may have nothing to worry about, but if the car won’t start after five days (especially with the new battery) then something must be turning on intermittently (after 4 1/2 hours!)and draining the battery.
 

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Kalps, what you describe is precisely what happens when the alarm misbehaves. If the key does not disable the alarm when you use it then 180mA drain will result.
Disconnect the battery for at least 10 mins to eliminate any other influences. Reconnect.
Open and close all the doors and boot to ensure all door sensors are exercised.
Key into drivers door and turn clockwise once, pause, twice then look for slow blinking door LED. This will show that the alarm is off, all doors are deadlocked. I stand to be corrected on this last statement but that is my understanding.
If this procedure does not cure the problem then at least you will know its not the alarm which is causing the excessive drain.
AndyB
 

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Discussion Starter #14
When you say the battery is effectively flat in five to six days, do you mean that it won’t start, or just that the voltage is down to 12ish? I ask because as you say, 30mA drain is normal, and the voltage on my 156 SW which has 33mA drain does much the same as yours, but it will still start after that time.

Battery voltage is only a guide to state of charge when the drain current has been zero for 24 hours. This afternoon I measured mine: 12.31 V. I then disconnected the battery and left it. This evening it’s up to 12.48V which is probably getting close to representing its actual state of charge.

So you may have nothing to worry about, but if the car won’t start after five days (especially with the new battery) then something must be turning on intermittently (after 4 1/2 hours!)and draining the battery.
That's interesting what you say about state of charge.

I meant to say that the car won't start after 5 days, although on at least a couple of occasions I noted that this was coinicident with a battery voltage of around 12v or slightly less, (I didnt check voltage on every occasion).

Recently, with my old battery, after 10 days of standing the alarm randomly went off, I couldn't operate the central locking with the fob and the engine wouldn't even crank. Battery voltage was down to 3v, so even my charger refused to charge it! Had to call home start who managed to jump it thankfully.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Kalps, what you describe is precisely what happens when the alarm misbehaves. If the key does not disable the alarm when you use it then 180mA drain will result.
Disconnect the battery for at least 10 mins to eliminate any other influences. Reconnect.
Open and close all the doors and boot to ensure all door sensors are exercised.
Key into drivers door and turn clockwise once, pause, twice then look for slow blinking door LED. This will show that the alarm is off, all doors are deadlocked. I stand to be corrected on this last statement but that is my understanding.
If this procedure does not cure the problem then at least you will know its not the alarm which is causing the excessive drain.
AndyB
I did not know this! I have always been just turning the key once and not paying any attention to the flashing light.

Will definitely give it a go tomorrow night and report back.....
 

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I’ll just repeat what others have already said and that’s there’s absolutely no way that a bad earth connection could cause the battery to loose charge. And I can also confirm that 30mA is perfectly normal about 1 minute after a shut down.

What stands out like a sore thumb though is that you say you measured the battery immediately after a 30 min run and it only measured 12.6 volts. A fully charged battery at that point should read at least 13.8 volts so your missing at least 1.2 volts which is about what you’d get if one of the cells of the battery went faulty and a faulty cell would also explain why the battery flattens itself. That's where the parasitic draw is that your looking for.

Time for a new battery I think. I’ve just had mine changed. It behaved just like yours and mine was only four years old. £82 fitted and problem solved.
 

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I

What stands out like a sore thumb though is that you say you measured the battery immediately after a 30 min run and it only measured 12.6 volts. A fully charged battery at that point should read at least 13.8 volts so your missing at least 1.2 volts which is about what you’d get if one of the cells of the battery went faulty and a faulty cell would also explain why the battery flattens itself. That's where the parasitic draw is that your looking for.

Time for a new battery I think. I’ve just had mine changed. It behaved just like yours and mine was only four years old. £82 fitted and problem solved.
No.....!
Fully charged automotive batteries should measure at 12.6 volts . When the engine is running, this measurement should be 13.7 to 14.7 volts...which I think is what you are thinking about. Charge level roughly equates to the following...
12.6 volts = 100%
12.5 volts = 70%
12.3 volts = 50%
11.4 volts = 20%

So his battery is showing the correct voltage for a fully charged battery....but you need to put a load test across it to make sure its not failing under heavy use...like start up....but starting is not his issue.

 

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Your right of course but I was commenting on what he said in so much that measuring directly after a 30-minute run it was only showing 12.6 which would be right for a good battery but checking immediately after a good charge it will always show high for quite a while before settling to 12.6. His charging voltage was correct, and his residual current draw is correct so that only leaves the battery itself.
 

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  1. Checked for parasitic draw using a multimeter on several occasions and monitored for up to 4.5hrs whilst bonnet latch microswitch and alarm are activated. At all times the current reads up to 160mA for the first 30 seconds (maximum) and very quickly settles to around 30mA where it remains steady for the duration of monitoring.
Did you disconnect the battery, even momentarily, while connecting the meter? That might have reset something that was causing the drain. If so try connecting the meter first (a bit fiddly but possible) and then disconnect the terminal from the battery. It’s probably best to do this just after a run.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Quick update on this, I double locked the car using the key exactly as per AndyB777's post and monitored the battery voltage over 48hrs of the car being stood:

The starting voltage was 12.87v

After 24 hrs it initially measured 12.53v but climbed to 12.59v after 2 mins.

After approx 48 hrs it initially measured 12.51v but climbed to 12.58v after about 3 mins.

So it looks like the battery is holding charge?

Looking back I may have been too quick to believe the new battery hadn't resolved anything when I saw a 12.5v reading after 24hrs of not using the car. I don't think I allowed enough time for the reading to 'stabilise'.

Will now monitor the voltage with the car locked and alarmed using the fob and see what happens.

Thanks for all your input so far. I've got my fingers crossed that it was just a bad battery....
 
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