Alfa Romeo Forum banner

1 - 20 of 56 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
115 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've had my 2009 2.4 159 TI for about 4 years now and it suffers from parasitic battery drain; the battery will drain dramatically when it's sat up with everything apparently off.
If left alone for more than a week, car will be in a depleted state, sometimes to the point where it won't start, sometimes just a bit hesitant, even in good weather.
A jump and decent run, or a charge sets her right again.

This culminated in a threshold moment last weekend, got back from a week away at 1:30am to an airport carpark with a car so dead that the alarm wouldn't disarm or boot open. Car was sat unused for 3-4 days when I made the 20km trip to the airport, so it was probably not fully charged to start with.
A nice lad in a 6.7l F350 gave me a jump, got her home and set to some diagnositic work over the weekend.

I've done a fair bit of wiring on my kit-car project, so it's not an area I'm afraid to get stuck in, but my kit-car doesn't have can-bus and has a separate perm-live for the ECU even when everything else is disconnected.

Normally, I'd start with a wiring diagram and figure out which items on the permanently-live side were drawing power, but it's not super obvious without one; we've gone beyond the days where it was mostly hazards and horn.
Opened the bonnet, and used screwdrivers to close the lock over, same on the driver's side door.

Then disconnected the negative terminal of the battery and put my multimeter in series between the terminal and the earth lead, set to 20A setting.


The first multimeter I used was too smart (or possibly faulty); refusing to allow any current over about 100mA to pass, so I had to switch out to a trusty Lidl/Powerfix one, which allowed for better testing.
I've ordered a clamp-style ammeter that does DC current (most only do AC current) for the next set of tests.

Inititally I found it difficult to produce a condition that would drain more than an acceptable amount of current. After some fairly pointless fuse-removing I settled on 50mA as a reasonable amount, and tried to set the various bits and bobs until it drew more than that.

https://docs.google.com/spreadshee.ts/d/1gzTR0iXZUbc073i3DfkmKOignJVvOt_643KTSc3AMCU/edit?usp=sharing

Variables I tried:
Headlights
sidelights
Radio
Air con
Cruise control
Glovebox
Doors
Bonnet

When the doors were open draw was significant, 2.5A, but then the ECU and body computers are on etc. With them fake-locked, current draw was low.

The glovebox light looked like a really good bet; the glovebox is stuffed with crap and may not be closing correctly such that the light is always off, and at 530mA when on, that's just about enough to drain an 71Ah in a week.
Plus, it was roasting, so much so that it discoloured the housing. I ordered 10x LED replacements, I'll do all the interior and sidelights.

Removing the bulb altogether did drop the current draw to 30mA, though with the car locked and not alarmed.
Sadly, 36 hours later battery had dropped from 12.51v to 11.89, so that seems to have no effect.

I also had a blown fuse on the cigar lighter circuit, and some corrosion around the fitting itself, so I removed it, more on this below.

I stopped leaving my OBDII wifi ELM module plugged in all the time because of the 100mA it draws, so its not that, I have a wired one I use when necessary.

So, the car draws more power locked and alarmed than it does unalarmed and fake-locked, which is counter-intuitive to me. That, or there's a dodgy connection somewhere that's leaking it under really specific conditions. Or measurement error.
When the clamp-ammeter arrives at the end of the week, I'll assess what sort of draw the alarm circuit has, trying to measure this will my multimeter just led to a lot of angry shouting; the alarm thought I was breaking into the car.

Any other places I should look?
The first step is to generate the right set of conditions where the car is actually drawing a significant amount of current, locked etc.
Most obvious are things like the heated seats, glow-plug circuit, boot light, interior lights, puddle/sill or take-me-home lights, radio, blue&me; anything that can stay on unseen.

I have a decent selection of tools, as well as eLearn, multimeters, wired and wifi ELM327 OBD scanners with licensed MultiScanECU.
Any help would be greatly appreciated, I love my Alfa, but she does need a little coaxing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
115 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
Removing the cigar lighter socket; not having tool 3b as referenced in eLearn, I guessed what it ought to do and jimmied a scaldy old pair of pliers into the right shape, getting the socket out.
"Disconnect the electrical connection" in my car is impossible, as the wires are crimped-on, I'm wondering if this is the case in all 159s or just mine?

I ended up cutting the connections, I'll order a new socket but I'll have to take out the whole console, which needs both seats removed, to do it. A job for mañana.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
335 Posts
You don't mention the age of the battery so could be that it's getting near the end of it's useful life.
I had a drainage issue with mine that turned out to be a stuck boot release solenoid but that was killing the battery in just over a day.
My Prodrive is also an 09 plate and I had to change the battery a couple of years ago because using it so infrequently I was getting exactly what you're seeing now..

Bill :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
Alarm alarm

If I put the alarm on, the battery is flat within a week.
If I lock the car with the key and do not use the alarm, its still good at least 3 weeks later.
Maybe the alarm is the culprit.
However, not all Alfa owners suffer parasitic current drain.
Odd!

Motorcycles have the same sort of issue if an alarm is fitted, so people are told to keep the bike on a maintainer or a trickle charger, which do behave differently. My own experience is that to keep any of these chargers connected will kill a LA or AGM battery, reducing life to 2 or 3 years. Perceived wisdom amongst experienced motorcyclists is to remove all alarms and buy a large dog or chain.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
326 Posts
It looks as if your battery it ancient.

My 2.4 2010 model had a wrong size battery when I purchased it.
It was a tiny Bosch S3 battery which is physically smaller and although it cranked and started ok, it would go flat after 2 days of parking.

I purchased a brand new Yuasa black series which is massive and weights a ton, has a lifetime guarantee!
Now my new battery will last only depletes 10% after being parked for several days (5 days)

I think you should expect a higher draw on a modern car you just need a monster battery to manage it.

Sent from my SM-G925F using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
My 2006 159 2.4 Lusso was also draining battery, it was related to cd-changer, which was unplugged and problem got solved.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
115 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
You don't mention the age of the battery so could be that it's getting near the end of it's useful life.
I had a drainage issue with mine that turned out to be a stuck boot release solenoid but that was killing the battery in just over a day.
My Prodrive is also an 09 plate and I had to change the battery a couple of years ago because using it so infrequently I was getting exactly what you're seeing now..

Bill :)
Hey, I replaced the battery on 06/10/2015 at 35,000km ago with an Exide EB712, which is perhaps a little under capacity at 71Ah.
The boot release solenoid will go on the list of things to disable and check the impact, cheers!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
115 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
If I put the alarm on, the battery is flat within a week.
If I lock the car with the key and do not use the alarm, its still good at least 3 weeks later.
Maybe the alarm is the culprit.
However, not all Alfa owners suffer parasitic current drain.
Odd!
Agreed, right now this looks like the most likely culprit, though I'm going to add Blue&Me and replaced (but OEM) headunit to the list too.
I have a friend whose had his 159 2.2 for 6 years and not had even the slightest problem with it, but I've been through (and sorted) quite a few little niggles.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
115 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
My 2006 159 2.4 Lusso was also draining battery, it was related to cd-changer, which was unplugged and problem got solved.
Thanks. I don't have a CD-changer, but the headunit would be worth looking in on, in conjunction with blue&me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
115 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
It looks as if your battery it ancient.

My 2.4 2010 model had a wrong size battery when I purchased it.
It was a tiny Bosch S3 battery which is physically smaller and although it cranked and started ok, it would go flat after 2 days of parking.

I purchased a brand new Yuasa black series which is massive and weights a ton, has a lifetime guarantee!
Now my new battery will last only depletes 10% after being parked for several days (5 days)

I think you should expect a higher draw on a modern car you just need a monster battery to manage it.

Sent from my SM-G925F using Tapatalk
The battery is just over 3.5 years old, so it may need replacement alright; though it still has nearly 590 (when fully charged) of the 670 CCAs it was born with, which isn't terrible. I think I'd like to at least measure the full current draw when everything is 'on', and try and isolate the thirsty element; and if it's something that doesn't need to be on the perm live circuit (radio, air con, interior lights etc), consider moving it to an ignition switched circuit. Easier to do on a lightweight obviously.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
335 Posts
Googleing expected life of a car battery brings up typically 3 to 6 years and given you say that it was a bit under rated to start with it's quite possibly on it's last legs. Before you spend even more time or cut too many more wires you should seriously think about replacing it because guarenteed, it will only continue to get worse, it's just something that happens to all batteries.

As I say my 09 needed replacing two years ago and my 06 has now had two replacements.

Bill :)
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,407 Posts
Googleing expected life of a car battery brings up typically 3 to 6 years and given you say that it was a bit under rated to start with it's quite possibly on it's last legs. Before you spend even more time or cut too many more wires you should seriously think about replacing it because guarenteed, it will only continue to get worse, it's just something that happens to all batteries.

As I say my 09 needed replacing two years ago and my 06 has now had two replacements.

Bill :)
fully discharging it once or twice also won't have done it any favours ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
270 Posts
The odd obvious "old battery" common issue aside...
Have you any led bulbs fitted to the car anywhere, i.e number plate, side lights, internal etc?
Regardless if they have resistors fitted and canbus ready. A tell tale sign that they are parasitic is a very, very dull glow when ignition is off. Use a blanket to cover and if you see a bluish glow, there is your source.
The other issues that these LEDs cause is in the alternator. On the blue cable there is an exciter diode which lets the alternator know at what stage to release charge to the battery. Unfortunately due to increased ohms resistance this can have an adverse effect on this diode increasing the point that it actually supposed to charge at tickover further up the rev range. So in effect the battery via being charged but not charging until the car is above 2000rpm for example. In extreme circumstances it won't charge at all until the engine is up to temp and only after the engine has bee red lined up to max revs for 1-2 seconds.
Then all of a sudden, it charges perfectly as normal at tickover!. It's an unusual scenario but luckily enough I had the more severe symptoms with no idea that it was actually being caused by the apparent canbus safe rear T5 led number plate lights!
Thanks to Simon at QSP near Durham, our local Alfa specialist, he had seen this quite a few times on Brera/159's fitted with led bulbs.
Hope this helps someone.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
115 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
fully discharging it once or twice also won't have done it any favours ;)
Now, you might well be onto something there; when I got my car first it had a bit of a glow plug issue which took me a bit to sort out, but it drained my battery a few times, so I replaced it. It might be due a new one now, as it's been fully drained at least 3 times. I had a dodgy earth and it failed to charge intermittently.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
115 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
The odd obvious "old battery" common issue aside...
Have you any led bulbs fitted to the car anywhere, i.e number plate, side lights, internal etc?
Regardless if they have resistors fitted and canbus ready. A tell tale sign that they are parasitic is a very, very dull glow when ignition is off. Use a blanket to cover and if you see a bluish glow, there is your source.
..
actually being caused by the apparent canbus safe rear T5 led number plate lights!
Thanks to Simon at QSP near Durham, our local Alfa specialist, he had seen this quite a few times on Brera/159's fitted with led bulbs.
Hope this helps someone.
Hmmm, not yet, but I just took delivery of 10x LED bulbs from Amazon for the purposes of reducing leccy usage! I must put them into a mock circuit first and compare their current draw when 'off' before I go mad.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
326 Posts
I think only External LED's after the resistor in alternator.
I read that on here.

I have LED's puddle lights on mine for around a year with no flats. Although because of what I have read about external LED's I won't be decorating her in LED's

Buy a new battery.

If it doesn't fix it, then a new Alternator.

Sent from my SM-G925F using Tapatalk
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
335 Posts
This got me wondering so I've just done a test on mine and the normal residual (parked up)current is dead on 20mA with and without the car locked and alarmed. The initial readings are quite high but after a minute or so of step downs it settles to 20mA.
Readings taken directly in series with the battery negative with an Avo 8
Hope this helps.

Bill :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
115 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
This got me wondering so I've just done a test on mine and the normal residual (parked up)current is dead on 20mA with and without the car locked and alarmed. The initial readings are quite high but after a minute or so of step downs it settles to 20mA.
Readings taken directly in series with the battery negative with an Avo 8
Hope this helps.

Bill :)
Thanks Bill. There must be something on my 159 either that you don't have or that works differently (incorrectly?) to others.
Do you have Blue&Me? Do you have the MP3 version of the headunit?
I replaced my headunit with an OEM but not from my car one when my screen started to act the mickey. Seems to be absolutely grand, except that occassionally when I'm talking on the phone over bluetooth, one of either the headunit or blue&me will start producing loud static through the speakers. Turning off the headunit doesn't seem to stop it, just lower the volume. Very odd.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,407 Posts
Thanks Bill. There must be something on my 159 either that you don't have or that works differently (incorrectly?) to others.
Do you have Blue&Me? Do you have the MP3 version of the headunit?
I replaced my headunit with an OEM but not from my car one when my screen started to act the mickey. Seems to be absolutely grand, except that occassionally when I'm talking on the phone over bluetooth, one of either the headunit or blue&me will start producing loud static through the speakers. Turning off the headunit doesn't seem to stop it, just lower the volume. Very odd.
Does your HU turn fully off with the contact ? on/off is controlled via the CAN bus for oem. If your oem HU was not installed ex factory, perhaps it's not recognised by the bodycomputer, and does not fully power down, or needs a proxy alignment ?
 
1 - 20 of 56 Posts
Top