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Thread: Major Electrical Problems

  1. #1
    Maximum Bitrate techy101's Avatar
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    Major Electrical Problems

    Ok, so first off this is a bit of a rant. I wasn't sure exactly where to put it so it goes here. Second I am totally sure that these problems are stemming from SOMETHING that I did to the car. Between the fogs, stereo, and Carputer.
    Ok, now that being said, here is my woeful tale....

    So this all started out about two weeks ago. I decided to get myself an Optima Yellow Top battery because of the stereo system that I've got installed. I also had just ordered a pair of Raybrig Twin fog/driving lights to help out the lackluster lighting system in the car. I got the battery, installed it with a tiny hitch. The terminals are set farther back on the Optima so the leads that are built into the car for the hot line do not reach, and had to be extended. So I had a friend drive me to the store to get the stuff to extend the wire. Got home, finished that up, and went for a nice long drive. And the world was good... or so it seemed

    The next day the Raybrig's came in, and a friend and I installed them. Easy install, two relays, two lights, two hot lines, three grounds, and one ACC line. Again, got them on, no problems, didn't take too long, and again the world seemed good.

    So a few days later I was driving around, and the car had a little difficulty starting, which I found odd, but just passed off as a fluke. Then the next day same thing happened. This got me wondering a bit. Later that day I was driving along and I went to put the windows up, and my Opus went into protect mode. This got me real worried, but I had places to go so I figured I'd deal with it later. I then unhooked the PC just in case, and went on my evening. After about two hours in Steak and Shake with some friends, I come out to find the car TOTALLY dead. Like power locks worked the first click, and then there was nothing. No dome light, no clicking when I try to crank the car.....NOTHING. I had a friend jump me, and did some highway driving and the battery charged back up some, and I went home. This was July 3.

    The next day it was again, almost dead, but was able to crank, and I went to Discount Advanced Auto Parts to have them test my battery. They were oh so helpful in being able to tell me that my battery was in fact, mostly dead. (it took them 5 min with their little machine to be able to tell me this. And then I had them "check" my alternator. I'm not sure how the guy used his machine, but it said it was only putting out 7 amps. This didn't make me the happiest of campers, and I figured that I'd toasted my alternator. I proceeded to purchase a battery charger that was rated to be able to charge deep cycle batteries, went home, and tore through all my wiring trying to find a fault just in case. I couldn't find anything, checked EVERY FUSE in the bloody car, and none of them are blown.

    So the next day I went to my stereo shop and had them direct me to a good alternator place, which they did. I went over there expecting to need to have my alternator re-wound due to me burning it up. The guy who builds them hooked up his own magic machine, and told me that there was nothing wrong with my alternator. So I went home and RE-RE-RE checked everything that I've put in, and again could find no fault. I then hooked the charger back up, and went to bed.

    Woke up the next day, came out to the car, and the charger was blinking all crazy with some code (which was not in the manual) and the "check battery" light was on. SO, I go and drive a bit and it's working ok. I've had the stereo and carputer turned off for 90% of the time recently trying to troubleshoot this damn problem. I had a long drive that day, about 200 miles, came home, then went about my next few days.

    Brings me to today (Friday). My battery was again acting up, so I took it to another Advanced Discount Auto Parts store, and ask them to re-re-re-re-check everything. They do, and again, are able to tell me that my battery is real low, and alternator is fine. But to really test the battery fully they'd need to take it inside to charge/test it on another machine. I do this, wait about an hour to have them tell me that everything's A.OK. I put the (Fully charged) battery back into the car, and go off.

    I proceeded to go to the local drag strip, where they have open nights on Wed and Friday nights. I'd never done it, and it sounded like it could be a good time. Just see how quick the car could go. I had the PC on at this time btw. So my first run I botched up, and ran a 17.100. I then went back into the line thing and waited for a while with the car on, and idling the whole time. I pull out, and as I am braking the whole electrical system nearly shuts down. I go to run, and the car is acting all wonky. The turbo would NOT kick in for any reason, it wasn't shifting right, but as I got going faster things seemed to come back on. (lights, etc...). So when I'm off the strip I pull into the parking lot and shut the car down. Then restart it. The thing BARELY starts. I was having the same problems as I left to drive back to the auto parts place (they're open till 11 thank gosh) and after about 5 min of driving at 50MPH things start to settle down. Turbo starts kicking back in, it starts to shift normally, etc... (I'd unhooked the PC, and everything else before I restarted the car.)

    I get to the auto parts place and they, yet again, tell me my battery is almost dead. And they check the alternator, and say it's fine. (or the machine says it's fine) So after much arguing, I got them to replace the battery on warranty, because at this point I can't see what else it could be, besides a funky battery. They kept on trying to tell me that they couldn't do it unless their machine said something was wrong with it. Although I did have the convincing argument that it drained within about 4 hours of being "fully charged" and they couldn't come up with anything else that it could be except that "well, if one of your power lines came loose and was touching the car it could make it drain fast" (First off, everything's fused like all hell. Secondly, if it wasn't it would make pretty smoke and fireworks, not drain the battery. Am I off in this thinking?? Please tell me if I am).

    This brings us up to now. I drove about 20 miles to a gig on the new battery, and was there for 3 hours or so, and left. Everything’s working when I left, and now I'm at home, waiting to see what the next few days bring.

    Does anyone have any other ideas? I'm hoping that the new battery fixes things, but I'm not getting my hopes up. I'm willing to try anything at this point to get the car working properly again.

  2. #2
    Unregistered User ODYSSEY's Avatar
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    Have you tried removing the fog lights you installed to rule them out? Either you had a bad battery or you have a bad connection somewhere that is draining your battery. I would rule out the alternator since it tested fine at the alter. shop.

    I suggest disconnecting any wiring you have installed. Then add one by one each item until the problem reoccurrs.
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  3. #3
    Maximum Bitrate techy101's Avatar
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    I forgot to mention that, I pulled all the fuses on them inbetween the first and second battery drain. to no avail, then put them back in

  4. #4
    Top Ramen lgbr's Avatar
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    Check your grounds. Make sure they're not only tight, but that they are making good contact. Make sure any paint is shaved off where you have any grounds.

    If you got your car started and while it's driving it gives you ****, then you either have a bad alternator or a bad connection. Keep in mind that, once started, a car can just about do without the battery, and a running car with a failing battery will not have any problems. Check all the grounds very thoroughly. Double check the extension thing you did. Get a multitester and make sure the voltage at the alternator is the exact same as at the battery.
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    Bugbyte's Avatar
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    It sounds as if your battery discharges but doesn't charge, or is only charging sometimes. But what's puzzling is that if that were true, you wouldn't be able to go 200 miles on it without it going flat dead. Also, it seems to discharge when the car sits overnight.

    One of the first things you said you did was extend the power cables to the battery. Re-check that to see if either there is an opportunity for some kind of ground issue, whether they got cracked or dinged during installation, or whatever.

    It seems like the alternator works fine, although it's not charging the battery at idle. Also, there is some kind of power drain on the battery when it sits overnight.

    Disconnect everything from the battery, including the stereo system. Also measure the power drain on the battery when the car is turned off before you do this, then afterwards.
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    Maximum Bitrate techy101's Avatar
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    I feel silly asking this, but how exactly do I measure the power drain on the battery when the car is turned off. I don't have an ammeter

  7. #7
    Maximum Bitrate psyrex's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by techy101
    I feel silly asking this, but how exactly do I measure the power drain on the battery when the car is turned off. I don't have an ammeter
    If you have a huge *** power resistor, you can put that in series and measure voltage drop across it and just calculate (volts divided by ohms is amps)

    -psyrex

  8. #8
    Constant Bitrate markopolo311's Avatar
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    I'm gonna second Bugbyte. I had a similar problem that turned out to be a bad butt-splice.

    I would take the extensions that you made and double heat shrink them or something. I my case there was a single strand of wire coming out of the splice that would short to the frame. it looked fine at first, but when you put it into place, it would come out of hte insulated butt-splice.

    Also charge your battery till it's full, and let it sit on it's own over night. see if the voltage goes down when nothing is hooked up to it.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by techy101
    I feel silly asking this, but how exactly do I measure the power drain on the battery when the car is turned off. I don't have an ammeter
    It's easy. 1) Buy an ammeter. 2) Measure the draw

    Man, you GOTTA have a digital multimeter if you're in this biz! It makes life SO much easier. You can get them cheap at Radio Shock or Home Depot. They'll do volts, amps, resistance and they're easy to hook up and use. Get one with the audio continuity testing so you can hear it when you are searching for the right wire.

    $25 buck should get you one that will last you a long time.

    BTW - markopolo's idea was good. Take the battery out, charge it fully, then let it sit and measure the voltage (using your brand new meter )
    Quote Originally Posted by ghettocruzer View Post
    I was gung ho on building a PC [until] just recently. However, between my new phone having internet and GPS and all...and this kit...Im starting to have trouble justfiying it haha.
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  10. #10
    Constant Bitrate ATXaccord05's Avatar
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    Definately get a multimeter. mine is always in my car just in case. Something is drawing power from your car even when it's not on. i'd be willing to bet it's either those new lights, or maybe the battery wasn't connected well? get a multimeter and test the voltage at the battery terminals, test the voltage at the frame of your car where your ground it, so your positive terminal, and test a random positive lead and the body of the car.

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