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my battery drains when the car is not used regularly

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  • [Corsa C] my battery drains when the car is not used regularly

    Recently bought a 2004 Corsa C from a friend, the whole time she had it the battery has drained slowly if the car isn't used often enough to keep it topped up. She has taken it to people to have a look and they could find anything, the battery has been changed for a brand new one and it still happens. I cant see any lights staying on inside anywhere.

    i did find a post that said it may be the Fuel pump relay, so ive had that out to check and it still drained, so not that one.

    The central locking does stop working before the battery fully dies, i'm thinking this may be connected??
    Last edited by Ian1812; 06-07-2018, 11:42 AM.

  • #2
    How long is the car left before the battery is drained? I think most cars have a little drain, are we talking a few days, a few weeks, a few months?
    TheCorsa's friendly predator

    I like my women like I like my laptop. Thin, virus free and on my lap


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    • #3
      Welcome to the Forum.
      There will always be a few milliamp drain on a battery, the ECU uses some, as does the clock and alarm.
      Normally this would go unnoticed, as it is such a small draw and would take weeks to have any effect on the state of charge of your battery.
      The quick way of checking where the drain is, would be to use a multimeter with a fuse probe, this allows you to pull one fuse at a time, insert the probe in place of the fuse and see what is draining your battery.
      Common causes of battery drain are things that are not too obvious, like the light in the boot.
      The slow way of checking is verrrrrry slow and involves pulling one fuse at a time, leaving the car to stand (for the required time that it takes to make a noticeable difference to to the battery - replacing the fuse and moving on to the next one.
      You don't need an expensive, super accurate multimeter to do the above - Fuse probes used to be available from Maplin's, but now that they have 'gone', you could try RS components. Unfortunately, I can't find a fuse probe in the (downloadable) Vehicle Wiring Products catalogue, but there are some reasonably priced multimeters in there.

      Regards

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      • #4
        Originally posted by jt999 View Post
        How long is the car left before the battery is drained? I think most cars have a little drain, are we talking a few days, a few weeks, a few months?
        Literally only a couple of days, I charged it up Wednesday, took the relay out, tried this morning and it didn't have enough to start up.

        Yes, I'm hoping to get hold of a multimeter very soon, but I shall have a look for a fuse probe too, thank you!

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        • #5
          Charged it how, and for how long? Has it got any kind of sub/amp set up?

          n bet heard of fuel relay draining them

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Vegas View Post
            Charged it how, and for how long? Has it got any kind of sub/amp set up?

            n bet heard of fuel relay draining them
            Charged for a full day with a 4 amp charger

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            • #7
              By sheer coincidence I have just got a similar problem. The car is in Bulgaria and was completely flat after not being used for a month. .It did this once before but at other times its been fine being left for similar periods.
              I suspect it may be the alarm system. Its not factory fitted but is the GM approved system which I believe was main dealer fitment from new. Its very sensitive,and a storm can set it off and there were storms on both occasions. I havnt yet figured out how to adjust it. ( My wife seems to think clearing storm damaged trees in the garden is more urgent than tinkering with cars!)

              After market alarm systems are a known source of parasitic battery drain, so if you have one fitted check it out.And check there isnt one fitted that has been partly disconnected. I am seriously thinking of disconnecting mine, but its deeply imbedded into the central locking etc, so its probably more complex than just disconnecting or snipping wires. Instructions on disabling alarm systems are not often published, for obvious reasons.

              I may also need to do the tests described by Walksall. I too have had difficulty sourcing a fuse probe and may try making one using an old fuse.

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              • #8
                I haven't seen the fuse probes other than at Maplins, now sadly demised. I have checked RS Components, but can't find them there.
                It shouldn't be too difficult to actually make one, using a spare fuse or at least the blade connections from one - all that it consists of is a plastic housing with two blades where the fuse blades would be, then a two core cable with a plug that fits the multimeter.
                Do remember that there are TWO sizes of blade fuse, the 'mini' one being used on the Corsa (and in any case, the most populat size these days.)

                Regards

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                • #9
                  Woe is me. Finally finished the trees and had a quick look at the corsa just before some heavy rainfall. I did a full battery loss test by removing the negative battery lead, and unless I have misread my cheapo multimeter (which is quite possible) I think I have about half an amp (500 milli amp ) parasitic loss overall . Should only be about 25 milli amp or so. I have disconnected the battery for tonight and will start pulling some fuses tomorrow.

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                  • #10
                    You live and learn. Last night I just quickly touched the normal spike pin probes on the multi meter and got a reading of just over half an amp parasitic drain. This morning I went hi tech and clamped the probes in place with clothes pegs. (must get some Bulgarian crocodile clips ) After about 10 seconds the reading dropped from half an amp drain to just 0.01 or sometimes 0.02 amps. If my maths is correct that is hovering just either side of 20 milli amps, which I think is about right for normal drain. . I think when I bridged the terminal enough amps flowed through the multimeter to 'wake' the ECU which used half an amp until it returned to sleep mode 10 seconds or so later. (Or it might be that pesky alarm system) As I was now getting a normal reading there was no point pulling fuses to see if it dropped. If there is a problem its intermittent.

                    I think my problem may be related to the fact the battery is original and the car is getting on for 8 years old. Which doesnt help Ian!


                    But it may help to know what I did . I have one of those very cheap chinese multimeters that are widely available. (4 in Bulgaria, 8 in halfords). Make sure the red probe is plugged into the alternative socket for 10 amps (or possibly 5 amps on some meters) and the dial set to 10 (or 5) amps.

                    Disconnect the negative battery lead. Make sure the ignition is off and the key removed. The doors must be closed, and no lights or other accessories switched on. I then used the multimeter probes to bridge between the battery negative terminal and the ( removed) negative battery lead. This gives an amp reading showing parasitic flow, a total for all sources on the car. BUT BEWARE. All the current is flowing through the multimeter, which may only be able to take 5 or 10 amps. If you inadvertently switch on something using a lot of amps, such as headlights, or try to start the car you are quite likely to permanently damage the multimeter. Even opening the car door (and activating interior lights) may be enough,to cause damage and would certainly give false readings. Its a commonly used method, and you will find it detailed on several web sites and you tube videos. But you have to keep your wits about you,especially when pulling fuses inside the car.. Walksalls method is probably better and less risk .

                    My cheapo meter gave a reading of about 0.56 amps then dropped to 0.01 ,or 0.02. after about 10 seconds or so If your figures are significantly higher you have a problem. You need to start pulling out fuses (and replacing them)one at a time until the reading drops ,indicating the circuit at fault. Dont forget there is a fuse box under the bonnet, and one inside the car on the dashboard, and some cars have a small one in the boot behind the left panel. (I couldnt find one there on my car)

                    One day i may invest in a decent meter that just gives a reading in miliamps without needing to do maths and stuff.

                    edit. Some sites mention waiting quite a long time for car systems, auto dim lights etc to settle down to sleep before doing tests. I didnt do that last night, but this morning the battery had been disconnected overnight. This might have had some affect on whether, or how quickly the drain readings stabilised.
                    Last edited by Bugman; 08-07-2018, 10:10 AM.

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                    • #11
                      Glad to hear that you are sorted.
                      Eight years for a battery is pretty good - only a few years ago three or four years was about all that you would normally get from a battery.
                      That's a good write-up for checking parasitic losses - 0.01 Amps sounds good to me.
                      An 'Auto Ranging' multimeter takes some of the fear out of damaging it due to overloading, BUT as it would still have a MAXIMUM current rating of (say) ten Amps, you still have to be careful not to switch on any heavy load.

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                      • #12
                        Here is my new alarm system for the Yaris while its in Bulgaria . I still expect to get some parasitic losses. Maybe 3 or 4 fleas a day. Its the village Mayors dog, finding a shady spot

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                        This is the one I hope to get for the Corsa

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                        • #13
                          I take it that the bottom one is required for UK use - his parasitic losses will consist of a few bones.

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                          • #14
                            Thank you all for your tips and suggestions! I now have a cheap multimeter so as soon as the housework is done I'll get under my bonnet and figure out where this leak is!

                            will of course update you all with whatI find!

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                            • #15
                              He is a real wild tiger, in India, so may need some training to keep the postman happy.

                              I took the photo from an open suzuki jeep, at a distance of about 10 metres. No fence. My adrenaline fix!

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