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post #1 of 16 Old 09-11-2016, 05:07 PM Thread Starter
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Parasitic Draw?

My battery is often dead when the car sits for more than a day. I've concluded that either the battery is bad (about 1 year old, Super Start from Walmart), or there is a parasitic draw. I hooked up my volt meter but unsure how to read this (see attached). Is there a parasitic draw or is this normal?

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post #2 of 16 Old 09-11-2016, 06:58 PM
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How are you connecting the DMM? In series I hope? Otherwise you won't get a meaningful reading.

To get the correct reading, you will have to "break" the circuit from the battery to one of the cable clamp, you do so by loosening and remove one cable clamp then hook up one of the probe to the battery cable clamp you just removed, then connect the other probe to the battery terminal.

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Last edited by Aviography; 09-11-2016 at 07:41 PM.
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post #3 of 16 Old 09-11-2016, 08:24 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aviography View Post
How are you connecting the DMM? In series I hope? [/url]
Yes, it is in series. What I'm confused by are the units. I have the meter set at 200m on dca and reading 0.3; but I don't know what that means and if it's high or completely acceptable?
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post #4 of 16 Old 09-11-2016, 10:31 PM
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Go to a AUTO ZONE and have the battery tested.


BTW......some say the Ex Wife is a parasitic draw.
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post #5 of 16 Old 09-12-2016, 04:21 AM
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I believe your DMM (digital multi-meter) is not set up correctly. You have the selection knob on the 200mA range but you have the positive (red) test lead in the 10A hole (banana jack) rather than the "V Ohm mA" hole where it should be for that range. The "10A" hole (banana jack) is ONLY used when the knob is set to the 10A range. So in the manner you have it set up in the picture, you are telling the DMM to measure current on a 200mA range from the "V Ohm mA" banana jack to ground. But, since this hole is open, the current is zero, and consequently the meter is reading 0.3mA (the measurement is in milliamps on the 200mA range) which is as close to zero as your DMM can read (0.3mA is 0.0003Amps which is quite small). You can verify this by disconnecting the red or black plug and the meter reading will stay the same.

To get the correct measurement you should:

1. Put the red lead in the "10A" banana jack (where you have it in the picture), but then put set the knob on the "10A" range. The meter will then read out the parasitic current draw in Amps.

2. If the measurement with the DMM on the 10A range is very small (less than 0.2Amps = 200mA) then you can get a more precise measurement of the parasitic current draw by going back to the 200mA range. Put the red lead in the "V Ohm mA" hole and set the knob on the "200mA" range. The meter will then read out in milliamps (mA = thousandths of an Amp) and will give you a more precise reading of a small current.

In short, the 10A jack (hole) must be used with the 10A range and is used to measure large currents. For all lower current range settings (200mA and below) use the "V Ohm mA" jack.

Another thing to be aware of: there is an internal fuse in the DMM to protect the meter from over-current. This fuse is very often blown because people accidentally connect the meter across a power source (like the battery) with the meter in current measuring mode. If the DMM fuse is blown, then the current will always read zero. This can be confusing when you are looking for a parasitic current draw because if the fuse is blown it will read zero but this might be because the DMM fuse is blown and not because the parasitic draw is actually zero. So you might want to verify that your DMM fuse is okay. A quick way to do this is to put a test light on the downstream side of the measurement (the DMM terminal away from the battery). If the test light lights up then the fuse is good (and you should see the test light current reflected in the DMM reading). If you don't have a test light, you can turn on a SMALL accessory like an interior light and make sure it turns on. If it doesn't it means that you are not completing the circuit with your current measurement and something is wrong -- maybe the DMM fuse is blown.
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post #6 of 16 Old 09-12-2016, 06:30 AM
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Once you get the measurement side squared away, you want to see less than 50ma of current draw. Also, some systems in the car continue to pull power for up to 20 mins after the key is off. Here is a good video on how to check for a parasitic amp draw.



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post #7 of 16 Old 09-12-2016, 07:25 AM Thread Starter
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Thank you all so much. John, your explanation was very coherent and I'll take a look at things after work today. Btw, didn't start again this morning, battery read 10.57 volts...
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post #8 of 16 Old 09-12-2016, 11:48 AM
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prob wont start with anything under 12.05v. i recently had a huge ordeal with my car with something like this as well. could be a bad relay somewhere causing a constant draw. try tapping the relays or reseat the relays to see if it helps. also, apparently if u were to disconnect the neg from the battery, and reconnect it. it shouldnt have much of a "spark" or barely any noise when reconnecting. apparently mine did due to a bad relay (ac clutch relay). see if yours maybe did this too after you recharge the battery? could try disconnecting and reconnecting. see if you hear any sounds anywhere. my ac clutch engaged or clicked when mine connected.

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post #9 of 16 Old 09-12-2016, 08:13 PM
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Couldn't have said it better than John!

I also agree with Greg, I would consider a draw under 50mA acceptable.
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post #10 of 16 Old 09-13-2016, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry for asking the same question...it's just my battery will die if left for more than about 8hrs and I'm trying to tackle this tonight. Take a look at the photo, this is rigged up in series. Is this 30mA or .3mA?
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post #11 of 16 Old 09-13-2016, 05:40 PM
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Since your meter is on the 10A range, the units are Amps. So you are reading 0.03 Amps which is equal to 30 mA.

Now, try turning on the interior light. Does it turn on? Does the reading go up to something reasonable -- just guessing maybe 0.5A or so? If the answer to either is "no" then your measurement is not accurate.

Also, since 0.03A is very small relative to the 10A range, to get more confidence in that measurement, I would recommend you now switch the knob to the 200mA setting and switch the red test lead from the "10A" jack to the "mA" jack and see what it reads. When you do that, the reading will be in mA and you should see it reading something like 30.
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post #12 of 16 Old 09-13-2016, 05:56 PM Thread Starter
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It does jump when opening the door or anything else. Turning to 200m range shows from .2 to .4 when doors are closed and locked. I'm going in to test my battery now since it sounds like the drain is within spec... I use to have a much larger drain that I fixed by unplugging the stock radio, but that was several months ago. Also, my battery is only about 1 year old, but maybe the old drain and recharging it wore it down from before? Anyway, I'll let you know how the battery test turns out.
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post #13 of 16 Old 09-13-2016, 06:11 PM Thread Starter
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At auto parts store, bad battery.
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post #14 of 16 Old 09-14-2016, 09:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryanweather View Post
Sorry for asking the same question...it's just my battery will die if left for more than about 8hrs and I'm trying to tackle this tonight. Take a look at the photo, this is rigged up in series. Is this 30mA or .3mA?
As others said, 30 mA is typical draw. Good luck with the battery, my Accords seems to need one every 2 years just before winter hits - expect to need one fairly soon.
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post #15 of 16 Old 09-14-2016, 02:07 PM
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This would be my 3rd winter on same battery, so I'm keeping an eye as well.

Unfortunately I deep cycled it recently while doing a repair. I'm afraid that will probably cast the death spell that comes with batteries not designed for it.

For being such a small battery it sure cranks that engine with ease.


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