testing parasitic draw without a meter - Ranger-Forums - The Ultimate Ford Ranger Resource


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  #1  
Old 01-24-2014
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testing parasitic draw without a meter

hi all,

my first post!

my 2008 xlt with 2.3L I4 has a parasitic draw on the battery.

i have NEVER needed a multimeter or voltmeter in 33 years and i'm 110% sure i won't need it again if i bought one to test where the draw is coming from.

i'm thinking that i can test where the draw is coming from by removing a group of fuses each time i park my ranger for the night; putting them back in the morning and, if my battery still has a charge to start, i know that none of those circuits are the problem.

what's wrong with this approach?
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  #2  
Old 01-24-2014
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That is a way to narrow it down to a particular circuit but it could take a while. It will also not pin point the problem. A meter is quicker and can pinpoint the problem.
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Old 01-24-2014
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How old is the battery?

Battery's can discharge themselves when they get older, especially in colder weather.

I would first disconnect battery over night.
If it cranks slowly in the morning then have battery checked.

Newer vehicles have "battery savers", your Ranger does, this cuts power to most circuits after about 20 minutes of key being off, so if inside light is left on by mistake battery shouldn't be dead in the morning.

There are a few circuits not cut off, brake lights come to mind, alarm systems(keyless entry), radio preset power(holds preset stations in memory)

With a $10 meter you can test battery and find the drain if it's not the battery, but as you say you have got along quite nicely without one, but things change.......always do
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Old 01-24-2014
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Originally Posted by IN2 FX4 View Post
That is a way to narrow it down to a particular circuit but it could take a while. It will also not pin point the problem. A meter is quicker and can pinpoint the problem.
i'm thinking pulling out half the fuses and if none of those are the problem, then doing the other half, wash, rinse, repeat until i've got it narrowed down?

how will it not pinpoint it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RonD View Post
How old is the battery?

Battery's can discharge themselves when they get older, especially in colder weather.

I would first disconnect battery over night.
If it cranks slowly in the morning then have battery checked.

Newer vehicles have "battery savers", your Ranger does, this cuts power to most circuits after about 20 minutes of key being off, so if inside light is left on by mistake battery shouldn't be dead in the morning.

There are a few circuits not cut off, brake lights come to mind, alarm systems(keyless entry), radio preset power(holds preset stations in memory)

With a $10 meter you can test battery and find the drain if it's not the battery, but as you say you have got along quite nicely without one, but things change.......always do
i changed the battery when this first started happening two weeks ago and i've had to jump about a dozen times since then, but i had it tested at autozone and they said it was in good shape... the alternator too. (And i'm in california, so it ain't cold here )

$10 bucks for a 25-amp/50v multimeter?!?! ... where???!!!!

for that price, i'll buy a spare and a spare for the spare.
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Old 01-24-2014
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Honestly, you can grab a cheap-o multimeter from Harbor Freight Tools or a similar discount tool place for less than $10.00
Like THIS ONE
I keep a few of those in the garage & one in each vehicle just in case.

You might be surprised how many times you'll use it.

That way you can disconnect one battery terminal, insert the meter between the battery & wiring to see if there's any current draw when the truck is off. I think there should be a few milliamps of draw normally, but if you see anything close to 1a, you definitely have a parasitic draw.

After seeing how much draw you have, you could then start pulling fuses & checking wiring for shorts to narrow down where the issue is coming from.
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Old 01-24-2014
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Originally Posted by dcazdavi View Post
$10 bucks for a 25-amp/50v multimeter?!?! ... where???!!!!

for that price, i'll buy a spare and a spare for the spare.
Pretty much any parts store, you could even use a 12v test light for what you are doing, I just think meter would be more useful down the road.

Key off, unhook batteries positive(+) cable
connect 12v test light between cable and battery, it will light up, start removing fuses.
Problem with this is that there are circuits, like the radio/clock that are suppose to draw power with key off, and the Battery saver.

Not sure why you would need a high amp meter, at least not for this.
I got this from another Ranger forum
It is time and amp draw for normal battery drain with key off and out and doors closed, not sure if there is an alarm:
Time = 0:00..............Draw = .30A
Time = 0:01..............Draw = .12A
Time = 0:30..............Draw = .07 - .08A
Time = 0:30+............Draw = .01 - .02A


Ford specs .04 draw or less to be within spec after 30 minutes
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Old 01-25-2014
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awesome, thanks guys!!!

i just assumed that i need a high amp/high voltage multimeter to do this; never done it before.

i guess i'll go out and buy myself a multimeter or three.
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Old 01-25-2014
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No, no high amps or voltage
20vDC setting on meter for all car electric testing
And you will be measuring milli-amps for draining voltage, .5A(amps) = 500mA(milli-amps)

Key off and out, door closed
Remove positive battery cable
Set meter for 10amp setting(most common setting on meters)
Connect red probe of meter to positive battery Post, securely, since it will be there awhile, zip tie or hose clamp works.
Connect black probe to positive battery Cable, securely as well.

Battery----------red probe------meter------black probe------------Cable

Now all the power being drawn from the battery is going thru the meter

It will take 20-30minutes for battery saver to turn off systems, so wait, until draw decreases, after that you can pull fuses one at a time, problem is you may restart battery saver when you open the door
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Old 02-05-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcazdavi View Post
awesome, thanks guys!!!

i just assumed that i need a high amp/high voltage multimeter to do this; never done it before.

i guess i'll go out and buy myself a multimeter or three.

Well-then ~ Welcome to the 20th Century ~ AND the 21st. as-well!
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  #10  
Old 02-05-2014
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Originally Posted by RonD View Post
No, no high amps or voltage
20vDC setting on meter for all car electric testing
And you will be measuring milli-amps for draining voltage, .5A(amps) = 500mA(milli-amps)

Key off and out, door closed
Remove positive battery cable
Set meter for 10amp setting(most common setting on meters)
Connect red probe of meter to positive battery Post, securely, since it will be there awhile, zip tie or hose clamp works.
Connect black probe to positive battery Cable, securely as well.

Battery----------red probe------meter------black probe------------Cable


Now all the power being drawn from the battery is going thru the meter

It will take 20-30minutes for battery saver to turn off systems, so wait, until draw decreases, after that you can pull fuses one at a time, problem is you may restart battery saver when you open the door
ACTUALLY NO ~ IF You want the meter to read polarity-correct AND mitigate/avoid "ARCING" It's connected as-follows:

BATTERY NEGATIVE-TERMINAL ~ BLACK LEAD to METER-NEGATIVE ~ RED LEAD (from Meter) to BATTERY NEGATIVE-GROUND CABLE CLAMP.

I connect it as-such BEFORE completely removing the Ground-Clamp from BATTERY NEGATIVE to avoid a current-surge ~ which MAY pop the fuse within the Meter... : ?

That-said ~ ALWAYS REMEMBER to REMOVE Your test-leads and/or CHANGE the dial-funciton from "Amp Testing" BEFORE testing anything for "VOLTAGE" ~ or you will blow that fuse within the METER... : ?

P.S. : ? = "so WTF"

Ciao!

Last edited by MAD JAX; 02-05-2014 at 10:03 AM.
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  #11  
Old 02-12-2014
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IF I didn't have a meter, I would lift the negative battery terminal to see if there is a spark, if so then there is a draw.
Pull a fuse for a circuit, see if there is still a draw, pull another and check again until you get no spark. You should be able to locate the draw using the terminal lift procedure... TLP.

If there are multiple components on the circuit you find is the culprit then you will need to disconnect each of them to find which one is a problem.
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  #12  
Old 02-14-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrambler82 View Post
IF I didn't have a meter, I would lift the negative battery terminal to see if there is a spark, if so then there is a draw.

Perhaps that was true at one-time ~ like BEFORE they put a Radio with Electronic-Memory, Clock, etc., requiring "HOT AT ALL-TIMES" power ~ enter the age of on-board computers and that changed big-time!

I've seen vehicles that have less than 30 mA I.O.D. (Ignition-Off Draw) "Spark" as You discribe...and whereas some cars with "Active Suspension", etc., can draw upwards of 400 mA. for HOURS before they "Sleep" ~ yet still be within spec regarding Parasitic I.O.D. ~ so what would you really KNOW for not having the capability of measuring It against "Spec" with a Volt-Meter... : ?


Pull a fuse for a circuit, see if there is still a draw, pull another and check again until you get no spark. You should be able to locate the draw using the terminal lift procedure... TLP.

Sure ~ provided You knew what conditions need to exist for whatever circut to "Time-Out"...otherwise, arent' You likely to find yourself mis-diagnosing a problem that doesn't exist... : ?

If there are multiple components on the circuit you find is the culprit then you will need to disconnect each of them to find which one is a problem.
Again, simply watching for "Spark" while doing this isn't the most prudent method of finding an excessive I.O.D. because of how some systems "Wake" upon re-connect after a Battery-Disconnect... : ?

Everyone does what they have-to-do in a jam, but aren't you playin' in the Stone-Age if You're diagnosing vehicles built over the last 40 years for excessive I.O.D. using a TEST-LIGHT... : ?
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  #13  
Old 02-14-2014
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MAD JAX View Post
Again, simply watching for "Spark" while doing this isn't the most prudent method of finding an excessive I.O.D. because of how some systems "Wake" upon re-connect after a Battery-Disconnect... : ?

Everyone does what they have-to-do in a jam, but aren't you playin' in the Stone-Age if You're diagnosing vehicles built over the last 40 years for excessive I.O.D. using a TEST-LIGHT... : ?

I use meters, the response was to the question, "IF you didn't have a meter..."!
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  #14  
Old 02-15-2014
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Originally Posted by Scrambler82 View Post
I use meters, the response was to the question, "IF you didn't have a meter..."!
OK, sure, It works in a jam ~ IF You know the I.O.D. spec. on that particular vehicle is less than what it takes to illuminate THAT test-lite and it lights-dimly (if at-all)...which happens at current levels of </= 20mA, but @ +/- 30 mA you'll lite most garden-variety test-lites on just about every vehicle made over the last 30 years...and indicated a problem : ?

Respectfully ~ I'm not lookin' to bust anyones ***** here but to rather encourage those looking to take the extra-steps neccessary to do-things-right vs. "measure-once cut-twice" ~ A test-lite can very-well help initially-indicate a problem exists whereas a Volt-Meter and knowledge of how the system is supposed to work will verify one does or doesn't.
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