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Battery Drain Problem

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Beetlecrusher View Drop Down
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    Posted: 10 Jan 18 at 15:26
My 2002, 2.6 Caravelle has an issue with battery discharge. If I haven`t used the van for 5 or 6 days, the battery does not even have enough power to turn the engine over. I have had the battery tested at a local battery supplier and it is now knackered although I bought it new last year and was a good quality Bosch. I have noticed that the electric window and headlight switches are permanently lit, even when the ignition is off. I`m not sure if it`s supposed to be like that or if it`s an indication of a fault somewhere. I have had an auto electrician out to test for battery drain but he concluded that the drain was within acceptable limits. The van has provision for a leisure battery under the passenger seat but I removed that after I was told by another garage that that was the cause of the drain. I think that the leisure battery only powers a small, underseat fridge anyway. The van is not modified in any way and exactly as it was when it left the factory. It also has the Conlog alarm immobiliser system fitted and I`ve thought about that as a possible cause of the problem. Any help or suggestions gratefully received as this is getting really frustrating. Regards, Jon.   
2002 2.6 South African T XXV
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AndyT View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AndyT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jan 18 at 18:12
Been there it's a real pain in the arse.
I have a Gunson meter and an extra cable that lets you plug into the fuse socket.
You can measure the drain on each fuse up to 10amp and then do the maths.
Pull em all apart from the immobiliser fuse and see what it draws, within limits isn't very helpful.
Even an interior light stuck on will draw 0.5 amps/hour, and constantly flattening the battery will cause it to fail quicker for sure.
LT28 1979 2.0 Pampas Nevada Camper LPG 93K, 1980 T3 A/C Camper 98K,1994 RRC 3.9 LPG 120k , 1998 Audi A6 Est 2.5 V6 diesel 127k

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Beetlecrusher View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Beetlecrusher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jan 18 at 18:45
Thanks for the reply, Andy. I think you may have hit on another possible cause of the fault. I have also noticed that the interior lights do not come on when the doors are opened and the switches on the light fittings are in the correct position. There is also a courtesy light, activated by the sliding door that has had the bulb removed. When I put a working bulb in, it was constantly on, regardless of whether the door was open or closed. I pointed this out to the auto electrician who called but he didn`t do anything about it. This fault has buggered up 2 batteries in the 2 years I have had the van. The previous and original owner used the van as his daily vehicle, covering about 80 miles a day so probably didn`t realise there was a fault as the alternator would easily compensate for any discharge.    
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Wychall Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jan 18 at 18:54
There may be an interior light delay relay in the circuit. It could be worth looking for one and removing it to see if that improves your drain problem. Have you got a wiring diagram?
South African 1991 2.5i 5cyl Microbus - virgin, not campered - piloted by Brian.
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Beetlecrusher View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Beetlecrusher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jan 18 at 19:21
Hi Brian. Nice to know you are still here with your helpful advice. Alas, no, I do not have any wiring diagrams for this particular van. Still relying on the old Haynes manual for most things but no use in this situation. I suppose there could be a light delay relay somewhere as this van was apparently one of the last 50 they ever made. Regards, Jon.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Wychall Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jan 18 at 20:10
Curious! Looking at a 1995 diagram for a 2.6 there is no delay unit. However a 1991 diagram for a 2.5 shows a delay unit mounted behind the glovebox. My 1991 does not have one but perhaps your 2002 does.
South African 1991 2.5i 5cyl Microbus - virgin, not campered - piloted by Brian.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AndyT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jan 18 at 22:06
There is one general test you could do just thought of it.
If you can borrow a multimeter with the ability to measure amps, then disconnect the positive battery lead and connect the meter between the battery terminal and the clamp.
This will give you the total battery drain,not going to help the diagnosis but will give you  a guide when you need to run the engine to charge the battery.

P.S. this is my meter still available on various sites, costs around £50 though (or an hours labour)

Gunson G4187



Edited by AndyT - 10 Jan 18 at 22:19
LT28 1979 2.0 Pampas Nevada Camper LPG 93K, 1980 T3 A/C Camper 98K,1994 RRC 3.9 LPG 120k , 1998 Audi A6 Est 2.5 V6 diesel 127k

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Beetlecrusher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jan 18 at 22:29
I have an old Tandy analogue multimeter and a cheap Aldi digital one. I suppose that I could get a reading between the two of them. I have got to get yet another battery and will probably pick one up on Friday. I was looking at those AGM batteries (Absorbant Glass Mat I think it stands for) at around £140 a throw but will go for the cheaper, standard battery in case that one gets buggered up too. There is an outside chance that the battery the van came with and the one I replaced it with were defective but I think that is just wishful thinking. I could leave my previous T3 for weeks and weeks before using it and the battery never failed. It would throw the engine over no trouble and that could be a right bastard to start. I should have put that battery on the South African van before I sold it last summer as I knew it was sound. I`ll try testing with the new battery in place but how many amps would the alarm immobiliser and the illuminated switches draw ?  Unfortunately, I have no idea.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AndyT Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Jan 18 at 22:43
Guess it varies on the equipment, but my RR Classic draws 0.29amp for example, enough to kill the batttery in about 3 weeks. The Disco lasts a couple of weeks if it's short journeys only.
Both are older so don't have the modern electrics so I can just lock the doors and disconnect the battery if needed.
If you can't find the fault the only other options I can think of are a solar panel to keep the battery topped up, or if there is space a more powerful battery which would last longer.
I've got a Halfrauds trade card and sometimes there are bloody good deals on batteries, if you post the battery code I can get a quote if interested.

LT28 1979 2.0 Pampas Nevada Camper LPG 93K, 1980 T3 A/C Camper 98K,1994 RRC 3.9 LPG 120k , 1998 Audi A6 Est 2.5 V6 diesel 127k

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Beetlecrusher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jan 18 at 05:23
Thanks for the offer of your Halfords card, Andy, but I have already committed to buy one from a local battery shop who have been very helpful in testing, charging and diagnosing my now useless battery. I`m not getting anything too expensive until I find out what the problem is. I need to have the van running by Monday as it`s going into a local bodyshop for a little cosmetic paintwork. I have thought about getting an isolator switch installed which may be a solution but not the desired one. I don`t fancy arsing about locking all the doors when it has central locking. I will start to disconnect the battery as a matter of course until I can hopefully resolve the problem. I have a battery maintainer/conditioner but even with this connected when the van was not being used, it failed to keep a charge in the battery. If all else fails, the mechanic who carries out any work I need doing on the van should be able to help with recommending a good auto electrician. I just hope it doesn`t prove to be too expensive and that it`s something simple and cheap to fix. It`s possible but unlikely.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wrm Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jan 18 at 09:09
My 2.3 5 cyl draws 2.4mA with the immobiliser disconnected (I think this is mostly the LCD clock). With the immobiliser plugged in it goes to around 4mA with peaks at 7mA when the LED flashes.

That for me is "acceptable limits".

Newer vehicles with all kinds of doohickery draws more, like the 290mA quoted above. As mentioned, that will drain your battery over a month or two.

An isolator switch is an option, especially on a lesser-used vehicle like a camper. But if it were me I'd fix the problem first. Hook up a multimeter and start pulling fuses.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Beetlecrusher Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jan 18 at 15:09
I`d be happy if it took a couple of months to drain the battery. As it is, the van is taking less than a week and on the two occasions I`ve had someone have a look at it, the problem has gone unresolved. It`s in the bodyshop at the moment and the bloke that runs it is getting someone to have a look at it. Hopefully, he can throw some light on it. I`m still not sure if the illuminated electric window and headlight switches should be on even when the ignition is off but I suspect not. As with a lot of electrical faults, they can be extremely difficult to pinpoint. Thanks for the advice. 

Edited by Beetlecrusher - 19 Jan 18 at 16:32
2002 2.6 South African T XXV
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