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upnorth

Battery drain

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OK it is a Ford F 250 Lariat 6.0TD 160,000 miles, newer batteries(less than one year) mostly used as a tow vehicle for our 5th wheel  that is draining the batteries.  Don't really notice it in the summer I run it a bit more.  What I am seeing is a if I run it fairly frequently at least once a week it is pretty much fine, but anything over a week and I am having issue with it starting even plugged in.  I tried doing a bit of testing across the negative side for drain with both batteries negative disconnected and I am seeing at least 500ma draw, that is the limit of my old sweep style multi tester and to top it off it keeps blowing the .5 amp fuse so need a bit more robust one for further testing.

So far I have disconnected the alternator(co worker suggested that) and pulled the first two fuses out of the fuse panel before I blew the last spare fuse I had for the multi tester.  I know I am going to need to upgrade my multi tester and I also need a fuse panel description for the fuse.  

Anyone have a good idea what the odds on culprit to the drain is?  Mostly to shorten up the trouble shooting process.

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you are at 10 times the "acceptable" draw. .050 amps is acceptable.

with a draw that big ditch the meter and get a test light. The test light will handle the load and will go out or get a lot dimmer once the draw is removed.

hook up the test light inbetween the negative cable and the negative side of the battery, just like the meter. Remove all the fuse box covers. If you have one in the cab keep the door open and use a screw driver to close the latch (fooling the computer into thinking the door is closed even though it is open. Wait at least 1/2 hour. you should notice the test light dim once all the computers shut down. Then start pulling the fuses one at a time. I like to start with radio, dash, interior/exterior lighting, and accessory outlets. if none of those pan out then start pulling the other fuses. If you notice the test light brighten once a fuse is reinstalled wait 1/2 hour or for the light to dim again (you woke something up and can not continue until it shuts down again. Once you think you isolated the circuit responsible let me know and I'll let you know everything that is on that circuit.

you can then put the fuse back in and start unplugging devices until the draw goes away.

 

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Jeremy,

Well pulled every fuse and relay under the dash and under the hood and made no difference.  

Started looking around a bit more and seen the red cables coming off each battery.  Pulled the passenger side, no difference.  Pulled the driver side and the light went out.  Do you know where that goes and what might have failed?  

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Yeah they look factory, yes pics attached, first pic is passenger side which made no difference when disconnected, the second is the drivers side which did put out the light when disconnected.  The trailer tow is setup is factory, not sure if the receptacle is factory or not.  

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Is it possible that is the large cable that goes to the back of the alternator? With it disconnected see if there is power at the large terminal/wire at the alternator. If there is no power than I think you found your culprit...

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Hoping to get out there and test this weekend.  Been sick most the week.  But thanks for the helps so far.

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I checked and from what I can tell there is no juice at the alternator with the negatives unpluggled. And this time I checked both batteries for drain and nothing when I pulled the extra lead off the drivers side.

Edited by upnorth

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Did a little digging under the hood and the aux red cable on the drivers side goes to fender under and then not sure as it is bundled with another cable.  But if these to pic/diagrams are accurate it looks it goes to the fuse panel/s.  So I went through both the interior and under hood fuse panels(all the fuse/relays) again and no go, light stayed on.  Would some sort of short on the cable do the same?  I am running out of things to test.

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I did back when I was using the multi tester.  Also ran the tester light to it and didn't light up.  To verify I can try it again tho.

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It can never be simple.  I pulled both the red power cable and the plug from the alternator(just to be sure) and the light stayed lit.  Would the starter be on that line and not run through a fuse?

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I went out and pulled down the fuse panel.  Disconnect the main line coming in the draw stops.  I reconnect it the light comes back on.  I pull the connectors off the back one by one, the light never dimmed.  ????  I am leaning towards there being some sort of an issue with the panel?  

Once I warm up I am going mark the wires for their placement on the panel and unplug them all and see what happens.

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There is something going on here that makes little sense to me.  

I pulled all the plugs off one by one.  Finally when out after the were all out.  Put them back in in reverse that I pulled them.  It lit the light at the plug c270d that I found after some digging.  So found what was plugged into that into that one and it looks to be adjustable foot pedal, radio, cigar lighter.  Pulled those and nothing really happened, pulled the instrument panel fuse light went out(slowly tho).  Put everything back in other than the instrument panel fuse, no light.  Plugged the instrument panel fuse and the light lit.  Now the really strange part, I pull that fuse out again and it stays lit, it stays lit even when I pull the other fuses and the particular plug again.  

I am a bit more than a little confused by the way this is working.

 

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I went as far as pulling the instrument cluster and unplugging that.  Without that plugged I a very very dim light on the tester which is probably normal.

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I believe on the fords the cluster is the "gateway". this means all or most of the communications through the vehicle networks run through the cluster. With the cluster removed the vehicle is disabled.

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That would make sense.

What is not making sense is if I disconnect everthing from the back of the fuse panel and then pull the instrument panel fuse the light is dark, put it in and lights up, but pull it again and it stays lit.

I have done a lot of research on this and no one really has a definitive answer and more than one has brought it to the dealer and spent some large $$ not got a solution to the problem, that is my reluctance to bring it in. Spending $600 + and still have the same problem or at least reading about people have had that doesn't give me a lot of confidence.

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So i have read this a couple times.  The small red cable that looks factory, did you ever locate where it does go to?  Reason i ask is if this was a used vehicle, did someone have an amp under the seat and that was a power lead?  Did you try disconnecting only that smaller red cable to see if your problem went away?  If it does then you have a place to start searching.  Nothing worse than gremlins in an electrical system.  I once had a fire truck that had more weird elect issues, the crew named it Christine and hung bells under the bumper to ward off the gremlins.  Good luck.  Happy safe new year to all.  Jeff

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That small red cable on on the drivers side goes to the fuse panel.  Disconnecting that does put out the light, just the same as disconnecting it from the fuse panel.  That was the easy part :)

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OK a little update(not solved yet).  I got a few tips elsewhere to try few things and did.  First time no difference, but tried again and when I was waiting for a time out I decided to hook the alternator back up and that seemed to trigger a change.

What was suggested was to pull the instrument cluster fuse and wait for the light to go out.  With the alternator unplugged, it never went out or dimmed, but when I reconnected the alternator it went out after about 17 minutes.  At that point I can plug the fuse back in and the light goes on, pull it and goes very dim and will eventually go out again.  Not sure what that means yet or if anyone here has a clue?

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2005 I guess with all the other stuff in the original post I forgot to add the year.

And I got a hold of better multi tester.  

If I pull the instrument cluster fuse .08 amps

With the instrument cluster fues in 3.48 amps.

And after reconnecting the altenator, pulling the instrument cluster fuse puts the test light now immediately.  You can hear a click when you plug it back coming from in the instrument cluster when it gets plugged back in.

And since I did see a difference after connecting the altenator,I went through all the fuses and relays again with no change, not even a dim.

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So knowing that the instrument cluster seemed to be your draw, the only thought I have is it may not be getting a park detect switch input to fall asleep. But being I cannot currently access the necessary wiring diagrams I'm not sure if this truck has on.

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