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Gene
Gene, Auto Service Technician
Category: Oldsmobile
Satisfied Customers: 4924
Experience:  ASE Master 25 years experience, Ford Trans Tech/SMT, Toyota, Mitsubishi,Hyundai Tech.
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The battery in my 1996 Olds Cutlass Ciera keeps going dead

Customer Question

The battery in my 1996 Olds Cutlass Ciera keeps going dead for no apparent reason. I have replaced the battery twice in six months (with a NAPA battery each time). It has the 3.1 Liter engine.
I just checked for current drain when nothing is turned on using a multimeter connected between the positive battery terminal and the positive battery cable. There is a 14 milliamp drain with nothing on and the ignition off.
Is that small amount of current draw with everything off normal? Is that enough of a draw to COMPLETELY drain the battery in just one or at most two days? The alternator is putting out fine.
A few minutes ago, after sitting a while, the battery voltage was 13 volts. I started the engine and at idle the alternator was putting out 14.4 volts (measured at the battery). Immediately after shutting off the engine, the battery voltage was 13.3 volts.
Any suggestions as to what might be causing this and how to find it? When this happens, the battery goes dead very quickly, usually overnight or during the day while parked at work. I am thinking something else is happening, intermittently, that is causing the battery drain.
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Oldsmobile
Expert:  Gene replied 7 months ago.

Hello, yes a 14 milliamp would be an acceptable draw. How long i it taking for the battery to discahrge, how long does it sit before it is dead.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.

It's hard to say how long it takes. It is a car we don't drive that much, but I believe it has happened when the car just sat overnight. On other occasions, it sat for at least a day or two without being driven, maybe even a few days. However, the car has sat for as long as a few weeks without being started but started right up. This problem seems intermittent.

It is my mother in law's car, but she has stopped driving and my wife and I and one friend drive the car at times. Sometimes we drive it every day, at other times it may sit for several days without being started. As I said above, it has even sat for several weeks and started right up.

Is there something in the alternator or voltage regulator that could be defective and causing the draw to happen intermittently? The battery that is in there now is only about five or six weeks old. btw, when the battery goes dead, it goes COMPLETELY dead.

There is something strange going on. I have dealt with cars, jeeps and boats enough in my 70 years to know that this is not normal and is intermittent. The first time or two it happened, I though maybe someone inadvertently left the headlights or dome light on. However, I know now that that isn't what is happening.

We blamed it on a defective battery the first couple of times, but we are now on battery number 3 in six months and it is still happening.

Expert:  Gene replied 7 months ago.

Ok it could be an issue with the altenator causing an intermittent excessive draw. If you cant isolate the source of the draw an option would be to install a battery disconnect on the battery which would require you to pop the hood and turn the battery on in between use.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.

Is there a way to test the alternator for this problem? I replaced the alternator a couple of years ago and it might even still be under warranty. But, even if it's not, if the alternator (or some component in the alternator) is the likely culprit, it is worth the price of a new alternator to stop this from happening. I don't want to go the "battery disconnect" route.

Expert:  Gene replied 7 months ago.

Only way to be sure would be to see a draw and unplug it and see the draw drop. Or if a wiring connection to it was melted.The rectifier could be drawing on the system but it would have to be seen when doing the draw test to verify that is the issue

Expert:  Gene replied 7 months ago.

Hello, do you need more help with this concern?

Expert:  Gene replied 7 months ago.

Hello, do you need more help with this concern?

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