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1996 Nissan Quest: a strange problem where the battery was dying

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I have a 1996 Nissan...
I have a 1996 Nissan Quest. I know, it's old and I should just trade it in but its been such a good little car. I have had a strange problem where the battery was dying and not holding a charge. It was a fairly new battery but I changed it any way. I still had the same problem and began troubleshooting a charging problem. Charging system checked fine, but I thought I was smelling electrical smoke. I shut down the van and pulled the battery, and ran a continuity check between the positive and negative battery cables. I have been able to follow the short to the fuse box and have disconnected any possible wiring to isolate circuits along the way. I have found one mysterious short in the connector to the radiator fan that had actually melted the inside of the plug, but I completely disconnected these wires and had no change in the positive side of the fuse panel having no electrical resistance to ground. I have removed almost all the fuses and circuit breakers from the fuse box (I haven't figured out how to pull the Main and Alternator, but have completely disconnected and checked alternator and alternator wires and cables) and have been unable to isolate the short to any circuit. I then did an internet search and found hundreds of people complaining of a similar "charging problem" with various years of Quest/Villager minivans, but not one that had figured out that it was a short let alone one that had determined the source of the short. Any help or suggestions?
Submitted: 6 years ago.Category: Nissan
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Answered in 1 hour by:
8/16/2011
Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
AMEDEE
AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC
Category: Nissan
Satisfied Customers: 27,108
Experience: ASE certified tech ADVANCED LEVEL PERFORMANCE. Wisconsin certified emissions state inspector
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Hello!

You are going to have to pinpoint what is drawing the battery down. Disconnect the negative battery terminal. Put a test light between the negative cable and the negative battery terminal. With the key out of the ignition switch and the vehicle just sitting there (make sure the doors are closed) the test light should not light up bright. If it does, there is a draw! Disconnect one fuse at a time until the test light goes out. When it does, you have found the circuit that the draw is on! Here is a hint, a lot of times it is either the dome light, trunk light or the glove compartment light that stays on. If you do not want to go through the hassle of the test, pull the bulbs out and see if that helps.
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
Thank you for telling me to do what was already done two days ago. I have half the electrical system disconnected attempting to "isolate the draw."I have all but two of the fuses and circuit breakers removed in the engine fuse panel and one is on the alternator that has been disconnected. The other is the main. I have already found two points of short damage (plug to radiator fan and door lock on the passenger door) and niether has solved the problem.I have the short (not a draw) tracked to the fuse panel but cannot pinpoint the source of the short from the fuse panel.
Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
Hello!

Sorry for the confusion. Your saying there is a short and not a draw on the system?

Which circuit is this on?
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
Relist: Answer quality.
Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
Hello!

You said that you have done all of this already..correct?

If so, then what circuit is the draw or short on?
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
Relist: Answer quality.
Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
Hello!

You said that you have done all of this already..correct?

If so, then what circuit is the draw or short on?
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
If you insist on being the answer to the question, perhaps you could bother to read it. I detailed removing all fuses in the primary fuse box and removing connections for the fuses I couldn't remove. I have pulled the fuse box loose to ensure it isn't touching ground somewhere and still have continuity with no resistance from the poositive post of the box to ground. Hence, no resistance means it is not a light bulb, it is a short. there is a direct connection from the positive post of the battery to the negative post of the battery. It has to be something that is bypassing fuses in the primary fuse panel.
Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
I would agree... but it has to be something on one of the circuits. We need ot figure out which circuit this "short" is on. That is what I am asking you.
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
I have pulled each relay, breaker and fuse in the primary fuse panel with no change. the only two that have not been removed are teh Main and the Alternator, as I haven't been able to get them out. I have completely disconnected the Alternator and cable and am still unable to eliminate the positive post of the primary fuse panel from having no resistance to ground.
Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
So what happens if you connect the battery?

Does any fuse pop or does anything start to smoke?
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
I could smell smoke while vehicle running but could not determine the source. Battery connection blows no fuses and trips no circuit breakers that I have located. I checked through and found no electrical componants of the vehicle not working.
Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
Ok.. then you do not have a short.

If you did, one of the fuses would pop or one of the positive battery cables will start on fire.

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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
one would think, but it isn't happening that way
Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
IF the battery is loosing a charge when sitting for over a few hours, then you have a draw on the system that needs to be diagnosed.
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
It is loosing power instantly. I can place the meter on the battery posts and visably see the voltage drop. An hour will drop it below 2 volts. I have already located two shorts, neither of which were tripping the breaker or blowing the fuse in the associated circuit, and neither of which has solved my problem.
Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
Yeah.. this is a draw... not a short.

Disconnect the big lead going to the back of the alternator and see if this helps.

Let me know!
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
I have disconnected that at the alternator and at the alternator and at the fuse box.
Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
If you put your meter in series with the negative battery cable and negative battery post, what is the amp reading?
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
As in a battery drawdown test?
Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
That is correct..
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
Battery is tested and good
Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
NO.. we are not testing the battery.. we are testing for a draw. What is the reading?
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
I have an open short, with no resistance. A draw will show the resistance of the appliance that has the draw (i.e., the resistance of the light). I currently have the positive cables removed
Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
No.. a draw will show how many amps is being pulled from the battery
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Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
I think you are a bit confused on this test.

Here is a good U tube video that will clear things up for you.

Click here
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
graphic
Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
Sorry for the delay!

Looks like the connector got a bit hot??

What connector is this from?
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
Radiator fan. Similar one in the passenger door lock. Neither tripped the breaker or blew the fuse.
Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
So your saying this is the radiator fan connector?

And you have replaced this connector and there is no more draw?
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
removed the connector and still have a draw
Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
Ok.. did you watch the video?

Run the test just like in the video and tell me what you get for a reading...
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
That will be sometime tomorrow
Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
SOunds good!

Talk to you then!
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
Ok, I have repaired the problems I have found, put everything back together and Isolated every circuit with a draw. The alternator appears to have blown the diodes and has a major draw with the ignition off. I have disconnected and removed it and have discovered 10 other circuits with seperate draws, including things like the R/H Headlight, stop light, room light, and others. I'm thinking possibly the steering colum multi switch?
Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
Hello!

IT is possible!

How much of a draw do you have with the alternator disconnected?
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
I accidentally destroyed the cords on my tester that does amp testing and have just been using Ohm and volt tester. I am about to head to town to get a new cord. I will test all ten circuits for amp draw when I get back.
Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
Sounds good!

Just want to let you know, chances are the alternator is going to be the only issue..
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
A couple of the Circuits I had pulled the fuses on showed an initial draw and then none. The only circuit that did anything different was the Security circuit; when the fuse is replaced in this circuit, the doors lock a couple of timeswhile showing a .15 amp draw, then it drops to a .06 draw. Would this be a normal reaction for energizing this circuit? I have repaired a multitude of broken wires and a couple of shorts in the electrical system, and the vehicle is near 200,000 miles with some known issues in the multi switch.
Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
YES.. I think this is going to be normal. Both the small draw and the door locks while this fuse is replaced.
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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
thank you for your help
Nissan Mechanic: AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC replied 6 years ago
You bet!

Please don't forget to hit the green accept button.

Have a great day!

AMEDEE
AMEDEE
AMEDEE, NISSAN MECHANIC
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Satisfied Customers: 27,108
Experience: ASE certified tech ADVANCED LEVEL PERFORMANCE. Wisconsin certified emissions state inspector
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