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plymouthcranbrook

Electric system failure

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Although  I realize that this vehicle is a little newer that is usually discussed here I thought that maybe someone with more knowledge than me could give me an idea where to go. About a week ago I decided to drive my 2001 Astro AWD(or at least it used to be one) and when turning the key got absolutely no response electrically. This van is not driven much in the summer as I drive my Old Plymouths whenever I want to go somewhere.  No crank,no lights(all systems, dash, headlights, nothing). I checked the battery after work and found that it read about 2 volts. I hooked my charger up and it stared to draw 7-8 amps. Turned on the 55 amp boost after a short while but nothing happened. My neighbor came over and connected a small universal jumper/charger( cars, cell phones what have you) The truck started much to my amazement but barely idled and only showed a charge at about 13.5 volts at a high idle. After it warmed up it did idle but just barely. Engine ran ok when reved up. I ran it for about 10 minutes and then shut it off. Wouldn't restart. Put the charger on and it was pulling 7-8 amps. After 15 minutes I checked the voltage at the battery and it read 9 volts. i then decided to just put the minder charger on and leave it for a longer while. After 6-7 hours I finally got the battery up to 12.25 volts. I load tested it and it failed dramatically. Took it back to Farm and Fleet and got a new one. Imagine my surprise when I hooked it up and turned the key and got absolutely nothing. No lights(headlights dash or anything),no engine crank, no response anywhere. Rechecked the battery voltage and it showed 13+ volts. I refastened the battery to the cables and tried again. Nothing. I decided to wiggle the ignition key and then immediately the dome lights came on, also the flashers worked dimly and dash warning lights came on. But attempting to crank only produced the clicking sound of a dead battery or bad connection. Rechecked the voltage and it was down to about 11.5 volts. Disconnected the battery and put it on the minder charger again. Checked grounds and they were good both chassis and engine showed positive. Had current at the underhood fuse block before disconnecting the battery. All fuses under hood showed continuity. Also heard a low buzzing sound like a bad connection from under the dash while trying to crank it. The only book I have is an old Haynes one that covers 1985-2005 so you know how much help that has been. So my obvious questions are: Has anyone else had this problem? Is there any special place to start to look)Keeping in mind that auto electrics especially newer cars is my real weak spot in car repair). I am going to jack it up and look at the starter connections tomorrow if it doesn't rain. I am suspicious of the ignition switch since wiggling it did get a limited response but how does that explain the lack of other systems not working(headlight, etc). I would think that they would not need the ignition switch to operate. Any help greatly appreciated.

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A couple of questions. How many miles on your van and what year? Have you done a draw test on the system.  I would check the connections and could be a starter.   Are there any aftermarket items added to the van like a different radio, etc.  Those aftermarket items are ALWAYS suspect for a draws.  

 

Also be sure to check the battery cables at the battery.  They are known to get acid in the cable and corrode from the battery end.   Do a voltage drop check from a ground at the battery to the positive end of the battery cable  at the starter when trying to start the car.  There should be maybe 1/2 -1 volt drop when trying to start the car from the initial battery voltage. If more, bad connections or cable.

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Thank you Larry. Van has 193,000 miles and has no aftermarket accessories.  I did check for a good ground and it has that. Cables though original are clean at the battery and the frame connection for the ground. When it dries up I plan to go under it to look at the starter cales and maybe jump directly to the starter to see if anything happens. I will refresh my memory on the procedure for a voltage drop and try it when i get it up in the air.  The change when wiggling the ignition switch and the lack of lights are what surprised me. I expected that the lights would be independent of the starter circuit. Although maybe with newer cars not so? 

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1 hour ago, c49er said:

Battery cable issue.

Worse.  Brand new exchange battery from Farm and Fleet is bad. I decided to test it just in case before going on to the other suggested areas. It tested worse than the one it replaced.  AAAARRRRGGGG!.. Back to Farm and Fleet again next week. Being sure that they load test the next replacement before I leave with it.  I put in an old battery that my neighbor had and it started right away.  Thanks for the replies.

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Never heard of two battery's in a row having complete failure when new !!!!!!!!!!!

Glad I retired working on cars for 40 years.

The replacement parts business is at an all time low IMO.

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The first battery was just over three years old so a failure is possible but rare.  I cannot explain the second one at all. All the other batteries from Farm and Fleet have lasted for many years.  The 6 volt I had in my 52 Plymouth lasted 11 and still held a good charge. I just got chicken and replaced it this year.

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Might have been old stock or a bad batch.  If you have a Costco or Sams club membership, they are IMO the best place to buy a battery.

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Electrics are not my strong point either, but it reads as though a short circuit is draining the batteries fairly rapidly. Is there a sparking at the battery terminals when connecting them? ( All switches turned off). If yes, you could pull the fuses , connect volt meter across the battery, and insert the fuses one at a time, looking for voltage drop. That would give an indication of where to start looking.

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Battery load tested bad after a couple attempts to start it Voltage was 12.25 or so when I put the tester on it. Battery was not connected to car except briefly before the test.  Older battery from neighbor started car in about half a revolution after sitting for two weeks.  Going to start again today to be sure.  

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2 hours ago, Bush Mechanic said:

Electrics are not my strong point either, but it reads as though a short circuit is draining the batteries fairly rapidly. Is there a sparking at the battery terminals when connecting them? ( All switches turned off). If yes, you could pull the fuses , connect volt meter across the battery, and insert the fuses one at a time, looking for voltage drop. That would give an indication of where to start looking.

 

A direct short will either blow a fuse if the circuit is fused or you will be letting the smoke out of the wire that has the short.  If it is the battery cable, something will give, either the cable or the battery.

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When buying batteries at big box stores, look at the decals for manufacturing date. I sometimes see 6 month old batteries sitting next to 1 month batteries. I also heard the decal is a shipping date and the manufacturing date can be s few months older than the decal. 

 

I do do but most batteries from Costco or Walmart. Tractor Supply for 6 volt. 

 

Some batteries  just fail, no warning of slow cranking. All cars made since the mid 80s have a draw when off for memories. Some cars in this century are know for killing the battery in less than a month of inactivity!

Edited by Frank DuVal (see edit history)
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4 hours ago, Frank DuVal said:

All cars made since the mid 80s have a draw when off for memories. Some cars in this century are know for killing the battery in less than a month of inactivity!

 

Absolutely true.

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Picked up a replacement today at Farm and Fleet.  The counter person didn’t even check the old one.  While I was waiting another customer brought a 5 year(mine was a 7 year) and plopped it on the counter.  Since it looked new I asked the obvious question. He said it was two months old and failed completely.  Must be an epidemic.  I got the feeling that a significant quantity are not doing well in the Silver category 

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