Drawing power somewhere unknown - Team Camaro Tech
Electrical & Wiring Troubleshooting electrical.

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post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old Oct 17th, 10, 04:48 PM Thread Starter
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Ken
 
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Drawing power somewhere unknown

Sorry guys I know little to nothing about electricity. I don't know where to start or even the correct terminology so I'll just tell you the symptoms I've observed and maybe someone can tell me where/how to start looking for the problem.

I usually park the car with the battery disconnected. If I park the car with battery connected it will lose enough current over a few days to give me a dead battery. The only thing I know to be drawing current is the dash clock.

I took the car out after being parked for a few days with the battery connected. I drove it for 30 minutes, parked it for a hour or so and it started—hesitantly. I drove it again for 20 minutes, shut it off again—dead battery. Jumped it, it started immediately, I drove it home (20 minutes) and the battery was about half-way charged (according to the charger-gauge.) It took all night to fully charge. I disconnected the charger and let it sit overnight (battery disconnected.) The next morning the charger indicated it was slightly more than half-way charged. I charged it overnight again. Battery then read 12.7 volts on my multimeter.

I connected the positive cable and left the negative cable disconnected. I used my multimeter between the negative terminal and the negative cable and I got a reading of about a 12 V (my brother said this indicates a current draw somewhere). Radio off, no key in ignition, disconnected electric choke.

I drove it today with a fully-charged battery. I noticed the amp gauge in the console didn't flutter at all, not even when turning on the AC, the headlights, radio or turn signals. It sat rock-steady. I got home after 45 minutes and the battery was still fully charged.

My 69 has a new battery and a new alternator. I replaced the voltage regulator a few years ago—because it was 30-something-years-old at the time and I was having battery problems not because voltage regulator was necessarily acting up.

I've had similar problems for the 34 years I've owned this car. I've probably put in 6 or 8 batteries that would suddenly and prematurely go bad (I assumed because I rarely drove it). I also assumed I was having heat-soak problems and I've replaced 4 or 5 starters.

I now have an aluminized heat blanket around the starter. I am going to start there and see if it is grounding something.

Other than that, I don't know where to start looking. I can't trust parking it anywhere for fear I'll get stuck. Any advice is appreciated.
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post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old Oct 17th, 10, 05:24 PM
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Re: Drawing power somewhere unknown

The easiest way to troubleshoot a battery drain is a test light installed between a battery cable and battery post. The slightest current draw will make the filament glow, as can be viewed in a dark garage.

Aftermarket radio will draw some current to run clock, station memory, and audio presets.

Other than the a/mkt radio, some amps and modern electronics draw power if wired incorrectly.
The most common draw is from a courtesy light not seen in the daytime, like a glovebox light or trunk light. Rarely but does happen, the junction block next to the battery, having the positive pigtail attached to it, does rust underneath, the stud has a high resistance to the radiator support. removal of the block is required to check.

Alt diodes can go bad, so a disconnect of the BATT wire on alt stud will tell.
Do the most obvious to eliminate the current draw, as in pull fuses, unhook added accessories, and whatnot.

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post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old Oct 17th, 10, 05:24 PM
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Re: Drawing power somewhere unknown

Put your multimeter between the neg terminal and neg cable like you did before. Pull one fuse at a time until you show no draw. This should help narrow it down if the draw is on a fused circuit.


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post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old Oct 18th, 10, 07:42 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Drawing power somewhere unknown

Thanks guys. I'll start with the heat blanket and then go to the fuses next. I'll let you know what I find.
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post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old Oct 18th, 10, 07:46 AM
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Re: Drawing power somewhere unknown

I had the same problem a couple of months ago. It drove me nuts trying to track it down. I agree with everett, pull the negative battery cable and hook the ground from your test light and then touch the test light to the negative battery terminal. With the key turned off you should have no light (unless after market radio), then it sould be very dim. Be sure that your doors are closed when you do this or else the dome light will be on and it will show up. Then as stated above start pulling fuses. Its just a wire, its not smarter then you, thats what I kept telling myself when I spend endless amounts of time searching.
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post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old Oct 18th, 10, 04:46 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Drawing power somewhere unknown

OK. I pulled fuses and found a problem in the circuit controlling the clock, courtesy lamps, and lighter. How do I go about locating the problem? At least all those circuits are pretty accessible, I guess. Thanks.
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post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old Oct 18th, 10, 05:10 PM
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Re: Drawing power somewhere unknown

As you have done, apply logic.
One accessory at a time, disconnect it and observe the DMM used as an ammeter or test light.

If an OE clock, it should 'kick' every 30 seconds(?) to wind up the spring. The OE clocks are mechanical and have a miniature solenoid to wind up the main spring.

Cigarette lighter can be unplugged, yellow wire(?), from behind the dash or maybe pull out the heating element.

Courtesy lights - glovebox light? Very common to stay on due to switch misaligment or popped out of its holder/hole in the dash.

You've found the offending circuit, now take it one accessory at a time to eliminate those circuits working to find the faulty one.

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post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old Oct 18th, 10, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Drawing power somewhere unknown

OK. Got it. Thanks.
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post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old Oct 18th, 10, 07:01 PM
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Re: Drawing power somewhere unknown

Mine was on the same circut as yours. I found my problem by pulling down from above and towards the back of my emergency brake the wiring harness where u plug in the front to rear harness. On the harness closest to the rear(still under the dash) i pulled the white wire out of harness, that was my problem. I fixed it by finding out my console light had melted. Just a thought?
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post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old Oct 20th, 10, 12:48 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Drawing power somewhere unknown

Thanks. I'll look there next.

The courtesy bulbs and glove box bulbs all work correctly and go off when they're supposed to. I unplugged the clock and the lighter with no changes. But would that even tell me anything?

But what am I looking for exactly? A pinched or broken wire?

Hmm, just thought of something…Did all 69's have an under-dash courtesy lamp? I seem to remember one, but I don't see one lighting up now. Where was it located?
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post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old Oct 20th, 10, 06:29 PM
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Re: Drawing power somewhere unknown

You could be looking for a pinched wire, ever so slightly, or a shorted bulb in the courtesy light socket.
Courtesy lights are at the ends of the dash.

Any other accessory tied into the clock circuit, OE or aftermarket?

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post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old Oct 27th, 10, 12:11 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Drawing power somewhere unknown

I have unplugged the clock, lighter, front-to-rear harness and console lamp and I have found nothing. I am going to unplug the harness at the front of the console next. Did every Camaro come standard with a cig lighter courtesy lamp and courtesy lamps at the ends of the dash? This a completely original car and I could almost swear mine had one or both at some point in the distant past, but they're not there now, so I must be imagining things.
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post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old Oct 27th, 10, 05:06 AM
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Re: Drawing power somewhere unknown

No, courtesy lights (dash lights as well as sail panel lights) were an option. Only standard interior light is the dome light, all others are options.

If interior is equipped with console, the rear console light is a standard feature of the console.
You could disconnect the red wire from the horn relay buss bar to the firewall connector to see if a current reduction happens, then you know its internal to the body......that made alot of sense, DOH!

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post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old Oct 27th, 10, 05:12 AM
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Re: Drawing power somewhere unknown

Ken, all Camaros came with cig lighter, all coupes got the dome light, all verts got the under dash lights (no dome light ), but to get the under dash lights in a coupe, I thought those lights were included in the Z87 deluxe interior, but i don't see that in the option list. http://www.camaros.org/options.shtml#id

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post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old Nov 16th, 10, 08:33 PM Thread Starter
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Re: Drawing power somewhere unknown

Thanks guys. I haven't found anything yet. I just pulled the fuse for now. Haven't had a chance to dig into it again yet.I finally got a few paying projects to do and I've been busy, Praise the Lord! Hoping to find some time to get back out there soon. Thanks for the suggestions! I'll let you know what I find.
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