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My wife has an 88 Taurus wagon, don't know what kind of an engine it is, but know it's a V6, and this thing has been eating batteries for a while now. I can disconnect the neg terminal and it doesn't drain, but if I don't, in 3 - 7 days the battery will be totally dead. As far as I can tell, the alternator is putting out okay, but I'm taking it down for a load test anyway just to see if that could be the problem. My question is, how do I go about troubleshooting this?

Thanks for your help

Don't know if this means anything, but I recently pulled the radio to install a CD unit I bought for my wife. The unit was bad, and had to take it back, there's nothing in right now. Would that affect anything?
 

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You may have caused a short when you were screwing around with the radio.

The best way to diagnose is by checking the current draw with an ammeter.

Disconnect the negative side of the batt. Connect an ammeter to the dsiconnected batt cable, and the neg terminal on the batt. Use an ammeter that has a resolution of <.01A, and has a max rating of >5A.

With no key in the ignition, close all doors, and turn everything off. Take out the underhood light, if you're going to leave the hood open. You should be drawing ~200mA (0.2A) max.

If you are closer to 500mA, leave everything alone for 45 minutes and check again. I know my truck draws a fair amount of current when it is first shut off. It drops to about 80mA after a while. I think this has something to do with the timer that kills lights and such, if you forget to shut them off.

If you find that you still have too much current flow, start removing fuses until you see the meter drop. Then invetigate whatever circuit that the fuse is for.
 

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Thanks for the tip, I'll try that out after I get back with a meter. At least I have some direction to go in. Should I do this with the old radio reinstalled?
 

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Problem fixed - checked by pulling one fuse at a time, still had a drain, then disconnected the voltage regulator - drain went away. Spoke to the guy at our local Ford dealership, he said I was in the right direction and to try changing the voltage regulator. If that didn't work, he said to check the alternator. BTW, he said there was no way I could have messed it up by pulling the radio.

Anyway, problem fixed. All for just a paltry $20. Many thanks to eCar for the timely and polite response, it really helped get me in the right direction.
 
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