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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone. I'm new here, and thought I should just say, "Hi!".
Ok, now that that's over with....

So I have a 1999 Taurus SE (I've heard bad things about the electrical problems...) and I really do love the car itself (~205 HP as a first car :D) but I seem to have run into an electrical parasite. No one ("no one" being family members) knows what's drawing the battery's energy from it, but it's become a nuisance, to be honest. Sometimes the car starts without hesitation, and other times it fails to turn over in a matter of minutes (it died within five minutes in a parking lot...what the heck is that all about?). Pretty sure it's not the alternator or I'd find myself on the side of the road frequently, which I have not done yet. I turn off all of the lights, the windshield wiper, everything. I'm at a loss here as to what is sucking the life out of my battery...while turned off.
Just today I have measured the volts coming from the battery, and every minute or so, .01 drops off of the number displayed on the screen of the volt meter. It does drop slower and slower as the number gets lower (very slow drop rate at ~12.20) but nevertheless, it still drops.
I would appreciate any help I could get on this matter, as I am no car expert, and I have tried everything I can with my limited knowledge.

Thanks a lot for your help!
 

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Check battery after it has sat all night and before you start it, ~12.3V. Then start it and check again with it running at idle, ~13.5V, then goose the engine to a steady 1500 rpms with a large electrical load, ~14.0. If the alternator will not go over 13.5V at 1500 rpm it needs replaced.

If these numbers match then next thing to do is connect an ammeter in line and start pulling fuses until the amp draw drops to ~.05A or less. You may have to wait 15 minutes or so for the memory circuits to turn off after opening the door or turning off the motor.
 

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How old is the battery first, and second what is the current draw with the car off. If it's over a few amps you may have a shorted alternator.
 

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May also have a bad cell in the battery. Disconnect (-) wire, check voltage and check again several hours later.
(it died within five minutes in a parking lot...what the heck is that all about?).
is the clue here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
The battery is only about a month or two old.

I did an amp test at 5:00 today and got ~12.19
At 7:00, I did an amp test and got ~12.30

It went up over a couple hours...

EDIT: This is while the car is turned off.
 

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Need to make sure all doors are closed for several minutes when doing the test. Pull fuses one at a time from under the hood and see which causes the meter to drop.
 

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Are you sure the draw was 12 AMPS with key off, doors closed, etc, or was it 12 MILLIAMPS? 12 Amps is a HUGE HUGE draw, and will drain a battery very quickly. Either a relay is hanging up and keeping a major supply circuit active (like PCM power relay for example), or the alt is bad (shorted diode). a 12 A draw will get the offending part HOT, as it will be dissipating close to 150 Watts.

Just because the battery is new doesnt mean it is good. I have had a 2 day old battery fail due to a shorted cell.
 

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Oreilly's, Autozone and Advance Auto all do free battery and electrical / charging system testing. You might go to one of those places and have them run a test for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for all of the advice. I just thought that I should say that the Taurus was dead this morning (again). Seems as though cold mornings (Western Washington) do this to the car. Once the Taurus is jumped, it runs smoothly and very nicely. The only problem seems to be mornings now...well, maybe not, but I don't know. Maybe the coldness is doing something?

EDIT: I measured in mA.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Car started up perfectly after school today. Seems to be a cold morning thing now...

Note: If it's any help, this morning after I jumped the car, the clock lights were a bit flashy (low to bright to low to bright...) for a few minutes. After I had driven for a few minutes, it went away. Could the coldness in the morning be doing it?


And JW, I'll check to see what type of battery it is later. Maybe you'll have heard of the name and whether it's reliable or not. I'll get back to that tonight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Bah, car failed to start (12:48 PM) today. I measured the voltage before I tried to crank it up, and it was roughly 12.2, apparently not enough to start the car. When I did try to crank it up, the windshield wipers moved once, and the clock's led shone dimly.


(The battery is a NAPA 40)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Check glove compartment and trunk lite as these may still be on when car is off Had this on my 88 Btonco II
Erm, how do I check that they're staying on, if I have to open up the compartment/trunk to find out, in which case the light comes on anyway?


And JW, that'd be a good idea, as that was one of my suspicions as well. One of these days (soon!) I'll find the time to check the connection. For now, it seems I'll have to jump start my car every day until the problem is fixed. One jump and twenty-five minutes or so of driving can last me about six and a half hours(ish). After working today (3:00-9:15) my car had to struggle a little bit to start, but it did, and I had only driven for roughly twenty five minutes total (getting to work).
 

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If the battery is that old just swap it out under warranty and see if it fixes the problem... That will rule it out once and for all
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Sorry to burst your bubble, but the SE has a vulcan 3.0L engine with 145hp, not 205hp LOL.

Erm, I do believe that the 3.0L V6 DOHC (Duratec) engine has 200 base horsepower. I added about five from a new muffler as well...Where's this "vulcan" engine coming from?
 

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That 200 is best case CRANK power. Subtract powertrain losses, including engine accessories, and you have a more realistic figure.
 
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