Chrysler Repair/'02 Concorde: excessive ignition off 'draw'
QUESTION: My wife has a 2002 Chrysler Concorde Limited. It has been a very good car except for one recurring problem. There has been numerous times, especially if the car sits for over a week or so it will not start. Each time it ends up the dealer claims they cannot find anything and replace the battery.
After taking it to the dealer 4 or 5 times we took it to another local repair shop. The mechanic immediately thought it was a problem of something drawing from the battery when it was not running. He checked and said that the battery was no longer any good and replaced it. He checked the draw on the battery numerous times and indicated that it had less draw than a clock would normally pull. He said he cannot find out what is wrong.
It is very frustrating because my wife loves the car but I don't want her to be continuing to worry if it will start or not. Also when the battery seems to be losing it's power the lights will flicker. We told the dealer of this problem.
My wife is now thinking of selling this car with only 115K miles because of this problem. We have recently bought new tires and had new belts put on, transmission fluid and filter changed and had them run fuel injector cleaner through the engine. It runs like a top.
If you have any idea what can be done I would really appreciate your help. I have checked several websites for 2002 problems and have not seen this one. This is a very stylish car and is a nice ride. I would hate to sell it and get very little for it and wish we wouldn't have done so.
I appreciate your help.
ANSWER: Hi Dennis,
The amount of current that is drawn from the battery when the engine is shut off should not exceed 35 milliamperes. This 'ignition off draw' can be measured by simply removing the - cable clamp at the battery and inserting a milliamp meter between the cable clamp and the battery post. It would be worth owning a multimeter that measures volts-ohms-milliamps so you can observe the process over a day or more. It will run higher than this for a few minutes after first turning off the engine, but then should settle down and remain at a low level. If not then I can tell you how to isolate the cause.
The standard advice from Chrysler is that if the car will not be operated for 20 days or more then a fuse that handles most of thie current should be removed. That is something you can do now to prevent the battery from draining, but of course you would do this after following the reading for a day or so. And you would want to put it back in before driving as there are some functions (such as the door locks/interior lights/radio pre-settings) that won't work without that fuse.
So check out the current and let me know what you are seeing there and we can go forward knowing the actual draw of current from the battery.
The other possibility for the battery draining to too low a level is that the alternator charging current is not as high as it should be. The voltage reading on the gauge of the cluster is a good measure of that. It should be around 15 volts, typically in the middle range of the dial. Ask her to notice if it regularly seems to dip down and up while she is driving the car and of course whether the red warning light with the battery symbol ever illuminates while in motion. That would result is a less than fully charged battery.
If she only drives very short distances then that also could produce the same end result of a too weak battery after a week or so of non-use.
Thanks for the 'rating' and 'nomination'
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
A mechanic checked the milliamperes when the engine was shut off and it was well under 35 millamperes. He suggested that we bring it back and he leave the meter on several days to see if there is a spike. One thing I didn't mention in my earlier email that there are times when the headlights flicker from one brightness to another when my wife is driving at night. I don't know if there is any relation to the draw on the battery but I wanted to make sure that would not have impacted your previous answer. If you have any other suggestions please let me know.
I appreciated your quick response the last time I emailed you.
The headlamp flicker might be the cause of battery drain should that be occuring sporadically when the car is parked. The multi-function switch does have that headlamp 'flash' position (also called the 'optical horn') and were that what was happening when she was driving there is no certainty that it couldn't happen when at rest and parked. See if that position works when the ignition is off and the headlamps are turned off as well. If the 'flash' position is wired to work (which I believe it is based upon the wiring diagrams), then if the switch were weak or 'hair trigger' in its function then it could be that unbeknownst to you and she the high beam 'horn' is flickering all by itself. So see how easy it is to make the switch work in that manner.
Please 'rate' my answer. (see below).