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Old 08-05-2011, 01:26 PM   #1
celluloidheros
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Parasitic current draw

hello, i have a 2001 330 xi, auto trans, 88 k, well maintained, driven in upstate NY winters. The battery/car has been discharging is it sits for a few days and the car is dead and won't turn over. I am not getting any OBDII codes, I have replaced the battery twice just to make sure. It is an AutoZzone duralast battery.

I am considering replacing the FSR (Final Stage Resistor), the FSR is associated with the A/C or Heater blower, I have not seen it act weird when in "auto" mode, but i'm watching it. I know that fuses #28 (5amp) and #50 (40 amp) are associated with the blower. Are these the correct ones to disconnect to troubleshoot the problem ?

I have a Fluke recording VOM , I put it inline with the positive battery terminal in the trunk. should I have used the negative ? The readings are as follows:

driver's door opened >2 amps
When driver's door is first closed, not asleep yet 200 ma
after 10 mins (sleep mode) min = 8 ma, max = 60 ma, avg = 16 ma.

I'm wondering how to get the blower to turn on (when the key is off and the car is in sleep mode after 16 mins) to test the FSR ? I ran my current draw test with the fuses plugged and unplugged and saw no difference. My next step is to replace the FSR (64-11-6-920-365) as it seems to fix most issues like this.

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthread.php?t=847871

The batteries are rated for 80 AH, that's amps times hrs. So if you are at the bmw spec. of 40 ma (milliamps) and 80 AH battery should take 83 days to discharge. To discharge in 5 days or so you would need an average drain of more like 600 ma.

So I'm puzzled, I checked battery terminals for corrosion, I looked at the engine compartment battery terms, they look good, I have no aftermarket stuff installed that could go bad. Would I be able to detect a current drain caused by corrosion using the inline amp meter method, It seems to me that it should. My guess is that corrosion on the + terminal is worse than on the -.

Can anyone help solve my issue. I tried to write this up in such a way that once we solve it, it will help others.

Thanks, DC

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Old 08-05-2011, 01:35 PM   #2
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Is the battery being drained when the car has been parked for long periods without starting (you mentioned 5 days) or is the car being driven some? If the car is being driven, you need to make sure that the alternator is properly charging the battery.
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Old 08-05-2011, 01:43 PM   #3
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Check ground connections, clean terminals under the hood, giggle and wiggle.

Sorry, I'm afraid you may have gone past some basics. You may not have, and if so, nevermind!

You need about 20 mins. on highway to charge a battery, and many short trips will kill it...especially in the cold.

Hunting a parasitic draw is a pain. I did it years ago. Turned out to be a bad battery. Even a new battery needs to be driven enough for what you're asking of it. Just saying.

Oops, OP, I skimmed reading just to say this, and then I saw that you 'looked' at terminal connections under hood.

Guys have had luck by removing the connections and looking underneath. Also there are a couple of monster groundstraps in the engine bay...also wherever the battery ground connects to.

Work the initial stuff thoroughly before jumping too far ahead. Alt connections? AM electronic device installed? All suspect.
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Old 08-05-2011, 02:40 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by TxZHP04 View Post
Is the battery being drained when the car has been parked for long periods without starting (you mentioned 5 days) or is the car being driven some? If the car is being driven, you need to make sure that the alternator is properly charging the battery.
^ What this guy said. In sleep mode you're under 50 mA of draw so you have no real parasitic current draw present. I'd look at charging voltage with that Fluke meter you have. Run the car with the meter at the battery (or underhood terminals) and view the charging voltage, should be low 14s or high 13s V. If it is, load up the alternator, turn on headlights, rear defrost... make sure it's doing it's job. If it's not charging then check fuse(s) in the charging circuit, wiggle wiring to it, check connections. Check to make sure you have battery voltage at B+ terminal of alternator.

Report back, and everyone stop slagging techs on this site or I'll stop helping.
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Old 08-05-2011, 02:44 PM   #5
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The car is getting drained when not driving it. I have a brand new battery and I have charger it thouroughly using two different chargers. so I know that I have a good, fully charger battery, I wonder if I have to drive or start the car again and let it sit to get the FSR to act up again. Does the FSR start running on its own out of the blue or does it just not shut off when you've been driving it ? I have another car so I am letting the BMW sit. When I charge the battery, I do it right at the battery terminals with the rest of the car disconnected. I have a fully charged battery.

Dmax, if it's a grounding issue, wouldn't I see that with my recording amp meter ?

Next thing to try is measure battery voltages, connected, unconnected, key on but not started etc...Then check the alt voltage and report back.

The FSR is my number one suspect but I have not data to support this yet, I am not sure how the FSR fails which causes it to draw power when off ? Can anyone explain this. Also if you can post a picture of the FSR power connector location it will help people once we solve this riddle. The FSR connector has to be near the glove box as the FSR is up above and inside the glove box.

Thanks for all of your help, it's just a matter of time before this issue is solved, then on to my huge 100k style maintenance. I have been buying parts for the past two weeks, VANOS seals are my next buy. Not sure if i really need to do the thermostat, I bouight the metal vaned water pump. Does anyone have an opinion on the cooling system overflow tank, should I do it ?

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Old 08-05-2011, 03:14 PM   #6
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^ What this guy said. In sleep mode you're under 50 mA of draw so you have no real parasitic current draw present. I'd look at charging voltage with that Fluke meter you have. Run the car with the meter at the battery (or underhood terminals) and view the charging voltage, should be low 14s or high 13s V. If it is, load up the alternator, turn on headlights, rear defrost... make sure it's doing it's job. If it's not charging then check fuse(s) in the charging circuit, wiggle wiring to it, check connections. Check to make sure you have battery voltage at B+ terminal of alternator.

Report back, and everyone stop slagging techs on this site or I'll stop helping.
What does 'slagging techs' mean? Hope I didn't do that!
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Old 08-05-2011, 03:30 PM   #7
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What does 'slagging techs' mean? Hope I didn't do that!
There is a lot of animosity on here to people who go through schooling, work on cars all day, are required to take continuing education, and end up fixing what the layman can't and do all this for a modest wage. Most techs have tens of thousands invested in tools, garages and dealerships have hundreds of thousands, yet many on here label them ALL as theives... well if a garage can't fix your problem, or overcharges you, guess what, you stop going to that garage/dealer.... what do you do? find another one, who most likely eventually, fixes your issue... only alternative is to scrap the car because it doesn't work... at some point $ will push people to this, but seeing as we're all driving 7+ year old cars, garages and dealerships continue to exist, obviously ALL techs aren't idiots working for places that are out to rob you. Finding a good garage and building a relationship on trust, which works both ways (yes as a customer sometimes you'll get a hefty bill but not all automotive is cheap or easy to diag and repair), will have you and the garage content and able to live and make a living.

Just getting tired of technicians' names getting dragged through the mud on this and other forums.

P.S. All the "you" talk in my rant was at no way directed at YOU dmax, but rather the faceless masses who can't fix sh!t themselves and then b!tch at others making a living doing what they can't but need... just like every other occupation on this fn planet. Somehow "grease monkeys" bear a lot of this brunt yet other trades like electricians, plumbers, welders, etc aren't and they make bigger dollars in most cases than technicians... well guess what, a really good tech is quite adept at all those other trades, they have to be to fix the car that you (not YOU dmax) can't.

/tirade
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Old 08-05-2011, 03:38 PM   #8
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OP boost (or charge battery) and start the car. While it's running check voltage at the battery OR just disconnect the -ve terminal while it's running... if the car dies then the alternator isn't charging. I have no idea why you're on this FSR kick and seem convinced it's at fault. Is there something you're not telling us and you messed around with the FSR/related circuitry in the past and are now having problems? Otherwise drop it as your "most likely suspect" unless you can show reason to believe it is. So far you haven't done that.

Here I go again doling out free advise which others will use to their benefit thus dropping my earnings more... it's the curse of being a considerate good person I guess... maybe I should stop posting on this site and become a leech on everyone elses intellectual property and only use it for my benefit. Damn those idiot techs.
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Old 08-05-2011, 04:02 PM   #9
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OP boost (or charge battery) and start the car. While it's running check voltage at the battery OR just disconnect the -ve terminal while it's running... if the car dies then the alternator isn't charging. I have no idea why you're on this FSR kick and seem convinced it's at fault. Is there something you're not telling us and you messed around with the FSR/related circuitry in the past and are now having problems? Otherwise drop it as your "most likely suspect" unless you can show reason to believe it is. So far you haven't done that.

Here I go again doling out free advise which others will use to their benefit thus dropping my earnings more... it's the curse of being a considerate good person I guess... maybe I should stop posting on this site and become a leech on everyone elses intellectual property and only use it for my benefit. Damn those idiot techs.
Just like every other group of people, blacks, whites, techs, pygmies...they'll be good ones and bad ones.

The guys here heap on the bad techs--some think they're all bad and rip off artists, and evidently some are!

I have written often about finding a local indy that you can trust and work with. I can't move now because I've found mine!

You might not know this, but I've told my mechanic that if I ever become gay and he does too...well, nevermind!

Cars are very complicated, and many here know that, and love their mechanics...and I agree, the good ones are good at many things!
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Old 08-05-2011, 04:15 PM   #10
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Yes, change the expansion tank while your at it. Also, I had a parasitic drain, see this post:

http://forum.e46fanatics.com/showthr...ighlight=drain
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Old 08-05-2011, 04:40 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by 2003 325i View Post
There is a lot of animosity on here to people who go through schooling, work on cars all day, are required to take continuing education, and end up fixing what the layman can't and do all this for a modest wage. Most techs have tens of thousands invested in tools, garages and dealerships have hundreds of thousands, yet many on here label them ALL as theives... well if a garage can't fix your problem, or overcharges you, guess what, you stop going to that garage/dealer.... what do you do? find another one, who most likely eventually, fixes your issue... only alternative is to scrap the car because it doesn't work... at some point $ will push people to this, but seeing as we're all driving 7+ year old cars, garages and dealerships continue to exist, obviously ALL techs aren't idiots working for places that are out to rob you. Finding a good garage and building a relationship on trust, which works both ways (yes as a customer sometimes you'll get a hefty bill but not all automotive is cheap or easy to diag and repair), will have you and the garage content and able to live and make a living.

Just getting tired of technicians' names getting dragged through the mud on this and other forums.

P.S. All the "you" talk in my rant was at no way directed at YOU dmax, but rather the faceless masses who can't fix sh!t themselves and then b!tch at others making a living doing what they can't but need... just like every other occupation on this fn planet. Somehow "grease monkeys" bear a lot of this brunt yet other trades like electricians, plumbers, welders, etc aren't and they make bigger dollars in most cases than technicians... well guess what, a really good tech is quite adept at all those other trades, they have to be to fix the car that you (not YOU dmax) can't.

/tirade
Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 08-05-2011, 05:43 PM   #12
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Here is a screen shot of a resister I caught coming on all by itself. Aux a is tapped into the blower fuse. Notice the Amp draw and the battery voltage drop. This was back in 2007 when no one knew what was causing this. The dealer had installed a new resister already. The new resister was faulty we were able to catch and prove it.
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Old 08-06-2011, 07:22 AM   #13
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Hello everyone, thanks for all the help. I am charging the battery now, I will check the battery voltage and alternator charging condition.

What does the the "-ve terminal" connect to on the other end ? Does it go to the altenator ? I know that the pos. battery cable has 2-3 lines going to it. I never like to remove the battery from the alternator charging circuit. If the alternator runs without the battery load it can burn out.

I am interested in the FSR because I know this is a very common cause of parasitic draws and it seems to turn on by itself. I have not done anything to the car to make me think the FSR might be faulty. But as JB says the fsr can come on all by itself. I also don't have any aftermarket stuff like the infamous angel eyes, i checked for corrosion especially on the positive cable that goes to the engine compartment and found none.

here's my values

battery voltage after being charged for 10 hrs at 2 amps 12.4 vdc (charger not connected)
battery voltage while being charged at 2 amps 12.6 vdc (charger connected)
battery voltage while being charged at 6 amps 12.9 vdc (charger connected)
battery voltage while car is running 14.2 vdc

This tells me the alternator is OK, i know that the battery is good and can hold a charge. I'm kinda stumped, for the money I'm leaning towards just getting the FSR and trying it.

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Old 08-06-2011, 07:50 AM   #14
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...
Can anyone help solve my issue. I tried to write this up in such a way that once we solve it, it will help others.

Thanks, DC
You wrote it in a way that confuses me.
Is your issue that the battery is discharging?
Why are you throwing in FSR in the picture? You said the AC isn't misbehaving. Are you suggesting that the FSR is sucking juice even when the car is completely off?
Then why are you measuring the door opener and not the FSR?

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Old 08-06-2011, 08:12 AM   #15
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here's what masterpro said in his post above and my reasponses in red:

"You wrote it in a way that confuses me.
Is your issue that the battery is discharging? Yes, my battery is discharging
Why are you throwing in FSR in the picture? You said the AC isn't misbehaving. Are you suggesting that the FSR is sucking juice even when the car is completely off? Yes FSR can suck juice when car completely off, see jbeurotechs post and plot, the FSR came on by itself and ran for 6-7 hrs
Then why are you measuring the door opener and not the FSR ? I'm not measuring the door opener, I had the drivers door opened and the lights came on,. so i documented my measured current draw before it went to sleep. I also measured the current draw with the blower fuses in and out and saw no change, I see no evidence that the FSR is bad but the FSR seems to be the most common fault. The FSR seems to be the most popular thing that can mysteriously turn on or stay on after the car is shut off. when i drive the car i will pay attention to the fan speed, I know it does change speeds by itself but this can be normal.

I seem to have a good alternator, good battery and less than 40 ma of current draw. maybe i'll just charge the battery completely and see how long it takes to discharge.

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Old 08-06-2011, 08:30 AM   #16
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Hey Seth, in looking at your plot, after 6.5 hrs was the fan turning on or off. I'm not exactly sure what all the channels in plot mean but it appears like the fan was turning off after 6.5 hrs. so did thre fan come on by itself or did it stay running after the car was shut off ? i notice in the plot it says "AH" I assume this is amp-hrs, this drops steadily until; 6.5 hrs then flattens out like the fans shut off then. Can you explain it to us ?
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Old 08-06-2011, 11:00 AM   #17
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Hey Seth, in looking at your plot, after 6.5 hrs was the fan turning on or off. I'm not exactly sure what all the channels in plot mean but it appears like the fan was turning off after 6.5 hrs. so did thre fan come on by itself or did it stay running after the car was shut off ? i notice in the plot it says "AH" I assume this is amp-hrs, this drops steadily until; 6.5 hrs then flattens out like the fans shut off then. Can you explain it to us ?

Fan came on by its self. Ran for 6 hours then turned off. AH is the batteyr amp hours.

The tool used was a Midtronics DDR http://www.midtronics.com/shop/produ...-data-recorder

Nice tool but its 5k price tag hurts!!

Tool was installed in clients car he left and took the car home. He drove by once a week and we downloaded the data card. We could move the aux lead to different circuits till we narrowed down the circuit with the draw. Then from the circuit we narrowed it down to fuses until we caught the draw. Mind you the trace you saw DID NOT lead to the car not starting it still started barley.

the client had had this issue for 1 year and no one not even the dealer was able to solve it.
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Old 08-06-2011, 08:42 PM   #18
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Okay, I'm making a little progress, I started playing around with the climate control. i turned the car on and turned the fan to high, then to off. Even when the fan was off, i could hear a noise coming from the control box. In sleep mode, i'm drawing almost 1 amp. using my mechanics stethescope, i can hear what sounds like a motor running or a grinding noise coming from inside the a/c control box. When I pull fuses #28 (5amp) and #50 (40 amp) (associated with the blower), it makes no difference. It still is running and drawing current. I'm wondering if I need to wait longer than 10 mins for the car to go into full sleep mode. My money is still on the FSR, but it seems odd that the two fuses don't kill it. I guess I'll order an FSR and see if that works.

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Old 08-06-2011, 08:48 PM   #19
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Okay, I'm making a little progress, I started playing around with the climate control. i turned the car on and turned the fan to high, then to off. Even when the fan was off, i could hear a noise coming from the control box. In sleep mode, i'm drawing almost 1 amp. using my mechanics stethescope, i can hear what sound like a motor running or a grinding noise coming from inside the a/c control box. When I pull fuses #28 (5amp) and #50 (40 amp) (associated with the blower), it makes no difference. It still is running and drawing current. I'm wondering if I need to wait longer than 10 mins for the car to go into full sleep mode. My money is still on the FSR, but it seems odd that the two fuses don't kill it. I guess I'll order an FSR and see if that works.
I think you need at least 20 mins. before all stuff turns off and car goes to sleep...I read that and now always suggest a 30 min. battery disconnect when trying to 'reset' something like maf. Don't know if that's needed all the time or not, but I've heard things stay on longer.
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Old 08-06-2011, 10:12 PM   #20
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Okay, I'm making a little progress, I started playing around with the climate control. i turned the car on and turned the fan to high, then to off. Even when the fan was off, i could hear a noise coming from the control box. In sleep mode, i'm drawing almost 1 amp. using my mechanics stethescope, i can hear what sound like a motor running or a grinding noise coming from inside the a/c control box. When I pull fuses #28 (5amp) and #50 (40 amp) (associated with the blower), it makes no difference. It still is running and drawing current. I'm wondering if I need to wait longer than 10 mins for the car to go into full sleep mode. My money is still on the FSR, but it seems odd that the two fuses don't kill it. I guess I'll order an FSR and see if that works.
16 min is full sleep mode
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