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Battery draining, after oil change starts, runs erratic!

My 99 Lumina’s battery would drain after 36-48 of just sitting (12-24 before replacing the battery.) I had tried somethings did research and had no luck. In January this year I got an oil change at a jiffy lube type place. They removed something by the spark-plug wires right at the bottom edge of the windshield. When I tried to start it the car engine it jerked, shook, and didn’t start. They did something in that same spot then it started right up.
To my surprise the battery didn’t drain any more!!
Then 2 weeks later it started running rough when I slowed down, started to die, was very hard to start, then ran very rough, next I had to step on the gas and ride the brake for 4 blocks then it died in my driveway. That all happened over 15 miles wile in traffic. I tried to start it many times with no luck. The battery was fine after 4+ months of sitting. Any advice would be great!

make sure all vacuum hoses are tight and properly seated, and electrical connections/plugs are tightly connected. I do not believe in coincidences. Perhaps something got knocked loose when the oil guy was under the hood.

…and for kicks, make sure your oil level is appropriate for your car.

When they /you had trouble starting it at the Iffy-lube, you should have asked what they did to get it to start. I’m actually surprized that they did not list what the problem was and try to get the job replacing the bad part.

Your discription "They removed something by the spark-plug wires right at the bottom edge of the windshield. Doesn’t really give us much to work on.

As a guess I’d say that they removed the distributor cap, or the coil wire.
You may try replacing the distributor cap, rotor and the plug wires.
When you buy the parts, be sure to ask for a print out of the firing order for reference. If you get the wires mixed up it will either run very poorly…or not at all.


Is the immediate problem the car won’t start? Does it crank ok – that rr rr rrr sound, but not catch and run. Or doesn’t it even crank?

My guess is the current no-start problem isn’t related to whatever the lube place did that made the car cough and complain right after the oil change. They probably just forgot to re-connect something, then got it connected again so the car was running well at that point. My Corolla of a little earlier vintage , but not much, has a MAP sensor in that location under the windshield area and if it is disconnected (either the electrical or the vacuum port) the engine won’t run well. Doing that also turns on the check engine light. Did the check engine light turn on?

When you think your battery is drained, you need to ask your shop to do some tests on the battery condition. It might not be drained actually, but just a bad connection somewhere or the other. Or the battery condition could be fine, but it just isn’t being charged properly by the alternator. A shop can test for that too.

If the battery and alternator test ok, but the battery is dead after 2 days, then you need to ask your shop to do a battery phantom current drain test. This is usually done by removing the negative connection at the battery and inserting a current meter in series between the two, all done when the engine & everything else is turned off. Don’t try this yourself unless you have someone who knows how to help you do it the first time. Could damage yourself, the car, the engine computer, or the current meter if done incorrectly. The current should measure in the 20-50 mA range. Anything over 70 mA is a concern, and anything over 200 mA, there’s definitely a current-drain problem somewhere.

Most batteries have around 35-50 amp-hour capacity, so if your battery is draining in 48 hours, you must have near to a 1000 mA drain, way too much. That’s good actually, as it should be easy to find the problem since it is so big. Your mechanic will probably start pulling fuses to see which circuit is doing it, then go from there. 1000 mA at 12 volts is about 12 watts, so if you think how bright a 12 watt lighbulb is, you can see it doesn’t take much to discharge a battery in 24 hours. The brake light sticking in the “on” position would do it probably.