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Electrical problems?

Hello there, : )

I have a 2001 Dodge Neon sitting in my parking lot with a dead battery. The car was taken into a shop a few months back because it wasn’t starting in the mornings. The place that it was taken to said they tested it on a computer, and came up with a bad starter. The starter was replaced, the car came home and the same thing happened all over again. The car wasn’t starting after sitting over night. The car went back to the same shop, (second time) and a new battery was put in. Car came home, same problem still happeneing. The auto place said my alternator tested good. How can I find out what is pulling the charge out of my battery over night??? Between the new starter being put in, the new battery and one other problem they said they found, repairs have addded up to around 900.00. Anyone out there know of a solution?

Please help!

Marian : )

find a different shop! What do you mean by “not starting”? does it crank and not catch, or not crank at all?

Does it only fail after sitting unused over night?

Assuming it does not crank at all:
You need an ammeter, and you need to measure “key-off current”. Setup the ammeter and turn the key off. Wait an hour. The ammeter should read 50-100mA. Much more than that and you have a problem. You will have to start taking out fuses to find the source of the current drain. A competent shop knows all of this.


You still out there? I got your post and it was much appreciated. If I would go and charge my battery right now, and let the car sit over night, it would still have enough power in the morning to maybe get some interior lights working, but would make a clicking noise when trying to turn the key to start it. If the car sits longer than one day without being jumped, it becomes deader than a door nail. It’s been in my parking lot for several days now, and I don’t think it shows any sign of life. Auto locks don’t work, everything is dead. I wouldn’t even get a response if I turned the key I’m guessing. What you posted will help I’m sure. I’ll see if I can’t find someone to help with the fuses. Anyone know of a good automotive place in the Vancouver Washington area? Thank you again Bill : )

your battery is probably dead by now, repeated deep discharges will quickly kill a battery. So whatever fix you come up with will include yet another battery. By “dead” I don’t mean discharged, but incapable of holding a charge.

This web site has a list of mechanics, see

You could get a small battery charger for about $25 that plugs into the cig lighter socket, assuming you have an outlet near the car. If not, there is a more expensive solar cell charger available. But again, you need a new battery.

Is your alternator actually working? If you drive around for a bit does the battery charge? (or did it before you killed the battery?) or is the key-off current your only problem? Perhaps difficult to tell with a bad battery.

While the starter motor and battery may have been bad, the starter at least isn’t going to cause this kind of problem. The drain on the battery appears to pretty high and it shouldn’t be hard for a shop to find the trouble. The shop that did the previous work either wasn’t aware of the real trouble or they aren’t able to fix this kind of trouble. Though this problem is really an easy thing to track down and fix as long as the trouble isn’t intermittent.

Here is a link to the Car Talk recommended mechanics to help you find a good shop. You don’t need a special shop to fix this but if you find one that specializes in electrical repairs use them.

Is there any other electrical item that is not working, like a power window motor or something? It could be the source of your drain.

What was the other problem that they “repaired”? These guys sound like they rely too heavily on the magic computer. While a very handy diagnostic tool, the “computer” is not all knowing. Was the entire charging circuit checked or just the alternator?

Sometimes the alternator has a short. Leave the alternator power source disconnected overnight, if the car starts in the morning, the alternator is bad. Don’t forget to reconnect the alternator in the morning.

good point. Bad diode.