Electrical Short 1988 Toyota Camry

1988 Toyota Camry Wagon, 2.0L, EFI, 4 Cyl., 3S-FE, Std. 5-Speed. Vehicle has had problems with consistent dis-charged battery. Battery is new, cell chemistry has been checked and has been load tested. Alternator has been replaced. Major ground wires to block and vehicle are solid. Battery has dis-charged after each use and required a jump away from home or re-charge at home when car would not start. Battery has been re-inspected and found stable after re-charge.

Toyota Manual test for electrical short as follows. Dis-connect negative cable from battery, install light or meter between negative post and negative cable. If there is current flow, it is an indication of a short in the system. Next actions are to remove fuses one at a time, replace and continue with this process until all fuses have been pulled and re-placed. At some time during this process, the voltage drain should have been interrupted to indicate which circuit is responsible for short-circuit condition. Every fuse that could be found was pulled during elimination process, NO interruption of voltage drain. Where do I go now to locate problem???

Also pull relays one at a time.


There may be some fusible links inline before the fuse panel that you missed so check that. Also try disconnecting the alternator connection on the back side of it to see if that helps. If none of these things help then you will need to follow the smaller power lead running from the positive battery lead or the starter solenoid and find out where the extra current is going to. There may be a non-factory installed accessory causing the trouble. Normal current draw should be less than 30 milliamps usually.

Don’t forget to remove the big B+ wire at the back of the alternator. A rare problem with the alternator diodes can dribble drain a battery. Disconnect the battery first at the negetive terminal then remove the 10mm holding nut. Once the wire is off, and not touching anything metalic, reconnect the battery. Touch the wire back to the stud on the alternator.
If you see a small spark, there is your problem. If all tests with fuses and relays and before mentioned acc. wires do not stop the draw, disconnect big and small wires to the starter. Somewhere you will find the draw

Dis-connect negative cable from battery, install light or meter between negative post and negative cable. If there is current flow, it is an indication of a short in the system.

Maybe not a short, but just a power drain.


Your help has directed me to find the short at the interior ceiling light circuit??? The vehicle does not drain the battery now that I have removed the fuse. My only wish is that the next problem will be in the summertime and not the wintertime in New England.

Again, thanks to All,
and especially the Tappet Brothers for making this site available to the universe. I am sure that it is only a matter of time before our first contact with aliens will be through CarTalk; may God help us then!!!

Glad you found the problem. Keep that car! 4 cyl., manual trans, Camry wagon a rare breed. One of the best most practical cars ever. Accord wagons are in the same category in my opinion.

Your description of finding a parasitic draw was very good but just a bit incomplete. You need to be able to assign a value on just how many amps (or really milli amps ) the draw is. I must ask,was the roof lamp not working when it should be working? a burning lamp is one of the easier parasitic draws to find. This is not true if the light that stays on is inside the cover of a lighted vanity mirror (very common with many GM products).

I too doubt the trouble is with the dome light. The fuse circuit most likely feeds other areas like the glove box and trunk plus others so check them out. Checking out the service information for the wiring should list all the areas the fuse ties to.