Ford Escape Mystery Battery Drain

I have a 2013 Ford Escape that has always had a battery issue, but now dies after <24 hrs. I’m on my 3rd battery in five years of ownership.

When I bought the car new, the battery would only last ~2-3 weeks of sitting before draining. I lived in Chicago and often assumed this was semi-normal due to the cold. The issue was persistent enough that I have always kept all interior lights off and do not leave USB devices connected overnight. In 2017 the car was not driven for 6 months. When I was ready to drive it again (Feb-18) I brought it to a Ford dealership for thorough maintenance. Immediately after that, the car battery only lasted 5 days before dying. I brought it right back to the dealership, but the guys couldn’t find anything wrong. No dead cells, battery looked great, alternator fine, and no anomalous current draw.

Now… I recently drove across the country to California. Two days ago I took it in for an oil change. Yesterday, the car died after <24hrs. This is the first clue I’ve ever gotten: both times in the past 6 months that I’ve had an oil change, the battery problem has gotten WAY worse. I’m at the point (<24hrs) that is unlivable and need figure this out. Any suggestions or ideas? Thanks!

This looks like an intermittent electrical drain, very difficult to find. I had a similar problem on a Jetta, I’d find the battery drained sometimes if it had been unused for 2-3 days. On a guess, I noticed the dome light had a delay circuit in it so it stayed on a few minutes after the door closed. My guess was that the delay was intermittent and sometimes the light stayed on. I turned the light off and had no more problems.

But your problem seems different as you said you turn off all lights. Is there a light in the trunk or engine department that goes on when you open the trunk/hood? Take a look at the car at night after it has been parked a bit.

“not driven for 6 months” ? that would kill any battery.

“I’ve had an oil change, the battery problem has gotten WAY worse” ?? only correlation I can see there is a light under the hood, or perhaps they moved some wires that have a short somewhere in their length.

@BillRussell is right about checking the underhood light and trunk light, but also check the light in the glove box if you have one.

If any of those bulbs are hot to the touch as soon as you open the glove box/hood/trunk, then the switch is faulty.

The only problem is that any of those could work for weeks and then one day it sticks on.


Are you sure?

I’m a professional mechanic, and I’ve known a lot of colleagues who have absolutely no idea how to perform a proper parasitic draw test

And they also don’t know what acceptable values are

I know a guy who’s been wrenching professionally for about 25 years, and he thinks 500 milliamps is acceptable . . . I just walked away

I truly suspect the guys at the dealership are NOT performing a proper parasitic draw test


Thanks for the ideas. I don’t know exactly what the results from the draw test were - the paperwork only says “no problem found.” The alternator was putting out 14.8 volts.

This morning the car is dead again (no surprise); the lights are all cool to touch. What current draw should I be looking for if I ask someone to re-do the parasitic draw test? Any thoughts on which wires under the hood could have been jostled during the oil change and could be causing a short?

[quote=“LJ_1234, post:5, topic:120190”]
What current draw should I be looking for if I ask someone to re-do the parasitic draw test?

50 milliamps or less

of course, the battery has been dead for hours. Checking them for warmth is something you should do when the battery is OK.

I tend to think there is a parasitic current draw, but without hands on I don’t know for sure.

I can’t speak for the Escape, but with my 2 Lincolns and 2 Lincolns that belonged to my sons the current draw was very high when the car was first shut off. When things settled down and went to sleep it became normal.

Until the electronics dozed off (45 minutes or so…) all of those 4 cars would have a current draw of 700 or so Milliamperes. Once asleep it was about 60-70 Milliamperes.

So any test for current draw should be done at least an hour after shutdown. Maybe things are not going to sleep as they should.

I’ve had several interesting cases, in regards to parasitic draw

In more than one case, the radio was the culprit. Yet the unit was turned off, the back lighting was completely off, and no leds were lit. In fact, some people doubted me, until I showed them my dmm, then I pulled the radio fuse, and the draw dropped to acceptable levels

In a few other cases, the instrument cluster was the culprit, yet again, nothing was lit, no leds blinking

And then there were a few body control modules. But it didn’t cause any lights or any other obvious circuits to be active.

In some other cases, an unfused component was the source of the draw

In each of these instances, proper knowledge, proper procedures and patience was required. I’m guessing the guys at the dealership are missing one or all of those