Help with parasitic battery drain. 05 Ford Freestar


#1

My wife’s Freestar starts every day, but if left unused for a day the battery is dead.

I checked the battery…only a year old, and I get 12.8 volts with the ignition off and, 14.4 volts with the engine running.

Yesterday I spent three hours trying to track down what circuit was using the extra power.
I made sure nothing was plugged into the lighter plug, the keys were out and the doors were shut with all courtesy lights out.
There is no glove box lamp, or under hood lamp and shutting off the lights in the shop I couldn’t see any thing lit up.
I listened with a stethoscope to be sure that the CD player was not running the motor and listened to the overhead (factory installed)DVD player in the ceiling. Couldn’t hear a thing. I also made sure no disc was in the CD or the DVD players.
There are no heated seats or steering wheel. No aftermarket lights or other items have ever been added to this car so it is not something that someone connected without going through the factory fuses.

The only lamp on was the Security light on the top of the dash that has always flashed red once every second or so.

I connected my DVM to the negative battery post and the other lead to the negative battery cable.
Set my DVM to 10 amps and pulled every fuse, & relay one at a time.

with the courtesy lights (2 overhead map lights. two floor lamps and two behind the front seats) on it draws 3.26 amps
After the courtesy lights power down (25 seconds) it draws .40 amps
After 45 second delay the draw drops to .18 amps

Every fuse and relay showed the same .18 amps after the modules powered down.

I checked every fuse and relay in the power distribution box, under the hood and then all the ones under the dash.

The only oddball was a #58 under the hood. When I closed the door it dropped to 1.1 amps then down to the .18 amps.
I looked up the fuse data in the owners manual, it reads "SJB #1 -Center high-mount Stop Lamp (CHMSL), License plate lamps, OBDII,
Dome lamp, Auxiliary blend doors, Switch illumination (feeds F-8, F-9, F-10,and F-11)

That could have powered some courtesy lamps. That could be the drop to 1.1 amps instead of the 3.26.

This seemed still too high and when I checked my Dakota today it only draws 1.26 amps and .03 amps. after the courtesy lamps power down.
The Freestar has a security system and the Dakota does not, But I cannot imagine a security system drawing (1.5 amps) that much more.

Another question for my curiosity is, what controls the dome lights as the older cars had the momentary switch in the door post. What controls that switching with the newer vehicles. I could find no switch and for each fuse under the dash that I pulled, I had to close the door and wait the 1.5 minutes for that system to power down, read the meter and open the door to go to the re-install that fuse and go to the next fuse.

Any ideas would be appreciated.

Yosemite


#2

Had a windstar, brake light switch intermittently would leave the brake lights on. Check the brake lights? Was a really weird switch, just shot it full of wd 40 exercised it and had no problems with it for 4 years until we traded it in.


#3

good thought @Barkydog, but that was the first thing I’ve looked at each time.

And that would have accounted for the heavy draw when I was doing my testing, but I would have noticed the brake lights on while I waited for everything to power down with each fuse under the dash. Each time I closed the door and sat for the 1.5 minutes and would have seen the reflection in the garage door.
Had it been intermittent, I wouldn’t have gotten the same reading on each time.

Yosemite


#4

Tomorrow I plan on going over the interior to check if there are 12 volt power outlets around the rear of the cabin.
Maybe one of the grand kids stuffed something in a power outlet that has just enough conductivity to drain power , but not enough to blow a fuse.

Yosemite


#5

@Yosemite

On some cars the cigarette lighter and/or 12V power outlets are 30 circuit

Meaning if some device is left plugged in, it could drain the battery after the engine is shut off and the key is removed from the ignition

Another thought . . . the cause of your draw may be some component that is unfused. I’ve experienced this several times over the years, and it can be extremely time-consuming to find the culprit

As for pulling fuses . . . after pulling a fuse, did you wait several seconds for things to “stabilize” before reinserting the fuse and proceeding to the next one?

hang in there :wink:


#6

Thanks for the response @db4690.
I made sure that nothing was in the 12 volt power outlet at the dash, but never thought until tonight about in the rear passenger area. I’m sure she has nothing plugged in, But the grand kids may have stuffed something into one if there are some in the back. I will check that tomorrow.

When I would pull a fuse, I did wait at least 30 seconds before reinstalling the fuse and moving on to the next.

Yosemite


#7

@Yosemite

Hopefully, the culprit isn’t a control module . . . I’ve run into that several times

On Fords :frowning:


#8

Let me try to summarize. No matter what you tried, removing fuzes, etc, the current always dropped down to 180 mA afterwards. Is that correct?

That is a bit high, but it would take many days to discharge the battery. Typical battery is 70 amp-hour capacity. Dividing by 0.18, that is 16 days. Even if the battery has only 35 amp-hour left, that is still 8 days.

Perhaps the battery has an internal partial short? Try leaving the charged and disconnected battery sit for a day or two.

I had a similar problem on a Jetta. Found (by trial and error) that the dome light, which was supposed to shut off after a time period, sometimes didn’t. If that occurred AND I didn’t use the car for a few days, dead battery. Happened only 3 times in a 5 year period.


#9

I doubt that it could be the battery @BillRussell .

Your calculations are correct, but you must consider “you don’t need to drain the full 70 amps for the battery to be too low to turn the heavy load of the starter”.

When this first occurred a month ago I thought that it was the battery . It was a weekend with a hectic schedule around Christmas so I swapped the battery out with a known good battery that I use in the fishing boat (not a deep cycle).

The same problem re-occurred a week later when the van was left unused for day.

In all this has only happened 3 times, but always when the vehicle has not been started for a full day.

Yosemite


#10

Is the third brake light fed by a wiring bundle running from the body into the tailgate? If so, maybe you should check that wiring for damage from flexing over time. Maybe you have an intermittent short to ground that’s not a dead short (which would blow the fuse). This is a longshot, but it wouldn’t hurt to look.


#11

Yosemite: you are saying that the 180 mA drain is enough to drain the battery in 24 hours?

Even if you mean a day not in use, so 48 hours from charge to trial, that is still less than 9 amp-hours. No functional battery would die with that small amount of discharge, only about 12% of full charge.

To double check (I found that in troubleshooting, you always have to double and triple check) you never saw a drain of more than 180 mA after things had settled down (timed out) ?? Then we are missing something.


#12

@Yosemite
I Realize That 2 Batteries Were Tried (One Is “Known Good Battery”) And I Understand That Good Voltage Is Indicated.

However, I would charge up a battery and load test it or have it load tested before I went on a hunt for phantoms. Once the battery passes the test then proceed with that.
CSA


#13

You need to find out where most of that .18 amps is going to. Normal current draw should be less than 35 milliamps, though I don’t know what the real spec on your vehicle is. You might try disconnecting the alternator to see if that helps. If you do that keep in mind that the main lead is always hot to the battery so you should disconnect the negative battery lead before working on the alternator. If you have any added accessories they are a good suspect along with any trailer hitch wiring.


#14

The wife does not work tomorrow, so I will take it to my shop and check out the alternator and I will run the battery down to the parts store to have them load test it too.

Yosemite


#15

I’m not familiar with the electrics on an '05 Escape but I can tell you that the current draw on my current and past Lincolns along with the '04 Lincoln Aviator my youngest son owned all pulled about 150 milliamps and up from my fuzzy memory.
When first shut off the parasitic draw was about 700 milliamps on all of those vehicles until everything went to sleep; which takes about 45 minutes or more.

I can tell you that a very good battery will stand up to that much but a battery even on slightly shaky ground will not.

The dome light circuits used to be pretty simple but if the Escape is anything like my Lincolns it’s a lot more complex with a keyless entry module and so on being thrown into the mix.

If I get a chance I’ll thrown an ammeter on the Lincoln tomorrow and refresh my memory about the parasitic draw on that car.


#16

On newer models the lighting system is often controlled by a small computer. As opposed to my Corollas where all the lights are just turned on and off directly (or perhaps via a relay) by manually operated switches, on newer car models the manually operated switches being switched create signals which are received by the computer as inputs, then the computer decides whether or not to issue outputs to turn the lights on and off electronically. 180 mA draw shouldn’t completely drain the battery overnight, but it is an indication of a problem. Quiescent draw wouldn’t normally be over 50-70 mA. On my Corolla it is around 15-20 mA. That’s b/c snow country car owners want to be able to park their cars for a couple of weeks at the freezing cold airport to go on a Bahamas palm tree vacation in mid-winter and still expect the car to crank and start with no problem upon their return. At 180 mA, and 0 degrees, that’ not happening.

You are doing all the right stuff. The objective is to isolate is to the circuit that’s doing it. One thing I’d probably do before starting on the fuse pulling thing is to install the meter and monitor it over the course of 12 hours or so. There may be going to 180 mA, but in an hour it might be turning something on and going to 900 mA or something. There are data-logging gadgets that can do this automatically, but you may need to be your own gadget.

The problem with the fuse pulling method is that the computers are not independent. Pulling one fuse can affect another circuit’s draw. But if you pull all the fuses, you should certainly expect this not to happen. So at last resort, that’s something to try. There’s so much circuitry in modern cars that until the circuit that’s causing it is identified, its close to impossible to figure out.


#17

How long did you monitor the draw after it dropped to 180ma? Likely, something is periodically waking up and drawing significantly more power for a time before going back to sleep. The fact you have 180 ma would seem to indicate that not everything has gone completely to sleep. A meter with a peak function would be helpful for unattended monitoring. However, you may have to contend with the meter going into sleep mode (ironically) so you may need to stay nearby for awhile to prevent it from going to sleep as you watch for a module to wake up…When I recently solved this kind of problem on my TB, I could watch the various systems keep waking up about every 5-10 minutes and then go back down to around 200-300 ma. Once I removed the right fuse for the problem circuit, it dropped to that level and then maybe a few minutes later dropped to around 50ma when it went completely to sleep. Good luck!


#18

I had a similar problem with a 2003 Chrysler Town & Country every once in a while the battery would be dead in the morning but I could not find anything left on. A check for parasitic draw shower nothing wrong and recharging the battery always worked for a while.
I came home from work one day and when walking past the van I hadn’t driver, I heard the radiator fan start up. It turned out to be a bad fan control module, a device I didn’t even know the van had because it was mounted on top of the steel bumper, under the plastic bumper cover.

It must have been either a very common or exceedingly rare problem because none of the dealers or parts store in Western NY had or could get one. They all told me they were on back order. Rock Auto had 5 of them.


#19

For monitoring the current draw overnight, I got to wondering if a person could rig up a cell phone camera to take a photo of the amp meter’s display periodically, say every 5 minutes? Then all you’d have to do the next morning is look through the photos stored on the phone to see if the current spiked higher sometime during the night. Maybe there’s an app that does this somewhere.


#20

I checked my Lincoln this morning after it had been sitting all night and the draw was about 140-150 milliamps.
This has never been a problem even after the car sits unused for several weeks.