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Old Chevy Pickup battery problem/door shock

I’ve got a battery problem that might (emphasis on might) be related to the fact that I get an electrical shock when I get out of the truck. It makes me wonder if I might have a short someplace that is both draining the battery and shorting it with the chassis.

First a little background:

We’re talking about a 1991 Chevy K1500 with about 98,0000 miles on it. It’s in pretty decent shape, save for the beat up interior of an old farm truck. The engine was factory rebuilt about 14,000 miles ago.

Now, the immediate problem I’m having:

For the past week or so the battery loses charge almost immediately if any accessories are on and the truck is off. I first noticed it when I was in the car wash with the engine off, listening to the radio. After the 8 minute car wash was over, I went to start the truck and it gave one noble lurch of the starter and then nothing. I had to have a friend meet me at the wash to give me a boost.

With the jumper cables connected, I turned the key and the truck fired up immediately as though the battery wasn’t drained at all. There wasn’t the usual chugging sound of a truck getting a boost after the lights were left on overnight or something.

A few days later, I accidentally left the lights on when I made a quick trip into the house. I was in the house for fewer than five minutes, and when I returned and started the truck…well, same as above. One or two noble groans from the starter and then nothing. A quick boost and she fired right up.

Then, this morning I installed a new radio in the rig. I had the battery disconnected during the install, and then after I had all the cables and wires hooked up I reconnected the battery. I turned on the key to the accessory mode and turned on the radio. It worked great, and I was excited. I played with the settings for no more then five minutes. Again, when I went to start the truck, same as above. The battery was dead.

I jumped it with my girlfriend’s car, rushed to work (about a five minute drive) and let it sit all day. It started right up when I got done with work.

Now, what’s interesting is that the battery meter on the dash shows a full charge as soon as it gets the boost. That tells me the alternator is doing its job. Also, as long as I don’t run any accessories with the engine off, everything works fine. That is, it will start right up.

The other weird thing is that the battery will hold the charge as the truck sits for up to two days or more (that’s the longest I’ve gone without driving it since this started happening), but the minute I turn on an accessory (radio, lights, etc.) when the engine is off, the battery drains to the point of uselessness.

Now, back to the shock… for several months I’ve been dealing with the frustrating problem a shocking door getting out of the truck. It happens to anyone who exits the truck (i.e. driver or passenger). It’s not a major jolt or anything, but it’s enough that I dread shutting the car door. It’s similar to a really strong static shock. I have to be touching the ground first in order to get the shock. If I hold onto the metal door, or door handle, or any other metal part AS I STEP OUT OF THE TRUCK, then no shock. But if I step out and then turn around and touch the truck, or the door, etc. ZAP!

I have NO idea if these two things are related. My truck is old and doesn’t have a “lights are on” buzzer, so I have a bad habit of leaving the lights on and draining the battery. I’ve had to jump it at least a dozen times or more in the last year since I bought this new battery, but it’s a good battery and I’ve put it on the charger a couple of times and it has worked just fine until the car wash incident.

I know this is a long post, but this is a confusing problem and I’m not great at explaining things. I want to make sure ya’ll have as much info as possible at the outset.

I’m eager to hear your ideas, and as always, thanks in advance for any help ya’ll can offer.

-John in Montana

The shock is a static shock, unrelated to the car and your battery is fried due to a power drain. My 2cents/

It sounds like the battery has a low charge on it or there is a connection problem to it. The alternator may not be working to full capacity also. Even though the dash voltmeter may show a good battery charge the alternator connection to the battery may be bad. I suggest you have a shop do a load test on the system which will test all these things and show what the real story is. If you haven’t cleaned the battery connections yet using a battery post cleaning brush do that. If you have side mount connections be sure the metal surfaces are clean.

Wiping your seats with antistatic cling cloths might help with the static dischage problem.