Battery Dead - Advice Appreciated

Discussion in 'General Motoring' started by russellgoldman6, Nov 19, 2008.

  1. Hi,

    My 1997 Saturn has a new battery installed 3 months ago.

    I don't drive much, and it started perfectly normally the last time I
    drove it a week ago. (It's been a cold week with average temperature
    just below freezing - not too bad really).

    This morning when I attempted to start it, it was completely dead. No
    dashboard lights were on, and it's not making any noise - as if the
    battery was completely dead or even disconnected.

    I checked the battery connections, and they're good.

    Question 1: Could a new battery drop dead like that so quickly? and do
    you think I need another battery or is it salvageable?

    Question 2: Do you think using a battery booster pack will help jump
    start it? I'm trying to decide whether or not I should buy a booster
    to help me with this and future battery troubles.

    Thanks for any tips!
    russellgoldman6, Nov 19, 2008
  2. russellgoldman6

    80Knight Guest

    Any battery, no matter how old or new can stop working. You could also have
    left on something like a small interior light, the glovebox light, trunk
    light, etc. A week is plenty of time for the smallest bulb to drain the
    If I were you, I would get a battery charger (one that plugs into a wall
    outlet), and charge it up. If it won't take a charge, the battery is toast.
    If it will, have it tested to make sure it is good. With only being 3
    months old, it should still have a valid warranty.
    80Knight, Nov 19, 2008
  3. russellgoldman6

    Mike Marlow Guest

    Of course, it is always possible that a new battery is defective in some
    way, but really - it's not that common. More than likely, you have a low
    drain short that is sucking down your battery. To troubleshoot it, charge
    up the battery and hook up an ampmeter and look for drain. Pull fuses to
    isolate the circuit that is causing the drain, and troubleshoot from there.
    If that overwhelms you, then just take it to a trusted mechanic.
    Mike Marlow, Nov 19, 2008
  4. Agreed, but one more point. A fully discharged battery (if that is what
    happened) has mainly water for electrolyte, rather than the
    sulfuric-acid content of a fully charged battery. Thus a discharged
    battery can freeze. If possible, make sure the battery is not frozen
    before you try to charge it. If it has removable caps, you can inspect
    visually. You might wait until a time of day when the temperature has
    been above freezing for a few hours, or move the car to a warmer spot
    (garage?). If it has frozen, make sure the battery case is not cracked,
    and thus leaking electrolyte.

    NOTE: to reply, remove all punctuation from email name field

    Ned Forrester 508-289-2226
    Applied Ocean Physics and Engineering Dept.
    Oceanographic Systems Lab
    Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA
    Ned Forrester, Nov 19, 2008
  5. russellgoldman6

    Bob Shuman Guest

    Comments are embedded below for your consideration.


    A week is not particularly long and the battery should still be charged
    assuming that:1) your charging/electrical system is working properly, 2)
    the battery is indeed still good and the connections are clean and tight,
    and 3) there was no accessory inadvertently left on to discharge the system.
    I'd re-check those battery connections and if they are indeed clean and
    tight, then I'd use a voltmeter to check the battery state. Battery
    terminals can "look" great, but be highly oxidized so stop working. The
    battery can also have an internal defect that would cause the battery post
    to become open and cause the symptoms you are seeing. Lastly, the ground
    conenction from the negative terminal can be corroded at the engine block
    and/or the vehicle chassis. All need to be clean and tight and this is
    where the voltmeter will be helpful. The fact that you have no
    voltage/current now should make this a breeze to troubleshoot. If
    everything looks OK, then re-charge the battery and see if one of the
    interior lights, etc. somehow got left on and ran the battery down
    completely. If it charges up and nothing was left on, then check the
    alternator since it may have dies and you may have run the battery down
    before parking it a week ago. Do not attempt to start the car till you get
    the battery back up to near as full of a charge as possible.
    See comments above.
    Yes, you should be able to jump the vehicle, but need to figure out the
    problem first. Good luck.
    Bob Shuman, Nov 19, 2008
  6. russellgoldman6

    Vic Smith Guest

    There is some constant draw on the battery of a modern car.
    Won't get technical, but since I recently had this problem I found
    many instances of batteries going dead in less than a week.
    Best to start it every few days of so, and let it charge.
    You can experiment with what works best.
    The alternative is to buy a trickle charger and attach it when you
    know the car will be idle for a while.
    You are taking a chance of harming your dead battery by charging it
    with the engine, as the alternator puts out high amps.
    Best to slow charge at 2 amps with the charger. Check the water lever
    afterward and add if needed.
    Outside of having the battery tested at a shop with the right tools,
    if it starts fine every few days it's probably ok.
    Starting can actually draw plenty of current from it, so let it run at
    least until the engine is warm if you're starting just to keep it
    Works for me.
    A week is about the limit I'll go without starting mine, but in cold
    weather maybe 3 days. But I have a small cheapo battery.

    Vic Smith, Nov 19, 2008
  7. russellgoldman6

    Bob Shuman Guest


    I do not agree with your response. Saying that a week of non-use is enough
    time for a fully charged automotive battery to discharge to the point the OP
    describes is ludicrous. Do the math and figure out what parasitic current
    drain (the computer, vehicle alarm, radio clock, etc.) you would need to
    discharge a 100 amp-hour rated lead acid battery in 168 hours. (The 100 A-H
    is a very conservative number for a small auto battery.)

    This vehicle has a definite problem. Either someone left something on (a
    glove box or trunk light for example) and it drained the battery, or the
    alternator is no longer working properly, or the battery connections aren't
    clean and tight, or the 3-month old battery is defective.

    We regularly don't drive two of our family vehicles very often ... typically
    they can sit for a month or so at a time and we've never had any problem
    starting them up. When I put one away for the winter in storage, I use a
    trickle charger to keep the battery topped off and that battery is now going
    on its eight year of use. (The key to battery longevity is a little luck
    and also keeping the battery fully charged so that it does not develop lead
    sulfation "disease".)

    Bob Shuman, Nov 19, 2008
  8. russellgoldman6

    Vic Smith Guest

    Well, I said I wouldn't get technical, and went for the easy solution.
    But you might be surprised if you google this issue, as I was.
    Maybe you can post here some of the values of parasitic draws and do
    the math. Also troubleshooting methods (meters, pulling fuses, etc.)
    I kind of suspect a short somewhere in my car, and generally agree
    with what you've said. First time this has ever happened to me, and I
    recall starting some previous cars just fine after they sat idle for
    But for now I'm fine just making sure I start it once a week.
    If that changes or I track down a draw on the battery, I'll post that.

    Vic Smith, Nov 19, 2008
  9. russellgoldman6

    Bob Shuman Guest

    Using simple math, to draw down a fully charged 100A-H capacity battery in
    168 hours (1 week) to the point where "the dash lights no longer illuminate"
    , you'd need to draw approximately 0.6A over that entire period of time.
    (The current drain wouldn't actually be constant over this period of time
    since the voltage would slowly drop from 13.2V, but gives a pretty good
    estimate for this purpose.) 0.6A (=600mA) at 12V is slightly more than 7W.

    I have not done the research, but would estimate the typical parasitic
    current at somewhere between 20 and 30mA (meaning a fully charged battery in
    good condition should last 10-20 weeks and still have "some" residual

    As I've stated previously, there is definitely a problem here if the car
    won't start after one week. I'd personally think this is either caused by
    something that was left on, corroded electrical connections, a defective
    battery/distribution cable, a bad battery, or a bad alternator.

    Bob Shuman, Nov 20, 2008
  10. russellgoldman6

    Roger Guest

    Hi Russell

    A 3 month old battery is still a newborn.... I have a '95 Saturn SL1,
    the original AC Delco battery lasted just more than 5 years and in late
    2000 I replaced it with an Energizer 700CCA battery... I test it and
    it's still fine after 8 years.

    The question is how long was the battery on the shelf before you bought
    it? ...more a rhetorical question. Usually a battery should go through a
    recharge or test when you buy it. If you drive your car more often and
    have a few trips of more than 1 hour, the alternator will help to
    recharge it. If you do not drive often, and your trips are very short,
    your battery has not a good opportunity to recharge. It's likely this
    battery was lower on charge being on the shelf for a while. Is there a
    manufactured date on it?

    When you checked the battery connections, did you remove them from the
    battery and clean both the cable connectors and battery terminals with a
    steel brush? Course Steel wool also helps to scrape off oxidation. Then
    make sure the cable go back on tightly. + then -/ground

    Yes it's a good idea to buy a automatic battery charger (auto shutoff).
    Get one with both a trickle charge and higher current (faster)
    charge.... these usually include a tester in the unit too.

    Cheers, Roger
    Roger, Nov 20, 2008
  11. russellgoldman6

    Vic Smith Guest

    Vic Smith, Nov 20, 2008
  12. russellgoldman6

    Bret Guest

    The obvious question is why did the old battery die?
    Bret, Nov 20, 2008
  13. russellgoldman6

    m6onz5a Guest

    What I do to keep my battery charged up on my '01 Dodge van since I
    don't drive it much is go to Harbor Freight and buy a solar powered
    charger that plugs into your cigarette lighter. It costs around $15
    and has worked great for me that last 6 months I've used it. Before if
    I didn't start my van every 3 weeks the battery would be dead.. Now I
    leave it 4-5 weeks at a time and have no problems starting it.

    Newer cars need to be started every couple of weeks because of the
    m6onz5a, Nov 20, 2008
  14. russellgoldman6

    HLS Guest

    What I do to keep my battery charged up on my '01 Dodge van since I
    don't drive it much is go to Harbor Freight and buy a solar powered
    charger that plugs into your cigarette lighter. It costs around $15
    and has worked great for me that last 6 months I've used it. Before if
    I didn't start my van every 3 weeks the battery would be dead.. Now I
    leave it 4-5 weeks at a time and have no problems starting it.

    Newer cars need to be started every couple of weeks because of the

    I used to have a lot of trouble with my older Dodge van (as apparently did
    person I bought it from).
    Then I found that the very dim interior lights had been left on, and it was
    all but
    impossible to see.
    I can now leave it a lot longer than 3 weeks without problems. The measured
    drain when all systems are hibernating is in the order of 30 ma.
    HLS, Nov 20, 2008
  15. After some good folks suggested that I might have left something
    turned on, I double checked and found out that I indeed left the
    interior light on.

    I went ahead and got a booster pack (Motomaster 500A) and successfully
    jumpstarted the car. Left the engine running for 15 minutes, and now
    it seems Ok.

    Thanks to all those who took the time to give me these pointers.
    russellgoldman6, Nov 21, 2008
  16. russellgoldman6


    Oct 1, 2022
    Likes Received:
    ok,i am new here,so hello!I have a 07 vue base with the 3.5 engine.I have a new battery(3 weeks old diehard)that goes dead after sitting 2 days.How do i find a battery draw.things i have done,replaced the headlight switch,clipped the drivers seat belt sencor wire(dash light wouldn't go off)had a roof mount antenna that was destroyed at a car wash my the prev owner,so i clipped the wires and put on a whale has a fender mount antenna so i am pretty sure the radio works(i am deaf)I have wire brushed the battery connections as well as the fastening bolts.If i drive it every day,no problen.if it sits 2 days,it won't crank
    pdaly28, Oct 1, 2022
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