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As a lurker for a year now and as one who has determined that most of the Team Chevelle community has forgotten more that I will ever know, I wanted to tell a story about chasing battery drain/heat soak problems. And please correct me where needed since my electrical knowledge is limited.

Bought a 71 El Camino a year ago. It came with an alarm system (hate 'em). You know the kind. Activate it and it chirps for you and anyone else who cares (the main selling point, 'look at me, I have an important car and the alarm talks to me!'). In July 2002, I pulled into a mall parking lot and after 10 minutes in the store, came out and could not start the car (damn alarm). First time I ever called the Auto Club. Tow truck could not get it started either but by the time he arrived and tinkered with it, the hood had been up awhile and it suddenly started (damn alarm). Now I had my first taste of heat-soak. But I was unaware of this problem and now I was afraid to drive anywhere for fear of getting stuck. If I drove it to work, no problem starting. Go to the store and I'm stuck. I'll buy a new battery. 1000 cold cranking amps, biggest one Costco sold. That should show the starter how the cow eats the cabbage.

Wouldn't start again one day so I got fed up and tore out the alarm. There, that should take care of it. I installed a Power-Lock to keep the car around and whaddya know, I sometimes could not start the car (again!). Hmmm, maybe the starter is bad. The seller claimed it was new, but who knows. Put a new one in and the problem seemed to go away (actually, it was fall by then).

One day the new battery was dead. I charged it back up and all seemed well. Sometimes the car would sit in the garage for as much as 2 weeks without running and I would find the battery dead often (what the ...). Bought a float charger and kept it on when it wasn't being driven.

By this time thru the forums here at Team Chevelle I had learned that heat soak could be a problem. Alright, I will install a remote solenoid and heat shields (starter and solenoid). There, that takes care of that but I realized that I had ripped out and thrown away a perfectly good alarm system. Oh well, I liked the Power-Lock better (and didn't I install that myself after all?). Anyway, charge up the battery again and with the remote solenoid, that starter spun that engine like a top. Zing! Problem fixed!

Battery is dead again after a week! Guess I have a short but by this time I had rear-ended another vehicle and though the damage was minor (meaning under $5K), it was off to the body shop for a new fender. Found out how tough it can be to get parts. After 6 weeks, I got the car back and whaddya know, the A/C doesn't work, the radio can't remember the presets, the dome light is out, and I am getting a much needed education in electricity.

OK, one thing at a time. Found a blown fuse that corrected the radio and dome light but why doesn't the A/C work? I bought this car because of the A/C and it always blew ice-cubes. It gets warm in SoCal and summer is coming. Started tracing the wires from both the compressor and the fuse box. Maybe it's one of those relays under (read inside) the dash. Before I could get to the relays, the battery is dead again. After a short education by you folks here in the forums (searched the archives), I charged the battery and disconnected the negative cable, placed a test light in between the post and cable and the light is lit. Aha! Disconnected the radio and Power-Lock, no light!!! (What the ...???). Well, obviously no short to be found. So just what did those knuckleheads at the body shop do to this car (besides leave several bolts out of the fender)?

One of the posts I searched out talked about disconnecting the alternator when the test light was hooked up. Hmmm, just what is the condition of that alternator? The seller didn't mention it in the ad. Pulled it off and down to the Autozone for a test. Now the guy that tested it didn't fill me with a lot of confidence since he couldn't seem to hook it up correctly (plug didn't seem to fit so, just push real hard). He said the alternator was bad. Maybe it was, maybe not, but it was a component I hadn't replaced yet so. . . Installed the new alternator, charged the battery and zing, the car starts right up. Drove around awhile and came home. Shut it down and tried to restart. Click, click, click (what the????). Did the new starter die on me? Check the battery and it shows 12.75 volts but can't start the car!

OK, tomorrow it should be cooled down and if it doesn't start, I will pull out the starter and have Autozone test it (hopefully not by the same doofus). Next day, click, click, click. Check the battery again and... 8.5 volts!!!! What???? Took it back to Costco, explained that I couldn't locate the receipt but it was only a year old. No problem, we'll give you a full refund. I just love Costco's customer service. I wish they sold GM A-body parts!

Now here's an interesting side note that's related. The guy at the customer service desk told me to note the post layout and the amp rating and select a similar battery. On the way over to Costco it occurred to me that if they would not accept the return, I would buy another battery and return the bad one in a couple of weeks on the new receipt. Costco's alot quicker than I am. The reason the dude told me to note the post layout and amp rating was because they change the item numbers from time to time to prevent exactly what I was planning. Now I am not a dishonest person, but if I buy something, I expect it to perform as advertised and if a merchant will not honor his product, there are no rules when getting even. In short, I will pay your price if it's fair, but don't try to screw me. So my scheme was not necessary because Costco values their customers but, think about it. I could buy a battery, use for 3 years, go buy a new one and return to old one for a full refund. In effect, get a new battery every couple of years for free. But Costco's way ahead of my devious thinking by changing the numbers. Way to go Costco!

New battery, new alternator, fairly new starter, what else could it be? Installed the new battery and the car zing to life immediately. Drove around, came home, shut it off, start it back up. Shut it off, start it back up. Now it's starting to come together in my pea-brain. The original alarm was fine. The original starter was probably good. The new battery was good when new but if the alternator was not charging it and I was killing/charging it, it was dying a quick death.

Bottom line, I did have a heat-soak problem that was corrected by the remote solenoid. Never did have a short problem but replaced the entire starter circuit in the belief that I did. Maybe the alternator was bad or maybe the battery had a bad cell. No way to tell at this point because everytime you buy a new component, they want your old one in exchange. The moral here is that electical is black magic and if you keep replacing parts, you will fix the problem eventually and this works great in lieu of education and systematic troubleshooting. It also replaces money with empty space in your wallet (quickly too!).

I am posting this from work. In 20 minutes I am going home. I hope the El Camino starts . . .

Dan <><
 

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very intresting story
(j/k) sucks that you went through all that hassels and spend all that money to. Ya i though of the same thing for those batteries to but they are always one step above ya. Glad u got it going. I go a electrical problem to car wont start all the time either :mad:
:mad:
. So did u ever get that AC runing then after that?
 

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Originally posted by 70chevychevelle:
So did u ever get that AC runing then after that?
Sorry I put you to sleep. ;) I forgot to finish that. It seems the A/C won't run if the system voltage is below a certain point (i.e. the compressor clutch). Once the system was generating enough voltage, it worked perfectly. BTW, the car started after work!

Dan <><
 

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I actually found that story to be very nice. From what i was reading it sounds like you have a parasitic drain somewhere in the system. I would hook up a jumper wire inbetween the battery and the cable and see if it gets hot. If it does you know you have a drain, and you can start checking from there.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Lytemup,

Fortunately, I no longer have a drain. After a week of sitting, the battery is still charged. But thanks for the tip!

Dan <><


Originally posted by LYTEMUP:
From what i was reading it sounds like you have a parasitic drain somewhere in the system. I would hook up a jumper wire inbetween the battery and the cable and see if it gets hot. If it does you know you have a drain, and you can start checking from there.
 
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