Question about 1997 Cadillac DeVille

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I have a battery that goes dead overnight and am told that the starter is shorted causing the problem. I pulled the starter out and had it tested and was told there is no problem. I load tested the battery with an old style load tester and it said it was bad, but the service station that I bought the battery from insists that the battery is fine because they tested it with a volt meter and told me to replace the starter. Is there something that I am missing here?

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If the battery failed a load test and the load tester was set for the correct battery CCA (cold cranking amps) then the battery is not any good, and if you can dis-connect the battery and using a volt meter you can watch the battery voltage drop off until it is below 12 volts, then the battery is once again not any good and that battery most likely has an internal short or a bad cell and that alone would cause similar symptoms.

The alternator could cause a draw on the battery, but the starter will not unless it is engaged all of the time, and if the mechanic at the service station that you went to does not know that, then you might want to consider another repair facility.

There might be another draw on the battery and the best way to find it would be to dis-connect the negative side battery cable and connect a test light between the negative battery cable terminal and the negative battery post. (see image)

With everything turned off and the doors closed, connect the test light between the negative battery cable terminal and the negative battery post, and the test light should light up bright for a few seconds and then dim down very low to almost nothing indicating that only the KAM (keep alive memory) for any control modules and the stereo system is active and drawing power from the battery and this is a normal condition.

If the test light does not dim down to almost nothing, and the test light stays bright or only partially dims down, then there is a draw on the battery from the vehicle electrical system, and the best way to locate it would be to start removing the fuses/relays one at a time (replace the fuse/relay if there is no change in the test light) and observe the test light, and if you do remove a fuse/relay and the test light does dim down to almost nothing, then the draw will be in the circuit that fuse/relay controlled, and if there is still a draw on the battery after removing all of the fuses and relays then start dis-connecting power accessories like the alternator one at a time until the test light does dim down until the test light is just barely making the filament in the test light bulb glow.

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Posted on Sep 07, 2010


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Have a voltmeter? stop guessing, use the meter. same time and $$$$
starter? but what are the symptoms. ?????? no start sure. but
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2: solenoid on starter click?
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my guess, is the relay was good. all a long ?
if the old relay was burned to a crisp in inside (did you look) then
the starter can be shorted. they can in fact short.

we use to simple and cheap tools, a voltmeter and ammeter
The key switch energizes the relay.
the relay has a coil. if the coil goes to 12v, (meter across coil)
then the relay is energized. (cranking)
if that works we look at the relay output. (solenoids can short too)
use the volt meter.
if the voltage at battery sags below 10v. the battery is bad. or the starter is shorted.
we use an ammeter to see that short.
100- 200 amps (no engine stated but is covered in the FSM)

here is a voltage plot.
if you watch current it it goes to 500amps and the solenoid just bangs
the starter is shorted.

test 1:
voltmeter to battery neg lug (black meter lead)
meter on 20vdc range (battery with meter there,,reads 12.6vdc.)
red lead to starter solenoid small wire, key line (sT) i call that.
I turn the key to ST position.
the solenoid ST pin (small) goes to what voltage. key held there.?
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If your fan isn't running it shouldn't be drawing electrical current, but this procedure should narrow down the cause:

The positive battery cable goes to the starter and a couple fusible links feed the fuse block from there. I recommend hooking up an ammeter inline with the negative battery cable and pulling fuses until you find the one that stops drawing current on the ammeter when you pull it. At that point you will have found the circuit that your battery killer is on. Look at a wiring diagram for your car and see what devices are on the guilty circuit. Look and see if those devices are on/broken/shorted.

Common causes of "overnight dead battery" are: courtesy/trunk light on with doors/hood/trunk closed/sticky power door lock solenoid/aftermarket equipment installed to constant power instead of keyed power.

Good luck,

Rebel Faggioli

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