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Old 02-11-2018, 04:14 PM   #1
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Parasitic drain caused by static electricity??

Calling all electricity gurus!!

Problem: Van sat for a month, battery is now dead. I am suspecting static electricity and my radio. Please help edumacate me!

Van: 2000 E350 RB 216k mi 7.3L

Battery setup: (1) 4D coach batt mounted on frame, (1) starting batt mounted on frame, (1) starting batt mounted under the hood

The starting batteries are about 1.5yrs old, and have about 10,000 miles on them. The 4d battery was replaced last October.

So back in October I put in a new 4D battery, and immediately left for a camping trip. During the camping trip for the first time ever I was awoken in the middle of the night by the sound of popping coming from the speakers. It seemed to stem from the fact that my dogs had been rubbing up against our van's carpeted walls and everything I touched was shocking me. The van was off and the radio was off yet the speakers were popping pretty much every time I got shocked, and even when I wasn't getting shocked. The only way to get the popping to stop was to flip the radio switch so that the radio was powered by the coach battery and then turn the radio off.

We have camped many times in the van and this has never happened before, and it started 1 day after replacing the 4d battery. Ever since that camping trip the van speakers will pop when everything is turned off(whether we are in the van or not), unless I flip the radio switch to power the radio from the coach battery. Could the parasitic drain over the course of a month be from whatever is causing the popping sound to come from the speakers?

Prior to October I had never had any starting issues and the starting batteries always were topped off from driving the van and the alternator charging them. Since October I have had 2 separate issues with the batteries not supplying enough juice to start the van, the first time it was pretty cold and she just ran out of juice trying to start her. This morning, she had nothing, the battery under the hood read 3v on the VM.

Any thoughts? Are my starting batteries now fried, since the the voltage dropped so low?
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Old 02-11-2018, 06:09 PM   #2
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Does the stereo system have an amp??

If the speakers are popping then that's where I would start, with the stereo system. If you have an amp, then that could be the culprit. Many amps have a trigger, if that malfunctions it could be cycling due to charging and discharging of a capacitor inside the amp. Could be a short some place. But I would guess the Head Unit or amp is bad or the wiring is compromised. If you are getting shocked, that's a short.
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Old 02-11-2018, 06:24 PM   #3
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Check all your grounds! The engine block to chassis strap in particular. Does this happen when connected to shore power? Does the static electricity problem go away if you ground the van to earth?
The call on the amp/HU is a good one. Where is the power connected? Is it always hot? Is it only on with the key on?
As far as the batteries being fried, pull them out and have them checked and charged.
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Old 02-11-2018, 09:08 PM   #4
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Thanks for the help guys!

No amp, just the stock radio. I will yank the batts and bring them over to Autozone for a charge and check and will start crawling around the van looking for the ground locations and test them with my VM.

Will report back.

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Old 02-12-2018, 10:40 AM   #5
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The point where a ground lead attaches to the chassis is a usual suspect. Clean and tighten those. Some kind of conductive lube compound on those connections is helpful.
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Old 02-12-2018, 10:44 AM   #6
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I would look at the SMB Radio circuit. I believe it is a SPDT relay that they control by powering the relay with a switch. Normally the Relay would be in NC (normally closed) position which should be the accessory power feed. You should be able to disconnect power from the relay, and see if it persist.

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Old 02-12-2018, 11:07 AM   #7
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Getting shocked is a totally different voltage than that supplyed by the batteries. The little miniture lightning bolts you see coming from your fingers when it's dark are very high voltage, but low current. It's worse when the air is dry, and is caused by mechanical friction transfering electrons to your body which then want to leave in a flash when you touch something. Adding humidity inside the van (cooking, boiling water etc) will help. The noise you hear in the speakers might result from you touching something while all charged up, but unless you or the dogs are moving around the charge remains "static" so shouldn't cause noise in the speakers. The batteries going dead and the noise in the speakers certainly points to a parasitic draw on the batteries, with the stereo being highly suspect. If you can turn everything off, and then insert an ampmeter between the battery and the negative cable, you will see if there is any draw on the battery. (many multimeters will read up to 10amps of dc current) Then by disconnecting things like the stereo one at a time you should be able to narrow down the battery vampire.
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Old 02-13-2018, 04:21 PM   #8
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Quick update. Took batts to Autozone, they charged them and tested them. The batt under the hood charged up and tested good. The batt mounted to the frame rail tested bad. Could that be from low voltage and below freezing temps sitting on the frame rail? I mean the one under the hood isn't exactly insulated from low temps either when the van is sitting in the garage. Any thoughts as to why one would be bad the other good?

Guess I am buying 2 new batteries! Once I get the new batteries home, I will put an amp clamp on the battery cables and start hunting down the drain.
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Old 02-13-2018, 07:59 PM   #9
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Cold weather is murderous to most batteries. See if you can’t insulate the battery on the frame rail, especially if its exposed to the wind and rain.

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Old 02-13-2018, 09:42 PM   #10
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Were the batteries the same age, size and chemistry? Any of those differences could explain why one was bad.
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