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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2008 Ridgeline RTL 60K miles

JANUARY 4TH 2015

Replaced an almost 3 year old aftermarket battery because it was dead and had been struggling to start car every morning for about a week prior. Auto parts guy checked battery and alternator and because it was charging, warrantied the battery.

MARCH 6TH 2015

All week it has struggled to turn over and this morning; dead. It's hard to believe the battery would die so soon. I run heated seats, full blower, lights, wipers, radio and it doesn't seem to bog down electrical system while the truck is running. No lights left on, doors open etc. overnight.

It has been cold (0 deg) today and all month for that matter, but truck is kept in garage overnight.

I do have an aftermarket remote starter(came with vehicle), Audiovox APS620N and a PAC Audio Ipod interface(prof. installed) on my factory radio.

Any advice on where to start? I have never had any issues before. I am leaning towards disconnecting the remote starter. Is it as simple as a power wire at the battery?
 

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I have a 2007 Ridge and this winter had to jump start the truck twice. I am also in Buffalo and Feb was the coldest ever recorded so I partially blame that.
I put a new battery in and so far everything is ok. I checked the battery drain to make sure something wasn't "leaking".
I leave mine outside (Wife gets one space and tractor/motorcyle get the other no other room)
Many years ago I wired in an aftermarket radio on a car I had and had battery drain. After replacing batteries I just took the radio out and never had the problem again.
Check your aftermarket stuff. Wire them direct to a switched fuse. Of course you can't do that with the remote starter.
Connect a multimeter and check drain from each accessory. checking aftermarket should not be hard. If none of those is showing the issue, then it becomes a little harder in that it has to be part of the OEM electrics....
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks. Supposed to be warmer this weekend and I'll start the troubleshooting. I actually hope it's the alternator to avoid the hassle of the electrical gremlins that you just can't seem to find.
 

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sounds like you are suspecting that the battery is being drained while everything is off. I'd use a multimeter in the amp mode at it's highest setting and check the current draw from the battery to the main cable. Since this requires a disconnect of the battery, and no current can flow until the amp meter is installed, it may initially be a little higher while everything that stays powered up in the background gets "booted up", but after a bit should show you what you total draw is while everything is shut down. in the old days this would be a very minimal draw but now adays there is a lot going on even when the car is turned off. That said, I've measured a few over the years and don't think I've ever seen them at more than 100 milliamps after the computer goes back to sleep. I think more typically they've been in the 50 milliamp or less range. that would be from .05 to .1amps.

If it seems high, you can leave your meter in amp mode, reconnect the battery and pull the fuses one at a time and measure across the terminals and note the current draw from each circuit until you find the culprit.

It gets tricky with modern electronics because they might draw more when starting up and then go to a sleeping mode which draws little, and you have to determine when that is.

A word of caution. When measuring amps, all the circuit current goes through your meter. I dare say that many a meter has been ruined by attempting to measure current while in a voltage or resistance mode or exceeding its capacity. Also, most multimeters have a separate jack that is rated at 10 amps use that and make sure it is configured for DC. 10 amps is certainly within the safe range of current draw from a car in the "off state" But say you accidentally had your headlights on the combined current draw would exceed your meters capacity and the current function in most meters is not fuse protected which will certainly release the smoke from your meter.

You don't mention how long you are running your truck while you are using it. cold weather and cold starts are harder on the battery. If you are not replacing the charge removed owed to short low speed trips, that is to say not recharging the battery before shutting her down for the day, you'd eventually get to the point that the battery would not be up to the task.

A seat of the pants check of your alternator would be done by switching your multimeter to DC volts in a range exceeding 20 volts. turn on your complement of electrics, headlamps, blower radio etc and measure the voltage across your battery terminals. right after starting I'd expect it to be up above 14 volts.

my 2 cents for what it is worth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks. I'll start with the alternator check to rule that out first.

When checking the current draw between the battery and battery cable, how long do you think it takes for all the normal systems which draw current to shut down?
 

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Thanks. I'll start with the alternator check to rule that out first.

When checking the current draw between the battery and battery cable, how long do you think it takes for all the normal systems which draw current to shut down?
You are right to check the simple things first (e.g. alternator check). One simple thing that I would caution you to not overlook before you start chasing things, is the possibility that you just got a bad battery. It's not that unusual you know. Just take it in & tell them it's not holding a charge & chances are they'll just put in a new one at no charge, given it's only 2 months old.
If you can get that done, then you've removed one of your variables.... and can wait to see if this "newer" battery exhibits the same problems.... if not, you know it was the battery. If it does, then you can chase your current leak. (or you can go ahead & chase it now if you enjoy that kind of thing.... some like the challenge); and if you find no leak, then you've just gone about the same exercise in the reverse order. Good Luck either way (I'd be checking out that battery first, WITHOUT changing anything else, like your remote starter). :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well, alternator is good. Putting out 14+ volts. Charged battery now at 12.6V.
Load tested battery at auto parts place and only concern is that is was 400CCA.
The battery is rated 700. This is acceptable to them as they won't replace the battery unless the tester says to.

I do only drive about 1.5 miles to work every day. (lucky me) Maybe the extreme cold and the short run times didn't allow adequate charging.

I checked for parasitic drain with a meter and strangely saw none. I may recheck with a small light on just to make sure my setup is correct.

Has my battery been compromised or damaged to where it will never be at it's rated specs? It's warming up this week and maybe I'll take the long way to work for awhile to give it more time to charge up.
 

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That 1.5 mile drive each way is killer on more than just the battery. You need to get it out and put some miles on it. When the vehicle doesn't get fully warm, it doesn't burn off the residual acids, etc. that form as a part of the warm up cycle. Not to mention I doubt the battery can get fully charged in that short a drive.
 

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you didn't mention how you measured the current draw on the battery. if you are trying to use a clamp meter, most that consumers buy/own can't measure low amp dc. Those that can are pricey and not the norm.

That link Speed lever included makes mention of the B scan system taking 10 minutes to go to sleep and can draw up to 200ma (.2 amps) until it does.
 

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I do only drive about 1.5 miles to work every day. (lucky me) Maybe the extreme cold and the short run times didn't allow adequate charging.
Bingo. That's an engine killer in the long term due to incomplete combustion. However, it's also a battery killer in the short-to-medium term.

An AGM battery would charge much faster and tolerate your habits better. In particular, one that is designed for both starting and deep cycle would be best. Such battery types aren't cheap, but they are cheaper than being stranded. Models:

Optima Yellow Top
Orbital Extreme
Northstar

You might also get more leeway by installing a larger battery. The Ridgeline accepts a size 24F.
 

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Let me start by saying that I know I could be ALL WET with regards to my skepticism....I am no modern car electronics expert, BUT: Claims of failure due to driving a vehicle only X distance (1.5 miles in this case) sound ridiculous to me. I'm just sayin'. If the state of modern car electrics/electronics is such that we can't rely on battery being sustained due to short trips only, then we have taken gigantic leaps backward from reliability in that regard even 50 years ago. In small town America, it's not uncommon at all for folks to make short trips (a few blocks) with regularity.... some NEVER driving farther than that. I find it impossible to comprehend that a current designed vehicle will not sustain a battery if driven only 1 1/2 miles per start. That's just my incredulity at this prospect. I have relatives in Nebraska that live that existence, with no "special" battery issues as a result.
I understand that once a battery is drained (lights on or whatever), it has to be recharged fully, but a fully charged battery should not require long periods of alternator operation to sustain it's level. I guess I'd have to see it to believe it. I'm just sayin'.......

I firmly believe OP has a fault in his/her system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
UPDATE:

I'm not exactly sure what caused the battery to fail but certainly the conditions have changed.

Prior to the problem we had 29 consecutive days where it never was above freezing. Ten days which were below zero.

The truck was garaged but unheated.

I drove 1.5 miles each way to work during that time but never drove any further.

My trips usually included blower motor running, heated seat on, lights, wipers, radio.

So, perhaps the battery never got enough charge during those trips and gradually got weaker and weaker or perhaps I do have a small drain which in combination with the other factors killed the battery.

Currently, after a charging and nicer weather, there has been no problem starting. It sat most the day and overnight and started fine so if there is a drain it isn't enough to kill the battery in a short time period.

I plan on waiting to see if it fails again and then do a thorough electrical check.

Thanks for all the input.
 

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Well, alternator is good. Putting out 14+ volts. Charged battery now at 12.6V.
Load tested battery at auto parts place and only concern is that is was 400CCA.
The battery is rated 700. This is acceptable to them as they won't replace the battery unless the tester says to.

I do only drive about 1.5 miles to work every day. (lucky me) Maybe the extreme cold and the short run times didn't allow adequate charging.

I checked for parasitic drain with a meter and strangely saw none. I may recheck with a small light on just to make sure my setup is correct.

Has my battery been compromised or damaged to where it will never be at it's rated specs? It's warming up this week and maybe I'll take the long way to work for awhile to give it more time to charge up.
You may want to use a trickle charger on your battery leaving it charge for a couple of days (if you can afford not to drive the Ridgeline for that much time?) The lower the charging amperage, the better.

Batteries can get what is known as a surface charge that indicates the battery is good, but there is no longevity to battery life. Most of the time a battery with a surface charge can be brought back to life using a low amp trickle charger that gives the battery a deep charge (which is much better for the battery). The alternator on the vehicle will indeed charge the battery! But, nothing makes a battery happier than a slow deep charge.

If deciding to use a trickle charger, make sure it has an automatic cut off once the battery being charged reaches it's optimal charge. Failing to do so can cause premature damage to the battery as some battery failures are actually due to overcharging. Overcharging pushes out the acid exposing the plates inside of the battery. Though overcharging doesn't seem to be the case with your electrical system. Your problem sounds like the battery is surface charged and can't rebound because of the short distance you drive each day.
 

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Let me start by saying that I know I could be ALL WET with regards to my skepticism....I am no modern car electronics expert, BUT: Claims of failure due to driving a vehicle only X distance (1.5 miles in this case) sound ridiculous to me. I'm just sayin'. If the state of modern car electrics/electronics is such that we can't rely on battery being sustained due to short trips only, then we have taken gigantic leaps backward from reliability in that regard even 50 years ago. In small town America, it's not uncommon at all for folks to make short trips (a few blocks) with regularity.... some NEVER driving farther than that. I find it impossible to comprehend that a current designed vehicle will not sustain a battery if driven only 1 1/2 miles per start. That's just my incredulity at this prospect. I have relatives in Nebraska that live that existence, with no "special" battery issues as a result.
I understand that once a battery is drained (lights on or whatever), it has to be recharged fully, but a fully charged battery should not require long periods of alternator operation to sustain it's level. I guess I'd have to see it to believe it. I'm just sayin'.......

I firmly believe OP has a fault in his/her system.
Fair enough. OTOH, I find it hard to believe that a battery will ever get fully charged driving 10 minutes or less... especially when starting COLD. In the OPs case, it's only garaged at home (I assume).

I would venture to say that one way to test would be to get an Elm 327 BT device and plug it into the OBDII port. Get the Torque Android app and pair up the Elm 327 to the smartphone. Bring up the voltage meter and observe how long it takes (after a cold start) for the voltage to drop from ~14.2v to ~12.6v. That should be a good indicator how long it takes to charge.

Southern California ROCers need not provide examples. ;)

I typically drive 5 miles to work and it takes me 10-15 minutes. I consider that a short trip. But I'll often drive much longer distances and I never have any battery trouble. I'm only on my first replacement battery (and been on that for over 2 years).
 

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Ok I have been drivin 2 miles to work everyday for the last 30 years and never had a problem with my vehicles. I'm on my second battery on my "06"bought in early "05" so know what do you all think does it make you think a bit more.
 

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Is that the bulk of your RL driving?
 

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Too many unknowns in each example to make a determination imo. Take some measurements and then we have some real data to consider. It may be as Dnick said. Or not. ;)
 

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Take some measurements and then we have some real data to consider.
What do you mean my engine is fine I hope. Or do you think I'm going to have a problem. If so tell me what I might be doing wrong. I might think about measurements if you do yours, its all about the money and after ten years what would one expect. It takes no oil and is smooth, shifts fine and I even got 19 to 20mpgs hwy. all winter.
 
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