A 15 Year Old Car is like a Woman

Two words: high maintenance.

There’s been a vexing problem with my 95 Lexus ES300 ever since I purchased it for $700 in cold hard cash from my friend Taek back in February. The car constantly needed a jump-start. Taek had the battery and alternator replaced but the issue didn’t go away. When the most obvious solution fails, the problem becomes bigger and more mystifying. The battery was replaced two more times, poor quality being the suspect. No dice. The rear trunk latch was faulty and so I fixed that. I also unplugged the lights for the glove compartment and trunk for good measure. I also discovered and repaired a damaged electrical cable harness under the hood. Each of these issues could have had a bearing on the starting problem and each time I thought I had hit upon the root cause. Yet the problem stubbornly remained. Something was draining the charge on the battery. Leaving the car parked for more than 24 hours resulted in a dead battery and ignition failure, requiring a call to AAA to request a jump-start. However, disconnecting the cable from the positive terminal on the battery prevented the drain and served as a temporary fix.

I took the car to the Lexus dealer and explained the situation. They did some tests and told me that I needed to replace the battery. That was singularly unhelpful since I had gone down this route already. I suppose it is possible that three different batteries in a row could all be bad but its highly doubtful.

This weekend I measured the current drain on the battery using my multimeter.

This current draw is equivalent to leaving the car door open (which results in several lights being turned on).

My car has three fuse boxes (two under the hood and one below the steering wheel). To pinpoint which electrical sub-system was causing the drain, I pulled each fuse one by one until I saw the current draw drop to a nominal level.

This is one of the fuse boxes located under the hood. I pulled out the RADIO fuse.

The reading on the multimeter dropped from ~ 0.59 A to ~0.03 A.

So now I know exactly what’s been causing the drain. For now, I will leave that fuse unconnected.

Troubleshooting this car is like playing Whack-A-Mole. You take care of one problem and two or three other problems emerge. Next, I need to figure out why the windshield wiper fluid refuses to spray.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: