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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
** Background **
So Im working on a 04 Kia Optima for an elderly friend of my moms & Im trying to pinpoint the cause(s) of a charging or electrical system issue thats leading to a dead battery.1 month ago,the car would require you to jump start it in order to get it running.I connected my vehicle to the car with jumper cables,but after 20 minutes of sitting like this,the starter wouldn't hit a lick & neither would the headlights.I removed the battery & had it tested and it only had 26cca & 2 volts.We went ahead & replaced it because the label showed it was purchased 5 years ago anyways.After installing it in the car 1 month ago,the engine started right up & she drove and started it 15-20 times since then.
She called today & stated it was back to doing the same thing so I drove over there and put my meter on it.It showed 00.70 volts.I connected jumper cables to it & let it sit for 10 minutes with my vehicle running.I attempted a startup & it fired right up.My meter showed 14 volts with it running after I removed the jumper cables. Steadily the voltage started dropping about 0.01 volts every 30-60 seconds until it got down to 12.89 volts.I turned the headlights on, voltage recovered back to 12.89 volts.I shut the engine off & checked it again with my meter and it started dropping again in the same increments. Once it got down to 12.50 volts,I disconnected the neg and pos battery cable and voltage dropped down to 12.30 volts after 10 minutes or so.
If the alternator or cables between it & the battery are bad,wouldn't the battery have died after the very first day of use due to the efi and other power draining components (if the alternator isnt functioning) ?? Or is it possible that the alternator is functioning,but its undercharging?? The confusing part to me is how the voltage is dropping even with both battery cables disconnected.I can understand it dropping with the battery cables connected,if a short is present. Or is it possible,when a battery has been completely drained, for the battery to drop voltage if its not placed on an overnight charger to bring it back up to a fully charged 12.6 volts or could it be dropping voltage if its got the right amount of voltage,but not enough amperage?? Its a brand new battery.From what I know, the alternator will charge a battery as long as its supplying at least 12 volts & 2 amps to the alternator,since these values are whats needed in order for the magnetic field to be created in the alternator,so it will charge.I located 2 diodes in the power distribution panel under the hood.Are these the diodes for the alternator or are they for something else?? For now,I just disconnected the battery cable to hopefully prevent it from draining.
Thanks for your help.
 

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2013 Ebony SXL Turbo: Original Everything @ about 189K with Drag wheels.
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yeah with whatever she's got going on with this vehicle,it would probably be a good thing to do adding a tender to it,but I would still like to get to the culprit at hand.In the past when a battery would be run down from a short or from leaving something on,the battery would be too low to power the starter,but the headlights would still come on,but usually dim.When this one runs down it completely drains it down to nothing.I came across a few threads last night that mentioned some Kias were bad about the parking lights,headlights or bcm remaining on or powering back on after the key was removed from the ignition,but she could easily tell if those lights were coming back on.One thing she did mention though was that the radio would come back on when she shut the driver door after exiting the vehicle for the night.Due to this,I went ahead and pulled both fuses for the radio.1 for the power amp & 1 for the audio.The radio wouldn't power up after their removal so that should stop the symptom she mentioned and if it was causing a drain,that will hopefully take care of any drain related to the sound system,but from what Ive seen with that lemon of a car so far,there are likely more issues present.Have you heard of any issues related to components powering back up on their own with the Optimas???
Does the charge indicator lamp act as the exciter voltage for the alternator in the Optimas,because I didn't bother to check the gauge cluster yesterday when I was over there as it was cold as heck outside?? I'll verify the next time I go over there.Thanks for the suggestion and any future help.
 

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2013 Ebony SXL Turbo: Original Everything @ about 189K with Drag wheels.
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Yeah I would want to know for sure if there is a vampire draw, bad battery or alternator too.

You could use a multimeter on battery and pull fuses one at a time to see if any have a significant draw. Since it is an '04 a wire's insulation may have worn thru to cause a small short/draw.

Luck finding the culprit!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Let me ask you this.In the past on carbed vehicles,I would always pull the neg battery cable and insert a test lamp between the neg cable & the neg battery post and if the test light was on,this would verify a short was present and I would then commence to pulling fuses individually until the light went out.Nowadays with ecu's, bcm's,etc in place on efi vehicles,this test seems non usable or less accurate.So if I use a meter like you suggested can you give those directions?? Thanks again....
 

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I haven't tried it on anything made after 80s, haha, but should work the same as you described. More fuses now adays, inside and out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It seems like if I were to pull all fuses/relays for the ecu & bcm (if the bcm has one.I know the ecu does on most vehicles) that should take those components and any draw they are causing out of the equation & give me accurate test light results.The radio is another I guess due to its memory wire used for the radio station presets & clock,but tests in the past have shown that the memory wire doesn't draw enough to cause a bright light during this test.Well anywho I'll get back over there sometime in the new future.Thanks again.
 
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