SilverFleet
SilverFleet SuperDork
7/16/13 9:44 a.m.

My parents have a 1996 Maxima GLE that they bought back in 1998, and it only has 90k miles on it. It's been a great car, up until the last few years. After doing some general maintenance, like a tune up, suspension, replacing the rotted exhaust, etc. it began to start having some electrical issues. And it's been draining the battery and I can't find the draw.

First, it was the radio. These come with the Bose stereo with all the individual amped speakers. It crapped out, so my dad got another junkyard radio and it worked for a few months until it also crapped out. I recommended replacing the radio with an aftermarket one and one of those adapters that allow you to keep the factory amped speakers, but they didn't want to unless that fixes the issue. The power antenna also quit on them too. Someone told them that the battery drain was radio related, so they pulled the fuses for the radio. Nope, still does it.

Then the heater started acting up. The blower motor died, so I replaced it for them. It worked for a while, and then stopped. I did notice that there was a good deal of debris in the heater ducting, so I cleared it out. I tested the motor, and it is still fine. They pulled that fuse too, and guess what? The battery is still draining. I'm not sure what the deal is with that. It's not the blower resistor either.

Other than that, the car has a little wheel well rust on one side.

Are there any common things that go on these that would make the battery drain? If it sits for 2 days, it's dead. Sometimes, it does it overnight. I know the starter has been replaced with a factory Nissan one in the past few years, and it has a brand new battery.

The sad thing is that the car runs excellent. The thing drives just as well as it always did, but the annoying things are making them want to get a new car. They are on a tight budget, and I'd rather see them keep the thing than go out and get something they can't afford.

Thanks for reading my word fortress.

sethmeister4
sethmeister4 HalfDork
7/16/13 10:33 a.m.

Hmmm, that's weird. These are fantastic cars, and issues like this aren't common. Nothing in particular comes to mind, your best bet is to hook up a parasitic draw test and then start pulling fuses 1 at a time to see what changes. The power antennas often quit, so that is probably unrelated. The BOSE stereos often crap out too, so that may be unrelated.

Vigo
Vigo UltraDork
7/16/13 10:57 a.m.

Yeah, i would just get out a meter that can test at least 10 amps, or a low current inductive clamp if you know someone who has one, and measure the current at the battery with the car off, and start pulling fuses one at a time (and replacing them if nothing changed) until the current flow drops, then look at what all runs on that circuit and go from there.

SilverFleet
SilverFleet SuperDork
7/16/13 11:20 a.m.

URGH... ok. I was hoping to be able to just replace a part and have it go away. I am terrible at electrical stuff, but I can give it a shot.

Another thing I heard is that there was a possible TSB or recall on the alternators a long time ago. There was something about them drawing current and possibly catching fire. The one in this car is original, I'm almost positive of that. I remember doing a charging system test years ago at Autozone and it passed. I did the test (I used to sling parts there) so I know it was performed correctly.

tdisalvo
tdisalvo New Reader
7/16/13 12:57 p.m.

I'm not an expert but I did drive a '98 SE for 10 years. It's sleeping in the garage now with 160k miles. I never had a problem maintaining charge. Not sure if a trunk light or engine bay light left on for two days would kill the battery, but that might be worth checking. Does it have the factory 'alarm' in it? If so, could that be on the fritz? Factory fog lights with a bad switch maybe?

There was an alternator recall many years ago, I don't remember why but mine was replaced well out of warranty. However, if your parent's car's alt. was malfunctioning, I expect they would see other more obvious issues.

redhookfern
redhookfern Reader
7/16/13 1:05 p.m.

I had a very similar issue on a 2002 Civic EX that I had in college. The car was new at the time so I couldn't figure out what would be causing it to drain, and often. Finally, I had our family mechanic really look it over and he found one very small wire under the hood that had corroded, probably from the copious amounts of winter salt found on Worcester, MA roads. It totally rotted away and was shorting enough to drain the battery. Fixed the wire and never lost charge again. I would give a thorough look over, see if you notice anything not hooked up or not working as it should. Also, the door harness on our grand cherokee pulled a similar fraying act, and also drained the battery in a matter of hours.

I don't know. Just a thought, as I know mysteriously drained batteries are a major annoyance when a car is otherwise perfect.

sethmeister4
sethmeister4 HalfDork
7/16/13 1:08 p.m.

Yeah, I seem to remember that there is an old TSB for the alternator. I would recommend spending the coin on a genuine Nissan one if you're going to get one. Keep us posted!

belteshazzar
belteshazzar UberDork
7/16/13 1:56 p.m.

my 2003 would randomly not turn off the automatic headlights sometimes. and by sometimes, i mean maybe 3 times in 6 years.

belteshazzar
belteshazzar UberDork
7/16/13 1:57 p.m.

just rarely enough that i didnt bother trying to fix it.

belteshazzar
belteshazzar UberDork
7/16/13 1:57 p.m.

sorry i'm no use whatsoever. i just like posting in maxima threads

SilverFleet
SilverFleet SuperDork
7/16/13 3:44 p.m.
tdisalvo wrote: I'm not an expert but I did drive a '98 SE for 10 years. It's sleeping in the garage now with 160k miles. I never had a problem maintaining charge. Not sure if a trunk light or engine bay light left on for two days would kill the battery, but that might be worth checking. Does it have the factory 'alarm' in it? If so, could that be on the fritz? Factory fog lights with a bad switch maybe? There was an alternator recall many years ago, I don't remember why but mine was replaced well out of warranty. However, if your parent's car's alt. was malfunctioning, I expect they would see other more obvious issues.

This car did have a factory alarm and remote start system. A few years ago, my mother went to a mechanic her friend recommended that supposedly "fixed" it. This guy was a waste of space, and I clearly recall arguing with the guy for awhile about his "quality work". He was a real gem. Like the "factory exhaust" he put on the car: he got a crappy black painted replacement exhaust that's bent wrong and hits the floor when you go over bumps, and the tip was dented. It's also starting to rust.

I will look into this. I know my mom mentioned the other day that the red alarm light still lights up when the doors are locked.

irish44j
irish44j UberDork
7/16/13 4:14 p.m.
Vigo wrote: Yeah, i would just get out a meter that can test at least 10 amps, or a low current inductive clamp if you know someone who has one, and measure the current at the battery with the car off, and start pulling fuses one at a time (and replacing them if nothing changed) until the current flow drops, then look at what all runs on that circuit and go from there.

This is how I found the battery drain on my e30. Test one fuse at a time. As it turns out, it was from the power antenna, which was broken but apparently still drawing power. So actually check that first. It doesn't use the same fuse as the radio, I don't think.

But yeah, I've been around maximas for about a decade and they're not known to commonly have electrical gremlins. The Bose ("Blows") stereos are known to crap out eventually, but that shouldn't cause a battery drain.

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