Issues with battery being drained--do these symptoms sound like a bad battery?

Discussion in 'General Chevy & GM Tech Questions' started by jbeall, Dec 12, 2011.

  1. jbeall

    jbeall Rockstar 100 Posts

    Hi All,

    I've got a 2003 Yukon XL. This summer, I've had a few instances where the battery was drained after either I left a door open, or it was left with the electrical hooked up to an equipment trailer. No a travel trailer, just a flatbed trailer. No brakes on the trailer, either.

    Both of these are strange to me because the interior lights turn off by themselves after 15 minutes or so (even if the door it still open), and I can't see why leaving the electric hooked up to a trailer would drain the battery when all the lights are off, and there's no auxiliary on the trailer that might be drawing power.

    I've since had instances where the battery was drained, or very low, even when the lights were not left on and it wasn't hooked up to a trailer. For example, I went to the bank a few weeks ago, and when I reached the teller window at the drive-thru, I turned the truck off while I waited for the teller to handle my deposits. It wasn't off for more than 5 minutes. When I started the vehicle, it just *barely* turned over. But I was able to start it.

    And, here's another weird behavior I've experienced. Sometimes the engine will just barely start, but the engine doesn't "sound" right (like it's idling a bit too fast), and the DIC will display "reduced engine power." You can move the vehicle, but even with the pedal to the floor the RPMs won't go much past 2500, and unless you're rolling down hill you won't get much over 10 MPH. If you let it sit, engine running, for a little while, and then stop and start it, it will start up just fine. Also, if hook up jumper cables to another vehicle, and then start the engine, it will start right up (and sound right, and no "reduced engine power" message on the DIC).

    So, to me all of this sounds like a more serious electrical issue than a bad battery... but is it possible all of this could be due to the battery needing replacement? I bought the truck 2.5 years ago and have put 50,000 miles on it. It has the same battery in it that it did when we bought it.

    I was just at Costco the other day and almost picked up a battery, but thought I would do some research online about what battery to get. I want something heavy duty, especially if it will help alleviate my electrical issues :)

  2. SurrealOne

    SurrealOne Former Member ROTM Winner 1000 Posts

    Sounds like a short in the system. If the battery has been drained to dead (or near dead) multiple times, is old, and is NOT a deep cycle battery (designed for multiple drains to/recharges from dead) then you may also have a battery issue on your hands. If you can you should swap in a known good battery from a different vehicle and see if the issue persists. If it happens with the known good battery then you know you have a problem in the system.

    As for what battery to get -- it depends on your needs (assuming you even need one). The best battery for a particular application is not always the most expensive. If you can afford it buy an AGM (absorbed glass mat) battery. Avoid a gelled battery. Buy a flooded battery if your wallet won't permit you to buy an AGM battery.

    AGM brands worth their salt:
    • Odyssey
    • Sears DieHard Platinum (a re-branded Odyssey, cheaper than Odyssey, and has one of the best warranties in the business)
    • Optima (once as well-regarded as Odyssey until manufacturing moved to Mexico and QC issues surfaced)
    • Deka (likely the best on this list for AGM on a budget)
    Here's some information on batteries you may find useful:
  3. sstoner911

    sstoner911 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    I am thinking electrical issues also. You may want to see if the ground from the battery to chassis is good and the ground from the alternator to chassis.
  4. jbeall

    jbeall Rockstar 100 Posts

    Battery application and checking grounds

    I don't have any known good batteries on hand, so I guess that means I need to buy a new one. This vehicle is primarily a family vehicle, and it hauls two adults, five kids, and whatever else we need to move (groceries, strollers, etc.).

    It's also what I use whenever I need to move something heavy, so it does get used to haul things from time to time, like 80lb bags of concrete, small tractor and bush hog (combined weight of 2600 pounds, plus 1000 pound trailer), and so forth. I think you can figure on that happening about once every two months.

    We put about 20,000 miles per year on the vehicle.

    In light of that, do you have any specific battery suggestions?

    Regarding checking the grounds, do you mean that I should check that the contact is good? So I should just look for the grounding wires and make sure that it looks like it's got metal-to-metal contact on both battery/alternator end, and chassis end? How could a bad grounding wire cause a short?

  5. vncj96

    vncj96 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    I ALWAYS get DieHard batteries, great price and great warranties. Do check all connections though, if there is corrosion (blueish-green) on any of the main lines coming from the battery or at the starter it will basically block that power flow from the battery. You can also just go buy an inexpensive ohm reader or a specific tool for battery and alternater testing. or find a Sears with a service garage and they will test your entire system for 12 bucks.
  6. ejohnson03

    ejohnson03 Epic Member 5+ Years 1000 Posts

    My Optima Yellow Top lasted about 6 years and it just would not keep a charge all of a sudden.

    Replaced it and living large once again.
  7. Gerz

    Gerz New Member

    I have a 99 Yukon and just leaving the hood up for a long time to work on the engine will kill the battery.. I left the rear hatch up for a couple hours while doing some work and it killed the battery too. ANY light will do it! Also the terminals seem to come loose every now and then. I have had my truck just stop running while driving down the road and had to pull right over. Moved the plus terminal wire to snug it up and it started right up. Side terminals are the worst invention in the world. so easy to strip if you over tighten and you get this issue if you don't have it right.

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