Ugh I don't know where to start. Weeks ago the starter went bad on the truck, I replaced it. The gear in the starter was super wobbly so was told it was indeed bad & probably the factory installed starter -- old. Then a week 1/2 or so ago the truck wouldn't start & the starter made that grinding noise. I took the new starter back off, and down to the store to have it tested, it tested fine so I reinstalled it. Added dialectic grease to the starter connection, the alternator connection, and some other grease to the battery posts (it was specifically for battery posts). Truck started right up, cool.
Then last Thursday it didn't want to start & I checked the battery to see it was only 55% charged. Charged it up & truck started fine, ran fine and then a couple days ago it did the same damn thing, no start, battery too low, right around 50% charged.
So now it seems there's a problem with the battery staying charged enough to start the truck RANDOMLY. It seems to be on a 3-day pattern... but not sure yet.
Here's whats happening: the truck will start & run fine but then I park it & go to leave again either within the same hour or the next morning & the battery doesn't have enough charge for the starter - when the battery is hooked up to the charger it shows somewhere around 50% charged but only takes 15-20 minutes to charge up to 100% and then the truck starts up.
Yesterday I carried the battery (it's a sealed kind not the kind to add water) into the store & the tester said the battery was fine. (Yeah, I had just charged it at home & only drove 2-3 miles to the parts store.) I don't know if the bench test for the battery shows if it will hold a charge or not. The parts store guy came out and tested the battery in the truck while running. He said he could also test the alternator while it was installed & vehicle on.
Ok, so he said that there's a constant "draw" on the battery ... and apologized for not being able to help me more. The machine he hooked up wouldn't stop beeping, so I don't know if he was able to actually test the batt/alternatory while the truck was running but for sure the tester was showing a draw at idling. Later on that day I noticed that while he was testing it the heater TEMP control was set to hot, even though the fan was "off", maybe that could have caused a draw?
After the testing i drove it another 40 miles, no problem, been fine since, started up fine 3 times now.
Not knowing much about electric stuff I suspect that either:
1. When I put dialectic grease on the plug in to the alternator maybe I moved a wire that broke it or frayed it inside?
2. When putting in/out the old starter & the new starter twice, maybe I pulled to hard on the group of wires that's inside the plastic cover tube that's bolted to the driver's side of the engine and maybe damaged one of those wire(s)
3. Maybe there's a problem with the solenoid part of the new/rebuilt starter
4. Maybe it's a fuse or a bad ground
5. Maybe I pulled on a wire putting in/out the starter somewhere under the intake manifold /carb area without realizing it at the time so now something's loose - can't see sh*t down there without a mirror & flashlight
GRRR. So I know basically nothing about electric stuff, and went to youtube (dangerous yeah) to watch & learn about a parasitic draw ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KF1gijj03_0 ) BUT my question is, if I follow the Youtube advice, will my truck fry some parts? The video said to hook up the voltmeter set on amps and then start pulling fuses one by one, to find which circuit has the draw by when the voltmeter reading shows the draw amps go way down. Is it safe to do that in this 1st gen truck with glass fuses?
The other problem is that I don't actually KNOW for certain that there's a draw on the battery when the engine is off & the key is out & basically nothing is 'on'. I'm just thinking of starting here because I don't know where else to start, or how to do any testing myself with the truck engine running. Obviously have to start somewhere & fuses seem simple enough
Would you just go buy a new battery anyway? There's no marks on the battery to show how old it is... but hate to put out $70 when it's something I did wrong.
Would you take off the alternator & have them bench test that since (apparently/assuming) the store parts testing guy couldn't test the alternator because of the "draw"? The alternator was the only new looking part on the whole damn truck when I bought it a year+ ago.
Would you not do anything except test the battery every dang time you got home to see what charge % it's at & try to figure out what you did different each trip? Or maybe how many freeway/city miles before it draws too much for the alternator to keep the battery charged enough?
It sucks not knowing what the words mean about amps & using the voltmeter is a steep learning curve. looking for where to start advice or any clue really appreciated. Wondering how guys figure this crap out, and once again spending more countless hours on youtube car repair vids.
Is it just best to install an after-market voltmeter gauge to watch that like a hawk to figure out a pattern or charging problem??? Or is it assinine to hook up yet another 'draw' source on to the battery / charging system at this point?