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Diagnosing and Overcoming Parasitic Drains


In this piece, the first of several we plan that identify resources related to a specific electrical vehicle application, we have pulled together a number of reference articles and videos related to the issue of parasitic drains. Some 
of the resources referenced are more general in nature, covering the issue and addressing tools and tricks recommended for best results, while others address a specific aspect related to this issue.

A Comprehensive Approach

In this extensive article, Motor Age Technical Editor Peter F. Meier addresses issues related to parasitic drains and related electrical issues. As he points out, identifying, diagnosing and resolving parasitic drains can often require numerous and varied techniques.  As he notes, “Honing your diagnostic skills is similar, in that the more testing techniques you know, the more ammunition you have to take down any electrical problem that comes your way.”

Among other things, he highlights how to use circuit voltage drop as a way to identify the area of the electrical system that could be the source of the problem and then use current flow to further narrow your search to the culprit. Throughout the course of the article, he also identifies the tools that come into play for this application. While we might quibble with his approach to saving vehicle memory while a battery is disconnected, we recognize the expertise, thought and experience that went into this thorough article.

Another Great Overview

In this article, Dave Hobbs of Scope it Out, the Automotive Diagnostic NewsBlog, provides an overview of this vexing issue and suggests strategies for effective diagnosis and remedy. He addresses the practical consequences of parasitic drains and their real world implications for vehicles that aren’t operated on a daily basis. How long could this vehicle sit before there is an issue? What if the battery begins in a compromised state?

Hobbs suggests tools and techniques for accurately pinpointing the source of such problems.  He also distinguishes between the different types of parasitic drains and how your strategy might change for each. Overall, it is a great article and provides a fundamental grounding in the battle against parasitic drains.

Clamp Down On Electrical Gremlins – The Trainer Video Series

Here is Peter Meier again, with a video called Clamp Down On Electrical Gremlins, which is found on the web site. In this great video, Mr. Meier touches on a variety of topics addressed in the above referenced article. He demonstrates how a technician can use a low amp clamp to identify troublesome parasitic drains in the first portion of this video.

Parasitic Draw – Video Tutorial

Dave Hobbs once again, this time with a video primer on diagnosing parasitic drains. Here, the emphasis is on identifying and resolving parasitic drains without the removal of the vehicle’s battery. This approach is particularly useful when seeking out intermittent parasitic draws from electronic modules, which can’t be diagnosed if the battery has been removed. While this video is an excerpt from an ASE Test Prep Video (paid for content) and, as a result, is not a complete tutorial, it does provide a wealth of useful information and perhaps points to a resource that is worth your investment.  Either way, it provides 9 minutes of tips and tricks for this difficult issue.

We hope that these resources are useful to you and help you deal with the issue of parasitic drains more effectively and efficiently in your operation. Clore Automotive offers a wide variety of products that can be very useful for this application. From jump starters that enable starting of a vehicle with a depleted battery to advanced battery chargers to bring depleted batteries back to a useful state to digital battery and system testers to assess and diagnose electrical system difficulties, when it comes to professional battery service equipment, we’ve got you covered.

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