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Possible bad battery or connections?

Help, Advice and DIY Tutorials on Volvo's extremely popular car line -- Volvo's 1990s "bread and butter" cars -- powered by the ubiquitous and durable Volvo inline 5-cylinder engine.

1992 - 1997 850, including 850 R, 850 T-5R, 850 T-5, 850 GLT
1997 - 2000 S70, S70 AWD
1997 - 2000 V70, V70 AWD
1997 - 2000 V70-XC
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jpb2222
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Possible bad battery or connections?

Post by jpb2222 »

1998 Volvo V70 T5.
Replaced alternator after diodes went bad, 3 months ago. At the same time I also replaced the battery (everstart from walmart) as it similarly was no good. Drove 1500 miles no problems. Then recently I was unable to start the car at work parking lot. No crank no start. Single click.
Tested battery with multimeter I had on hand, and the battery read above 12volts. Assumed that it should be enough to at least crank the starter, so assumed the starter was bad.
I came back later and pulled the starter and battery and had them tested at Autozone. Both were fine, but battery needed a charge.
Came back to car and she started right up.
(note; at this time, something odd happened. I had gone to junkyard and grabbed a starter and starter relay. I switched relays before first pulling the starter, and the noise went from a single click to rapid clicking. I'm not sure if that is of note, here.
Also strange: when I was measuring the voltage of the battery pre-starter removal, I had first measured it at 12.4v. Later, I measured and it was 10v. Then later, perhaps the next day, it returned to 12v. I cannot remember if I had measured them all while the battery was connected, or if one of the measurements were while the car was unplugged.)
I drove her home, then sat it overnight. The next day I drove to the store, assuming all was fine, and when I went to leave I encountered the same problem. Started with a jump and made it home.

So obviously, in my mind, something is wrong with the battery or the connections inside the car. Perhaps the Autozone test missed something, and the battery is in fact no good? Or I have a loose connection somewhere, or a parasitic draw?

If anyone can recommend any ideas or courses of action I'd be very thankful.

- Justin

scot850
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Post by scot850 »

Parasitic draw can be measured with all the doors closed and then remove the battery negative lead. Connect a multimeter between the -ve battery connection and the -ve battery lead.

Set to current (mA) and see what you get in terms of a reading. Anything from 10mA to 50mA is OK. The lower the better.

If you are nearer the 50mA or higher then you have a parasitic draw down.

Only way to try to find which circuit it is, is to pull each fuse in the fuse box below the drivers side wind-shield and see if any of the fuses drop the draw level. Then you need to figure out what is on that circuit. You can come back with that info and we can try to help to figure out what is on that circuit.

A couple of favorites are the glove box light staying on (easy test is to put your cell phone in the glove box with the video recording running and see if the light goes out when the door is closed.

Another favorite in the V/S70 is the cable harness shorting in the trunk or the LH tailgate hinge area where the constant opening and closing eventually will fracture the wires.

Have you ever changed the electrical portion of the ignition switch?

Neil.
2000 V70 R - still being an endless PITA
2006 XC70
2003 Toyota 4Runner V8 Limited
2015 Kia Sportage EX-L - Sold
1993 850 GLT -Sold
1998 V70 XC - Sold
1997 Volvo 850 SE NA - Went to niece in California - Sold
2000 V70 SE NA - Sold

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abscate
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Post by abscate »

Tested battery with multimeter I had on hand, and the battery read above 12volts. Assumed that it should be enough to at least crank the starter, so assumed the starter was bad.
No. You need well over 12 volts and also sufficient current capacity, which you can’t tell from a voltage measurement.
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yanga001
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Post by yanga001 »

Sounds like a toasted battery. Odd though as it is new. Easy check would be to turn on your blower motor, lights, heated seats briefly (30 seconds) and see how low the battery voltage goes. I had this happen with an old battery i had where it was charged incorrectly and would show 12.8 volts and die instantly on crank.

Curious to see what it is
1998 S70 N/A Auto (Parts car)
1998 V70 N/A Auto New Daily
1998 V70 N/A Auto (Workhorse) (Tree to driver B pillar :( )
1999 S70 T5 Auto(Project)
2000 S70 SE M Learning platform

yanga001
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Post by yanga001 »

Reread it again. Check your started car under load with the AC, lights, and what you normally have on. A bad battery + lead cable could create a large enough voltage drop when under load to prevent charging of the battery. If the voltage is too low then the car may be strong enough to stay on but not strong enough to keep going. This may still present after a replaced alternator. When under load put one multimeter prong on the alternator positive connection and the other on the positive of the battery and report the reading. Its an easy thing to elimiminate in the electrical party.
1998 S70 N/A Auto (Parts car)
1998 V70 N/A Auto New Daily
1998 V70 N/A Auto (Workhorse) (Tree to driver B pillar :( )
1999 S70 T5 Auto(Project)
2000 S70 SE M Learning platform

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jreed
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Post by jreed »

Not sure if the electrical cabling on your '98 is similar to what's on my '97... on the '97 the positive battery cable can develop an intermittent high resistance that will prevent starting. Further descriptions and pictures available:
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=61747
1997 855 GLT (Light Pressure Turbo) still going strong. Previous: 1986 240 GL rusted out in '06, 1985 Saab 900T rusted out in '95, 1975 Saab 99 rusted out in '95, 1973 Saab 99 rusted out in '94

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BEJinFbk
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Post by BEJinFbk »

This probably isn't a Volvo specific problem.
Stuff like this is common to most older cars
and it's tough to give advice without actually
being there with a meter in your hand.

What you describe sounds like charging system issue.
Bad cables and/or connections between the battery,
alternator, starter, engine ground and body ground
are all likely culprits on cars as old as ours and a
good place to start.

There are basic and systematic methods
for troubleshooting this kind of problem.
Spend some quality time on YouTube
and search "charging system voltage drop".
Like anything on YouTube, there's good and
bad, so I usually get several points of view
to get the big picture.
Dirty, corroded or loose connections are the
first thing to look for, but sometimes deep,
creeping green death means you're in for
replacing some copper. Totally worth it
to have a solid foundation for your electrical
system and will save a lot of ghost chasing
on this problem and down the road.

The best part is that all of these principles
apply to pretty much every rig with an alternator,
battery and a starter. Good stuff to be comfortable
with and a great set of party tricks in the garage!

Once you've run through the primary charging
system, it's time check out "parasitic draw".
Again, your results may vary, but there's a
TON of great stuff if you dig a little. It pretty
much comes down to isolating circuits and
finding higher than usual current draws.
There are basic methods for this, too, but
this one does get a lot more P80 platform
specific and diagrams help a LOT. There's
also plenty of good help here once you
start narrowing it down.

And have you checked the glove box light?
Dastardly beast...
'98 V70 R - Well Equipped for Life Up North... ;)

jpb2222
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Post by jpb2222 »

Battery looks fine yet. Checked connections between alternator pos and battery pos post while running and had a voltage drop of -1.3 v... the pos bat terminal also feels quite hot at times.
Furthermore I noticed that the passenger seat warmer has been on. I am not sure if that could drain the battery with key off, but havent had to jump the car again.
The alternator drop would make me think that the alternator isn't charging or whatever. But seems as though battery has remained charge.

I am going to order and replace that battery cable and check the fuse for heated seats etc. For now it seems alright.
Thanks!

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BEJinFbk
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Post by BEJinFbk »

Sounds like you’re making progress.
Heated seats only work when the
key is on, so that should be fine.
'98 V70 R - Well Equipped for Life Up North... ;)

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jreed
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Post by jreed »

Good diagnosis! A 1.3V drop across the terminal-cable connection is definitely a problem that needs fixing. On my car the drop was in the 0.7 to 1.1V range, and that was enough to cause intermittent failure to crank.
1997 855 GLT (Light Pressure Turbo) still going strong. Previous: 1986 240 GL rusted out in '06, 1985 Saab 900T rusted out in '95, 1975 Saab 99 rusted out in '95, 1973 Saab 99 rusted out in '94

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