What to do about a constantly draining battery...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Oct 01, 1989

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1983 Audi 5000 Turbo Diesel with 95,000 miles which runs very well except for one thing. If it is left parked for three or more days, the battery runs down and it will not start without a jump. I have had the battery checked, the alternator checked, and also had the car checked for battery drains when the car is turned off. What is the solution?

RAY: You've checked the right things, so we'd have to wonder if they've been checked correctly. For instance, the battery may have been tested, but was it "load tested"? The alternator may have been checked for volts, but not for amps (this is something my brother screws up all the time). And even though there may be no external drain on the battery while the car is off, corrosion on the top of the battery itself can drain power if it's pervasive enough.

TOM: The only other explanation is divine justice. The fewer days this diesel motor runs, the cleaner our environment stays. This may be God's way of keeping our air clean--having diesels fail to start every third day.

RAY: If you're an aethiest or a dieselist and you don't buy that explanation, we suggest you check the electrical system again--especially that alternator--and look into joining an Audi 5000 support group in your area.

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