E50 Problems with battery discharging

Karl

Founder
Staff member
E50 Owner
Premium Member
E50 Expert
#1
For all those of you who have come to your Elgrand after a day or two to find the battery is flat. This is a common issue on the E50 Elgrand, and from what I've read, also happens on the E51.

Unfortunately, there is no real concise answer as to why this happens or how to fix it, but here are some general guidelines.

Get your battery checked. A lot of garages and retailers will offer free battery checks. This will tell you how healthy your battery is. Be sure to check with 2 or 3 different places though, just to make sure that you are not just being conned into buying a battery when you don't need to. If your battery is dead, it's time to replace it.

The Elgrand needs a big battery. The various electrical systems in the Elgrand can drain a lot of power, even when moving. So ensuring you have the correct battery can be half the battle. You need to have a battery with at least 700amp startup power output. You need a big kick to get these big engines moving, and that comes from a decent battery. If you have less than this, you might find it takes a while to turn over. The batter also needs to be at least 90Ah (amp hour) output. This is the BARE MINUMUM. Ideally you should go for 125Ah, which are regarded as leisure batteries. This will ensure that even with the engine off, you can run most of the equipment that comes as standard in your Elgrand for quite some time before it runs itself flat.

Another common issue is the alternator. When it packs in, some people replace them with a cheap equivalent, or one that is just not up to the job. The best thing you can do is take your alternator to someone who can refurbish it. They might even be able to offer you a replacement to use whilst they are refurbishing your alternator.
If this is not an option, make sure you get an alternator that puts out 125AMPS. Any less than this, and it will not charge your battery properly whilst driving, and will ultimately allow the battery to run itself flat, albeit slowly.

If your battery and alternator are fine, then chances are that you have an electrical short somewhere in your van. No one, and I mean no one, can tell you what that is going to be without investigation. Yes, there are some common areas to check, the earthing points behind the dash are a common cause of this issue, as is the light in the step behind the sliding door (if the door does not seal correctly, the light will remain on, and over the course of a couple of days, it will drain the battery.
But, the ONLY way you can really find the source of this is to use a multimeter.
If you don't have one, either buy one, or pay your local auto electrical £30 to do a few checks.
If you do have one, use the fuse box as a starting point for your problem. Remove the fuses one by one and check the current being drawn on each circuit using the multimeter. In most cases, there should be NOTHING being drawn or at least minimal draw (things like alarms are a permanent drain on the battery). If you find a circuit that is drawing current without actually being activated, you have found the circuit that's causing the issue. You can then leave the fuse unplugged whilst you do more investigation with your multimeter, this will prevent the circuit from drawing the power whilst not in use. Just don't forget to plug it back in when you are driving, as you might need it!

I hope this helps in part with your Battery discharging problems.

If I've got anything wrong (battery details, alternator details, multimeter details), please correct me and I'll modify this post. If you have anything more to add, then please add it in as much detail as you possibly can to be as much help to other members as possible :thumbup:
 
J

JudithSunley

Guest
#2
Thanks Karl. We have had problems with our battery discharging ever since we bought our Campervan conversion E50 1998 Diesel 3.2 Ellie in Feb 2013, unless we use it every day. I have just bought a new heavy duty battery over here (Spain) and I also have a solar battery charger to keep it topped up - we usually have plenty of sun. But if we don't start it for a few days it is still sluggish, so I think there is a drain somewhere. Language can be a bit of a barrier over here, but I think we need to find an auto electrician to check out the problem.
 

Karl

Founder
Staff member
E50 Owner
Premium Member
E50 Expert
#3
If it's flat after a few days then there is definitely a drain, and not the alternator at fault. You can check the circuits with a multimeter easily enough, and you can pick them up cheap. Nice tool to have lying around.
 
V

vladiemier

Guest
#4
Just to add to Karls post....
1, if you have a factory fit twin battery set up one of them could be duff and it will drag the other battery down.
2, if you have retro fitted a second battery for your camper you'll have a charge relay, if it's the auto sensing type them it could be faulty or needs adjusting.
3, last but not least.....have the kids been playing with the centre light in the back and left it on? mine did!
 
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Simon

Guest
#5
You might want 700amps for your dirty old diesels but the VQ35DE has a recommended cranking amps of 300-500 depending where you read, 450 being the most common answer, my 540 is more than enough starts on the first crank every time.

Its also 'only' 60Ah and I'm yet to have a problem, that includes running amped audio, din screen, 2nd screen and a 100v invertor, but then I don't run anything while the engine is off.
 
S

stan_thc

Guest
#6
were would one put a 2nd battery.in my highway star.will i lose seat configuration. any ideas were to put a 2nd battery. need one to watch tv while waiting for waves.(engine off)thanks
 

Karl

Founder
Staff member
E50 Owner
Premium Member
E50 Expert
#7
I'm not sure on the E51. I know in the E50, there is an area of the engine that can be used for a 2nd battery (which was available with the winter pack I believe). There might be this area on the E51 but I don't know what the engine layout looks like.
 
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stan_thc

Guest
#8
cheers karl, i just bought a leisure battery and just charge it in the house and take out when needed.siuts me that way.no need for permanent placing.
 

Bubbles

Member
E50 Owner
#10
We had a battery drain problem. Took it to the auto electrician and it was the jap fitted radio. Whipped it out, problem solved. Then got the pros to fit a new pioneer double din with Apple play. Vast improvement!
 

Alan Morgan

Here for life
Premium Member
E51 Owner
#11
The battery also needs to be at least 90Ah (amp hour) output. This is the BARE MINUMUM. Ideally you should go for 125Ah, which are regarded as leisure batteries.
Just to say that starter batteries and leisure batteries can have quite different characteristics with the former able to deliver the high start-up current (often refered to as Cold Cranking Amps or CCA) required much better than a leisure battery.

As in all things there are many variations but don't assume a 'leisure' battery will be good at starting, or vice versa. Check with the battery supplier that the battery you're buying is suitable for your intended purpose.

As an aside, I have a leisure battery fitted for my camper conversion and the split charging system uses a Voltage Sensitive Relay (VSR) which through the fitting of an additional switch, can if required be 'paralled up' to boost a flagging starter battery.
 

David Morison

Well-Known Member
E50 Owner
#12
I had a car once that kept going through batteries and it turned out that although the alternator was charging OK it turned out that it was draining the battery when everything was swotched off. A new alternator sorted the problem.
 

Alan Morgan

Here for life
Premium Member
E51 Owner
#13
I had a car once that kept going through batteries and it turned out that although the alternator was charging OK it turned out that it was draining the battery when everything was swotched off. A new alternator sorted the problem.
Your experience just goes to show that some problems are a diy fix (depending on individual skill level) and some require professional services.

Thankfully due to the shared knowledge and generosity of this forum's members, for me the range of diy fixes I'm happy to undertake has grown exponentially :)
 

stevemen

Here for life
Premium Member
E51 Owner
#16
i had a problem with battery draining down after a few days... turned out to be the dvb-t box with filter fuse that somebody had fitted..... problem was that when you turn off the box by the remote it doesnt actually turn off, it goes into standby mode and the filter fuse keeps storing up and disapating power constantly.... solution fitted a neon rocker switch before the filter fuse and dvb-t box
 
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sonofpincher

Guest
#17
My E50 has trickled away its battery charge ever since I got it 7 years ago. Changed battery, ensured interior lights isolated, etc. - still wont hold starting voltage for a week. Radio - not standard - isolated. Probably only milliamps leaking - but over time it gets down below 12v. Tell me, what powers the speedo mileage reading, and the fuel gauge, which stay set even when switched off?
 

stevemen

Here for life
Premium Member
E51 Owner
#18
My E50 has trickled away its battery charge ever since I got it 7 years ago. Changed battery, ensured interior lights isolated, etc. - still wont hold starting voltage for a week. Radio - not standard - isolated. Probably only milliamps leaking - but over time it gets down below 12v. Tell me, what powers the speedo mileage reading, and the fuel gauge, which stay set even when switched off?
Can't quite remember if it's the bcm behind Speedo or drivers c/u behind cab fuse box
 

Alan Morgan

Here for life
Premium Member
E51 Owner
#19
@sonofpincher, you SAY PROBABLY milli amps leakage but have you actually measured it?

10mA over 100 hrs is one amp hour lost in 4 days, hardly a flat battery scenario for a battery of 75Ahr or more.
 
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sonofpincher

Guest
#20
Can't quite remember if it's the bcm behind Speedo or drivers c/u behind cab fuse box
Stevemen, thanks - but what is the "bcm", please? But what I know about fuel gauges suggests a rheostat in the tank sender, which works the guage like a voltmeter, but calibrated in gallons - am I right? So my Elgrand is the only motor I've ever come across which shows the fuel content when switched off. Is some current therefore being supplied to the guage continually? Perhaps this is everyones problem!