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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok since moving to Oregon I've never had battery issues. Last year my battery went completely dead, ok it sat all winter and I didn't put it on a maintainer, my bad. Decided to replace it since it was well over 5 years old. Been working fine until now. It's been sitting a little over a week and the temps have gotten down below freezing for a couple of days, 16 just the other morning. Is it normal for gel batteries to hate the cold or could I have a draw somewhere? I can't think of where except the clock is always on. I don't have any interior or sound system mods. Everything inside came on, just wouldn't crank.
 

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There are a number of possibilities that I can think of. If you have 30 or thicker weight oil in the crankcase, it might get thick enough to make it difficult for the engine to turn over in the cold.

I have never seen a wiring diagram of the Charger, Magnum, or 300 models, but the 87 Firebird that I had previously had over a dozen electrical connections between the battery & the starter solenoid. The solenoid is what actually energizes the starter motor. A little corrosion in any of those connections can cause a voltage drop that would keep the solenoid from pulling in, thus keeping the starter from engaging.

You can pick up an inexpensive volt-ohm meter from Harbor Freight, Lowes, Home Depot, Menards, Wall Mart, or one of the big chain auto parts stores. Get a freind to help you, and set the meter on a 24-50 volt scale, check your voltage at the battery, then while checking it, have the freind try to start the engine. If the battery drops to 10.5 volts or or less when the starter load is put on it, the battery is bad. If the battery maintans 12 volts or better when your freind trys to start it, the battery is ok. When you get the meter, also pick up some jumper wires (not jumper cables). Jumper wires are very small wires with a small aligator clip at each end. You want them long enough to be able to run on from the positive wire on the solenoid to your red volt meter wire. The black wire should go to the negative side of the battery. Keep the clips on the end of the jumper wires from touching any metal on the car. Have your freind try to start the car. If the voltage drops at the solenoid, you have a bad connection in the car's wiring or a bad connection in one of the switches. In addition to the various connections between the battery and the starter, you have a park/neutral switch on the tranmssion which keeps you from starting the car in gear. I'm not sure if the cars have 2 switches or one for park/neutral. If the trans switch is bad, you will not get voltage to the solenoid or you could get very low voltage to the solenoid. If your starter switch on the dash has failed, it may not send voltage to the starter. If you have low voltage at the starter, make sure that the transmission is in park or neutral, and take one of your long jumper wires and clip it to the positive terminal of the battery, and touch the other end to the solenoid terminal. If the engine cranks over, then the problem is somewhere in the harness or switches between the battery and the solenoid.

This is kind of a long answer, but I hope it helps you to figure out the problem. One thing, if you do these tests and it shows that you have a harness or switch problem, then if you have it taken to a shop, you will know if they are trying to rip you off by selling you a starter motor that you don't need.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
There are a number of possibilities that I can think of. If you have 30 or thicker weight oil in the crankcase, it might get thick enough to make it difficult for the engine to turn over in the cold.

I have never seen a wiring diagram of the Charger, Magnum, or 300 models, but the 87 Firebird that I had previously had over a dozen electrical connections between the battery & the starter solenoid. The solenoid is what actually energizes the starter motor. A little corrosion in any of those connections can cause a voltage drop that would keep the solenoid from pulling in, thus keeping the starter from engaging.

You can pick up an inexpensive volt-ohm meter from Harbor Freight, Lowes, Home Depot, Menards, Wall Mart, or one of the big chain auto parts stores. Get a freind to help you, and set the meter on a 24-50 volt scale, check your voltage at the battery, then while checking it, have the freind try to start the engine. If the battery drops to 10.5 volts or or less when the starter load is put on it, the battery is bad. If the battery maintans 12 volts or better when your freind trys to start it, the battery is ok. When you get the meter, also pick up some jumper wires (not jumper cables). Jumper wires are very small wires with a small aligator clip at each end. You want them long enough to be able to run on from the positive wire on the solenoid to your red volt meter wire. The black wire should go to the negative side of the battery. Keep the clips on the end of the jumper wires from touching any metal on the car. Have your freind try to start the car. If the voltage drops at the solenoid, you have a bad connection in the car's wiring or a bad connection in one of the switches. In addition to the various connections between the battery and the starter, you have a park/neutral switch on the tranmssion which keeps you from starting the car in gear. I'm not sure if the cars have 2 switches or one for park/neutral. If the trans switch is bad, you will not get voltage to the solenoid or you could get very low voltage to the solenoid. If your starter switch on the dash has failed, it may not send voltage to the starter. If you have low voltage at the starter, make sure that the transmission is in park or neutral, and take one of your long jumper wires and clip it to the positive terminal of the battery, and touch the other end to the solenoid terminal. If the engine cranks over, then the problem is somewhere in the harness or switches between the battery and the solenoid.

This is kind of a long answer, but I hope it helps you to figure out the problem. One thing, if you do these tests and it shows that you have a harness or switch problem, then if you have it taken to a shop, you will know if they are trying to rip you off by selling you a starter motor that you don't need.
Thanks for that info. Hubby has been charging the battery and the car fires right up. But as soon as he shuts it down he can watch the voltage drop. He's going to get a solenoid and try that test. What I can say is just over two years ago I got rear ended. I'm going to look at my repair paperwork and see what, if anything, was done to the fuse box since it's right up against that rear end. Seems that this issue started since then, but I can't say for sure.
 

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It is very possible if the fuse box is against the back end that it was damaged and if the "hot" side if a fuse is where there is a short to ground, it would not be protected. The other possibility to look at would be a bad relay. There are relays all over modern cars that turn on all sorts of accessories. Sometimes points burn a weld together in which case when power is removed, therelay continues to power the accessory killing the battery.

The easyest way to check for relays welded is to unplug any relays that you find one at a time while checking to see if the battery is discharging. If it is a relay, when you unplug the guilty party, the battery quits discharging.
 
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