Troubleshooting a Tired Battery

courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man

Hello Bob,
My name is Kevin and I have a 1969 Olds Cutlass Supreme, and I am experiencing battery problems. First thing is that we recently purchased a new battery and the car starts fine if it is charged. I have to charge it every night to make sure it starts, after a few nights of not being charged the lights are dim and the car won't start. I can drive in it for hours on end so it can't be the alternator, what might be taking the life from my battery and what could I do to fix it?

Well, I would guess that there is a short in the system somewhere that is drawing down the battery. Here is a little trick to help find the problem. Disconnect the negative battery cable. Install a test lamp between the negative terminal and the negative cable. It will glow. Now, pull one fuse at a time until the light goes out. That last fuse is the circuit that contains the short. Now, if you get all the way to the last fuse, and the light is still glowing as bright as when you started, then you would need to look at the starter solenoid. That is probably the only unfused circuit in the system. It could also be possible that the alternator itself has a slight short to ground causing this problem (or the voltage regulator, I think that car has an external regulator unit).
Good Luck!
Drive Safely!
Bob, The Auto Answer Man

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