I wrote this message a while back ( with replies)

I own a 94 Caprice Classic with the 350 Engine, approximately 1 - 1.5 years ago all of a sudden the car battery would go dead on us for no apparent reason.
At first we thought it was just because it was the battery being old so we brought it to Sears for a replacement battery as it had an old Die Hard in it that had not yet run out of it's warranty, they put it on their machine and said it's not the battery but some cable that ran between the alternator and the battery?
Thinking something was fishy (I used to work at Sears a long time ago) I said no thanks and brought it to the local garage where we have most of our work done now and they checked it out and said it was indeed the battery and they replaced it. For a while the car was fine then all of a sudden one day the car was dead again?
For awhile I could start the car with my battery charger/jump starter and the car would be OK for awhile but then it would not be. Now the car cannot be started and driven and restarted any where We recently had to have it jumped by AAA and they said that something in the car was drawing off the battery when it was sitting off doing nothing and that's why the car would not start after being run any more?
Today I brought it back to the local garage who said they would make good on the repair the last time they fixed it, they just called me and said that after checking out the car they found nothing wrong with the car at all or battery? It's just that the car has only been driven 1900 miles in that 1.5 years and needs to be driven more and driven highway miles.
Does this sound correct to anyone out there? I agree that the car is not driven much but it is driven once or twice a week for a few miles and as far as I know that should be sufficient to keep the battery charged up and everything working fine.
My wife is going to start driving the car on a more regular basis and I don't want her to get stuck, do you think she will or is the garage correct in what they say?
All replies will be appreciated.
Thanks in advance
I received the following replies:
From: hyundaitech
Is the battery only dead after the car sits for awhile? If so, then there's probably little risk of being stranded unless the vehicle is left overnight.
My reply: The car will not start if it sits over night, it will start if it sits for a couple of hours, like if my oldest son takes it to school, but not if my wife takes it to work but it will if she takes it to work and remembers to go out and have lunch next to it and starts it at lunch?
Did the shop do a parasitic draw test? What was the draw amperage?
I don't know for sure, they said they did ALL of the tests and they checked out fine, they said that it needs to be driven on the highway so that it will start all the time. My wife works about 45 mins away about 35 mins of that is highway miles. It still gives us fits.
My Reply:
From: R
Sounds like an alternator to me. In those years, they had problems. It could also be losing its 5 volt signal to the alternator.I would have the alternator load tested it may just be a little low on the output and if you have extended idle time with the fan on high, it will discharge.If it is an intermittent draw, you would not get it started sometimes.But you are saying that it cannot be restarted anywhere.I have seen pcms do this when they don't feed the alt voltage. If you don't have any high amp draw normally(like a camper or add ons) then I would test the alt with the head lights on and the fans on high at idle.Its an easy alternator to change.
My Reply:
I have no idea if that is true or not? We have been told at 2 different places that the alternator is good, at Sears we were told that it's a cable that runs between the alternator and the battery that is at fault, anyone know what cable they may have been talking about? They said it was not the main cable that charges the battery but a secondary cable. My wife was the one who brought the car in and of course the tech who told her about this phantom cable never wrote it down and they have no record of her ever bringing the car in never mind the tech who she saw that day. We all know how fast Sears turns over their help in their auto departments :).
I'm sorry it took me so long to get back to everyone on this, to be perfectly honest I had forgotten I wrote this question in here until this morning and I had to go to google and look it up as my server did not even retain it any longer. Right now the car sits unless we want to use it and then we bring out the battery charger and jump start it (it's a great charger with a jump start feature, slow charger etc :) ) and then we only use it when we have to, we are going to bring it back to the garage again but they are too inept to fix it (obviously) but all we want them to do is put in a new battery but we don't want to create any bad blood with them as we still need a place to do oil changes, state inspections and other minor work for us.
It looks like unless we can get a definite answer on this we will have to spring for the big bucks and bring it to the Chevy garage and have them fix it, at least we know that once they put it on their machines they "SHOULD" be able to get it fixed the first time through and if not they will keep trying for free until they get it right.
Thanks in advance.
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First question unanswered is what is the overnite parasitic draw, shouldn't be over 25 ma, or the battery will die if left for long periods of time. 2cnd is what is the alternator's out put under load.

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Cool a quick answer, thanks :) how exactly do they test it over night? Do they hook it up to their tester and just leave it over night? I know for sure they have never done anything like this to it before.
What should the alternators output under load be on a 1994 Chevy caprice classic? IS there a formula like it shouldn't be more than X amount of Amps or Volts etc or less than enough to keep the battery charged up? Sorry if these questions sound stupid. I just want to be prepared when I bring it in this time and sound like I know what I'm talking about :).
Thanks in advance.
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Parasitic draw can be checked at any time. but it can look ok now, then at 3 in the am maybe a relay closes for some reason and the draw goes up, this would be unusual though. a loaded alternator should put out at least 60a, turn on the head lites and rear defog, blower and check the output. for sure short trips and long periods of no use will kill a battery, but for a fully charged battery to go dead overnite would require something like leaving the headlites on. what happens is the battery gradually weakens then it requires a jump, a short drive after this jump will not recharge the battery, so there a some issues here to determine the problem. To test the draw overnite, some better dvom have a memory and can record the highest milliamp draw that it sees. It is a slim chance that the parasitic draw would jump up like this, start with the basic tests.

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<Top posted and not snipped on purpose>
Thanks for your input I do appreciate the help you have given me, I'll get back to you when I'm able to get it back into the garage. They are kind of giving me a hard time at the moment about doing anything about my problem and feel they have done enough and that I should just bring it to the Chevy garage now and are washing their hands of it all together even though they guaranteed they would fix it or keep trying until they do.
Nice place they have there, Not! What we have done for the time being is installed a new battery ourselves just so we can use the car when we need it which all of a sudden has just become a lot more frequently now that school is out (every day, several times a day short and long distances) and so far the car seems to be holding it's own. Once it has to sit for a few days again it will be back to square one again, unfortunately.
We are going to send the garage the bill for the new battery and see what happens and go from there.
Thanks again for your help.

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