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I have an electrical problem I need help troubleshooting. I have a 1994 Explorer Eddie Bauer 4x4. If I let the vehicle set for 3 or 4 days without driving it, the battery will be totally dead. I have an electrical / power draw somewhere. I did some research and troubleshooting and I found which circuit the power draw is coming from. What I did is disconnect the negative battery cable and connected a test light to the negative battery post. Then I touched the tester to the negative battery cable itself and it lit up. So to find the circuit that I have the electrical/power draw coming from, I pulled each fuse one by one and touched the tester to the negative cable. If it doesn’t light up, the circuit is ok. However, if it still lights up with the fuse removed, then I found the circuit the power draw is coming from.

In my situation, in the picture of the fuse panel, the circuit I’m getting the power draw from is the fuse I have my finger on (this picture is upside down from the fuse panel diagram). If you look at the picture of the fuse panel diagram, it’s fuse #1, which is a 15 amp fuse. This is the only fuse circuit that has a power draw. All the other fuse circuits are ok. In the fuse panel description it states this fuse controls “headlamp switch, courtesy lamp switches, radio memory, remote keyless entry module (my Explorer does not have remote keyless entry), instrument cluster, memory seat module (my Explorer doesn’t have this feature that I know of). This diagram is from a Haynes Repair Manal for a 1991 to 2001 Ford Explorer. However, I found other diagrams online that showed everything listed in fuse position #2 included in fuse position #1 (interval wiper module, wiper motor, interval wiper/washer switch). And another diagram I found also included the master window switches on the driver’s door in fuse position #1.

So what I did today was remove and unplug the turn signal switch, which controls the turn signals, emergency flashers, wipers, and high/low for the headlights. I then tested the circuit and the tester still lit up. So I then removed and unplugged the headlight switch and tested the circuit again and it still lit up. So then I removed master window switch on the driver’s door and unplugged it. I then tested the circuit again and the test light still lit up. The only thing I didn’t unplug yet is the instrument cluster. So now I’m out of ideas.

Can someone advise me what to do from here or where the problem is? Have any of you had this same problem? Where was the problem located? I’m not that great with electrical troubleshooting, which is why I have to refer to my Haynes repair manual and you guys for help. But logically I would assume that if a switch or other electrical component was causing this power draw, the power draw would stop/cease if I unplugged the switch. Am I correct about this theory? I unplugged all these switches (except for the instrument cluster) and I still have a power draw. Any ideas or advice? I’d really appreciate your help. Thanks…
 

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So I felt like my troubleshooting was incomplete since I didn't unplug the instrument cluster; therefore, I just went back out and disconnected the instrument cluster and tested the circuit again and the test light still lights up. So currently everything I tested is disconnected and I'm still getting a power draw. I'm lost and have no idea what to do from here or where to look. Any advice???
 

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UPDATE....So I watched a video on how to find a parasitic battery drain with a multimeter (instead of just a test light) and went out to the Explorer and did what they showed me to do in the video. Long story short, I found where the drain is coming from; my CD player. The wiring has two plugs; one is a plug for the factory amplifier (black plug on the right) and the other plug (grey plug on the left) is the normal wiring for the CD player. When I unplug the amplifier, I still have a drain. But when I unplug the other plug, the drain goes away. So how do I find what is causing the drain in this plug wiring? Is it in the CD player itself or a bad ground in the wiring somewhere? What am I looking for?
 

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I'm glad you switched to using a multimeter because I know far less about test lights, like how much current it takes to cause it to illuminate.

When you write "CD Player", do you mean it's a separate CD changer, or the whole radio head unit? If it's the head unit, it should draw a very small current, somewhere between a few microamps to milliamps to retain the memory and clock settings.

Also on fuse 1, a remote keyless entry module would necessarily need to have a small draw to sense received input, and a "memory seat module" might need to do the same, if yours is so equipped.

Use the multimeter set to the higher current test range (often around 10A) and measure the current flowing through the circuit where the fuse is (was after you pull it). If it measures lower than the lower current test range ("fused" mA range value that should be marked on the multimeter) of the meter, switch the range to mA and the meter probes to the other test socket if applicable, then measure again for a mA range.

This measurement should be done with the CD player plugged in. Next, unplug the CD player and measure again. This will tell you if the CD player is the only thing on that circuit drawing power, and if not, by subtraction, how much power it's consuming.

Let's back up a moment. With the multimeter in amp measurement mode, all fuses in, measure the current from the battery negative cable to battery negative terminal. This is of course the total current draw from everything. Next, pull that fuse #1 and measure again to see how much if any current is still drawn.

The point is that the CD Player might be bad, or might just consume a small amount of current and just happened to be the first thing noticed that drew current - I don't know, as I did not see your whole procedure.

IF the CD Player seems to draw excessive current, post here what it draws. It would help to also post the total draw from the battery with and without it connected.

If there is a wiring short somewhere, the draw shouldn't change much based on whether the CD Player is plugged in, except that if the wiring is frayed or insulation broken somewhere, then physically moving it to unplug it could clear up a wiring short temporarily, so I would inspect the cabling as far back as you can reasonably access. I don't know what to make of the crimped wires that change color. It look a bit like a hack job as the wires should be secured together themselves, not the splice connectors strapped together, if splices are used at all instead of a connector adapter harness or soldered and heatshrink tubing added.

However there is a more direct way to measure CDP current but without the parts in my hand to see first hand, nor knowing what resources you have available, it is difficult to give detailed advice. You want your multimeter in 20V range or higher (next higher range than the 14.4V the circuit might see), with negative meter probe on a chassis ground, then probe each wire in the connector with the positive meter lead to find a live ~12VDC present.

Once you find live 12VDC with the vehicle off, probe for resistance between chassis ground and the connector pins to find the ground wire, being very low resistance to ground. I don't know how familiar you are with using a multimeter but remember to change the meter settings and probe sockets if applicable so it is not trying to measure voltage with either in the current measurement position or you may blow a vehicle fuse, multimeter fuse, or damage the multimeter.

Once both 12V and ground are found on the connector, you need to jumper between CDP ground and chassis ground, or the ground wire on the connector - makes no difference. Next use the multimeter set to amp current range, to connect the 12V connector pin to the corresponding pin on the CDP socket to measure current draw.

If that seems excessive then it appears the CDP is bad. All of this can be done outside of the vehicle if you have the CDP wiring diagram, whether jumpered to the battery or through an alternate 12V power source.

However as I mentioned above, it could be that while the CDP is consuming power, that it is a minor consumer relative to some other problem which is why the battery to negative cable current measurement with and without that fuse #1 in, is important.

Things like this I sort of do in my sleep so I may have overlooked something, but the key is to take measurements and determine where the current is excessive the furthest along a circuit that can be traced.

I don't know about your model year but in gen II explorers, there is a battery saver circuit and relay which causes higher current for the first 45 minutes or so after anything is activated, for example opening and closing a door, or disconnecting and reconnecting the battery. In that case, to remove the battery cable to take a measurement, you'd wait the 45 minutes and when disconnecting it, have the multimeter probes already touching and in constant contact with the battery terminal and cable so the circuit is never broken to reset the battery saver timeout period.

How old is the battery and alternator? An old battery, might just fail to take much charge, or could be as simple as low on water if not maintenance free. An old alternator, might not charge effectively or could have a shorted (or just leaky) diode that drains the battery. Disconnecting the battery cable to the alternator and measuring for current draw there in amps would indicate if the alternator is draining the battery.

I am probably posting too much detail and advise you to post current readings at the points mentioned above. Do you ever use the CD Player? If not and it is the cause, it would seem simple enough to leave it unplugged to see if the problem goes away.
 

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I'm glad you switched to using a multimeter because I know far less about test lights, like how much current it takes to cause it to illuminate.

When you write "CD Player", do you mean it's a separate CD changer, or the whole radio head unit? If it's the head unit, it should draw a very small current, somewhere between a few microamps to milliamps to retain the memory and clock settings.

Also on fuse 1, a remote keyless entry module would necessarily need to have a small draw to sense received input, and a "memory seat module" might need to do the same, if yours is so equipped.

Use the multimeter set to the higher current test range (often around 10A) and measure the current flowing through the circuit where the fuse is (was after you pull it). If it measures lower than the lower current test range ("fused" mA range value that should be marked on the multimeter) of the meter, switch the range to mA and the meter probes to the other test socket if applicable, then measure again for a mA range.

This measurement should be done with the CD player plugged in. Next, unplug the CD player and measure again. This will tell you if the CD player is the only thing on that circuit drawing power, and if not, by subtraction, how much power it's consuming.

Let's back up a moment. With the multimeter in amp measurement mode, all fuses in, measure the current from the battery negative cable to battery negative terminal. This is of course the total current draw from everything. Next, pull that fuse #1 and measure again to see how much if any current is still drawn.

The point is that the CD Player might be bad, or might just consume a small amount of current and just happened to be the first thing noticed that drew current - I don't know, as I did not see your whole procedure.

IF the CD Player seems to draw excessive current, post here what it draws. It would help to also post the total draw from the battery with and without it connected.

If there is a wiring short somewhere, the draw shouldn't change much based on whether the CD Player is plugged in, except that if the wiring is frayed or insulation broken somewhere, then physically moving it to unplug it could clear up a wiring short temporarily, so I would inspect the cabling as far back as you can reasonably access. I don't know what to make of the crimped wires that change color. It look a bit like a hack job as the wires should be secured together themselves, not the splice connectors strapped together, if splices are used at all instead of a connector adapter harness or soldered and heatshrink tubing added.

However there is a more direct way to measure CDP current but without the parts in my hand to see first hand, nor knowing what resources you have available, it is difficult to give detailed advice. You want your multimeter in 20V range or higher (next higher range than the 14.4V the circuit might see), with negative meter probe on a chassis ground, then probe each wire in the connector with the positive meter lead to find a live ~12VDC present.

Once you find live 12VDC with the vehicle off, probe for resistance between chassis ground and the connector pins to find the ground wire, being very low resistance to ground. I don't know how familiar you are with using a multimeter but remember to change the meter settings and probe sockets if applicable so it is not trying to measure voltage with either in the current measurement position or you may blow a vehicle fuse, multimeter fuse, or damage the multimeter.

Once both 12V and ground are found on the connector, you need to jumper between CDP ground and chassis ground, or the ground wire on the connector - makes no difference. Next use the multimeter set to amp current range, to connect the 12V connector pin to the corresponding pin on the CDP socket to measure current draw.

If that seems excessive then it appears the CDP is bad. All of this can be done outside of the vehicle if you have the CDP wiring diagram, whether jumpered to the battery or through an alternate 12V power source.

However as I mentioned above, it could be that while the CDP is consuming power, that it is a minor consumer relative to some other problem which is why the battery to negative cable current measurement with and without that fuse #1 in, is important.

Things like this I sort of do in my sleep so I may have overlooked something, but the key is to take measurements and determine where the current is excessive the furthest along a circuit that can be traced.

I don't know about your model year but in gen II explorers, there is a battery saver circuit and relay which causes higher current for the first 45 minutes or so after anything is activated, for example opening and closing a door, or disconnecting and reconnecting the battery. In that case, to remove the battery cable to take a measurement, you'd wait the 45 minutes and when disconnecting it, have the multimeter probes already touching and in constant contact with the battery terminal and cable so the circuit is never broken to reset the battery saver timeout period.

How old is the battery and alternator? An old battery, might just fail to take much charge, or could be as simple as low on water if not maintenance free. An old alternator, might not charge effectively or could have a shorted (or just leaky) diode that drains the battery. Disconnecting the battery cable to the alternator and measuring for current draw there in amps would indicate if the alternator is draining the battery.

I am probably posting too much detail and advise you to post current readings at the points mentioned above. Do you ever use the CD Player? If not and it is the cause, it would seem simple enough to leave it unplugged to see if the problem goes away.
When I mentioned “CD Player” I was referring to the whole radio head unit. I took out the factory cassette player and installed a CD player.
Regarding fuse #1…I do not have a “remote keyless entry” system or a “memory seat mode”, which eliminates this as a possible cause of the problem.

The setting I used on my multimeter was 10 amp; I don’t have the 20 amp setting. The video I watched on YouTube explained how to test for amps; specifically milliamps. So when I went back out and did this test I had a 3.43 amp drain and when I unplugged the CD player, the electrical drain disappeared and the meter read .01. The video stated that anything that has 50 milliamps or less is ok and anything more than that then there’s a problem and something’s draining the battery.

No you did not get too detailed. This is exactly the info I need in order to find the problem. I will read your procedure over and over again and go step by step and do the tests you suggested.

The reason for the crimped wires that change colors is because this CD player was originally installed in a 92 Explorer I had and I believe it had different color wiring than my 94 Explorer does. When I got rid of the 92 I took the CD player out of it and installed it in my 94. When I removed the CD player from the 92 I just cut the wiring and then spliced them into my 94. I did this because I needed the connectors to make the swap because my factory cassette player in the 94 had different plugs and would not just plug into the CD player plugs. When I spliced the wires, I connected them just like they were in the 92; at least that was my intention. Who knows, I could have got a wire crossed or something when I was splicing them together, which could be causing the draw. I need to find a wiring diagram for the CD player and for the Explorer and see if I have a wire crossed.

I know using the crimp connectors isn’t the most professional way to do it, but does get the job done. I don’t have a soldering gun, nor do I know how to solder. But I could learn easy enough. I also don’t have a heat gun to use on the heat shrink tubing, which is why I just used the crimp connectors.

If you’re saying that if I had a short somewhere, the draw wouldn’t change much based on whether the CD player was plugged in or not, then doesn’t that mean I don’t have a short somewhere considering that my reading goes from 3.43 down to .01 when I unplug the CD player? Do I understand you correctly? Does this scenario eliminate a shorted wire?

The battery is fairly new within a year. Not sure how old the alternator is.
Thank you for your detailed help. I really appreciate it.
 

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I just got done doing an intense wiring analysis of the wiring of the Explorer, the wiring I have spliced into the adapter/connector plug that plugs to the factory plug, and the wiring of the CD player and how they're all connected together. I also used a wiring color identification chart someone posted online for a 94 Explorer and a wiring diagram for the CD player. Long story short, I'm suspicious of the ground wire. Let me explain...

In the factory Explorer wiring there is a solid black wire and according to the wiring color identification chart info I found online it states it goes to ground. However, the plug that connects to this factory plug is missing the pin & wiring in this spot. So this wire isn't connected to anything.

There is also a black w/green striped factory wire and I have no idea what this wire is for because according to the wiring color identification chart info I found online it doesn't identify this wire; doesn't even list it. I have this wire connected to the ground wire into the CD player.

My question is: if the ground wire isn't connected correctly, would this cause a power draw? Or would the CD player not work at all? This is the only possible conflict I can find in the wiring setup.
 

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[EDIT] To clarify, every time you wrote CD Player you meant the entire head unit? Unplugging it and going from 3.4A to almost nothing, does indicate it is the fault.

The head unit internal circuit boards are probably grounded to the metal chassis (case) they're in. I would assume this is how it's making ground as it has to be grounded somewhere to have worked at all.

You can unplug the CD player and measure resistance between the black/green wire to ground to see if it is a ground.

Not having a ground would cause no power draw and it wouldn't work. I mean a real electrical ground regardless of whether it's going through the designated ground wire or not.

I assume this worked initially and something has failed since then? Also assuming "CD Player" also means radio head unit, the most likely problem is the head unit has a power amp stage transistor that's leaking or shorted, probably just leaking if you still have sound, but (depending on how it's designed, whether a split +/- power rail with a virtual ground in the audio circuit, or uses an output coupling capacitor instead to block DC output and only allow AC output) in the long term even if it seems to work, whichever channel is damaged could damage the speaker connected to that channel.
 

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[Note I've edited my last post with new info]

My point is that the head unit seems bad and your options are get a new one or attempt to disassemble and trace, diagnose, and repair it at the discrete component level with a soldering iron. This I probably can't help you with over the internet unless you have a full schematic and even then it would have to be a proper engineering schematic instead of the bastardized automotive electrical type made for everything else electrical in the vehicle.

Regardless, a head unit can be found cheap at a junkyard though you'll have to re-do the CDPlayer swap... unless that's the failure point instead of the amp circuit mentioned above, but disconnecting power to the CDP itself then measuring head unit current in the off state should tell you that.

You don't need a heat gun for heat shrink tubing. Well it is the preferred way to do it when that's an option, but working on vehicle, I'd just use a butane cigarette lighter and be careful not to hold the tubing too close to the flame so that it doesn't overheat the tubing and make it brittle, and use a slightly longer length of tubing so that I don't have to get the flame as close to the bare vinyl wire insulation which is not as heat tolerant as the shrink tubing is.

Move the flame back and forth so there's not too much heat buildup, plus keeping the flame further way from everything, reduces the amount of black soot that deposits on it, which looks unprofessional, but at least is less noticeable if you use black colored heatshrink tubing.
 

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I am afraid you will need to go through professional testing. It is very unlikely you will be able to solve it on your own. I am in https://areaphonecodes.com/united-states/917 area. I can consult you over the phone if it helps. But if you are somewhere in the area, pay me a visit. It can be something to fix within minutes, but sometimes more time is needed. Anyway, do not hesitate to contact me for more information.
 
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