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Propane 01-02-2013 11:40 AM

Car almost stalls; radio, headlights flicker
I drive a 2000 Focus SE with 17K miles. A couple of times per 20 minute drive, the car will lose power like it's about to stall. At the same time, the electrical functions like the radio and the headlights lose power as well. When it occurs, the engine revs loudly and it feels like it's putting out too many rpms on a low gear. This happens for about a second and then it's back to normal. The car has never actually stalled.

I checked the battery and it reads 12.8V when the car is off and 14.95 when it's on and idling. I don't know what else I should check. What could be the problem? Please bear with me; I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to cars!

ViperThreat 01-02-2013 11:44 AM

My first thought would be the alternator, but those voltage readings are good, the only other thought I have would be that maybe there is a short somewhere that only makes contact occasionally.

Propane 01-03-2013 11:06 PM

Thanks for the reply! So where should I start checking and what am I looking for? Sorry if that's a stupid question, I've never dealt with electrical problems before.

sleepyboy 01-03-2013 11:13 PM

Check the power wires on the battery and by the alternator, also check the alternator wiring harness plug. Those are known to get pulled out also.

Propane 01-09-2013 01:24 PM

I looked at all the wires and plugs connected to the battery and the alternator. I don't see any corrosion and none of them are loose. Lately, the previous symptoms aren't showing up as much as before. However, my check engine light came on yesterday. Auto Zone scanned it and gave me these two codes: P0705 (Transmission range sensor out of position) and P1237 (Fuel pump secondary circuit failure). Since getting the engine light, I've only driven the car to Auto Zone, which is just a half mile away.

I plan to borrow some ramps and look underneath the car this weekend to check any wires and connections I can't access from above. When I looked at the "probable causes" for the two codes I got, "open or shorted circuit condition" was on both of them. My first instinct would be that these are related to the problems I experienced at first. Does this new info shed any light on my problem?

ethan 07-21-2013 07:34 PM

I am having just about the same exact problem.

I was having some problems with overheating, but fixed a pinhole in my coolant reservoir, I am not sure if this is related. I am thinking that maybe some of the antifreeze that boiled out and shot all over under the hood might have caused a short?

basically when I come off the highway and slow way down, or am idling after running, say at a stop, or just parking, my engine will kind of stutter, like it is idling so slow that its going to stop, just for a second or two, but then picks back up. during this time, the radio freezes, usually the display freezes and is unresponsive to any of the buttons, and the sound cuts out.

It sounds to me like we are having a very similar problem. wondering if anyone has figured it out.


Propane 07-27-2013 08:07 PM

I did end up figuring it out after about a month. I guess I was just so excited that I forgot all about posting my solution for others to see. Sorry about that.

It was a bad ground connection underneath the airbox. The airbox just pulls off after all the hoses are disconnected from it. There is a wire that goes from the negative battery terminal to the body. I imagine it's in a similar place on your car. I disconnected the battery and then loosened the bolt connecting the ground wire to the body. I cleaned the bolt, connector, and connection point on the body. I used a Dremel with a wire brush attachment and some Dubya-D-40. When I put it back on, I learned that the bolt has to be REALLY tight or the connection will still be bad. I haven't had any problems since then.

Ethan, try what I did and see if it fixes your problem. From what I've researched, a bad ground can cause all sorts of strange problems like yours and mine. Good luck!

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