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Old 07-09-2013, 04:50 PM   #1
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Battery relay clicking, loss of all electrical, then it returns

I have had this intermittent problem for a couple of years. I have found similar problems on the web, but no solution.

While driving, battery relay under dash starts to click loudly, all lights on dash start blinking, the engine will stutter like it is dying, but usually keeps running. Occasionally if you shut the car off while this is happening it will not restart. In fact it is like the battery has been disconnected. No courtesy lights, radio, horn, switches - everything is completely dead. If you play around with light switches, hitting brakes, turning ignition off and on, etc. Elecricity will magically reappear. It will start right up and run fine until the next time it happens. Occasionally when this happens what I think is an idle selonoid or something in front of the engine will click as well as the relay.

Have replaced battery, alternator and the clicking solenoid in engine compartment (I can;t remember what it is called but the new one clicks randomly as well), checked grounds and alternator leads. Like I mentioned earlier, there are a lot of posts of people having this problem, but no solution. I am giving this car to my daughter and woudl like to get it corrected. I have no interest in bringing it to a dealer as it appears no dealer ever succesfully fixed this problem for all the other people that had it and I have a limited budget.

Is there anyone who had this problem and was able to determine what caused it and how to fix it?

This was probably the last Ford for me - I've lived for a couple of years with an unreliable car (was purchased new) and find a problem like this unacceptable. I can understand an occasional one-off crazy problem, but a lot of people have had this issue so there must be a common problem.


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Old 07-09-2013, 05:59 PM   #2
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My guess would be your small ground wires to the left of your Batt and on inner fender well and the small wires going to the post on your Batt , there is a few of them and I would remove them all , sand them and replace them to see if that helps , it did one customers car I was working on

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Old 07-10-2013, 01:06 PM   #3
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Thanks Tom, I will try that this weekend.
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Old 07-13-2013, 01:34 PM   #4
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Hi,
This is a familiar story. My daughter has a 2005 Focus with the same issues: relay clicking, dash lights flicker, radio loses stations, headlights went crazy once . I knew it was some type of bad ground but she was too far away for me to help her. She finally located a small shop in NW Tennessee that diagnosed the problem. Can't tell you the name of the part, but it near the PCM and it was corroded. They replaced it and that fixed it. After two years of living with this. When she return home I'll ask her the name of that part.

-Lytt
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Old 08-18-2013, 08:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ligardner View Post
Hi,
This is a familiar story. My daughter has a 2005 Focus with the same issues: relay clicking, dash lights flicker, radio loses stations, headlights went crazy once . I knew it was some type of bad ground but she was too far away for me to help her. She finally located a small shop in NW Tennessee that diagnosed the problem. Can't tell you the name of the part, but it near the PCM and it was corroded. They replaced it and that fixed it. After two years of living with this. When she return home I'll ask her the name of that part.

-Lytt
Please do, I am having much the same issue.

TIA.
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Old 10-02-2016, 04:34 PM   #6
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ligardner-

I recognize this is an old post, but can you respond with the part that was replaced? I am having an identical problem with a 2005 ZX4 and am having trouble resolving it.

-Tom
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Old 10-02-2016, 05:05 PM   #7
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Have you tried the first suggestions from 1turbofocus?

lingardner hasn't made any posts since that one in 2013. Could have been referring to the same item though the description doesn't match exactly. PCM for yours is in the right kick panel area (later ones in the engine compartment near the grounds mentioned first here).

Ground by PCM wouldn't be a common issue for your version, but descriptions could be confused with that later version.
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Old 10-02-2016, 05:28 PM   #8
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I did remove, sand, smear with dielectric grease, and replace all the grounds last night. Engine to battery (-) seemed ok but there was significant corrosion on the frame to battery (-). I did the same procedure on all the general wiring harness to frame grounds I saw.

With this intermittent problem, it will be a while before I can conclude that anything has be fixed by this.

I have had an issue with starting for a while - occasionally one would turn the key and the car would act as if the battery had been removed - no interior lights, etc. After waiting a while and or randomly wiggling battery connections, car would start normally and radio would have been reset (indicating complete loss of power). A few years ago I replaced the cable from the battery (+) to starter (there was significant corrosion) and it seemed that this problem went away for a year or so. It has slowly been coming back.

A possibly related problem is that the headlights sometimes dim periodically while driving. I have lived with this too, but a few days ago it got very pronounced. Next time I started it (it started normal) the dimming/ slow flickering was very bad. Upon accelerating to highway speed the flicking got even worse, the engine seemed to stumble, and a loud rapid clicking (relay sound?) was coming from the left side of the dash. When I finally got to a place to pull over and popped the hood I noticed that the starter cable was noticeably warm (warmer than I would have expected 5 minutes after the starter was engaged). I did not notice any indicator lights on at the time, but I was fairly distracted trying to merge while hoping my car wouldnt die.

I got back in the car and everything started and ran normally. So while I later went over the grounds because it is a cheap and easy place to start, its hard to say if anything has been fixed.

Battery tested fine at autozone. Alternator is 10 years old (replace shortly after car was purchased new due to separate issue). I would love to get back and check the alternator wires as I hear this can cause problems but that alternator is way back there!

I know bad grounds can cause very strange problems. Maybe this will be the fix, but it will take a while before I have any confidence it did anything.
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Old 10-02-2016, 06:43 PM   #9
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Hopefully some progress, remember that these battery terminals are famous for feeling tight by wrench while actually being loose enough to turn on the battery posts.

2.3 wiring for positive is from battery to starter to alternator, with a potential PITA of a high current fuse link at the front between starter and alternator. High charging current can contribute to a warm positive lead even a while after starting. Haven't heard of a similar fuse for yours, path may be the same.
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Old 10-02-2016, 07:02 PM   #10
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Thanks for the responses.

I do have the fuse your talking about - I believe it is a 160 amp located in the snap open ~6 inch long black fuse holder mounted on top of the engine. I opened it up yesterday and it seemed fine.

I did notice that the (+) battery terminal clamp can be rotate even when fully clamped (for example if I try to tighten that second nut on the clamp that holds the accessory/fusebox power lead in place). A long time ago I tried really torquing the heck out of it and managed to snap that specialty ==] shaped bolt that closes the clamp. I think ended up drilling out and tapping the fastener and brazing in a new threaded shaft - couldnt locate a replacement one if I remember.

I will throw some copper or lead shim stock around the lead terminal to try to get a more solid connection. I find it hard to believe that a snug but still rotatable connection could cause so many problems, but better to be safe.
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