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Old 02-02-2013, 09:49 AM   #1
glowedroid
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Grounds/Battery Problem?

2002 Automatic ZX5 90k miles.

ONLY upgrade is a Kenwood Stereo Receiver, which I put in last summer.

I have been reading a lot of old threads on here, and I am just looking for confirmation, really.
I think I need to replace my grounds, and maybe the battery cables. I know there was a recall on some Focus battery cables, I'm not sure if mine was covered by that, or if it ever had it done. (I bought is 3rd hand used.)

Here are my Symptoms:

Started with:

- After coming to a stop, car would vibrate a decent bit while my foot was on the brake, as soon as RPMS raised even SLIGHTLY (taking it out of D and into N, releasing the strain on the engine/inching forward/driving) the vibrating disappears.
(has been happening for months)

- Dash lights would flicker a little bit with this vibration. NOT completely on and off, but just flicker between bright and dimmer quickly. As soon as I release the brake and allow the car to inch forward, or even if I start driving, the lights are solid full bright.

Most recently (past few days):

-I hear a relay (not sure which one) on the fuse panel ticking randomly on and off, along with the existing vibration while I'm sitting at a stop. This ticking disappears when I begin driving, or release my foot from the brake, allowing the car to inch forward, or if I begin driving.

SO FAR, all of these things all happen at the same time, the slight vibration, the flickering lights, and the relay ticking.

Here is where the scary part happened:

I'm driving home from work and realize my headlights are not on.
I flip them on and suddenly, the car loses power for about one second, feels like it locks up and nosedives and the orange (!) light comes on on the dash.

Instantly, the car is fine again and 2 seconds later, the light goes out. and the car drives fine.

I have read many similar threads and they all mention checking ground cables and battery cables.

Does this sound right? I'm a college kid, so I can only really afford to fix this myself so financially I don't have the option of taking it to a mechanic.


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Old 02-02-2013, 10:39 AM   #2
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Did you check to make sure your battery terminals were clean and tight? A battery post tool is like $2. Then put some grease on the terminals to prevent corrosion. Any old grease will do. I just use some old wheel bearing grease that I haven't used on anything in years.

Monitor your voltage while driving using the electronic odometer trick to see what sort of problem you have. Get some info, and get back to us with it. BTW, you don't have to start the engine to get into test mode. You just have to turn the key to ON, then it will remain in test mode until you turn the key OFF again, so you can get it in test mode, then turn the key to START at your leisure.

www.focusfanatics.com/howtos/electronicodometer
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:13 AM   #3
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I will do that, thank you for the link!

I did check battery cables. They looked completely clean and were tight. They also had those little anti-corrosion rings on them.
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Old 02-02-2013, 12:30 PM   #4
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Those rings don't protect against everything, but if you didn't see a lot of white stuff- you're probably ok. Sometimes it can build up inside the terminal between the post and the terminal.

You might want to also check the small black wires that go to the negative terminal. I had one of those break- looked connected until I removed it- and that caused me some problems.

There is also a grounding connection that goes to the back of the cylinder head, but most of your problems seem to be related to chassis electrical. That one goes from the back of the cylinder head to the firewall- the factory connection looks like a copper shoelace.
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:20 PM   #5
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check your cables but if they are all good, I would guess a failing alternator/voltage regulator. But check the battery first. If the battery is old and failing it can cause some of this, of course usually it won't start the car if that happens.

I'm sorry, as this is not an easy repair for a DIYer even with a fully equipped garage, you need tools that will allow you to disconnect the engine mounts and rock the engine forward to get the alternator out. Fortunately, if you do it yourself, most auto parts places have alternator testers so it's easy to check the old alternator to see if it's failing. But as you will find in other threads, it's usually best to take the alternator to a auto electric shop and have it repaired the replacement will last longer.

You might try looking in craigslist there are some guys who do mechanical work on the side on the weekends or evenings and work cheap, will come to your place to do it.
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:17 PM   #6
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Well, I'm going to try replacing the "Big 3" ground wires and alt wires under the hood this coming weekend. I figure if I am going to be fussing with grounds, I should upgrade them. Things seem to be pointing at grounds, and every time I have had an annoying issue with this car, all the threads I read are right in their suggestions, as I tend to look deeper into problems with cars than I should. I'll test the battery under there for good measure anyways, and if the grounds don't fix it, I'll look at testing the alternator.
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:41 AM   #7
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OK, I just actually got to look at the car again, I have been on campus, driving my gas guzzling mustang (the reason I bought a Focus).

I opened the hood and looked closer, this time in daylight and notice that a battery cable is melted. REALLY kicking myself that I overlooked that...

Here are pictures. Can I have help identifying where each of these cables goes? I'm pretty sure I know, but reassurance is nice.

I still plan on replacing the grounds, and now, of course, this melted cable.

http://i1325.photobucket.com/albums/...psbf123f30.jpg

http://i1325.photobucket.com/albums/...ps2e9a9f06.jpg

White stuff on the battery is snow.
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:44 AM   #8
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Bump
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:57 AM   #9
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OK
That melted battery cable is caused by a bad crimp. Bad crimp generates heat. [bad crimp = corroded crimp]
You need a new battery cable from Ford
I do believe that cable goes to the alternator.

Lets say your 'back is against the wall' and you really have not too much money to do the proper fix, well then there are replacement battery clamps but you must absolutely make sure all the wires to be clamped are CLEAN. REMEMBER this is a 'McGyver' fix and it will not last!
Also those insulating pads that placed underneath the battery clamps to prevent corrosion, well tried them once and it prevented the clamp from coming down all the way to firmly clamp on the post
After tightening a battery clamp on a battery-that clamp must NOT move. Tug on the clamp sideways- if it still moves and the nut is as tight as it can be-there is a fix for that

To do your own battery cables properly requires a gas tight crimp and not just using a hammer on a terminal. Welding shops can do that
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