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Old 01-15-2014, 07:37 AM   #1
SparkE
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2005 Focus ZX3 / Intermittent Battery Light

So my 05 focus started to develop it's first problem of 2014. And it's a strange problem too..

The battery light comes on and off at random times. I don't know what could be the cause of it. At first I thought it was the alternator because I had recently removed the stock amp and subwoofer because the amp was blown and I wasn't a fan of the quality the subwoofer produced. So I put in my own set up while leaving the radio stock since I love that 6 disk cd changer. Since then I started getting this battery warning so I disconnected the sub and amp. (technically I think I can live without it.. cause the stock set up sounds really nice thanks to Sony) I'm thinking I killed the alternator.... BUT.. the car continues to run and the battery seems fine.

Even while the amp was disconnected the battery light continues to pop on and off at random times. When the battery light is illuminated the only noticeable change is the subtle drop in engine rpms when at idle like something is drawing too much current. The headlights don't dim, and my paranoia is making me think the instrument cluster is dimming as well since I look out for stuff like that because I've driven a car with a failing alternator. I whipped out my voltmeter and the and alternator puts out 14.2-14.3v even with the battery light on in the dash. There is almost no change in output when the headlights/fog lights/ ac and radio are all turned on at once.

The battery so far seems to be charging just fine because after a day of driving, the next morning the battery's voltage is 12.6v.

The only thing that's making me suspect the alternator is failing is that sometimes I can hear a high pitched sound.. its hard to tell if it changes with engine speed.

At this point I am confused on what's triggering the battery light. Does anyone know what is causing this or has anyone had this happen to them?



Last edited by SparkE; 01-27-2014 at 05:46 PM.
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Old 01-15-2014, 09:05 AM   #2
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Go get the car load tested at autozone for free they will tell you if its the alternator, battery or ground, it might be the alternator. I went through something similar in my svt.
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Old 01-15-2014, 02:14 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SparkE View Post
So my 05 focus started to develop it's first problem of 2014. And it's a strange problem too..

The battery light comes on and off at random times. I don't know what could be the cause of it. At first I thought it was the alternator because I had recently removed the stock amp and subwoofer because the amp was blown and I wasn't a fan of the quality the subwoofer produced. So I put in my own set up while leaving the radio stock since I love that 6 disk cd changer. Since then I started getting this battery warning so I disconnected the sub and amp. (technically I think I can live without it.. cause the stock set up sounds really nice thanks to Sony) I'm thinking I killed the alternator.... BUT.. the car continues to run and the battery seems fine.

Even while the amp was disconnected the battery light continues to pop on and off at random times. When the battery light is illuminated the only noticeable change is the subtle drop in engine rpms when at idle like something is drawing too much current. The headlights don't dim, and my paranoia is making me think the instrument cluster is dimming as well since I look out for stuff like that because I've driven a car with a failing alternator. I whipped out my voltmeter and the and alternator puts out 14.2-14.3v even with the battery light on in the dash. There is almost no change in output when the headlights/fog lights/ ac and radio are all turned on at once.

The battery so far seems to be charging just fine because after a day of driving, the next morning the battery's voltage is 12.6v.

The only thing that's making me suspect the alternator is failing is that sometimes I can hear a high pitched sound.. its hard to tell if it changes with engine speed.

At this point I am confused on what's triggering the battery light. Does anyone know what is causing this or has anyone had this happen to them?
I had similar symptoms, when I pulled up to a light the rpm's dropped and it felt like the engine was about to stall with the battery light going on and off. The car did however start fine.

It turned out to be the battery. not the alternator, probably a few of the cells shorted. It's always cheaper to buy a battery and try it out then return it, rather then replacing the alternator.
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Old 01-15-2014, 03:14 PM   #4
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^This+ check the battery fuse in the underhood fusebox.
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Old 01-15-2014, 06:24 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Svt_kid View Post
Go get the car load tested at autozone for free they will tell you if its the alternator, battery or ground, it might be the alternator. I went through something similar in my svt.
Alright, so I followed your advice and went AutoZone and had them load test it and everything came up fine according to his tool.

The guy says it might be corrosion on my battery terminals or that my connectors are going bad creating a short in the system.

I'll clean it up with some sand paper and see where that takes me.. if I can break loose the negative connector on my battery cause that thing is on there and will not budge even with the bolt removed completely.


Quote:
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^This+ check the battery fuse in the underhood fusebox.
I will also check the fuse as well, thanks.

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Originally Posted by Alexander View Post
I had similar symptoms, when I pulled up to a light the rpm's dropped and it felt like the engine was about to stall with the battery light going on and off. The car did however start fine.

It turned out to be the battery. not the alternator, probably a few of the cells shorted. It's always cheaper to buy a battery and try it out then return it, rather then replacing the alternator.
True, I'd rather replace the battery because even a rebuilt alternator can cost hundreds of dollars.
However I do think my alternator could be going because of the high pitched sound I hear sometimes. I still haven't figured out what causes that.
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Old 01-15-2014, 06:43 PM   #6
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When you do have to replace your alternator, I suggest borrowing or bumming a ride. Look through your local yellow pages or call around and ask local service shops where they would recommend having an alternator rebuilt. Have your alternator rebuilt locally- most of the time it's cheaper, and you get a much better job. Using cheap parts works when you're a big chain store and have figured returns in the business plan. However, small local rebuilders prefer not to do warranty repairs. You won't get a lifetime warranty, but my alternator cost $80 to rebuild and should last as long as the original. Here's a thread I did on removing the 05 alternator.

How to Remove 05 Duratec alternator from above.

You also might want to try this a few times: Key off, press and hold the odometer reset button. Turn the key to On, and continue to hold the odo reset button until the odometer reads [test]. It will immediately change to [gage] and the gauges will bounce around. You're in test mode. Now each time you press and release the odo reset button, you'll scroll through one of 30 test functions. Some are BS, others are very helpful in diagnosis. You're looking for the odometer to read [bat 12.4] or so. The odometer will stay in test mode until you turn it off, so you can start your engine and you should see the alternator voltage. Drive around and see if your alternator jumps up to 15v or more when the battery light comes on. It might not have done it during the Zoner's test. That would be a sign of a bad voltage regulator, and you're in need of an alternator before you fry something.
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Old 01-15-2014, 08:30 PM   #7
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When you do have to replace your alternator, I suggest borrowing or bumming a ride. Look through your local yellow pages or call around and ask local service shops where they would recommend having an alternator rebuilt. Have your alternator rebuilt locally- most of the time it's cheaper, and you get a much better job. Using cheap parts works when you're a big chain store and have figured returns in the business plan. However, small local rebuilders prefer not to do warranty repairs. You won't get a lifetime warranty, but my alternator cost $80 to rebuild and should last as long as the original. Here's a thread I did on removing the 05 alternator.

How to Remove 05 Duratec alternator from above.

You also might want to try this a few times: Key off, press and hold the odometer reset button. Turn the key to On, and continue to hold the odo reset button until the odometer reads [test]. It will immediately change to [gage] and the gauges will bounce around. You're in test mode. Now each time you press and release the odo reset button, you'll scroll through one of 30 test functions. Some are BS, others are very helpful in diagnosis. You're looking for the odometer to read [bat 12.4] or so. The odometer will stay in test mode until you turn it off, so you can start your engine and you should see the alternator voltage. Drive around and see if your alternator jumps up to 15v or more when the battery light comes on. It might not have done it during the Zoner's test. That would be a sign of a bad voltage regulator, and you're in need of an alternator before you fry something.
Oh man.. lets just hope I don't have to replace the alternator anytime soon lol. And I thought changing the alternator on an old Zetec focus was bad.. (It was only tough because it was the original alternator and had rusted into place making it really hard to remove.)


I'll try the Odometer test thing. I couldn't figure out how to do it cause I kept doing it wrong. I'll do it first thing in the morning before I drive to work, and during the drive I'll monitor what it's doing. Because Auto Zone's test to me seems like complete bull.... and my own voltmeter test gave me results pointing out I have no issues. But the real thing is what's happening when I'm driving when the light comes on. Thanks for the tips and the excellent write up on removing the alternator. (Really hope I don't have to do that lol, but if I do I'm changing the belt and the battery at the same time.)
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Old 01-18-2014, 09:45 PM   #8
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So Here's an update...

The Odo test shows the voltage at 14.2 when at idle, while driving it stays at 13.7.
Awkwardly enough I the battery light hasn't came on at all while I was monitoring it.

Depending on engine speed when shifting from park to drive, the voltage for a split second drops to 12 but shoots up to 15 then back down to 13.8. (Not sure if it should do that)
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Old 01-19-2014, 12:00 PM   #9
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It sounds like you had a loose terminal- the cause for most battery lights on this board.
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Old 01-26-2014, 05:56 PM   #10
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Yeeeup.... it's definitely the alternator. The thing's gonna die any day now.
Almost didn't start when I was leaving work. Put the Odo in test mode again and saw that it's only putting out 11.2 volts at idle, and 11.4 in drive. Rpm speed makes the light go out temporarily but the voltage doesn't increase from 11.4 which makes it come back on. The instrument cluster is barely visible at night even on highest settings, however the headlights still remain bright.

Really wish this thing didn't do that to me right now, but guess that's my fault for installing that stupid amp.
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