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Old 11-26-2012, 06:10 PM   #1
scottt60514
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Alternator not charging again.

Let me start off by saying I searched and tried everything I knew how to do. This is my first post and I apologize for the length.

This is the sixth time our alternator has gone out in the past two years. The first four times we took it to a local rebuilder and they rebuilt it themselves. The last time we thought they weren't doing a good job on the rebuild and bought a new alternator from Ford. It stopped charging faster than the rebuilds. I don't want to replace it again until I can figure out what's causing them to go out so quickly.

It will randomly charge now. Sometimes it will work fine, and others the battery light will come on. I took it to a local Ford dealership and they said the alternator tested fine. I won't go into the details, but I'm not sure they even tested it.

I had the pigtail replaced. Immediately after it was replaced the car went from rarely charging to charging about a third of the time. The battery light would sometimes come on for five seconds then go right back off. Sometimes it would stay off for five minutes.

The battery tests good.
With the alternator plug off and the engine on, I get 12.5V at the alternator.
With the key on, engine off I get 12.5V on the red wire, 9v grey and 0V blue.
Every time I've tried using test mode the car isn't charging. It shows approx. 11.8-12.6V depending on how charged the battery is.

I started to check continuity at the ECU, but wanted to make sure I was doing this correctly.

If anyone has advice on how to check continuity at the ECU, or anything else I can test I would appreciate it. This car is making me want to buy a newer Fusion, but I just hate getting rid of the Focus since the alternator is the only problem we've had with it.


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Old 11-26-2012, 06:31 PM   #2
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when the pigtail was replaced did they just twist wires or use butt connectors. i had a 2000 model that did the same thing and someone had just used butt connectors i tool them ogg and soldered the wires then used heat shrink and tape. that solved my problem. may want to check there it may not be getting constant power
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Old 11-26-2012, 07:23 PM   #3
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Qustion whe you took it back to the rebuilders did they check it under load. If it was defective 3 times that was wierd and then you tried a rebuilt from the dealer (I do not belive they sell new) and if that went defective that is very wierd. I would do this.

1) check and follow the wires from the alternator to the battery and make sure the wires are not grounded anywhere.

2) Have your battery checked for shorts, if your battery is more then 4 years old just change it, my local alternator re-builder says if you want to save your alternator and gas change your battery at the 5 year mark.
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Old 11-26-2012, 07:47 PM   #4
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Thanks for the quick replies.

doubles,
The wires were soldered and shrink tubing was used. The power is consistent at the plug. The pigtail was only changed after the last alternator stopped charging.

Edgenet,
1 This has happened with three different batteries.
2 How would you recommend checking the wires from the alternator to the battery? It's hard to visually check the wires when they're wrapped in loom. Is there a way to test this with a multimeter?

Thanks again for the quick replies.
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Old 11-26-2012, 09:02 PM   #5
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Go to YouTube
enter battery, alternator, multimeter. Alternatively type in voltmeter instead of multimeter

There you will find a multitude of videos of varying quality

Get your self a real multimeter. The one thing that a cluster turned voltmeter cannot do is to set the scale to AC Volts and place on battery--see any AC Volts and the diodes in the alternator are shot

I suspect that you possibly have a bad main cable connection going to the battery
See link
http://www.troubleshooters.com/dont_...ct_battery.htm

An intermittent connection will do the same thing

Got replacement battery clamps? might be source of bad connection.
Battery connections are original? then with great strength push/pull sideways on the clamps if loose thats your problem.

How about your ground connections? clean them
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Old 11-27-2012, 05:43 AM   #6
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It sounds to me more like the field wiring to the alternator (part of the plug-in connector) isn't working correctly. You've lost power there. The ECU has little to do with the alternator operation. It just reads output.

I think whomever did the pigtail replacement did a terrible replacement, but as Mike wrote- it is very possible it's as simple as a loose battery terminal, or a loose wire between the alternator and the battery. Disconnect the negative terminal before you start poking around, and then go make sure that the main hot cable is tight at the alternator and the battery.

Continuity is about the only thing you can check with the engine off. That would require putting on test lead on the alternator main hot, and one test lead on the battery positive terminal with the wire connected. You should read .01 ohms or so.
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Old 11-27-2012, 06:31 AM   #7
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I still say its in the pigtail as like i ststed i had this happen even with solder and heat shrink the wire can get corroded and not make good conection.

its also possible that as stated the battery could be bad like ststed get a good multimeter and check battery as stated above
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Old 11-28-2012, 05:58 PM   #8
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I couldn't test much since the car completely stopped charging for the last 2 or 3 days. I took it to another dealer to test the alternator and they said it was bad and replaced it under warranty. They said they checked all the wiring and everything tested good.

It's charging now so I did a drop test. On the negative side under a load I got .08V. On the positive side I wasn't sure whether to turn on accessories or not. The readings with and without a load were very different. Under load was .35V and no load was .08V. Which reading is important? I'm tired of having the alternator go out, is there anything else I can or need to check to try and prevent this from happening again?
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Old 11-28-2012, 06:01 PM   #9
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That's AC voltage? If so, it's fine, neither reading has a significant amount of AC. That could actually be the meter itself, and not really what you're getting off the alternator. Have you tested it with the engine off?
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Old 11-28-2012, 07:29 PM   #10
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FMC did a pretty good job designing the Focus but their battery cables are junk. I take vice grips and compress the ends together before I tighten the bolt. That's the only way to keep em tight. I lost a few alternators before I started this VG process. Good luck.
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