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Old 08-04-2019, 04:36 PM   #1
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Looses power when AC or Headlights activated

I have a 2003 Ford zetec 2.0 l four door car. For a while now I've been having an issue with the vehicle losing power and the check engine light coming on whenever I push the AC button or sometimes flip the headlights on. Sometimes the issue can be mild and caused a minimal loss in power sometimes it can be extreme causing the car to rapidly downshift into very high RPMs. This can happen while underpower and accelerating or hardly any power and coasting down a hill. The other thing that happens is that I immediately lose power to the radio when this event occurs . Everything on the internet said to replace the alternator so I have done that. This helped the problem but it did not resolve it . I then thought well maybe it's my spark plug wires or my ignition coil. I have replaced all of this now with very little change. I have had my battery load tested as well as my alternator while on the vehicle with it running. This was done at O'Reilly's Auto Parts store. The thing that really gets me is that it seems to have such weak electrical signal that sometimes when the windows are already rolled all the way up or already rolled all the way down if I keep pushing in the direction that they already are it seems to intensify an issue that you can see a warning bulb through the dash. I have gone through every single ground and made sure they were bare metal under the hood and applied Dielectric grease when reattaching the bolts. I then went into every electrical connection that goes to things like the mass air flow sensor and sensors on the engine and opened them all up and applied a very small amount of Dielectric grease on the tip of a toothpick to every pin in those connections. Nothing seems to fully cure the problem nor can I completely diagnose the problem. It would be wonderful if someone would chime in that's had a similar issue. The car has 163000 miles on it and it's just a daily commuter vehicle for work.


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Old 08-04-2019, 04:57 PM   #2
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Did you replace the plug that goes to the alternator?
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Old 08-05-2019, 07:47 AM   #3
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A/C takes about 7-9 whp to work and Alt with A/C on , headlights and corresponding lights, cooling fans , inside blower fans the Alt will draw about 5-7 whp

I am assuming you have a ATX because it was down shifting so you could be loosing 12-16 whp thats 10-12% power loss at the wheels , yes you will feel that big time and your not the first to ask this over the years

Best thing to do is a few simple mods to gain some performance and it lessens what you feel

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Old 08-05-2019, 12:34 PM   #4
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Ok, new information. I thought I found the potential electrical issue last night which seemed like some crossed over wires in the back coming off of the knock sensor wer bare for the first half inch or so before they went into the thick sheathing. They were all so twisted and the copper you could see was criss crossed over one another making connection. I detach that sensor and drove the vehicle what does sensor not attached to the car at all and no engine light comes on and the car drove just fine. I had to wait several hours for the liquid electrical tape to cure so today I drove the car to work with that sensor off. The car drove just fine until I decided to check the electrical system by coasting and just flicking on the headlights. The car instantly downshifted and made me confident that I have not fixed the problem yet
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Old 08-07-2019, 12:33 AM   #5
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My gauge is also do the crazy dance when these type of symptoms are occurring. I have the factory radio in my vehicle and I lose it during this whole process also. Which makes me think it is a purely electrical issue and has nothing to do with the actual air conditioner. I mean I lose all power to the vehicle not just some horsepower but the lights Flash the gauges dance the radio goes off and all I have to do to promote this to happen is flick on my headlights or push the air conditioner button. I am leaning towards the ECM being bad. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 08-07-2019, 04:04 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FordFan21 View Post
My gauge is also do the crazy dance when these type of symptoms are occurring. I have the factory radio in my vehicle and I lose it during this whole process also. Which makes me think it is a purely electrical issue and has nothing to do with the actual air conditioner. I mean I lose all power to the vehicle not just some horsepower but the lights Flash the gauges dance the radio goes off and all I have to do to promote this to happen is flick on my headlights or push the air conditioner button. I am leaning towards the ECM being bad. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Pigtail on back of alternator is bad.
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Old 08-07-2019, 09:21 AM   #7
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'I am leaning towards the ECM being bad.'

And where the unlearned commonly go..............the PCM 'rebuilders' (dust it off and apply a new sticker to make it 'new' again) love you for it.
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Old 08-07-2019, 09:27 AM   #8
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My similar symptoms

I had similar symptoms and when the battery and alternator proved good I started poking around. I found the ground connection on the left fender well to be bad. The lug on the ground wire was screwed down to the painted surface. I scoured the paint off and the improved ground fixed my problems.

Joe
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