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Old 08-23-2019, 12:44 PM   #1
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Charging Problem

Wife's 2006 Focus ZX5 automatic died yesterday on the road without warning. No Battery or Check Engine lights appeared(both working) beforehand. Strangely saw ABS light before all this happened. Tach died just before car stopped. Took six month old Walmart battery back to store for test and charge. Battery tested sat and was recharged. Reinstalled in car and measured 12.6 volts engine off at terminals. Started car and measured 12.3 volts at battery terminals. I'm used to seeing over 14 volts. Still no battery light. Jumped in and drove car home. Even though there was no CEL on, I ran a scan anyway which showed zero codes. The car is super clean with around 80k miles and has been garage kept since new. I checked all connections topside and then got underneath and all connections seem tight with no corrosion. Belt and tensioner seem fine. Everything seems to point to alternator going south which looks like a real PITA to replace, but doable. Folks, I'm just an amateur here so would like to know if there is anything else to check before I pull the alternator out. Am concerned that battery light didn't come on prior to this happening and not coming on now with battery obviously not charging. Thanks in advance for any ideas.


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Old 09-03-2019, 01:57 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by SeaFord View Post
Wife's 2006 Focus ZX5 automatic died yesterday on the road without warning. No Battery or Check Engine lights appeared(both working) beforehand. Strangely saw ABS light before all this happened. Tach died just before car stopped. Took six month old Walmart battery back to store for test and charge. Battery tested sat and was recharged. Reinstalled in car and measured 12.6 volts engine off at terminals. Started car and measured 12.3 volts at battery terminals. I'm used to seeing over 14 volts. Still no battery light. Jumped in and drove car home. Even though there was no CEL on, I ran a scan anyway which showed zero codes. The car is super clean with around 80k miles and has been garage kept since new. I checked all connections topside and then got underneath and all connections seem tight with no corrosion. Belt and tensioner seem fine. Everything seems to point to alternator going south which looks like a real PITA to replace, but doable. Folks, I'm just an amateur here so would like to know if there is anything else to check before I pull the alternator out. Am concerned that battery light didn't come on prior to this happening and not coming on now with battery obviously not charging. Thanks in advance for any ideas.
My daughter is having intermittent battery/charging problems on her '03 Ztec. In her case, however, her battery light did come on and at some point, her car started stuttering. Since she's a ways away, I gave her an address to the nearest AutoZone and had her go in to have her battery and alternator checked and her codes read (She eventually had a CEL on also).

Their diagnisis was that the battery was bad and they sold her another one. While she was still there, I told her to make sure and still have them check the alternator and other codes. The code that came up indicated a bad O2 sensor so I told her to just hold off on that. If they specifically checked the alternator (not sure if they really did), they didn't diagnose it as being bad.

She drove home over the holiday weekend with the new battery and the car ran fine but the battery light did come on for a while during her trip. When she arrived, I checked the voltage at the terminals before and after starting the car and everything was normal. Being unsure as to whether the problem was really solved, before she left, I got her a USB charger that also shows the current battery voltage. Sure enough, during her trip back, the voltage dropped and the battery light came on again. So, it looks like the alternator is going bad, maybe something heat related in the voltage control circuit. The thing is that I just replaced the alternator with a reman unit in February. It was indeed a pain but I have since learned that if you unbolt the lower transmission mount and shift the engine forward, it can come out the bottom much easier. Fortunately the unit I bought still had a lifetime warranty so next time she comes home, I'll be replacing it again but hopefully it will be easier this time. Last time I was at a bit of a disadvantage because I was doing it in her dorm parking lot with only the tools I could think to bring. Next time it should be in my own garage.
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Old 09-03-2019, 02:52 PM   #3
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Replace the alternator and the wiring pigtail. New alternators are best. Rebuilt can be bad out of the box. They will check fine cold but fail when heated up driving.
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