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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just happened a few minutes ago:
Driving about 40mph, ~1500RPM, battery light comes on. About a mile from home, so I decide to go as far as I can. Lights seem dim, but hard to say on lit streets. Less than 15 seconds later, battery light goes off, and everything looks normal, except the lights may still be a bit dim. Gunning the engine doesn't change that, but again, I'm on a lit street, so it might just be a lack of contrast. I'd just driven back from about 30 miles away, and the lights had been fine on the open road.
Get home, go to roll up driver window, it's dead slow, like I'm choking the last bit out of a dead battery. Turn off the ignition, blower still going, but obviously really slow. Turn it off, try to restart the car out of curiosity, barely manages a click.
Had the battery out a couple weeks ago to get more room to replace a blown top radiator hose. No issues since then, but I figured I'd check the terminals. Everything seems tight.
Try to crank it one more time...and it starts right up. A bit rough, as usual, but it idled fine, lights worked, blower at normal speed.

All I can figure is that something is loose in the mess that passes for battery connections, and me grabbing the terminals to make sure they were tight on the posts shoved it back to good connection for the moment, but I can't figure out which cable it would be. Any thoughts?
 

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If, after messing with the terminals like you did, it starts and runs like normal, I’d make sure I had good cable ends that make a consistent, solid connection.

The cable ends on my wife’s van got to have less than solid connections with the terminals so I replaced both to ensure the connection to the battery terminals are solid.

If you’re sure the connection is solid, and you’re sure your battery is good, I’d check the other end of each battery cable line to make sure you have good connections there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well, now the battery's actually dead enough that I can't get it to crank, so presumably the problem was keeping it from charging. For once, I don't own a functioning jumper pack or 12v charger, so I guess I'm going to have to fight the Black Friday crowds tomorrow long enough to get something to charge it up enough to start the car and see if it's charging.

Anybody got a diagram showing the routing of the main cables coming off the battery? They're looking kinda tired, and that might be a good project for when I'm crawling around dealing with the control arms later.
 

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2013 Focus SE gray 5 spd hatch
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How old is this battery? There'll be a date or a date code on it.
Clean the posts and clamps with a wire brush or sandpaper. Also, check all the grounds that exist for clean tight connections. There are multiple locations. Put a voltmeter on the alternator when the car is running to see what volts it's putting out. It should be around 13-14v.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Battery is coming up on two years. I plan to check voltage running, but I've got to get it running first, then check how fast the battery voltage falls off (and where it stops falling off noticably) when the engine runs long enough for a good leveling charge and then gets shut off. (Assuming I'm getting charging voltage at all.)

Most days I could just prep my cables and stand there with the hood up until somebody offers a jump, but with the holiday, most of the neighbors are either gone or staying in all day. Might be able to do that in the morning and save myself biking to Walmart or O'Reilly at least.
 

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Once you get it started check voltage at the battery. If running voltage at the battery is not 13.5-14.5VDC then repeat the running voltage check but with the voltmeter positive lead at the alternator + stud (under the little rubber boot) and negative lead on the alternator body. If still not 13.5-14.4 VDC then the alternator is probably bad. If voltage is OK then the cables/clamps between the alternator and the battery are probably bad. Reconnect voltmeter at the battery and do a 'wiggle' test on the battery cables/clamps. If its the cable it could be either one (positive, negative) but the replacement cable is sold as an assembly containing both. R/R is a little bit of a PITA . The cables run down below the battery, over the trans/under the coil pack then under the intake to the starter then on to the alternator.

Paul
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You could take the alternator off and have it bench tested at an auto parts store but that might be a pita.
The $125 replacement cost is annoying, but taking it out just to find out it's fine would be far more irritating. It's far from the most accessible alternator I've seen.

Worth noting these clearly aren't the original battery terminals; negative is the basic, universal lead clamp, positive is an aftermarket cable with its own clamp and a couple of cracks in the insulation right near the clamp.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Well, Walmart's tester screwed up, so the manager just warrantied my old battery 100%...but still only battery voltage at 2500rpm, both at the battery and the alternator, so now I'm going to be changing an alternator in O'Reilly's parking lot tomorrow.

Interestingly, I had 14.2V at the battery after jumping it this morning, and drove it ~10 miles with two restarts, with no problems, no trouble lights, and then suddenly BANG, it was like it hit an imaginary speed bump in the middle of a smooth road, all the gauges went to zero and the "oh $#!T, a gear!" light came on. (Torque Pro found no faults other than the DPFE I already know about.) I limped it the last quarter mile to WalMart with a couple of smaller jolts, got the new battery, (all gauges came back, and the car ceased to be shocked at the existence of gears once the new battery was in) and now I can't find anything over battery voltage anywhere.

Also of note, the battery light only comes on at low idle, though I don't see any change in voltage when revving up to 3500rpm; still 12.4V, same as with the engine off.

Amusingly, Ford Focus Dashboard Warning Lights and Symbols says the most common cause of that warning light is a faulty glow plug. Apparently they're unaware of the existence of gasoline Zetecs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Where are you connecting your voltmeter leads?
First across the battery terminals, and then from the large cable's terminal on the alternator to a strut mounting bolt. Exactly the same 12.4V on both, regardless of engine RPM. I did double check the bolt I was using for ground and it shows zero resistance to the negative terminal on the battery on the 200 ohm meter setting. (So <0.1 ohm.)

Also, I picked up a cheap Harbor Freight "battery and alternator tester" and it seems to agree that battery voltage is good, but charging is at best very weak. With the new battery, light 3 stays on, but light 4 barely flickers when the engine is running.
 

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You clearly have a bad alternator. 12.4v at the alternator itself isn't good enough to keep the car running, all the electronics going, and the battery charged. Seeing how your described symptoms sometimes get even worse it probably falls off even less than 12.4v at times.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
And now, with the new alternator in and 14-14.4V across the battery terminals at idle, (12.8V with the engine off) now the battery light comes on and stays on. Had O'Reilly and AutoZone both check it, and it shows passing for alternator and battery on both of their testers.

Drove it around for about 20 minutes, battery is still holding at 12.6-12.8 with the engine off, and idle 14-14.4V, but the light comes on 10-30 seconds after starting, regardless of idling or holding ~2000rpm, lights on or off, etc.

Is it possible I missed a connector somewhere in all the crap that had to be unhooked to make room that would cause the light to keep coming on? I did check for overvoltage while revving, and never saw higher than 14.6V at the battery. Considering the light only came on for a few seconds during the couple hours of driving before I became aware of the problem, and then not at all during the process of jumping it off, driving it ten miles, then back and forth to WalMart and O'Reilly, but then comes on steady with the new alternator, I'm seriously considering finding a place to mount an aftermarket voltmeter.

I did drive it six miles between replacing the battery and replacing the alternator, but considering the battery was never below 12V with the engine off and now holds 12.6 just fine, I can't imagine that doing any real damage to it.
 

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It has been reported that many of the relatively inexpensive chain parts stores alternators (which likely all come from the same source) do not contain the proper internal circuitry to allow the warning light to go out.

Paul
 

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Like you, I have an Alt that has the same problem (AutoZone). I have a BAT warning light about 70% of time while driving. Despite this error, the charging system is fine. I use this Amazon item to monitor system voltage... So, here is your voltage meter +cheap & easy +phone charger too.

Palumma 24W/4.8A Dual USB Car Charger, 12V to USB Outlet with Cigarette Lighter Voltage Meter LED/LCD Display Battery Low Voltage Warning (Black)

Maybe some day, I will replace that Alt. Already told Autozone about it, and they said "whenever" I bring it back I can get either another Alt OR my money back.
 

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Just happened a few minutes ago:
Driving about 40mph, ~1500RPM, battery light comes on. Any thoughts?
Zetec 2.0 , 2002, 251k just last week, here is my take:
1. replace all grounding wiring, with a custom aftermarket Ford Focus grounding Kit
2. AutoZone battery test; if living in Northern/Southern regions with heavy driving usage,
replace battery with a Optima Yellow Top w/3yr Warranty , worth the $$$
( have paid once and replaced free twice in 8 year period)
3. Have tensioner/pulley system checked.

Always get a lifetime warranty with A/C Delco or Motorcraft Alternators, so costs are
minimal, labor only
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Good suggestion. I went a little fancier because there's no such thing as too many USB ports. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072KBJN9Z

1. replace all grounding wiring, with a custom aftermarket Ford Focus grounding Kit
Best I can tell, grounding in general is good. Failures so far are in the connections at the negative terminal, thanks to the previous owner's repairs still following the Ford standard of .00032" of extra wire so everything is always under strain. Looking at re-working all of that with some #2 welding cable and the appropriate lugs to give it 2-3 inches of slack. Maybe even going fancy and running #1/0 from each side of the battery to distribution blocks out of the way so only those leads ever have to be moved when disconnecting or removing the battery. No more tiny wires breaking from trying to tuck the lead out of the way where it can't accidentally contact the post during a repair.

2. AutoZone battery test; if living in Northern/Southern regions with heavy driving usage,
replace battery with a Optima Yellow Top w/3yr Warranty , worth the $$$
( have paid once and replaced free twice in 8 year period)
My usage is a 4 mile each way commute, and 1-2 longer trips a week, from 30-55 open road miles each way.

3. Have tensioner/pulley system checked.
Still on my to-do list. When the timing belt tensioner failed, I ordered everything for the serpentine as well, but ordered the wrong tensioner. It's slated to get done next time I have to undo that engine mount for any reason.
 

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I forgot to mention something important in regard to using that or any cig lighter socket/USB power/voltage monitor...
The negative "tangs" or "tabs" on the side of the adapter CAN or DO have extensive force required to depress them during extraction from the cig lighter socket. This can result in the adapter becoming NOT JUST HARD to remove but also near IMPOSSIBLE to remove. The male tangs on the adapter VS the female slot-holes inside of the socket can click-in & lock-in into each-other. You can slide the adapter in at some positions ((within the 360 degrees without these tabs/tangs "locking")) but IF they do lock-in, you might end up with a BIG CHORE to get the power adapter removed. Obviously, I know about this stuck-in or locked-in problem personally. Even after some Dremel Tool "filing-down" of the female socket & filing-down the adapter, the fear of it getting stuck again remains. I could have & should have modified the socket to absolutely prevent this, but I did not. At the time, my focus was on Car Stereo Wiring Mods & Installing an amp for my Pioneer head unit. There is a safe-zone, about 240 degrees within the 360 degrees-> where "locking-in" is not possible. Also, I recently bought a replacement Cig Socket Voltage Monitor/USB Charger. After about 3 or 4 years of continuous use my first Adapter kinda-sorta-died; the voltage indication became intermittent and unreliable. Thinking of this now; I might modify this new adapter to hold-down "the leading edge" of the adapter tabs, to lessen the chances of this locking-in problem. TBD.
Good luck KD.
 
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