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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm having electrical problems. I think its the alternator...but anyone think otherwise? Pig tails possibly?

At stop light battery light came on. Goes off with revs. About 2 miles later traction control/abs light comes on and electrical problems get progressively worse over next mile to the point odometer goes off. I get into a parking lot and plan to get a ride home/diagnose in morning. When my ride arrives, he wants me to try starting, and it does with no issue, so decide to try driving it home (5 miles). Battery light comes on shortly after and repeat of dash lights coming on, etc. As I'm about to pull on highway, odo goes off, and shortly after whole dash (speedo, tach, etc) does, followed by car completely dieing just as I'm pulling off at next exit. Call up AAA but while on the phone, I try restarting and it does so I drive it half a block to a safe parking lot and leave it for the night. Next morning, take the battery to Autozone and its completely dead. They recharge it and I drive the car home without problem. It starts and drive, but obviously I don't trust driving it around.

Alternator? I do wonder why the battery light didn't cone on until the battery was almost dead. I do have very little knowledge of electrical systems. Anything else it could be before I go through the trouble of removing and having it tested? Bad cable pig tails possibly? Battery is less than 1000 miles old.

Thanks for reading and any comments!
 

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Vince your Moderator
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1) Buy a cheap digital multimeter(DMM)switch it to DCV without starting the car put the black lead on the negative battery post and the red one on the positive battery post. Post voltage results. If it's below 12.3 volts it's no good and must be recharged and then, load tested. What do your battery cables look like? Are they corroded?

2) Start the car and perform the same test with the car running. The alternator "ramps" up for about 30 seconds or so. After ramp up, the voltage should read 14-14.7 volts anything less is a bad alternator. Again, post results

3) Check and sand your battery grounds to bare metal. Reattach and cover them with dielectric grease.

4) Check your serpentine belt, is it loose?

This all being said, the alternator wiring pigtail is notorious to fail on our cars. Inspect it for and cracked or pulled wires, replace it if necessary. Summit Racing has them for like $4.99+shipping

Many people will just replace the battery just to have it go bad due to a bad alternator. But, further up that chain is the alternator pigtail which is a 5 buck part that can kill $300.00 in parts down the chain.
 

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Vince your Moderator
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Plus you need to check fuse F1 10 amp in the engine compartment fuse box
 

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Besides carrying out the tests as suggested by freemind, you say that the battery is less than 1000 miles old, which makes me think that the original battery was replaced (unless the car is brand new). Bear in mind that the traditional lead acid batteries do not perform well on vehicles equipped with smart charging systems such as the Focus. This is because the PCM-controlled charging uses higher voltages under cold conditions, which can rapidly damage a lead acid battery. The type you need (and I believe is also recommended by Ford) is Silver Calcium.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I haven't heard of the need for the Silver Calcium. Battery was replaced with a Duralast Gold at ~105k miles (assuming this isn't the first time the battery was replaced, bought car with ~95k) . This was after car sat most of last fall/winter as I was replacing the clutch (because of a bad slave) and a few other things. Less than a few weeks later was hit in the front end causing a decent amount of cosmetic damage, so the car was in the shop for 6 weeks or so. When I got it back, the battery had to be constantly jumped so I replaced the battery (don't recall if I was smart enough to have it tested). Another 1k miles or so, the slave was giving me issues, so I pulled the trans again (another few weeks on jack stands). This current issue is about 1.5k miles since then. Thank god I have an old Tacoma...and for some reason I still love my 10 year old Focus.
 

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That's how my alt went out, dash going bazerk. But we were driving downtown kc to a concert with about 1000 cars behind us.
 

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Yeah, I'd have to say the alternator as well, I've gone through 5 alternators now and it does that exact same thing every time, battery light comes on then eventually the radio dies and all the lights go wacky in the gauge cluster and then the whole thing dies out, shortly after the car will die. I've found it starts doing this when the battery gets down close to 10 volts. If you have close to or over 60k on the alternator I'd be willing to bet that the brushes are worn out and aren't making good contact with the commutator, I rebuild my alternators myself and my brushes are worn out pretty religiously around every 60k miles.
 

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I haven't heard of the need for the Silver Calcium. Battery was replaced with a Duralast Gold at ~105k miles (assuming this isn't the first time the battery was replaced, bought car with ~95k) .
It could be that the North American market uses different battery types than the European. But I doubt that as Ford has been installing smart charging systems across the board for quite a while. This doc might help you identify and troubleshoot the charging system -

http://www.qh.com/assets/_files/documents/oct_13/QH__1382620262_Tech_Bulletin_-_TB0010_-_FRA.pdf

Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Yeah, I'd have to say the alternator as well, I've gone through 5 alternators now and it does that exact same thing every time, battery light comes on then eventually the radio dies and all the lights go wacky in the gauge cluster and then the whole thing dies out, shortly after the car will die. I've found it starts doing this when the battery gets down close to 10 volts. If you have close to or over 60k on the alternator I'd be willing to bet that the brushes are worn out and aren't making good contact with the commutator, I rebuild my alternators myself and my brushes are worn out pretty religiously around every 60k miles.

Phestezio -- Is there a reason you've gone through so many alternators??
 

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Yeah, it's called the 'lifetime warranty part'.............every part store carries them now to teach people alternator changing skills.
 

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Phestezio -- Is there a reason you've gone through so many alternators??
Yeah, I have a TON of miles on the car haha probably around 220k. It's getting time for a fresh engine for me, and I think I miss counted I'm on my 4th alternator now I've been through 3 and I have at least 40k on the one now so it should be getting close to needing a rebuild again.
 

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It could be that the North American market uses different battery types than the European. But I doubt that as Ford has been installing smart charging systems across the board for quite a while. This doc might help you identify and troubleshoot the charging system -

http://www.qh.com/assets/_files/documents/oct_13/QH__1382620262_Tech_Bulletin_-_TB0010_-_FRA.pdf
I believe the silver calcium battery requirement is still a European thing. Over on this side of the pond standard lead acid is the norm. Yes, Ford uses the smart charge system over here, but our PCMs are calibrated to work with lead acid.

This has come up before on the forum, so if anyone knows any differently, please let us hear from you.
 

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@FocusKnot - Have no reason to doubt what you're saying as there are quite a few critical differences between the US & European variants. That said, one thread on this forum (http://www.focusfanatics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=242711) does mention that the alt charging voltage at engine startup is 14.8V (3rd. comment from last), which is in fact the reference voltage for silver calcium.

Maybe in the US you use lead calcium (as opposed to lead antimony) which I'm led to believe it has similar characteristics to silver calcium. A charging voltage of 14.8V would be too high for a lead antimony battery as this would cause increased gasification.

Cheers
 

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Vince your Moderator
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I have a charging voltage of 14.5-15.0 almost all of the time. But both of my batteries are AGM
 

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Factory battery WAS marked Lead Calcium IIRC in my '04 USA model. Made note of that marking.
 

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@Sailor - That does explain why the US & the European models use the same charging voltages due to the similar properties of Lead Calcium and Silver Calcium (but not the traditional lead acid / antimony).

@Freemind - I'm not aware that AGM batteries are used on vehicles in Europe. You will usually see these on motorbikes, watercrafts, mowers, etc., i.e. in applications with limited space or where acid spillage could occur. They usually require a charging voltage between 14V and 14.8V so I'd say your system should be fine.
 

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Vince your Moderator
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@Freemind - I'm not aware that AGM batteries are used on vehicles in Europe. You will usually see these on motorbikes, watercrafts, mowers, etc., i.e. in applications with limited space or where acid spillage could occur. They usually require a charging voltage between 14V and 14.8V so I'd say your system should be fine.
I know that it's fine. I run an H.O. alt rebuilt by my local rebuilder. AGM is a great option to run. especially if you run a bigger audio system. Even though Lithium-Ion batteries are coming soon to the automotive scene.
 

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I know that it's fine. I run an H.O. alt rebuilt by my local rebuilder. AGM is a great option to run. especially if you run a bigger audio system. Even though Lithium-Ion batteries are coming soon to the automotive scene.
You cannot fault them in any way except perhaps for the cost. Don't know about the US but over here, you probably pay more than twice for an AGM when compared to a conventional battery. Car makers are all about economics nowadays - 80% of them don't even provide you with a proper spare wheel let alone an AGM !
 
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