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Discussion Starter #1
On the first drive of the day earlier this week, I noticed the Bluetooth on my phone wouldn't connect to the car. After a stop and restart all was well, so I assumed it was one of those software things.

Later that day with the car off, I tried to use the "accessory" mode for the radio - nothing worked. Later still, with the engine off I pushed the radio button, which usually turns the radio on and got the message: "low battery voltage".

One of the neat features of the Mk3 Focus is the availability of "test mode". For those unfamiliar with it, you hold the "OK" button on the left side of the steering wheel and turn the ignition switch to "on" or start the car. Keep holding the button and the "test" screen will appear. You can then toggle up and down through functions that tell all manner of interesting stuff like fuel, flow, temperature, fuel trim, software and DCT versions, and battery voltage.

Doing this on my car I found the following: with the engine off 11.8 volts registered, with it on it was 14.7 volts. To me this says the charging system is working fine, but absent the alternator the battery isn't producing the normal 12.5 or so volts.

So, a few questions:

Does this seem like a correct diagnosis? (Of course I'll bring the car to the dealer eventually.)

Has anyone had this radio/accesory mode/Bluetooth problem?

Has anyone had a battery failure at three years of age? (The car is garaged, not often subject to extreme temperatures, isn't short-tripped and is used at least a few days a week.) Seems a couple years early to me.

Like a few others, my DCT has occasional spasms of weirdness. As so much of its function is electrical (gear changes and clutch engagement, for example), could low battery voltage could be a contributor?

Thanks!
 

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On the first drive of the day earlier this week, I noticed the Bluetooth on my phone wouldn't connect to the car. After a stop and restart all was well, so I assumed it was one of those software things.

Later that day with the car off, I tried to use the "accessory" mode for the radio - nothing worked. Later still, with the engine off I pushed the radio button, which usually turns the radio on and got the message: "low battery voltage".

One of the neat features of the Mk3 Focus is the availability of "test mode". For those unfamiliar with it, you hold the "OK" button on the left side of the steering wheel and turn the ignition switch to "on" or start the car. Keep holding the button and the "test" screen will appear. You can then toggle up and down through functions that tell all manner of interesting stuff like fuel, flow, temperature, fuel trim, software and DCT versions, and battery voltage.

Doing this on my car I found the following: with the engine off 11.8 volts registered, with it on it was 14.7 volts. To me this says the charging system is working fine, but absent the alternator the battery isn't producing the normal 12.5 or so volts.

So, a few questions:

Does this seem like a correct diagnosis? (Of course I'll bring the car to the dealer eventually.)

Has anyone had this radio/accesory mode/Bluetooth problem?

Has anyone had a battery failure at three years of age? (The car is garaged, not often subject to extreme temperatures, isn't short-tripped and is used at least a few days a week.) Seems a couple years early to me.

Like a few others, my DCT has occasional spasms of weirdness. As so much of its function is electrical (gear changes and clutch engagement, for example), could low battery voltage could be a contributor?

Thanks!
If it's reading 11.8 volts in test mode it's likely still at 12.8 V or so at the terminals, I'd take a volt meter and probe the battery to confirm, but the voltage read out is off relative to the actual state of charge due to where it's being measured and the power required to turn on the computers and the IPC.

I've taken a volt meter to my Focus ST when it said 11.8V or so with the car turned off in test mode and saw that it was at 12.7-12.8V.

You might have a weak cell, but I doubt the battery is at 11.8 volts at the terminals.
 

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Try disconnecting the battery for 10 min to see if the sync functions come back properly this is a hard reset and has been known to clear up some software concerns
 

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As suss said, the test mode reading is almost always inaccurate. The only accurate gauge of the battery condition is at the battery terminals after you have drained off the surface charge. I am OCD about things like this and monitor my voltage with a voltmeter plugged into the console power port. I learned a lot about the charging system on the MK3 by watching the voltage in real time at the power port. When you first start the car, the charging voltage will ramp up to 14.4 volts (approx) and as the battery approaches full charge, the computer will ramp down the voltage as part of the smart charging system.

When the engine is off, it is not uncommon to see the voltage drop to less than 12 volts at the power port. I measured it at the battery terminals and it was 12.8.

With that being said, 3 years is about all I get out of batteries in Texas heat. If you have a hydrometer, you can measure the specific gravity of each cell.

Charge________Specific Gravity
100%_________1.265
75%__________1.225
50%__________1.190
25%__________1.155
Discharged_____1.120

If you do replace the battery, don't forget this:

If the vehicle battery is replaced, carry out the Battery Monitoring System Reset using the scan tool. If the Battery Monitoring System Reset is not carried out, measurement data collected for the old battery is not deleted and future state of charge measurements will be inaccurate. For example, if an old battery has a state of charge of 60% and the new battery has a state of charge of 90%, the BCM will recognize battery state of charge being 30% lower than it actually is. With the battery state of charge being perceived lower than it actually is causes shedding of loads earlier than is necessary. This also impacts the smart regenerative charge system by causing the battery to be maintained at a higher state of charge than perceived by the BCM, reducing fuel economy benefits.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FAJeDX-T-Eg
 

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I had similar problem 3 weeks ago when it was extremely cold /snowy for a week didn't work all week just went into town a couple times during week after about 3rd trip less then 12 miles round trip with defroster and heat on, got low voltage warning when I started car checked was 12.3 at posts, let car run about 1/2 an hour(to lazy to get charger out) with nothing on went back to 12.8 volts been fine since. plan on replacing soon be 4 years old in april
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the suggestions - had no idea the test mode figure would be distorted. Broke down and bought a digital multimeter (not possible to have too many tools...). Tested the non-Focus and it read 12.55 volts at the terminals. The Focus was 12.15 volts, but this is only after a 30 mile highway run yesterday.

Whaddya think - real problem or just the winter battery blues? Will probably take it in for a test anyway.
 

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Hardly any modern car batteries have caps so you can check the specific gravity inside. I remember, back in the day, using a battery hydrometer to check the batteries in my cars and trucks.

Voltage is very dependent on battery temperature too. This site has a chart of approximate charge level compared to specific gravity and voltage:

http://www.batterystuff.com/kb/articles/battery-articles/battery-basics.html

I wouldn't be surprised that a battery gives out after 3 years. Consider how many cars at a dealership have to be jump started before a test drive, so the battery is already chronically undercharged/dead. That impacts battery life.

Climate is bad for a battery too. Hot desert climates are the worst, followed by bitter cold winters like we have in Winnipeg.

An alternator is designed to meet most of the loads of the car, and to recharge a battery that is in good condition, fully charged, after starting. You put a lot of extra load on an alternator when it has to constantly charge a chronically undercharged battery, eg city or especially town driving.

I use VDC Battery Minders in all my equipment, and I generally never have to worry about bad batteries. I would suggest using a proper automatic battery charger to charge the battery, then have it load tested.

If it fails, replace it.

Hint: make sure the new battery is fully charged before installing it. There is no way that a battery sitting on a shelf somewhere for 3-12 months will have anywhere near the proper charge.
 

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On the first drive of the day earlier this week, I noticed the Bluetooth on my phone wouldn't connect to the car. After a stop and restart all was well, so I assumed it was one of those software things.

Later that day with the car off, I tried to use the "accessory" mode for the radio - nothing worked. Later still, with the engine off I pushed the radio button, which usually turns the radio on and got the message: "low battery voltage".

One of the neat features of the Mk3 Focus is the availability of "test mode". For those unfamiliar with it, you hold the "OK" button on the left side of the steering wheel and turn the ignition switch to "on" or start the car. Keep holding the button and the "test" screen will appear. You can then toggle up and down through functions that tell all manner of interesting stuff like fuel, flow, temperature, fuel trim, software and DCT versions, and battery voltage.

Doing this on my car I found the following: with the engine off 11.8 volts registered, with it on it was 14.7 volts. To me this says the charging system is working fine, but absent the alternator the battery isn't producing the normal 12.5 or so volts.

So, a few questions:

Does this seem like a correct diagnosis? (Of course I'll bring the car to the dealer eventually.)

Has anyone had this radio/accesory mode/Bluetooth problem?

Has anyone had a battery failure at three years of age? (The car is garaged, not often subject to extreme temperatures, isn't short-tripped and is used at least a few days a week.) Seems a couple years early to me.

Like a few others, my DCT has occasional spasms of weirdness. As so much of its function is electrical (gear changes and clutch engagement, for example), could low battery voltage could be a contributor?

Thanks!
Hi dan50,

Have you had a chance to speak with your dealer on this? Please let me know, along with your mileage. I'll see how to best assist.

Meagan
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hi dan50,

Have you had a chance to speak with your dealer on this? Please let me know, along with your mileage. I'll see how to best assist.

Meagan
Yes. We have a pretty regular dialogue about the car. In fact, if they don't hear from me every couple weeks they call for a well-person check with the local police department. They say it's not uncommon to have a battery failure at 3 years (seems about right given a three-year warranty) so I'll make a trip there soon.
 

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Same here on the issues. Constant SYNC restart with the car at start up, Key Fob Battery Low warning, even though the batteries were just replaced and the issue with Bluetooth not working even after turning it on on the MFT. Part of the SYNC system was replaced a week ago and now it will go back again for the same issue.
 

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Yes. We have a pretty regular dialogue about the car. In fact, if they don't hear from me every couple weeks they call for a well-person check with the local police department. They say it's not uncommon to have a battery failure at 3 years (seems about right given a three-year warranty) so I'll make a trip there soon.
Sounds good! Let me know when you have the appointment set up, along with your mileage, and I'll see how to best assist. :)

Meagan
 

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In fact, if they don't hear from me every couple weeks they call for a well-person check with the local police department.
That was awesome.

I agree that its not uncommon for a car battery to be kaput after 3 years.
 

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Thanks! It does look like a bit of a PITA to get to the battery. I actually do have a battery hydrometer, will try to tackle the project this weekend.
 

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Holy crap that was hard to get to! I had a bit of a challenge when I hooked up the harness for the VDC Battery Minder, but that was over 1.5 years ago and I had forgotten just how tight the battery is wedged in there.

Before I started I had unplugged the Battery Minder and put on the headlights for 30 seconds to remove the surface charge.

I ended up removing the battery as there was no way I could pry of the rear most cap assembly with the battery still in the car. So this "quick" project turned out to occupy a few hours, but its not like I need the car at the moment.

A small flat screwdriver fits into the recesses already around the battery caps, so you have to be patient as you go around the cap trying to lift it up a bit at a time. The caps felt like they were glued or somehow sealed, because they made a pretty loud snapping noise when I started prying them up.

According to my battery hydrometer, all the cells were in the same general area of just under 1.3, so the battery was absolutely 100% charged. Fluid level seemed ok but I did add a tiny amount of distilled water to bring the fluid level up to the bottom of the wells.

After I wedged the battery back in, I got a bit of a surprise when I hooked up the cables and the alarm started honking. There is no aftermarket alarm, just what came with the car.

Focus fired right up so I let it run 10 minutes. Idle seemed a bit high, maybe it has to relearn the idle speed now. I only have layup insurance on the car so it will have to wait until I start driving it again.

Wasn't sure if I did the power window anti-pinch properly. I powered down each window, powered them back up, and held the button up for a few seconds after the window was up.

Did I mention the battery is a bit hard to get to?
 

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Holy crap that was hard to get to! I had a bit of a challenge when I hooked up the harness for the VDC Battery Minder, but that was over 1.5 years ago and I had forgotten just how tight the battery is wedged in there.

Before I started I had unplugged the Battery Minder and put on the headlights for 30 seconds to remove the surface charge.

I ended up removing the battery as there was no way I could pry of the rear most cap assembly with the battery still in the car. So this "quick" project turned out to occupy a few hours, but its not like I need the car at the moment.

A small flat screwdriver fits into the recesses already around the battery caps, so you have to be patient as you go around the cap trying to lift it up a bit at a time. The caps felt like they were glued or somehow sealed, because they made a pretty loud snapping noise when I started prying them up.

According to my battery hydrometer, all the cells were in the same general area of just under 1.3, so the battery was absolutely 100% charged. Fluid level seemed ok but I did add a tiny amount of distilled water to bring the fluid level up to the bottom of the wells.

After I wedged the battery back in, I got a bit of a surprise when I hooked up the cables and the alarm started honking. There is no aftermarket alarm, just what came with the car.

Focus fired right up so I let it run 10 minutes. Idle seemed a bit high, maybe it has to relearn the idle speed now. I only have layup insurance on the car so it will have to wait until I start driving it again.

Wasn't sure if I did the power window anti-pinch properly. I powered down each window, powered them back up, and held the button up for a few seconds after the window was up.

Did I mention the battery is a bit hard to get to?
Yeah, that's why I use a scan tool that can display battery SOC (State of Charge) and lots of other electrical system parameters.

BTW, the idle speed is fixed in any modern PCM.
What the PCM does have to re-learn is the fuel trims.
 

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Well, at least I know what to expect if I ever have to yank the battery and replace it. A sixer would have made the job seem painless.

I know, I should actually drive it around so the PCM can re-learn. Maybe I will put temp insurance on it and drive it for a day or two.
 
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