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I have a 2003 ZTS around 175,000 miles.


A few weeks ago, I noticed my battery light would come on, then off, then back on... even at higher rpms.

This brings me to a few days ago: I pull up to a stop sign, engine stalls, started back up BUT would only stay running with my foot on the gas. Had an O Rileys a mile away and had it tested. The kid said it was fine.

Started the car the next day, ran for 10 seconds and then died. Then the battery went dead. Had it tested today and it was bad, put the new replacement in and the car ran great... for 5 minutes and went back to dying ( you just felt the power die before the first stall) unless the foot was on the gas. Oh, the battery light came back on too.

So, does this sound like an alternator going bad or something else? Money for the alternator is not an issue as I replaced the OEM with a lifetime warranty one , labor price is a slight issue because I also had two power window regulators go out within a week and on one window, when it fell...it busted. But I have the money to buy tools (and a backup car) and I might just save myself a few bucks.

Thanks
 

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DTC P0606
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The "battery" light indicates a problem wit the charging system; alternator, battery, battery posts/terminals, wiring, fuses, in line fuse, etc.
Check the voltage at the battery with the car running using a multimeter. It should be 14V+.
When you say the car ran OK with a new battery for "5 minutes", is that an exaggeration? Because a new fully charged battery should power the car for quite a while before it dies when it's not getting a charge form the alternator. So it's hard to say if the battery is at fault or not.
 

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Listen to the first response & check everything, since the car will run longer than 5 min. with NO alternator on a fully charged battery...
 

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Hatch Nation #136
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Listen to the first response & check everything, since the car will run longer than 5 min. with NO alternator on a fully charged battery...
This. If you killed a new battery in five minutes then you have a drain somewhere. Even if then new alternator was a dud, you still should have gotten longer than that.

Posted via FF Mobile
 

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when my alt did this, i had the EXACT same issues. battery light would come on, then go off for a few, then come back on. was on my way to work one morning and everything died in the car. the car would keep going, if i kept my foot on the gas but as soon as i had to stop, she'd die. changed out the alt and the problem went away.
 

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Hatch Nation #136
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when my alt did this, i had the EXACT same issues. battery light would come on, then go off for a few, then come back on. was on my way to work one morning and everything died in the car. the car would keep going, if i kept my foot on the gas but as soon as i had to stop, she'd die. changed out the alt and the problem went away.
Could very well be, but it is worth checking to see if there is a wire that has shed its insulation. Something killed that battery FAST. Kiss principle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'm going to have some time tomorrow to give it a good look around and check the wires running into the alt. The only other thing that I was for sure going to replace was a new battery cable from the hot terminal... it is a little worn.
 

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A bad alternator CAN be the "drain" that kills it, it's just not the ONLY possibility..

We're "cheap" bastards around here, no-one has the "bucks" to just throw parts at a problem - so we recommend a LOT of testing & checking B4 buying things...

(grin)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Update....

I had time constraints with work during my last post. I used my backup car for the last month.

So now I have time to deal with this again. First, the car will start and run for a very short time. Once you get driving, you can feel the power "click in" and the car will run fine till you feel the car "loose juice" and it will die with the foot not on the gas. There is no time period with this.

What I did get done today. Tested the battery, needed replace (at 1 month old and only 2 days of driving) got it replace and then had the alternator tested right away. Alternator tested fine voltage wise but amps where of a concerned, the talk was over my head but they said there was something putting a drain on the battery. Alternator passed the test though. Car also would not stay running till I drove it and felt the power kick in.

When the car dies, it's like typical alternator issues. Lights get dim, etc... Battery light comes on. Also, the car idles lower then I remember.

I'm lost; going to check tomorrow, when I have light, to see if I don't have a wiring issue
 

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Golly you need to get a voltmeter and see what the voltage is on the battery

Youtube has some excellent videos on testing a car battery with a voltmeter

Try these search terms:
battery alternator voltmeter
or
battery alternator multimeter

No need to get expensive meter either-I regularly get $3.00 Harbor Freight multimeters, sometimes these little suckers are free, sometimes the price is at $10.00 too

UPDATE

put this in search

In Car Alternator Testing Updated
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
It's on the shopping list, now.

I'm also replacing a pulley/clutch on the AC compressor of a 97 Taurus tomorrow (the back up car). Fun times... except for my wallet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Hey...

One thing, I was thinking.

Could I be having a problem with my IAC Valve? This could be causing my car to stall when my foot is off the gas.
 

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I had a similar problem. Battery would drain overnight. There was mega corrosion on the positive terminal post and leading back to the alternator about six inches. Ford sent out a bulletin on this same issue. The red wrapping was off and the copper wire full of green stuff. So much so the alt was outputting 15.4V! That'll kill a battery for sure.

I cut off the bad looking end, put a new terminal clamp on and bam zero problems. Alt output now at 14.6V or so. Get a volt reader asap.

I admit I never thought corrosion could do so much so it was the last thing I checked. The underside of the positive cable is particularly bad. I did notice in my service records the previous owner got it cleaned a few times.

Going forward: new clamp, dialectric grease in between, those red/green felt pads and battery terminal protector spray. Then about once a year I hit everything with the 3M electric cleaner.
 

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Alright here we go. I just went through this and found that some people at auto parts stores know enough but very little. The voltage regulators in these alternators are typically junk. Therefore a test at a autoparts store usually confirms that the alternator is fine when indeed it is not. Even when the alternator was taken off the car and they test ran it in the store it passed all the tests. Advanced auto told me my battery was bad when I in fact knew it was the alternator.

Now instead of going out and buying a voltage meter heres a trick. with the key in the ignition turned off hold in the tripometer button in your gauge cluster. Now while still holding in the tripometer button turn the key over to accessory. Continue holding in the accessory mode until the gauges sweep and "test" appears in the gauge cluster. Now start the car, you are in test mode. Continue pressing the tripometer button until you get to a reading on it that says " b-14.2" as a example. Its probably not going to be 14.2 in many cases but the b stands for battery. I used 14.2 as an example because a good voltage regulator should be able to keep the car at or above 14.2 most of the time, only when intiating an accesory should it dip down below that and even then only for a second.

When a voltage regulator is shot in your alternator it will flucuate, alot. When the battery light is off you will probably see voltages as high as 15. something. When the battery light comes on you will probably notice it dips down as low as 11.9. This is a bad voltage regualtor. Depending on how bad it is you may never see above 14. Mine had been going out for months.

Now some other things to check would be the ground coming off the battery running to underneath the air box, however when this ground is bad it will have the symptoms of a bad starter. You will hear the relay click but then it will kill all the power to the car and nothing will work. As well as the ground running off the battery and running to a bellhousing bolt on the transmission. Im putting money on your voltage regulator as others have said. The positive wire running down the loom to the starter and over to the alternator is all one wire and doubtful that it is damaged. When I had this issue it did nearly kill the car and had all kinds of crazy things going on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Alright, I got it in test mode.

Initially read 12.8. At the start, went to 15.0 and settled right back in and stayed there. Car only ALMOST died once, the voltage dropped to 12.8 and then right back into the 14's; my foot was off the gas at that time.

THEN...

My CEL came on and I went right to the auto parts start and had the codes read:

P1507

P0420
 

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Now instead of going out and buying a voltage meter heres a trick. with the key in the ignition turned off hold in the tripometer button in your gauge cluster. Now while still holding in the tripometer button turn the key over to accessory. Continue holding in the accessory mode until the gauges sweep and "test" appears in the gauge cluster. Now start the car, you are in test mode. Continue pressing the tripometer button until you get to a reading on it that says " b-14.2" as a example. Its probably not going to be 14.2 in many cases but the b stands for battery. I used 14.2 as an example because a good voltage regulator should be able to keep the car at or above 14.2 most of the time, only when intiating an accesory should it dip down below that and even then only for a second.

When a voltage regulator is shot in your alternator it will flucuate, alot. When the battery light is off you will probably see voltages as high as 15. something. When the battery light comes on you will probably notice it dips down as low as 11.9. This is a bad voltage regualtor. Depending on how bad it is you may never see above 14. Mine had been going out for months.
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Do you know if this test with the tripometer will work on a 2000 focus ?
Thanks
 

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Yep ^ thats my model year, im not sure if and when they stopped doing it. I would guess probably 2008. Anything before that it should work on.
 
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