Focus Fanatics Forum banner

1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
47 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Somewhere the Zetec designer is laughing his ass off...

01 Focus... 115k miles. Started having surging, stalling issues after installing a brand new alternator from Rock Auto. Car would stall out at traffic lights, battery light would come on, and couldn't keep it running when at operating temperature. Researched the forum and replaced the IAC with one from Advanced Auto. While I was under the car, noticed it looked like the gulf after that oil rig exploded. Oil drippings everywhere. Replaced the valve cover gasket (again.... this makes 3 since buying the car) and noticed a coolant leak. Replaced the thermostat housing (again... 3rd one since buying the car). Started driving the car, and it feels good--- then feels like I'm dragging something. It feels like it's hesitating. Replaced the coil pack (second one since buying the car) as part of a general tune up. Install new plugs. Drive car, and drives good, then suddenly feels like Im still hesitating.
Suddenly, my driver's headlight gets REAL bright and blows out. Weird. Turn on the diagnostic and watch my battery voltage -- I'm charging at 16.9 volts!! Instead of tossing more parts at the car, send it to Ford.

Ford calls and tells me the battery cable is melted. I knew that, it's been melted. It was melted the last 2 times the car was at Ford... and they never said anything. But they seem to think it's part of the issue with the over charging.

Hold on to your hats... quote to replace the cable: $780.00!!!!! Button it up, I'm coming to get it. Get charged 125.00 for diagnosing something I already told them was f'd up... amazing.

Found the cable on Partsgeek.com for 70 bucks plus tax and shipping. It gets here in 3 days. Watch videos and read the forum to see what I need to do. I've got this.

First, I don't like how Ford has this damn thing routed. I decided to take a razor knife to my new harness and split it into 2 cables -- the positive (with the starter connector) and the negative. I tape up the cables to make them pretty. I removed that one starter bolt to get that stupid negative connector off, then reinstalled the bolt. I'm NOT going that route...

I get the old harness out without dropping the starter (hands had just enough space to get the nuts off the back) by splitting the electrical tape on the OLD harness and backfeeding it.

Getting the new cable on the back of the starter by feel only was a little frustrating, but after 20 minutes, I had it back on using just my finger tips and a 1/4 in ratchet.

So here are the changes I made... since I split the harness, and why I decided to do it this way. I re-grounded the cable directly to the head, using the hoist hook at the front of the motor. I disassembled the hook, sanded it down to shiny metal, sanded the area where the connector will now make contact with the head, and assembled with dielectric grease on everything. The other side of the cable (the eyelet that attaches under the airbox) went back into the stock location, but again, I sanded the ground point to bare metal, coated and reattached. I also decided to NOT have those two small wires attach to the battery terminal anymore, and I attached them both below the airbox as well. Pulled out the multi-meter and test -- good grounds -- CHECK!

Reassembled the car, and took it for a drive. Now i'm charging at 15.4 to 15.2 all the time, and the new terminals are not even warm to the touch.

So why split the harness and ground it somewhere other than the way it was? Because it melted doing it THEIR way. [facepalm]

The fun thing, I discovered my water pump is weaping now. Sooo now I will be installing a water pump.

Ford wanted $780.00 to install this, I did it in 3.5 hours (including going to the hardware/autoparts stores for dielectric grease and electrical tape to make my new harness pretty after cutting the factory taping job) and spent $14.99 on a long 3/8 extension from Harbor Freight (came with two others, so that's good...) to get that damn starter bolt out, $4.99 on dielectric grease, $3.99 on 3M electrical tape, and $78.00 for the harness (with shipping).

Total spent: $101.97
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
359 Posts
I think you still have a problem. I think the field coil connection on the alternator is not good, I think it's causing the alternator to overcharge. 14.8 is about the highest you should see a battery recharge voltage run at. While you are checking that check your grounding from the engine to the frame of the car.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
47 Posts
Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I think you still have a problem. I think the field coil connection on the alternator is not good, I think it's causing the alternator to overcharge. 14.8 is about the highest you should see a battery recharge voltage run at. While you are checking that check your grounding from the engine to the frame of the car.
Hi tmittelstaedt,

Thanks for the reply. After reading what I typed, I made a typo. That should have been 14.2 - 14.4. Proof reading was never my strong point [?|]

Thank you for the suggestion though. Since I am pulling the water pump this morning, I decided to err on the side of caution and check a few things out. I pulled the pigtail on the alternator and also peeled back the protective sleeve to inspect the wiring. The pigtail wires are not damaged and the plug is nice and firm. I DID find that the little retaining clip part has since broken since my alternator install (even though I have no proof, I will assume Ford fiddled with it during checking my car out, and snapped the tab... so I will now buy a replacement pigtail and splice it in after all) Dont want to risk a loose connector. I went ahead and re-greased the connection since it was apart, and put it back together.

While I have the car inside, I will go ahead and check the rest of the grounds as well, just to be certain they are making proper contact.

I appreciate the pointers!

-Mike
 

·
w/ my magic bag
Joined
·
29,301 Posts
The ''big 3'' wiring upgrade works on all cars. You'd want to use at least a 4awg wire. Great that you cleaned the surfaces before attaching cables....I use a additional cable from the alt to frame.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
47 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
The ''big 3'' wiring upgrade works on all cars. You'd want to use at least a 4awg wire. Great that you cleaned the surfaces before attaching cables....I use a additional cable from the alt to frame.
That's a great idea. I have a spare neg cable from my old project car when I installed a ground loop (fiberglass underbody, not too many good grounds). I think I will add it to this one just to ensure better grounding.
 

·
Thats What She Said
Joined
·
10,662 Posts
Getting 4 awg or 2 awg welding cable is a way to get a good flexible cable with high strand at a relative good price. Sounds like you have had quite a experience with the car.

Some of it could be the quality of the parts? Rock auto has good brand and also cheap brands.

So $100 in materials, call it 4 hours @ $125 shop rate, and a $25 in fees (shop, enviornmental, etc) $625... So not that crazy from the for dealer ship. Their shop rate might be at $150 now...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
47 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Getting 4 awg or 2 awg welding cable is a way to get a good flexible cable with high strand at a relative good price. Sounds like you have had quite a experience with the car.

Some of it could be the quality of the parts? Rock auto has good brand and also cheap brands.

So $100 in materials, call it 4 hours @ $125 shop rate, and a $25 in fees (shop, enviornmental, etc) $625... So not that crazy from the for dealer ship. Their shop rate might be at $150 now...
I can definitely understand why they would charge that money for doing that install, but half the difficulty as to why it took me so long was stopping and starting because of no lift/sliding under the car repeatedly, breaks to do other things, hot neighbor repeatedly coming outside, etc...

I'm sure with the advantage of having the lift, plus having the proper tools already at their disposal, plus not having my hot neighbor pulling weeds in an entertaining manner, they should be done with this job in no more than 3 hours... not to mention the fact they've probably done dozens of those cables the "Ford" way.

As big of a pain as it was, I'm sure i could re-do it again and shave quite a bit of time off, now that I know exactly what to expect and look/feel for.

I managed to do the water pump and idler pulley in just about 2 hours, mainly because few distractions today because the hot neighbor was out running her errands, and clean up a bunch of the splatter under the car and test drive for a while.

The car is only still here because it was my dad's car, and I said i'd keep it on the road as long as I could. I think i'm over the sentimental value now, so I'll probably trade her in next summer. I just have to keep her running until then.

The only thing I have to do now is stop a squeaking from the AC compressor, and replace that AutoZone Idle Air Controller with a Ford one (ever since I installed that thing, the car revs to 2700 whenever you start it up, versus it starting at 2k rpms. It's just annoying.... but works.

Test drive tonight went well. No more coolant leak, and the battery terminals and cables were absolutely cool to the touch. No more melting is a good thing. Tomorrow I will put it on the highway for an extended jaunt to get over 50 miles, since I have to have the car inspected, and get an oil change.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
79 Posts
Just bumping this because I am researching battery cable issues and this post isn't that old.

Ford actually had a recall for cable routing, it was pretty early in the Focus life. From what I read in forums that rarely included cables unless they had a very obvious issue.

The re-routing was supposed to prevent the cables from binding and overheating but of course did not fix the issue if your cables had already started to bind.

I don't know if the re-route included splitting the cables but I'm sure it's in Ford TSBs somewhere.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,421 Posts
Look at the actual cable size itself, they shrank them to save copper cost and weight. Then the smaller size shows issues once corrosion gets inside the insulation to eat at the cable and run the resistance way up, which in turn melts the cable.

Take a decent but not even expensive set of battery jumper cables and make up your own custom set and $35 to do a car. It is convenient to split your new cables into sections. Positive to starter, smaller positive from starter to alternator and negative. My cars done years ago and zero issues after that, of course there remain all the other issues predesigned into the cars and that is a BUNCH.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,421 Posts
It would be a 500 page book, I LOATHE these cars. They finally convinced me that the best repair was to leave the brand entirely. The only problem being that the other OEMS are building cars as bad as these are too.

Somewhere on this site I got PO'd one day to mention about 50 or so early Focus shortcomings overlooked or intentionally left in place by engineers to get more money for Ford.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
359 Posts
Now now, they are not THAT bad. I mean, aside from:

SOHC motor that likes to drop valve seats
DOHC motor with plastic water outlet that likes to leak or crack and blow coolant all over
3 motor mounts not 4 with the passenger mount the "special" hydraulic one that leaks and makes the car feel like Melania Trump's vibrator on high
alternator that requires pulling a mount and jacking the engine around to get out plus 3 different pry bars
emergency brake handle flex shroud that likes to pop out and make a nice hole in the middle of the car for your keys to fall down into
lower rad mount with sharp edges an inch away from the pressure line on the AC that act as a nice saw when the line touches it
plastic valve cover that won't seal to the head no matter what gasket you use

they are pretty decent little cars!! :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,421 Posts
If you got a zetec ATX they will run forever, BUT if you like to keep all things fixed then they would bankrupt you in unnecessary costs. I jumped ship because this same issue has been getting worse and worse with every new incarnation of Ford design, I began with the old Tempo and you can see the evolution of crap from year to year and car to car as there for a while I bought two of the same car but in different years. You can clearly see the evolution of parts getting to be more and more crap designed to even 'break by design' ahead of absolute car end life to stack up in what I call 'nuisance issues' to make owner want to buy a new car. They know the basic powertrains last too long now and why everything is now smaller and boosted, to recover from that, it sells more cars.

The Tempos did it, the Contours got worse and the Focus much worse than the Contour.

You could see metal parts turn first into plastic, then the next year plastic part gets a hole molded in it at the most likely place to put one to break early. Of course they say the parts are being redesigned to be lighter, but the new placement of the weakness screams the engineers are also used to make the parts not last as long as they could have with intelligence truly applied. Take that Focus stat housing for instance. First they make it of plastic (bakelite), then they make it of ABS (weaker) when it still lasts too long, then they redesign the front cover to space the bolts in a way that leaks more and add a notch in one spot that makes it flex right there to leak. The only choices you have there are intentional design to limit part life or sheer stupidity as far as the engineers go. That stat cover has put more cars in the scrapyards than you can count.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
359 Posts
amc I learned a long time ago "never attribute to malice that which can adequately be explained by stupidity"

The average weight of a driver in the US today is probably close to twice what it was 50 years ago. Ford shaves 100 pounds out of the engine bay with "weight holes" and plastic and all of that is completely lost when Joe Sixpack and his beer gut gets behind the wheel. And of course nobody talks about that because by God an EPA estimated 40mpg car should get 40Mpg both for the 115 pound normal person and the 250 pound heifer with her 2 screaming kids in the back or somebody is going to be sued for discrimination, by God!!

The problem with the engineers today is they are all kids coming out of school who have NEVER in their entire lives picked up an actual tool other than the mouse on their computer. None of them have grown up in a home learning how to paint, nail, snake a drain, use a drill, tile, oil change, much less change a spark plug - and they go right out of engineering school into designing cars. The car companies MIGHT give them a 'factory tour" when they get started but that isn't enough. We have a terrible shortage of trades workers today and you wonder why an engineer is stupid enough to put a weight hole right in the middle of stress area? Well there you have it. We have an economy of knowledge workers who are operating off book learning and computer modeling and the computer models are written by people who read the books. None of them in that loop actually go out and touch anything in the real world.

Children of knowledge workers making 6 figures are tracked into higher education where they then become knowledge workers themselves and the cycle is perpetuated. Very few blue collar factory floor workers take advantage of all the free education that their employers offer even though with about 6 years of night school paid by their employer they could walk off that factory floor and into a design job at the same company paying them triple or more - and after about 5 years they would be worth their weight in gold because they would be the only designer in the department who had actually ever touched a greasy wrench.

I still remember at 16 years old the first time I replaced an alternator in my parents 1980 Datsun 210. Having parts and hoses and lines actually routed in such a way as you could get a socket with an extension on the hold down bolts? Revolutionary!!!! And yet today on a car designed 20 years later that is LARGER I do the same job on my 2001 SE and I have to disconnect an engine mount and rock the engine up and down to get a specialty socket in there? So OK yeah it's transverse but put a fricking access hole in the shock tower, ya morons!!! The Japs would have done that on that Datsun.

It's cultural - in the United States we are more concerned with electing a President who's claim to fame is that he made it with a p0rn star, and we shun a candidate who had the nerve to actually get out there and say the educational system is effed up and we should stop making it impossible for poor people to go to college. And this is why China is kicking our ass on trade and it's why we don't make anything anymore. But people would rather blame bogeymen than look reality in the face.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,421 Posts
You are absolutely right of course and why the other reason I have chosen to call the 'Rule of McDonald's', it replaces the Peter Principle.

I used it way back in the past to teach my son who now grouses about the exact same thing, he manages a warehouse that pays temp help $17/hr. to not be able to count to ten 5 times in a row and beyond belief some of the massive errors made there to sap the warehouse of huge amounts of cash.

The rule was this..............at some point in time all the ex-Mcdonald's workers who for whatever reasons could not make a quarterpounder the same way 5 times in a row will then move up to take more important jobs in other places to commit the same stupid mistakes they did as new workers but the consequences will then be much worse. Of course I told my son that anyone that can think beyond not wetting himself will easily be able to walk all over those types, he now routinely walks all over his supervisors and even the plant manager at times when they screw up so bad you have to wonder how they ever made it through college, which is a requirement. He did not go, choosing to do as I did, or jump right into a trade to establish ones' self and get a 4 year leg up on the college types and minus the now whopping college bills too. I did very well considering and he does as well too, making more than any other person there other than the plant director even though two steps lower. Some few in higher corporate there have seen it and know to get rid of him would be a mistake and have stopped the plant director from running him off twice now.

Stupid mistakes like this one. The company is going to the SAP system in a couple of months. My son FULLY learned that system some 10 years ago to be the plant production supervisor at a subsite that later got fully absorbed by the bigger one he is at now. The plant manager after learning this held a past perceived action against my son to promote a JANITOR to one of the SAP 'trainer' positions and hilarious. As the SAP updates and pre-training has gone on the janitor has proven to be utterly incompetent and my son simply stepped up at one meeting in frustration and corrected him, then immediately corrected the supervisors who then jumped on him. Before it was all over the SAP sanctioned national trainer in another state heard of it and asked to speak to my son and and now after suitable inquiry higher corporate heads have thoroughly drenched the local plant manager's plan to cut him out of the loop on that SAP changeover. Quite frankly, they asked him if he had lost his mind! What a freakin' mess! The plant manager shoots himself in the face on a regular basis and fears for his job as he absolutely refuses to learn any of the new system, he will NOT attend any progress/training meetings. His supervisors will be able to BS him on everything and they already do it now on a regular basis. It's like working with a bunch of 10 year old kids.

You are likely right, when one stops to really think about it becomes clear that type is too stupid to ever get his mind together enough to do things in a willful way, they are too busy trying to save themselves from yesterdays' stupid mistakes. 'Cause Buddy, they pretty much stay buried in them. The college training seems to just raise the level of paranoia.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top