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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all,

Went to start the car for the first time in a few days, although previously it's been no trouble. However it wouldn't start. It makes a lot of clicking noises, and the dashboard goes crazy - lights flash, dials go bonkers. I'm guessing electrical problem somewhere. I took some photos of the engine & battery so you can tell me where to look - in layman's terms, preferably!

It's been pretty cold the last few days here too, so that may factor in?



 

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Have you a voltmeter handy to check battery voltage at rest & when trying to crank?
 

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2004 Focus Wagon, Zetec DOHC, Auto
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I have a multimeter, yeah. Can you point out exactly where I should putting the contacts?
Across the battery terminals.

Speaking of terminals, what is that on them? They don't look corroded, but they don't look clean either.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'll check tomorrow, as it's pretty late here now.

Erm, guess they look pretty cruddy. Not sure how I could go about cleaning them though?
 

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I am nowhere near confident enough in my abilities to take apart battery terminals and clean them myself... I'll find someone willing to do it for me ;) Thanks for the help though.
 

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Okay.

........and if that is an '07 date code I see on that battery, then it is probably time for a new one.
 

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I had problems like that when I lost a small earth (ground) wire. I've only ever seen that problem with 05+ models. I'm not sure about overseas models though, but it's possible.

lefty loosey, righty tighty, dig it? That's about all you need other than the right sized wrench to remove a battery terminal. You will need a 10mm. Ford's wedge clamp battery terminal design is the bees knees IMO. You loosen that stainless steel nut that is closest to the front of the car- doesn't have any wires on it. Loosen it so that the nut is even with the top of the stud, or just a little higher than the threads to protect the threads from impact. Now tap on the nut/stud with something plastic- I typically use the handle of a nearby screwdriver. Tapping too hard with something metal might damage the terminal, plastic is no problem. That will loosen the terminal.

Remove the negative battery terminal first. Then remove the positive, but make sure that the negative is not touching the battery terminal- I typically shove it down off to the side. Do the same to the positive once it's removed. As long as both of the wiring terminals are not touching the battery terminals, and you don't put something metal across the battery terminals- like a wrench- then you're electrically disconnected. You're actually disconnected when either of the battery wires are removed, and it is common practice to remove the negative terminal first because it is the side that is bonded to the car body. Installation is the reverse of removal. An easy way to clean is to simply use Windex or some other alcohol based window cleaner and a rag. That will clean up electrical connections like a champ, and most people have it.

I personally don't see a lot of corrosion- which would be white powdery deposits around where the terminals connect to each other. Dirty- oily dirty, yes, but I don't think that's affecting your connection. It won't hurt anything to clean stuff, and if your battery is 7 years old- it won't hurt to replace it. It's better to replace it than be stranded somewhere, and require a tow to a shop. Now that you know how to remove the terminals, and because Ford has such a smart terminal design that is super easy to work with- you can replace the battery by yourself if someone will take you to go and get it. When travelling with a battery, always set it on something plastic or rubber, like a spare garbage bag or simply a rubber floor mat. This is to prevent any drip of acid or acid that has dripped and is dry now from getting on the carpet where one day it will get moisture and eat a hole in the carpet. Even new batteries can do this from time to time. I got a hole in a brand new pair of jeans when I changed a battery one time- and I don't remember it leaking.

If the new battery doesn't work, have a mechanic check the ignition switch or replace it. I'd also have him check the wiring at the battery terminals. That's where my problem occurred that caused a similar issue. I have the tools and materials to reconnect a wire to a ring terminal, but it seems like you might not have that stuff laying around. I would also have him check the connections on the other side of those wires.

Best of luck to ya!
 

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I am nowhere near confident enough in my abilities to take apart battery terminals and clean them myself... I'll find someone willing to do it for me ;) Thanks for the help though.
Boil some water, or just get some really really hot water from the sink and pour it over the terminals to clean them. You can use a small brush if needed but the hot water should take care of a little gunk that builds up.
 

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Water & baking soda is great for cleaning corrosion/acid, but it won't help the terminal connection without taking it apart.
 

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What's the click noise? If it's a rapid clicking and the dash lights flash with the clicks, it's the starter engaging the flywheel, but not having enough power to turn, then retracting and trying again. Your battery is toast. Jump it and grab a new one.

Source: I jump cars for my job.
 
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