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carshateme
Newbie

Reged: 09/03/06
Posts: 3
Flickering Battery Light / Battery Won't Charge
#1311755 - 09/03/06 05:36 PM

1996 Ford Contour GL
16V 4 Cylinder Zetec Engine
84,000 miles
Automatic Transmission

I did a lot of driving yesterday, and when I went to start my car, the Battery Light flickered brightly as my engine revved up and slowly faded/ flickered out as the engine wound down.

Since the car appeared to be working fine, I started driving. I noticed that the battery light would flicker on everytime I accelerated and then go off, as I released pressure on the gas.

About 30 minutes down the road, all of my interior and exterior lights began dimming, the radio shut off, and I lost power.

After pulling over and recieving several jumps (the car would almost instantly die when the jumper cables were removed), I had to have it towed back to my apartment.

If anyone could help me out here, I'd be immensely appreciative. I did a search on this problem and found simliar instances, but I had a hard time understanding it all. I'm a broke-ass musician, and only really have a basic knowledge of cars. I'm just trying to get a grasp on whats going on, before I replace an alternator, battery and cabling and still have it not fixed.

From all the other topics I've read, I can tell this is a great forum, and I really look forward to any help anyone's willing to offer.

-ant


Edited by carshateme (09/03/06 05:41 PM)

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Big Jim
Hard-core CEG'er

Reged: 09/03/00
Posts: 4693
Loc: Thousand Oaks, California, USA
Re: Flickering Battery Light / Battery Won't Charg new
#1311758 (Re: carshateme) 09/03/06 05:57 PM

First of all get the battery charged and tested. A completely dead battery can keep the alternator from charging. If the battery tests bad after charging, replace it, then test the alternator. You may only need a new battery.

Once the battery is qualified, you need a voltmeter to test the alternator. With the eingine running at about 2000 RPM (that would be gently reved up) and all electrical accessories off, you should have a voltage reading of about 14.5 volts. It may be a bit lower if the battery is not fully charged (a new battery may not be fully charged).

If the alternator isn't working you will have nearly the same voltage as with the engine off (about 12.5 volts).

Bdfore condeming the alternator if the voltage reading is low, check the mega fuse in line between the battery and the alternator. Also check the belt to make sure the tensioner is holding tension so it isn't slipping.

I hope this helps.

--------------------
Jim Johnson
98 SVT
03 Escape Limited

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johnoh
CEG'er

Reged: 04/30/06
Posts: 63
Re: Flickering Battery Light / Battery Won't Charge new
#1311779 (Re: carshateme) 09/03/06 06:56 PM

Assuming you are not wanting to take the do-it-yourselfer approach, the key is having someone else do it but not getting ripped off. You can go to an autozone or walmart or any place that sells batteries and they will do a quick check of your battery and alternator and tell you whether either or both are shot. Mention to them that your car has a megafuse between the battery and alternator. They should be able to diagnose the problem, and will not charge you for it (in my experience).

If all you need is a battery, you can buy one there. If you need an alternator, you can call around to shops to get the price+installation. Its possible your problem goes beyond this, but hopefully not - your symptoms are those of a bad alternator.

--------------------
'95 Contour GL 2.0l automatic, 110k miles

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carshateme
Newbie

Reged: 09/03/06
Posts: 3
Re: Flickering Battery Light / Battery Won't Charg new
#1311789 (Re: johnoh) 09/03/06 07:32 PM

Originally posted by johnoh:
Assuming you are not wanting to take the do-it-yourselfer approach, the key is having someone else do it but not getting ripped off. You can go to an autozone or walmart or any place that sells batteries and they will do a quick check of your battery and alternator and tell you whether either or both are shot. Mention to them that your car has a megafuse between the battery and alternator. They should be able to diagnose the problem, and will not charge you for it (in my experience).

If all you need is a battery, you can buy one there. If you need an alternator, you can call around to shops to get the price+installation. Its possible your problem goes beyond this, but hopefully not - your symptoms are those of a bad alternator.




Thanks a lot for the quick responses guys! I'm going to try and charge and test the battery first thing tomorrow. I'll let you know how everything works out.

Also, how can I get to the megafuse? If I'm understanding this correctly, the battery connects to the megafuse, which connects to the alternator?

Thanks again!

-ant

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Tony2005
Addicted CEG'er

Reged: 06/19/05
Posts: 5345
Loc: Virginia, USA
Re: Flickering Battery Light / Battery Won't Charg new
#1311878 (Re: carshateme) 09/04/06 12:18 AM

Welcome . I suggest you check/test/change Fuse 5 (fog lights) in Power Distribution Box next to the battery first before going to the megafuse.

--------------------
"Always do the cheap and easy ones first."

1996 V6 ATX 96K miles


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carshateme
Newbie

Reged: 09/03/06
Posts: 3
Re: Flickering Battery Light / Battery Won't Charg new
#1312141 (Re: Big Jim) 09/04/06 06:09 PM

Originally posted by Big Jim:
First of all get the battery charged and tested. A completely dead battery can keep the alternator from charging. If the battery tests bad after charging, replace it, then test the alternator. You may only need a new battery.

Once the battery is qualified, you need a voltmeter to test the alternator. With the eingine running at about 2000 RPM (that would be gently reved up) and all electrical accessories off, you should have a voltage reading of about 14.5 volts. It may be a bit lower if the battery is not fully charged (a new battery may not be fully charged).

If the alternator isn't working you will have nearly the same voltage as with the engine off (about 12.5 volts).

Bdfore condeming the alternator if the voltage reading is low, check the mega fuse in line between the battery and the alternator. Also check the belt to make sure the tensioner is holding tension so it isn't slipping.

I hope this helps.




Took the battery to Autozone to have it tested this morning. It was completely drained and failed the test when it was charged back up.

Luckily it was under warranty, and they gave me a new one. Unfortunately, that didnt solve the problem. I was able to start my car, but the battery light started flickering again upon revving the engine.

I luckily own a multimeter- so I measure the voltage on the battery with the car off. Roughly 12.5v. With the car started it measured a little less than that...

So I went back to Autozone, and mention the possibility of the Megafuse and the guy kinda just scoffs at me and tells me its definately the alternator "If a fuse went, you wouldn't be getting anything at all." I don't know what that means...

So I call around all the local mechanics and the best price I could come up with to replace the Alternator was $242 from Pep Boys. And it won't be a brand new alternator, but a Factory Re-built one.

What do you guys think? Does the guy from Autozone know what the hell he's talking about?

And how can I check the Mega Fuse? I understand that it's inline between the battery cable and the alternator, but where? I can only follow the cable so far... unless I have to get at it from underneath the car.

Thanks again for all the help. I feel like I'm learning a lot here too.

-ant



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johnoh
CEG'er

Reged: 04/30/06
Posts: 63
Re: Flickering Battery Light / Battery Won't Charg new
#1312155 (Re: carshateme) 09/04/06 06:44 PM

Originally posted by carshateme:
the guy kinda just scoffs at me and tells me its definately the alternator "If a fuse went, you wouldn't be getting anything at all."



He means that if the fuse is blown you would get no current. But what he doesn't realize is that the megafuse can be partially blown as well. Search for megafuse here and you will find pics to help you locate it.

Originally posted by carshateme:

So I call around all the local mechanics and the best price I could come up with to replace the Alternator was $242 from Pep Boys. And it won't be a brand new alternator, but a Factory Re-built one.



Normally I would say yes go with Pep Boys, but others here have had issues with rebuilt alternators, so you should search on alternators as well and learn what they have to say. If Pep Boys gives you a lifetime warranty on it, I would go with it regardless. But do tell them to check out your wiring, saying you heard about one guy with contour who needed an new alternator every year, and since they certainly will not want you making repeated warranty claims they will take a few minutes to check out your wiring.

--------------------
'95 Contour GL 2.0l automatic, 110k miles

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Tony2005
Addicted CEG'er

Reged: 06/19/05
Posts: 5345
Loc: Virginia, USA
Re: Flickering Battery Light / Battery Won't Charg new
#1312219 (Re: carshateme) 09/04/06 09:08 PM

If the megafuse or fuse 5 is completely blown, the charge light will be on continuously. If it is "partially broken" or some wire connection is loose, then you could get a flickering Battery/Charge light. An alternator with bad brushes or regulator could also give a flickering light.

I would suggest going with a FORD OEM BRAND NEW alternator. I think it is about $170 but it will be worth every penny. Some have had to replace rebuilt aftermarket alternators many times and it is not a fun thing to do. Yes, it is warranteed for lift but you have to pay for labor to reinstall again. I have to say that the Zetec 2.0L alternator is way easier to change than a Duratec 2.5L.

--------------------
"Always do the cheap and easy ones first."

1996 V6 ATX 96K miles


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rayray
Newbie

Reged: 12/22/03
Posts: 1
Loc: Carol Stream, Illinois
Re: Flickering Battery Light / Battery Won't Charge new
#1312226 (Re: carshateme) 09/04/06 09:37 PM

I had your exact problem on 7/4/06. And in my case it was the mega fuse. The fuse had cracked which gave the same indications as loosing the alternator. IE flickering light, then on steady. Unfortunatly I only learned about the fuse after installing a new alternator ($165)and still having the light on afterwards. I own the same contour as you. The fuse is mounted on a bracket between the throtle plate and the fire wall. You get to it by removing the air box that sits between the cam cover and the fire wall. Two nuts, one bolt, (all 10mm) and one hose clamp. When you lift the air box off you'll have to lean over and look down between the engine and fire wall. You'll see two (approx 8ga) wires going to a black cover about 3in. long. Lift the cover off by hand and presto...one 175amp mega fuse held down by to 7/16ths nuts. I had 12volts on the battery side of the fuse 0 on the alternator side. Seven dollars later I was back on the road. Hope this helps. Feel free to write.

Ray Pokorney
96 Contour GL
136,000mi and still hummin

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Tony2005
Addicted CEG'er

Reged: 06/19/05
Posts: 5345
Loc: Virginia, USA
Re: Flickering Battery Light / Battery Won't Charge new
#1312296 (Re: rayray) 09/05/06 12:17 AM

Welcome, rayray . Thanks for posting.

--------------------
"Always do the cheap and easy ones first."

1996 V6 ATX 96K miles


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RayModerator
Addicted CEG'er

Reged: 07/10/01
Posts: 7100
Loc: San Antonio/Austin, TX
Re: Flickering Battery Light / Battery Won't Charg new
#1312472 (Re: Tony2005) 09/05/06 03:35 AM

If your megafuse was blown, it would illuminate the charging light at all times.

The FUSE itself if fine.

The possible problems could be:

battery
alternator
wiring from the alternator to the megafuse
wiring from the alternator to the chassis
wiring from the battery to the megafuse
wiring from the battery to the chassis

You've eliminated the battery, so look in to loose wiring at the actual mega fuse location (both side of the fuse), and check your battery ground, and alternator/chassis ground.

otherwise, the alternator could be toast/going bad.


--------------------
'99 CSVT - Silver #222/276
In a constant state of blow-off euphoria.
Originally posted by Kremitthefrog:
I like to wear dresses and use binoculars to watch grandmas across the street.




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