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Ford Focus Electrical and Lighting Problems



  • mickeymouse2mickeymouse2 Posts: 161
    Guru here,

    The loose/bad conection may have been the initial problem of the alternater over charging, Resistance in the system causes the regulator to put out too much. This can also be caused by dirty cable ends, poor grounding, ect. Modern cars have grounding issues due to the number of plastic components. Its important that all those little ground straps that the manufacturer put on there are still there. You also have to understand that you have a computer controled vehicle.
    Sensors do not react well with too much voltage. A damaged sensor might have occured also. You might be lucky and just have to reset the PCM by disconecting the negative or use a scan tool to go through a relearn proceedure to get the vehicle to stop dieing. 14.6v is not too high of voltage, try testing it with the lights on also. If bat light still on, the PCM might be sensing a diod ripple from the alternater and turning your bat light on. Here is an example; Vehicle was overcharging like yours, problem was fixed. Bat light still on. PCM data showed charging voltage at 15.5v when in reality it was now 14.0v. Ya, PCM's can get damaged by too much voltage and then simply be reading it wrong. This is why all manufacturers do not recommend ever jump starting your vehicle, your sending a voltage spike through out the entire system.

    Finish your repair and see what the end result is. Even go ahead and put that other used alt in if you want. Scanning the PCM with a scanner that shows data (like a snap on) may end up being what you have to do. Good luck with it.
  • axelvaxelv Posts: 6
    Thanks Guru, for your insights! I just finished the work on the Focus. See some pictures by clicking here. It was a pain getting that connector off. I think I broke the old connector completely and also the alternator side has suffered a bit. Getting the insulation off the wires on the pigtail behind the alt was a pain too. Then, doing the soldering in that small a space was not easy either! But it was ok. Worst was getting the insulation off. Triple checked to make sure the wire order was correct the way i soldered it on and plugged the new connector in. Took me about 3 hrs total. Needed a lighted dental mirror, a soldering iron, a sharp knife, some tweezers, and a beer. Before the work I checked again. Voltage was 14.2 this time and the battery light still on permanently. Idle was bad, stalling. After the work was done, the battery light was off, voltage stable at 14.7V. With everything on, it went down to 14.3V. I did a short test drive. No issues. The gauges didn't flicker any more. Will drive it to work tomorrow and post my findings. So far I'm happy, but I don't trust it completely yet. Thanks so far guys for all the messages I received. Stay tuned for updates. BTW, the pigtail costs $37.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 8,175
    "Above 14 volts" means just that. With the voltage out of the regulator varying, I'd wager you're still going to need to replace it.

    The whole idea of the regulator is to provide that rock steady voltage.

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  • axelvaxelv Posts: 6
    So please tell me, what's the actual voltage it has to be at? And what's the tolerance it can move around in? And is that independent of system loading? Thanks for your help.
  • oldfordmecholdfordmech Posts: 124
    Are u still having problem w/red alt light still on after doing above test ?
  • axelvaxelv Posts: 6
    14.2, that's good to know, thank you for the information! With everything off except the engine I now have 14.6...14.7, steady. When I add some load (high beam, music, full blower motor) it drops to 14.3, also steady. The battery light was off since the repair, I drove 35 miles since and everything is normal. No flickering, no idle problems, no stalling, steady blower motor, steady headlight output.
    As a quick history of the problem again: first the red battery light (not the orange engine light) came on intermittently. When it was on, I was normally able to shut it off by pressing the clutch pedal completely (it's a manual) or by changing gears, which involves pressing the clutch, so I figured it's probably not rpm related. The the light came on more frequently so I looked in the manual what could be wrong and started reading the forums and measured the voltage (up to 16.3V varying constantly with engine on) and so on. Then eventually the instrument lighting started to flicker and the headlights and blower motor rpm started to vary, and also the rpm and speedometer gauges started to have a life of their own (zeroing, going to max, then back to normal, also all warning lights came on - probably the instrument cluster self-test or calibration, and there was a bell (like when you forget the headlights and pull the key)). Then I looked in my book and the forums also said replace voltage regulator/alternator when voltage is over 14. While starting to work around the alt, I noticed the corroded wire, which then came off completely (the red wire on the 3 pin connector on the back of the alt [blue and white cable were still ok] - see some links to pictures in my previous posts). Once the cable was off completely, the symptoms changed: battery light on constantly, voltage stable at 14.7V, but now it was also stalling when at idle rpm. Then I bought the pigtail #118 from Ford ($37) and did the repair. Car is running normally ever since. (knocking on wood 3 times). Note that I did not change the alternator, and did not change the voltage regulator! Here's the link to the pictures again: Pictures
  • From your pics i would say u found and fixed the problem. Keep an eye on your voltage for awhile, as long as it does not go over 15 at any tme and stays above 14 u should be ok. High voltage can warp the plates in your battery plus a host of problems with other electrical parts.
  • Does anyone know of an electrical wiring issue that can cause alternators to fail? I drive a 2002 Focus ZTS and have replaced the alternator twice already and am now looking at alternator #4. The alternator in the car is barely 7 months old and today the battery light came on and stayed on, not even going off when I revved the engine to higher RPMs as I have usually seen it do when the alternator was the issue. Had the charging system tested at Auto Zone who said the battery was fine and it was the alternator. I find it hard to believe that the brand new alternator just randomly decided not to work at all halfway through today.

    It was also coincidental that one headlight went out yesterday and I had just had a mechanic friend replace the bulb today just before the drive home when the battery light came on. He didn't mess with anything but the light, but I have a hard time believing they aren't somehow related.

    The first alternator went bad in August of 2006, when it started charging intermittently. Replaced it with a remanufactured alternator and got a new battery. Then that alternator supposedly went bad in late December of 2008. The symptoms that time around included some less typical for a bad alternator (i.e. audio system randomly rebooting in the middle of a drive) and I was suspicious of an underlying electrical issue. I mentioned my concerns to the guys at the Tuffy's where I had to take it (car wouldn't hold a charge more than 3 minutes so I had to take it to the closest possible auto shop). They pretty much just patronized me, told me they'd check, and acted like I was an idiot for thinking it could be anything other than the alternator. The alternator they put in is still under warranty so I shouldn't have a problem getting that replaced but I don't want to keep treating this rather expensive symptom if the real issue is something else.

    From what I gather from reading others' complaints, there are a lot of electrical/alternator problems with the Focus, so if anyone has any ideas about what could be causing my '02 to eat alternators, I'd really appreciate it!
  • What is overlooked most of the time is poor grounding or bad or dirty conections at the battery or the B terminal on the back of the Alternater, A clue you gave about the radio resetting is telling me a loose conection somewhere on your battery cables. Try adding some extra ground cables to the engine and fender. An overworked regulator will burn out early due to the heat from any resistance in the wiring.
  • Hi;
    My name is Cliff-an old Ford mechanic. #1.check the wiring plug in at the alt. pull slightly on the wiring at the plug in to see if you have any loose connectors also check plug in wiring for any sign of (GREEN) corrosion. Next check BOTH ends of each battery cable and make sure they are CLEAN & TIGHT. Next check that you have a GOOD ground from the eng to the body. You should have approx 14.2 volts at the battery with the eng at 1000 rpm and a good load on the system, headlights, blower motor on high,wipers on.
    Let me know what you find out.
  • sucofsucof Posts: 1
    Two years mine, no problem except ignition locked up a year ago. But tonight... tried to start it... ignition key turned, but engine wouldn't turn over... very faint click, no dash lights but map lights and dome light worked (bit faint). I wanted to push car out of parking spot to get a boost, but couldn't even get the transmission (auto) into neutral (locked in park). CAA arrived and used an "Eliminator" to boost, car started fine. I headed home (20 mins, highway speed). Everything seemed fine. About 2 mins from home, some of the dash lights came on, car seemed to sputter a bit, but didn't stall. I pumped the gas a bit, car responded. At a stop light, I put into neutral and rev'd, car responded. Dash lights went back to normal (none on). Once home, switch off, and tried to restart... nothing. Remote Key Entry will unlock driver door, no other doors... and won't lock anything. I had to use the key to lock doors. Hatch (stn wgn) won't lock. Tomorrow, I'll check cables to battery for corrosion, check connection to alternator and check ground. Any other thoughts? Where is the GEM ?
  • The front and rear nearside side lights have stopped working!!! any ideas what could be wrong?

    At the back the same bulb is also the break, the break light work but not the side light.

    the bulbs are good (checked), front and back. any thoughts
  • Two weeks ago, my daughter took my 2006 focus zx3 to the local ford dealer to replace a right rear turn light bulb. The next day the battery light came on. The problem seemed intermittent, so she neglected to take it to the garage. Last Friday she picked me up from work and during the 25 mile drive, the lights gradually dimmed, the cd player quit and then the radio came on by itself. We made it home just as everything died; power steering, brakes, everything. I had it hauled to the dealer who took two days to replace an alternator and battery, but that's another issue. My question is this: Is the fact I started having electrical problems right after they replaced a bulb coincidence or could the service department have caused the problem, either accidentally or deliberately?
  • sorted my problem out. did nt know about the 2nd fuse box at the back of the glove compartment!!! where the light fuses are..
  • that is some thing you could never prove. it is some thing that must be put down to coincidence unless you could PROVE otherwise which I think would be impossible.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 60,641
    Don't think so unless the car was jump started incorrectly at the dealership (crossed battery cables) for some reason. But if the car was started and running normally, they would have had no reason to do that. You can't damage an alternator by replacing a bulb.

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  • 2 things to check, 1. both ends of battery cables must be clean and tight. 2. grab wires at alt plug-in and give a slight tug and look for any signs of corrosion at the wire ends in the plug-in.

    Also, changing a stop light bulb in no way had anything to do with your other problems, just bad timing.
  • Hi all.
    My passenger side and rear lights would not work in my 2000 focus estate,checked fuse,blown. replaced and again blew. plugged out connecter in boot for lights , front lights both sides came on. next i plugged back in large brown connecter .Now both sides have stopped working and fuses have not blown and bulbs seem to be ok. removed licence plate lights and noticed they were very wet inside . Dont know what to do next. Hope someone can help. thanks.
  • Hi jonoor;

    OK, it's been awhile but I may be able to help. To test your bulbs use an ohm meter.( you can find a small-cheap volt-amp--ohm tester at Sears, Auto Zone, or anyplace like this ) see if you can pass current through each bulb with your ohm tester, if you don't get a reading you have a bad bulb. Now back to wet lic plate bulbs. Are the sockets clean (with bulb removed) or corroded ? they must be clean.
    as for water getting in, it can come in around trunk handle, around light lens. take out the lic lifht bulbs and see if other lights work. FLASHBACK I was working at a Ford dealer in 99-00 and we had a recall on 00 Focus to replace the wiring loom that goes to yhe lic lights,they would short out & cause havic. The connector is located in the trunk, on the L.side high up under the back glass. unplug it there and see if you can get your other lights working. If they work with that loom disconnected, go to a Ford dealer and see if this recall is outstanding.If it has been done. Thank them and see if you can find 1 at a bone yard.Get a 4 ft chunk of mechanics wire, take your old loom loose in the trunk, hook the wire to the old loom and pull it out from the L top corner of trunk lid. Tape wire to new loom, spray down with soap water and pull back through trunk lid with mech wire and reconnect to connector. hope this helps. Cliff
  • I have a Ford Focus Ghia Estate 1989CC V reg (2000) which all of a sudden

    developed electrical faults as follows: rear and number plate lights don't work

    at all; parking lights and side lights don't come on when the light switch is

    moved to their respective position; the warning buzzer that sounds when the

    lights are left switch on doesn't sound; and the instrument panel illumination

    doesn't come on. All the other lights work OK (headlamps -low and high beam-,

    indicators, break, fog and reverse lights, interior lights) and the screen wipers

    work OK (including intermittent mode). The horn works OK and all the warning

    lights in the instrument panel come up as expected. The fuses appear to be OK

    in both the engine fuse box and the central fuse box. Any ideas?
  • have a 2001 Ford Focus SE Manual Transmission. The brake lights don't work yet the fuse, brake switch, flashers and running lights funtion properly. What could be the cause of the brake lights not functioning?
    I did check the power to the brake switch, the switch is good.

    What could be the problem?

    Thanks in advance,
  • Do your brake lights & flashers use the same bulb ? I've slept since then. If they do, your brake lights go through your turn-signal switch. check for power from brake light sw going up into ts sw & back out to the rear. Hope this helps
  • mecncmecnc Posts: 3
    I'm curious to know if you found out the problem. I've a 2001 focus that is doing the same thing and I'm thinking it's the starter. I hope not though as the starter looks like a bear to get off.
    get a cheap digital volt meter, test battery voltage, should be about 12.5 or better. next make sure BOTH ends of battery cables are CLEAN & TIGHT. Next have another person turn key to start pos while you read for 12 volts at small wire at starter relay. this relay may be mounted to the inner fender well or it may be mounted to the starter.If you have 12 volts on big red cable at the starter and the small wire has 12 volts with key in start pos, and nothing happens, replace starter. If no voltage on small wire, this could be 1. ign switch 2. neutral start switch if auto trans or 3. clutch depress
    switch if standard shift. Hope this helps. Cliff.
  • grbeckgrbeck Posts: 2,361
    Our 2005 Focus SE sedan has 97,000 miles on the odometer. Recently the door ajar light on the dashboard has been staying permanently lit, even after we make sure all of the doors are shut. The car is scheduled to go in for service this coming Monday, but we don't want to mention this to the service people until we have an idea of what is causing it. Thank you.
  • You have a small switch that attaches to each door latch, it could be ft. or back if 4 dr.
    this switch has a plunger that is not returning all the way out when door is closed. This switch was available for 2000 modles so I would think it still should be for 2005. Sometimes they could be an SOB to replace, getting your hand at the right angle and still be able to turn it to get it out and then reverse. It goes into a mounting hole in the latch then you must turn it to lock it in. If it;s a 4 dr. a computer scanner can tell you which door latch is the bad one. Hope this helps, Cliff
  • hello i was just wondering if u found out what was going on with your car because mine is doing the same thing!!! :confuse:
  • helo did u ever find what wrong with your focus i am having the same problem which i will be taking my car to a dealership to diagnose but i dont wanna pay the 100 bucks they are charging me and then they will tell me im crazy!! hehehe please help i get that big jerk then my multi-function transaxle light turns off then turns back on! and thats when my car goes off.. .help help!!! :blush:
  • I'm having the same problem and i'm looking for answers before i take the car to the dealership for the diagnostic check. can anybody offer answers?!?!
  • Please explain in detail just what is going on, also what are you calling a multifunction light ? is this an auto trans or not ?
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