’99 Wagon, bucking, weak AC fan, dim radio dial0Æ | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)

’99 Wagon, bucking, weak AC fan, dim radio dial0Æ

Discussion in 'Electrical' started by d0ugparker, Jun 20, 2018.

  1. d0ugparker

    d0ugparker FEOA Member

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    33
    ’99 Escort wagon, 90K, reasonably well maintained here in the Nevada desert of Henderson, NV. We're just getting to our 100°+ summer days. I don't know if that's what's contributing to the following issue or not.

    The car feels as if it's stalling, then will resume for about nine or ten seconds, then will begin to feel like it's stalling again, repeat and repeat. The speedometer needle reading will flutter, then drop to zero while I'm traveling. The AC fan will get slightly weaker and weaker, while still blowing cold air, so the compressor appears to be working fine. The digital radio dial will get weaker and weaker until it goes dark, and the radio goes with it.

    If I shut off the AC during the bucking process, it doesn't seem to help anything, bucking-wise, nor power wise, although that test--where I turned off the AC--was done during the day, so I had no dashboard lights to compare between AC on or AC off. It just didn't seem to affect the overall problem at all when the AC and the circulation fan was shut off.

    I measured the battery voltage level--no load, engine off, and cold--and although it seems a bit low at 11.9V, it's still reasonably high enough to make me wonder if it's still hearty enough to not have the battery be an issue. I didn't check the voltage level when the car was running and the battery was under a heavier load.

    Is it just the summer heat that's worked its debilitating magic on the battery and now it's time to get a new one?

    Is it something else in the electrical system I'm not thinnin’ about that's the issue?
  2. rbailin

    rbailin FEOA Member

    Messages:
    1,229
    Likes Received:
    360
    Trophy Points:
    333
    A battery that reads 11.9V is only about 35% charged.

    When you measure the battery voltage with the engine running, it should read about 14V. If it reads less than 13.5V or more than 15V, there's a problem with your alternator.

    Before you retest the battery after turning off the engine, turn on your headlights for 5-10 seconds to remove the surface charge on the cells that would give you a false reading. If the battery voltage is consistently below 12.5V, you probably need a new battery.

    Running the car with a dying battery puts a real strain on the alternator, and you'll likely cause the engine to stall once you put a load on the system that exceeds the alternator output, say by turning on the headlights at dusk.

    Most auto parts stores now have a portable electronic battery tester that will test the battery and give you a printout of the results. Once the new battery is installed, they can test the alternator with the same tester.
    d0ugparker and zzyzzx like this.
  3. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    9,840
    Likes Received:
    2,627
    Trophy Points:
    563
    Location:
    south TX or northern VA
    The high temps are not likely a part of the problem. I would agree a badly sulfated battery could give you decent voltage readings when not under load, and drop a lot when loaded. Have you had a look into the battery cells to see if they all have water above the plates?
    zzyzzx likes this.
  4. d0ugparker

    d0ugparker FEOA Member

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    33
    I thought about that last night, no, I hadn't peeked into the cells yet. Good idea.
  5. marclar

    marclar Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,698
    Likes Received:
    428
    Trophy Points:
    383
    Location:
    seabeck WA
    battery, charging system.
  6. d0ugparker

    d0ugparker FEOA Member

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    33
    My tech at the repair shop says the problem is arcing between the line running from the battery to the alternator, and it's draining the battery, either arcing to the engine compartment, or to the other cables in the bundle. Damn. He said their shop won't do the work and I have to take it to an electrical shop to have them do the work. That's weird.

    I saw in one spot on the wiring close to the radiator where it looked melted and may have been arcing to the radiator, so I bought a 1/2" plastic wire loom and covered it with a 12" length, to insulate it, but I'm still losing battery power through some arcing someplace else.

    From the '99 images I've Googled for a 2.0L, the alternator cables are drawn going behind the engine and over to the battery location.

    [​IMG]

    It looks like there are three cables that are going into the alternator.

    [​IMG]

    I'm thinking my easiest approach is to buy a new wiring harness, disconnect the ends of the old, dried, arcing harness, leave the old wires in their bundle but insulate their ends, and install a new set of alternator wires. What I don't know and what Google searches aren't telling me is how difficult it's going to be to find the ends of the alternator wires so I can pull their old connectors off and install the new wiring in their place. I know there are fused links in the wiring sequence, and I just need to make sure I replace what I remove and a simply duplicate the old with the new in the process.

    I have looked for anyone selling a wiring harness, and there appears to be a few places that sell replacement harnesses. At this point, any pointers and suggestions are better than the frustration I'm feeling at the moment. ;-) Thanks.

    Attached Files:

  7. d0ugparker

    d0ugparker FEOA Member

    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    33
    I've stripped the outside plastic surrounding the internal wires on the alternator harness, and they do not look like they've been shorting. I'm charging the battery and it's holding its charge, so I'm calling it a bad alternator or bad control circuitry and the battery is simply not getting charged. Time to go back to the shop.

Share This Page