98 escort won't charge. | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)

98 escort won't charge.

Discussion in 'Electrical' started by Reklis_clay, Jul 23, 2018.

  1. Reklis_clay

    Reklis_clay FEOA Member

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    98 escort 2.0sohc won't charge. New battery, new alternator, checked the grounds, fuses, and relays and all seem to be good. Drove to work one morning work no problem, got back in the car, started right up but the battery light was on. Noticed when I hit a bump it would flicker. Stopped by a mechanic friend of mine, he tested it and was only getting 11.5 at the alternator. He said it was bad, even though it was 6 months old, but I replaced it. Driving home the car lost power and died. Pulled the battery and walked to the auto parts store had them test the battery they said it was bad. Fine. Bought a new battery hooked it up in the car and the battery light was still on. Took it back to the mechanic friend the next day for any ideas. We noticed the wire going to the A pin on the alternator was jumped to the positive lug (which is a previous fix from a mechanic to bypass a bad wire but from what I've seen that's actually a viable fix) unhooked it from the positive lug and ran it directly to the positive terminal on the battery. When the wire was held to the post there was no change. When we rubbed the wire across the terminal the battery light on the dash would flicker. Since then I've replaced the pigtail that goes to the alternator, checked all wiring, grounds, fuses, relays and my battery still won't charge. This is my families only car so please any suggestions please help.
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  2. 88ESCORTV6

    88ESCORTV6 The Alpha Of The Omega

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    look under your radiator I think your power cable passes there and I have seen some that were cut or corroded.

    Can't help you more then this without having the car in front of me.
  3. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    My Escorts are all 2nd gen, but I think the alternators are the same on the 3rd gen. There are three connectors on the alt. The big one is for the output, and goes over to the black box near the air filter housing. It has a 100 amp fuse in it, that can blow out, if someone hooks up the battery backwards. That fuse doesnt pull out, you have to take out two bolts that connect it. And it doesnt turn black if it blows out - you have to look carefully.
    Back to the alternator: There is a connector with three wires going to it. That is actually the one coming from the car to let the alternator know you have the ignition on. There is also a connector with a single wire, going to a pin in a recess in the case. This is the wire that tells the voltage regulator to run. If that connector is loose on its pin, or the connection is dirty - it may not keep the alternator charging. Its is connected to one of the three wires going into the connector with three wires in it. That wire disappears into a little harness that is wrapped in black. If this wire is broken or corroded, the alternator likely wont get the signal to charge - and the battery light would be on.
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  4. Reklis_clay

    Reklis_clay FEOA Member

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    I actually physically pulled the 100a main and checked it... It was good. The wire from the harness that goes from the s pin in the harness to the little single s terminal is good. As a matter of fact I changed that pigtail or all together because they've been known to cause problems so brand new alternator, brand new pigtail and brand new connector on the little wire you're talking about. I'm at a complete loss.
  5. 88ESCORTV6

    88ESCORTV6 The Alpha Of The Omega

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    If you test at output of alternator does it output the proper voltage?
    Test it on big wire on alternator output then test it at battery.

    And try to activate alternator manualy.
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  6. Reklis_clay

    Reklis_clay FEOA Member

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    How do you activate the alternator manually?
  7. 88ESCORTV6

    88ESCORTV6 The Alpha Of The Omega

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    You send 2volts plus to activate it at the plug.
    For alternator to start working after activation engine has to be running.
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2018
  8. rbailin

    rbailin FEOA Member

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    The voltage to that small single wire comes from the circuit with the alternator idiot light. When there's no output from the alternator, that connection acts as a ground and the alternator light lights up. When the voltage regulator sees 12V on that connection, it starts up and feeds 12V back thru that connection, effectively turning off the alternator light.

    Rebuilt escort alternators are problematic. In the past, I've gone thru 3 of them that bench tested ok but didn't work on installation (less than 14V measured at the battery when running at idle). Some get very hot (too hot to the touch) after running for less than 15 minutes, which means either a bad bearing, misaligned housing, or constant full output to the field coil. A good alternator will get warm, but not blisteringly hot even after an hour of highway use.

    My current alternator tends to light up the alternator light when it gets too hot in city traffic and the engine starts to overheat (long story). It may also have worn brushes (because the idiot light would go out after hitting a good bump), but ever since I bought a replacement Motorcraft voltage regulator, it's been behaving and I haven't gotten around to installing the new part.

    Try installing the best alternator you can afford, and check it immediately after installation for at least 14V at the battery, and the idiot light should be off. Also check voltage at the B+ terminal, it should be identical to the measured battery voltage. Even though it's an electric part, they are returnable (esp. at Napa) if they fail on installation.
  9. Reklis_clay

    Reklis_clay FEOA Member

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    I don't know why (I have my hypothesis) but apparently the electrical gremlin got bored of messing with me in the car because much like Kaiser Sosa...POOF... It is gone.

    After doing everything I could possibly think of I went back to Pep Boys, traded out the battery for a new one under warranty and had them test the Alternator. The bench tester was broke, which I wanted to use because it would have eliminated all other inputs, so they tested with a multimeter. Dude said it was the battery, I said it was 5 minutes old so he pointed at the alternator. So swapped the alternator AGAIN, hooked everything up and.... Same shit. Battery light came on. I was just gonna set the car on fire and call it a day.

    Got to where I was going, unhooked the battery, and threw it on a battery tender so I could have a fully charged battery when I left at night. Time to leave so I hooked the battery up and started hauling ass home keeping my eyes on the headlights for any signs of dimming. About 2/3rds of the way home I instinctively look at the my instrument panel and realized the battery light was gone! HOORAY!!

    HYPOTHESIS: The batteries I had forgotten from the same store must have lost charge due to sitting for however long. They both had enough charge to start the car but my guess is, not enough charge to "tickle" the alternator to kick on. By charging the battery on the tender... It gave the battery the power to talk to the alternator and work!!

    Thank you guys for the help and the suggestions! I hate wiring and glad this is good for now!
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2018
  10. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the feedback. The bad words arent needed though.

    My unscientific impression is that if the battery was able to start the car, it would have had plenty of volts to enable the volt regulator in the alternator to create a magnetic field adequate to pump out a good charging current.
    However, I dont have any idea as to the underlying cause of the original problem. The different and mysterious gremlins in some 3rd gens is one reason I am happy with my 2nd gen. Escorts.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2018
  11. Reklis_clay

    Reklis_clay FEOA Member

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    Yeah sorry about the cussing. This was a copy and past for a couple other places to give everyone that helped me an update. I edited the words out.

    Like I said it's just a hypothesis. It's the only logical (even though it's not really logical) explanation I can come up with. After everything I did over the span of 5 days, the only thing that changed was having a completely 100% charged battery. After replacing the battery and alternator yesterday morning and having no change in status, I came to the conclusion I was gonna have to rewire the charging system and hope that took care of it as it, like maybe there was a broken wire that I couldn't see or maybe someone installed a mega or linkable fuse somewhere that I couldn't see. I'm so so so happy I don't have to run wire to make my car work. Yet. Lol.
  12. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    One of the great things about these forums is when members have a problem - I can go out and check whether my stable (of 5 Escorts) is having or about to have a similar problem. And if the member finds a solution; then I benefit by having the mystery already solved.
    Often I find a problem on one of my Escorts, then find I need to fix it on more than one of them.
    At the age of my Escorts, problems show up - that might be the kind that only happen after a car is 20 or 30 years old.

    Owing a new modern car must be really boring!
  13. rbailin

    rbailin FEOA Member

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    My 2000 Escort mocks me.

    About 5 hours after I wrote my response above, I went out shortly before midnight to pick up a friend's daughter at the train station. As soon as I started the car, the alternator light was on, bright as could be. Note that it hadn't been on in over 9 months, since I bought that Motorcraft voltage regulator to keep handy.

    I didn't do anything different, and I didn't have time to look into whether the battery was being charged. The headlights and instrument panel lights were as bright as usual, the wipers worked at normal speed (a really good test, I've found), and the station was close enough that I could make the round trip on the battery alone if need be.

    And after 10 minutes and about 6 miles of driving, mostly highway speeds, the light just went out, and hasn't come back on since with the engine running.

    No explanation. It just mocks me.
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  14. Jade Flacon

    Jade Flacon Guest

    i do not want to be associated with drugs illegal activity or porn.
    I will be removing all most posts and will no longer post here.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 4, 2018
  15. Akagis_white_comet

    Akagis_white_comet FEOA Member

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    These are Ford 3G Alternators. Here is the correct manner that they are wired, as borrowed from my RX7club album as a Moderator there.

    3 terminal connector on the Alternator. A Terminal: Voltage Sense. S= Stator (loops back to single pin connector on the alt). I= Ignition Switched 12v.

    Follow the 3.0/3.8L Taurus diagram at the bottom of the picture.

    [​IMG]
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