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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Tonight my battery light came on a few minutes after starting the engine. Headlights seemed normal and there are no codes showing. Turning the engine off then back on cleared the battery light and everything seemed normal. Any ideas of what to check? Is this a sign of something getting ready to go? 97 Wagon, 2.0 automatic, 222K miles.
Thanks for your help everyone. I appreciate this site.
I have a couple of trips to make this weekend and don't want to get stranded.
 

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check your alternator and see if the post is loose, check your battery clamps and see if they are getting worn out or loose. an intermittent light could be something as simple as a bad ground, so you never know, but it could also be a sign the regulator is on the way out. Check your belts and the tensioner as well.

You should also hook up a voltmeter and see what you are charging at.

Though an intermittent light is usually a bad connection or a loose wire somewhere, so it may never happen again, or you may spend days chasing it down.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Battery and terminals were replaced in June, terminals clean and tight. Belt looks good, alternator connections clean and tight. Voltage at battery engine running: 14.55. Guess I will drive it till it quits.
Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have no repair history on this car, it was a county surplus vehicle sold at auction.
The alternator looks old but I can not tell if it has been replaced or not. Alternator seems to have good output.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Looks like it was the alternator going out, light came on again today and did not go out. A voltage check with engine running was 11.9 at the battery. I drove it to the garage and the light went off just as I was pulling on their lot. Wish I could work on this at home myself but in this town you can't. Repair estimates have run from $220 to over $500 with most of the expense being the part. What makes an Escort alternator so expensive?
 

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most local ordinances will allow you to do some work on your cars as long as you dont have them torn apart beyond a certain point or have them disassembled for an extended period of time. Illegalizing DIY car repairs wouldnt make it very far in most parts of this country, and would meet a LOT of resistance by groups with such an interest. I bet if you did ever get fined for swapping an alternator in your driveway, you could find a lot of special interest groups that would give you their support in court if you wanted to get the fines thrown out. Alternators are a pretty easy swap, and if you have even basic skills with hand tools, there is no reason to pay someone to do it. $500 is pretty damn high, that is charging more in labor than the cost of a new alternator for a half hour job. If you have even basic mechanical competence you should be able to change the alternator in around an hour or 2. A competent DIYer an hour or less. I could have an alternator in a GT swapped in 30 minutes, and an LX about the same. Only difficult part in the swap is reaching down to the bolts on the GT, and fishing the alternator out on an LX.

$220 sounds reasonable for a shop to replace your alternator however. A new alternator from the parts store will probably run you around 160 - 180 (a reman if available will be around 120 probably), the mechanic gets a discount, then they are probably quoting an hour or less of labor and selling you the alternator at or under list price.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thiis town has a "junk" car ordinance. IF your car is not able to be driven when the cop asks then it will be towed away. So we can not put a car on ramps and change the oil at home. If a cop shows just as you drained the oil, your car is non operable and considered junk. And they do it here. They called a tow truck to haul off my friend's Focus as he had jacked it up to change a tire. It was not drivable when the cop saw it so had to be towed.
 

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they have to prove the car has been inoperable for a period of time (usually at lest 72 hours), and then they give you a 30 day compliance notice.

At least that is the way it appears from any other case I have seen in Xenia. Not allowing you to change oil in your driveway would be unconstitutional.

The town I live in, Vermillion, has the same junk car ordinances as your town does, and more than once the cops or code enforcement has tried to cite me with violating it, every time I have been able to get it thrown out. --they got so tired of citing me, they don't even bother me about my inoperable vehicles as long as noone complains. They generally arent an eyesore anyways, a lot of times I cover vehicles, and most of the time I put the vehicle back together before I am done working for the night, at least well enough that it looks like any other vehicle.

Besides, an officer has no right to come onto your property and demand you start your vehicle.

Even communities like Beverly Hills have these types of ordinances, and they are generally more strict with enforcement of codes like that, but you can find kids out there adding stroker kits, aftermarket exhaust, aftermarket suspension, they bought with their parents credit cards on their cars. Heck, even in that show "Hogan knows Best", Hulk Hogan's son frequently worked on his car in their driveway. If that type of activity was illegal, the production company would have faced stiff penalties, and there would have been cops showing up on one of those episodes. Only time you saw cops was for animal and noise complaints. MY WIFE used to watch the show WAY to much.
 

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This happened to me. I was able to replace the brush set from AutoZone for less than $20.00, came in the form of a module which can be removed from the alternator via two torx screws. I removed the alternator to replace the module, but I believe it can be replaced without removing the alternator.
 
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