Intermittent Battery Light


Fluxlo
12-05-2007, 09:25 PM
Hi guys,

I drive a 1995 Ford Winstar 3.8 and I noticed over the weekend that my battery light came on, and stayed on during my trip home. However when I had to back my car out to allow another car to get out off the driveway I noticed that the light came on and went off at idle. I'm not really sure what it could be. I'm not very mechanically savvy but I took a look under the hood and the aux belt seems to be in decent shape (not much flex or cracking in the belt) and the alternator seems properly wired which leads me to believe that my alternator could be failing. So I have avoided driving the van just because I don't know how many starts are left in her.

But. At the same time I am curious if it is the battery itself that is failing, it has gotten about 20 degrees cooler here in the past 10 days and I have been using the accessories quite heavily to heat up the van. On top of that I'm not exactly sure how old the battery is. So I'll probably stop by Partsource and get them to test the battery.

Any suggestions on how I should tackle this problem and what are some simple ways to diagnose the issue? Advice is appriciated! Thanks for your time.

tripletdaddy
12-05-2007, 11:51 PM
Have them test everything like you said for your battery. They should be able to evaluate your altenater enough to give you an idea, but you may have a temporary situation if the battery isn't ok or you had an unusual load situation. I have the same vehicle and similar light on. I thought it was going. I bought the voltage regulator for it and haven't put it in in over a year since the light stopped coming on and apperently things cleared up. The regulator comes with the brushes or you can get the brushes separate. How much mileage on your van? I have 140k.
If you have a voltmeter, you should at battery 12.5v when all off, and 13.5 to 14.5v when engine on. too high or too low is a sign of voltage regulator failure. If voltage is still around original battery voltage or lower, than your alt is not putting out at all.

tomj76
12-06-2007, 02:55 PM
During the first year of owning my '96 Windstar, the battery light would intermittently come on. Of course, it never came on when it was at the dealership! The light would flash intermittently, as if there was a loose wire in the system. Sometimes the light would stay on steady. I could never find any conditions that consistently caused it.

I eventually accepted that the alternator was working fine, even if the light wasn't always giving a correct reading. I drove the vehicle in this condition for seven or eight years. Finally the alternator failed, or at least became weak enough that the battery discharged while driving. The light was on at the time, but due to the malfunction I didn't know the alternator was not working.

With the new alternator, the flashing finally stopped and has not returned.

Fluxlo
12-06-2007, 05:01 PM
Thanks for the responses guys. My van has close to 180000 kms on it. The internals were evaluated over September by my friends dad who is a certified mechanic with 40+ years of experience and also used to own the same model. He did some maintence and said that the vehicle was in good shape (especially the drivetrain)

I tried figetting some more with the connections last night and lo and behold, when i started her up today to test the voltage going into the battery the light went off. Off, the battery reads around 12 volts, on at idle the battery was about 13.5-14. Which seems pretty normal. Really strange.

Is it safe to assume that it was just a loose connection? I just want to be on the safe side because I have to trek back home (500km away) for the holidays and the last thing I would want to deal with is a dead battery on the highway.

LeSabre97mint
12-06-2007, 08:27 PM
Fluxio

I would hook the volt meter up on the inside of the van so you can watch it while driving. If you only see 12 volts when the light is on your alt isn't charging. The brushes could be sticking.

Regards

Dan

tripletdaddy
12-06-2007, 11:23 PM
The battery/altenater light does the same thing.

tomj76
12-07-2007, 07:41 AM
Here is the proceedure outlined in the Ford 1996 Windstar Service Manual:

F1: Check for Loose Connections
-Three pin generator regulator connector.
-Generator B+ eyelet
-Underhood fuse box eyelets.
-Battery Cables

*Are all connections clean and tight?
Yes:Go to F2
No:Clean or service connections as required

F2: Check for loos circuit fuse
*Start Engine
*Check Generator fuse in power distribution box for a loose connection by wiggling fuse with engine running
*Does indicator lamp flicker?
Yes: Service loose fuse connection
No: Service Generator.

There you have it. The circuit is very simple. If the lamp flickers, then there is either a bad connection in the generator circuit, or the generator is not functioning properly.

jayjp200
12-23-2007, 01:50 AM
I had the same problem......Your alternator is just about to quit. Just replace the alternator. You may also have to replace the battery later as it may have become weak

Rotorman
12-23-2007, 08:03 AM
Thanks for the responses guys. My van has close to 180000 kms on it. The internals were evaluated over September by my friends dad who is a certified mechanic with 40+ years of experience and also used to own the same model. He did some maintence and said that the vehicle was in good shape (especially the drivetrain)

I tried figetting some more with the connections last night and lo and behold, when i started her up today to test the voltage going into the battery the light went off. Off, the battery reads around 12 volts, on at idle the battery was about 13.5-14. Which seems pretty normal. Really strange.

Is it safe to assume that it was just a loose connection? I just want to be on the safe side because I have to trek back home (500km away) for the holidays and the last thing I would want to deal with is a dead battery on the highway.Good morning Fluxlo, I had the same problem last week, I performed extensive diagnosics to the electrical system, and culprit turned out to be a corroded alternator pickup wire that goes to the power box via the dashboard indicator light. The wire is located on top of the alternator, which is a 2 wire harness connected to a clip to the alternator. Cleaned both
contacts an added atouch of pb blaster to both by the way the can says its safe for electrical relays and connections. Waited a few minutes and wiped of any residue with a q-tip. Tested vehicle runs perfect with no dashboard light on. Good luck I hope this gets you going.

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