2003 Ford Escort Question on an alternator/battery problem

Tiny
ECCEBEN
  • MEMBER
  • 2003 FORD ESCORT
Electrical problem
2003 Ford Escort Automatic 95000 miles

Hey
I have a question about my 2003 Ford Escort ZX2 that I hope someone can help out with. For a long time now it's been a squeaking noise under the driver's side hood like a belt is loose but I look and it's never one loose that I can see. A few days ago I noticed the headlights would dim and get bright and the AC would go in and out. I thought it was the battery and planned to go buy one the following day. When I went to crank it up though the car wouldn't start at all, just a clicking noise. I had it towed to the dealership and the mechanic called and said he couldn't find anything wrong with it, that it started for him, and he asked me to describe the problem. I told him I thought it was the battery but I was concerned it was the alternator. He said the alternator was putting out 14V but he would go check the battery. An hour later he calls and said he ran more tests and determined the alternator was "dropping out" and that was the problem and I also needed a filter (I forget the exact name) installed to correct the squeaking problem. He quoted a very high price. I'm just wondering if I should go with his recommednation or try somewhere else. Any ideas?
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Friday, August 13th, 2010 AT 5:57 PM

4 Replies

Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
First, I can't think of any filters that would cause a squeak. Let me know for sure what he said. The alt for the car (from a parts store) is under 150.00. I don't know what he quoted you but it should take more than an hour to replace. There are only 3 bolts that hold it on and the coolant tank reservoir needs removed.

Find out what the filter is. If I had to guess, the squeak was from the belt. If you want to do it yourself, I can provide directions.

Let me know.

Joe
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Friday, August 13th, 2010 AT 8:54 PM
Tiny
ECCEBEN
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Hey -

Thanks for the response. That's exactly what I thought the squeaking was. It's coming from the driver's side front under the hood. I had the tensioner replaced a year ago and I think it's just that the belt turning the alternator needs to be tightened. I'm not a mechanic by any means but I've never heard of any kind of filter that deals with electrical issues. The only thing I could find they're talking about is a filter that dampens the alternator because of radio inteference?

After I had it towed in, the shop called and asked what the problem with the car was because it was starting fine for them. I told them that morning it hadn't started at all and would just make a clicking noise and when idling, the lights would go almost completely out and the AC fan would go down to almost nothing. I told him I thought it was the battery but was concerned it might also be the alternator. He said he'd tested the alternator and it was putting out 14v. So he said he'd run more tests and an hour later caled back and said the issue was the alternator, that it was 'dropping out'.

If the belt isn't turning the alternator, that can cause there to not be enough power coming to the battery, right? And if it isn't held on tight enough, it won't turn correctly? Maybe I'm just armchair diagnosing but I think the price he quoted ($600) is way too expensive for what this problem is.

Any ideas?
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Friday, August 13th, 2010 AT 9:25 PM
Tiny
JACOBANDNICKOLAS
  • EXPERT
What is interesting to me is this. The car wouldn't start in the AM for you, but started for them. I wonder if it was just a loose connection at the battery or corrosion that can cause that to happen. Regardless, if he is saying the alt is bad, it is a tight job to do, but if you have a little mechanical ability, you can handle it. I looked the part up at a popular auto parts store and it was 139.00. That is a lot cheaper than 600.

Let me know how you want to handle this. I will be happy to help you.

Joe
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Saturday, August 14th, 2010 AT 10:27 PM
Tiny
ECCEBEN
  • MEMBER
Hey there -

I ended up replacing the alternator assembly and something called a PB filter. I have to say it runs now and doesn't squeak.

Now, there's another problem, hah, if you have any advice on. The car's always had a rough idle - either when at a stoplight and the car's in drive but stopped or sitting still. When I shift into neutral the idle gets smoother but there's still a slight vibration throughout the whole car.

It's now gotten so bad that even shifting to neutral doesn't help. Literally the steering column vibrates about an inch up and down and the entire seat shakes.

I thought it was the motor mounts so I ahd those replaced about 6 months ago but it didn't do much. The only thing that I can think of is before they replaced my alternator, my check engine light was on and the code was for a bad O2 sensor. Could a bad O2 sensor make the car idle this roughly? Since they unhooked the battery, the light is off now and I can't get the code to see which sensor it is. Would it be helpful to replace the sensors to correct an extremely rough idle?

Oh, I notice that when the AC is off, the vibration is't as bad either.

Thanks for your help.
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Thursday, August 19th, 2010 AT 7:07 PM

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