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Strange Electrical Issue


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#1 SteveTDCI

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 09:22 AM

Hi Guys

 

Just got hold of a 51 TDDI Ghia 77,000 miles and 1 owner from new with FSH!

 

It runs really well but has developed a strange problem whilst its been sitting up my path waiting to be insured. I have started it up each day to keep the battery in order and it has been fine for the first 3 days.

 

However yesterday I was playing with the gauge sweep function and flicking through the different parameters and decided to start the car whilst looking for DTC, as soon as I turned the key all lights went out and the car was completely dead.

 

No dash lights no interior lights no central locking just completely stone dead, anyway I suspected the battery was well and truly dead so I left the car for a few hours. Went back to it abit later and the interior lights were back, dash light up on ignition and the car started fine ??????

 

Went through the gauge sweep again to check voltage and it started around 11.8v and then rose to a steady 14.7v even with all the gadgets switched on.

 

Any ideas on this one?

 

Cheers



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#2 jeebowhite

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 10:29 AM

Sounds like the battery is on its way out to be honest. The cold probably affected the amperage and dropped its ability to start the car. Then as you have left it, no doubt it has warmed up, affecting the amp's less and allowing the car to start.

 

Did you notice any flickering of headlights, or clicking noises on first attempt to start?



#3 BOF

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 12:06 PM

I don't think that it is the battery, but I could easily be wrong.

 

What would have been nice would have been to get a battery voltage reading, with a DVM, immediately after the failed attempt to start. (I'm guessing that the battery still has voltage....but, that is a guess. If it does still have voltage, and you have an assistant, you may be able to get instantaneous voltage readings across leads and connections, while they attempt to start the car. Or, if the car does the 'not even attempting to start' thing again, you may be able to get voltages then).

 

My best guess is that the electrics have some problem and that, attempting to start the car has reset things do that the supply to the rest of the car is disconnected (probably some relay supplying power to most of the car dropping out, either because the relay has a problem, or because the wiring to the relay is intermittent).

 

If it is the battery, it has to be a long way gone, because normally you'd get some pained sounding slow attempt to crank, like a slow motion attempt to invent the wah-wah pedal, before it finally gave way. And you wouldn't necessarily expect it to recover enough to start the car - it is likely to recover a bit, but probably not enough to start the car, without outside assistance (a charger or a jump).

 

When it failed to start, did you hear, by the way, the starter solenoid operate, or did it just do nothing at all?

 

Can you put the battery on charge, to see what happens (does it take lots of current, does that current tail off at a reasonable rate - if it tails off very fast, maybe the capacity of the battery is almost zero, and if it never tails off, there may be a dead cell, or something [it would have to be an intermittently dead cell, which is a bit more difficult to imagine, but could happen])?

 

Do the connections to the battery and to the vehicle body look to be in good condition? Do they look as if they have been recently cleaned and re-greased?

 

What condition does the battery look to be in - hence or otherwise (as they used to say in exams - maybe there is some evidence in bills???) can you get an estimate of the battery age, and is it a decent brand?

 

(If it looks like it is the initial Ford-branded battery that it has had from new, it will, by now, be pretty much shot, so you might feel that changing the battery as a first step wouldn't be all that bad, because you are probably going to have to change it soon, anyway. It probably isn't the initial battery, though)


Edited by BOF, 12 December 2013 - 12:09 PM.


#4 SteveTDCI

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 01:13 PM

Hi there and thanks for the reply, I thought it was strange that there was no power whatsoever not even to click the starter solenoid, as if someone had removed the battery all together. Then a few hours later it started first turn of the key no problem.

I did note though after it starting up it was idling very slightly erratically presumably from the ecu resetting, during this time the lights were slightly flickering as the revs moved up and down. I will check the condition of the battery and leads when I get home and report back

Cheers

#5 jeebowhite

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 01:23 PM

Definately sounding more like battery. Pop into a few of your local garages on the way home, a lot will do a free winter check including battery and alternator. get a few opinions, but I anticipate you will be advised you need a new battery.



#6 SteveTDCI

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 04:19 PM

Ok when I got home I had a look at the battery and its a Bosch S3 004, looks relativley new but is much smaller than the battery tray, not sure wether its silver calcium but the negative terminal was very lose, tightened it up and it started up straight away no problem.

 

Voltage through the gauge sweep(cant find my multimeter) was 12.2 with engine off and 14.7 with engine idling so it all appears much more healthy, Ill keep my eye on it over the next few days and report back but it looks as though the lose terminal may have been the problem

 

thanks again



#7 jeebowhite

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 04:44 PM

Hopefully that was the case, sadly I suffered the same fate at the start of the year! the battery was tied in but the negative wasnt tightly on, thus it connected, passed some charge through the battery (no battery light as all was working) yet because there was only contact with about 25% of the electrode, it was charging much more slowly and not really charging at all. Took a few call outs, jump starts and a handy mechanic to eventually work out a way to loosen it and tighten it up at the same time. Never had a problem since!

 

Hopefully this is the end of your issues!



#8 BOF

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 05:46 PM

Ok when I got home I had a look at the battery and its a Bosch S3 004, looks relativley new but is much smaller than the battery tray, not sure wether its silver calcium but the negative terminal was very lose, tightened it up and it started up straight away no problem.

 

Voltage through the gauge sweep(cant find my multimeter) was 12.2 with engine off and 14.7 with engine idling so it all appears much more healthy, Ill keep my eye on it over the next few days and report back but it looks as though the lose terminal may have been the problem

 

 

 

Very loose would be a problem - usually, even slightly loose is a problem, so very loose would be much more so.

 

(Apart from the price, which depends on where you buy them) the sign of a Bosch-branded battery is, generally a good thing - it does mean that the previous hasn't been a total cheapskate, and has bought well, and not with a total 'spend the minimum, and move the car on when it gets expensive' frame of mind. On the other hand, if he has gone for a lower capacity battery to save cash, that's not such a good sign - you probably should have about 70 - 72 AH capacity, the S3 has a shorter guarantee than the S4 or S5 and diesels tend to be a bit harder on batteries than petrols, because it takes a bit more to get them started.

 

But, you've got what you've got and let's hope that the tightening up cures the problem and see how things go.

 

BTW, while you are there, also check that battery is mechanically held in correctly; when I bought mine, the bracket and the securing bolt were just completely loose in the battery box, and not holding anything down at all (and I know the dealer changed the battery to get it going). And, weirdly, the bolt had been put into the bracket the wrong way round, as if they couldn't work out how to fit the bracket (which should exactly test the IQ of someone who has seen a spanner before) and gave up. Or, maybe it was just tea break, and they gave up.

 

(On a MkIV) the bracket can be fitted to a couple of different holes and clip to the battery slightly differently (presumably, they could fit different capacities of battery for different engines, trim levels or markets, but I don't know that they actually do), but if the battery is too short to engage with the bracket and be secured correctly, that would be a bad sign that a seriously undersized battery had been fitted.



#9 SteveTDCI

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 05:55 PM

Yes it was really lose, lose enough to lift off without much pressure so I remain hopefull that is the issue resolved, The battery thats fittted I agree that its AH is too low for the car, Ill probably invest in the more heavy duty Bosch versions for peice of mind anyway and luckily the battery brace was inplace and holding it solid

 

Much appreciate your help and advice



#10 Wappygixer

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 06:24 PM

A loose earth on the battery can cause all sorts of issues.

On our 09 Fiesta TDCI we had issues with the engine still running when you switched it off at the ignition. Everyone said it was a turbo issue.

This happened a few times and then one day it went dead altogether no opower to anything. I popped the bonnet and took a look around and found the earth connection on the battery had snapped and broken away. I managed to bodge it to get home. I changed the clamp and since then its switched off everytime.

 

Modern cars and electrics can make for entertaining head scratching



#11 SteveTDCI

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Posted 12 December 2013 - 06:41 PM

They certainly can, I currently drive an old Land Rover Discovery and Im not kidding the first port of call for any problem is knock it a few times with a mallet and more often than not it sorts it out, probably not to be recommended for the Mondeo :D



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