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Ford Fiesta 1.4L Titanium Automatic - Undercharging problems


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Hi All

I'm looking for some advice. I've got a 2011 Ford Fiesta which i have had since new - but as a low mileage driver i have only clocked up 19k miles in 10 years. Everything was running fine with no issues until we were into the latest lockdown and i didn't drive the car for about 3 weeks. The battery went dead. I called out the breakdown guys who gave it a jump start but when it was revved it kept cutting out - so they tested the battery and alternator and said they thought it was the alternator as it was undercharging under revs. Breakdown swapped my battery for one of theirs temporarily and followed me to the local garage - trustworthy - where i normally take my car for service, MOT etc. The power steering was also not working and the breakdown guy suggested that was because the car was not getting enough power - ie all related. The local garage had the car for a week - put on a new alternator but it was still undercharging. They charged up the battery from the mains and it was charging up ok. So they ruled out the battery. They ran diagnostics - only one error came up for the camshaft sensor which they replaced but the problems still occurring with the undercharging. Some days it would start with a jump but again cut out when you went to drive it - other days it wouldn't start at all. They removed the new alternator as didn't want to charge me for a part i didn't need - and said they had checked everything mechanical was working fine, and the issue must be do to with the computer - and that i should probably take it to Ford who would be able to fix it straight away.

I called Ford, explained the issue, booked it in, and arranged to have it towed to them Ford started by insisting it needed a new battery and a new alternator. I explained to them that battery had already been tested by breakdown and the local garage plus was under warranty anyway so if it needs changing would do that with the place i bought it. They still insisted on changing the alternator even though i told them that had already been tried. I got them to agree that if it turned out not to be the alternator after they changed it they would put my one back and not charge me for it. As expected when they put in the new alternator it was still undercharging and the problems still persisted. I agreed they could change the Auxillary belt at the same time as it was wearing/cracked in places - however this made no difference.

Ford have now suggested that there was water in the Engine wiring harness - which they have removed and cleaned up cos it was rusty but they said they want to try changing the Engine wiring harness - quoting me a cost of £600 parts plus £400+ labour. However it may still not fix the problem. However if they change this even when it doesn't fix it i would still have to pay for it. Other than that they also are unsure what could be causing the problems with undercharging and stalling. It feels like Ford are just trying random things even if they are not needed and expecting me to pay for them - however none of their 7 expert technicians at that Ford location seem able to know what it is - and so they have to keep trying different things. Meanwhile the consumer just has to keep paying out till the fault is found. That doesn't seem right to me.

So now we are at a stalemate as i don't really know if its worth spending that £1k+ if they don't even know if that is what is causing the issue. The car is also not worth much now being 10 years old but I've only done 19K miles so it seems a bit premature to be giving up on it just yet. But if 7 FORD technicians can't diagnose the problem, what hope do i have? I have already spent £100 at the first garage for diagnostics, £70 towing it and now Ford are charging me £165 for the Aux belt and the diagnostics. So already spent £335 and been without my car for 3+ weeks and am no further forward.

Note - I am not a car expert by any means, just a lady consumer who loves her Ford Fiesta that has served her well for 10 years.

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Have they checked both the exciter wire and the main posistive comeing off the alternattor and the engine ground, if any of these are corroded and therefore making an impefect connection it causes high resistance and then the alternator can't function properly leaving you with weird electrical issues

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2 minutes ago, Neb_engineer said:

Have they checked both the exciter wire and the main posistive comeing off the alternattor and the engine ground, if any of these are corroded and therefore making an impefect connection it causes high resistance and then the alternator can't function properly leaving you with weird electrical issues

Thanks Neb - i did ask both garages and both said they have checked all the cables to and from the Alternator.

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38 minutes ago, Neb_engineer said:

But did they check the engine's ground, the alternator connects to ground through the engine's groung cable that grounds the engine to the chassis

Thanks for explaining Neb - I will find out

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Hi Everyone - thank you all for your replies and guidance. I am happy to say that a local mechanic I found after posting this issue on social media was able to fix the problem on the same day. He found the issue was to do with the Alternator after all - one of the brushes was broken. He fitted me a genuine new Ford alternator for £335 incl labour and the car is running like a dream now. He also checked the Engine wiring harness and could find nothing wrong with it. This guy is a keeper and I will be going to him in future for anything my car needs. He also did a service and MOT (as they were due) and he found one of my brake pad cables was twisted the wrong way round and straightened it. I had been living with squeaky brakes for years - and whenever i mentioned it at the service or MOT the garages just dismissed it. Now there is no more squeaking from the brakes and the car is driving better than it ever has. Thanks again everyone for your guidance and help.

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