Reader Question Hey Austin,
My sister recently gave me a 1988 Ford Escort for my 16th birthday that she had previously owned. Within a month the alternator blew and my battery was slaughtered because of it.
I replaced the alternator, but it wasn’t brand new or rebuilt, it was one out of another ford car. A friend of mine who knows alot about cars then charged the battery and installed that and it worked for about a week.
Then my car wouldnt start one morning so I figured that the previous bad alternator sucked the life out of my battery so then I replaced that as well, and just today, my brand new 3 day old battery has died on me yet again…but this time at an intersection.
My car battery light came on and head lights and car turned off. I don’t know what else I can do, I’m only 16 and have little knowledge about cars and don’t have a ton of money to get a quailfied mechanic fix my car for me. Any suggestions as to what is causing this problem so I can look in on it?!? please reply asap it would be much appreciated!!!
Your battery was “slaughtered” hahahaha, I like that analogy. I bet you feel like slaughtering it now! Ok, it sounds like your battery keeps loosing charge, so what causes this to happen?
A few things that would cause the battery to go down are:
1. A bad battery, I have seen “bad” NEW batteries too, so just because it is “new” it could be faulty.
2. The alternator is not producing enough electricity to keep the battery fully charged.
3. The belt on the alternator is slipping, and not turning the alternator fast enough, you will usually hear a high pitched squealing noise as the belt slips and spins excessively.
4. Loose or dirty battery cables, if you can move the battery cables on the battery with your bare hands, they are loose and need to be tightened. (Don’t touch a battery with you hands that have rings on them….I have a nice scare on my wedding ring finger where I touched a battery).
5. Loose cables and “grounds” at the alternator and or battery, have your friend check all wires from the battery to the alternator and make sure they are tight and have clean connections.
6. A bad alternator, you installed a used alternator, maybe that alternator has failed?
7. Something is “draining” electricity from the battery. There could be something that is sucking too much battery power, and the alternator can not keep electrical output supply up with demand. A/C, electric cooling fans, after market radios and high powered amplifiers are a few things that come to mind.
I would recheck everything that you have already done…..with an open mind. Are the battery cables clean and tight, is the battery good (you might ask the place you bought the battery to charge and test it for you), is the alternator belt on tight, are all connections at the alternator clean and tight, is this “used” alternator any good? (a starter and alternator rebuilding shop can test and overhaul your alternator pretty inexpensively…look in your phone book for alternator and starter re-builders near you.
Anything more than that, you are probably going to have to seek professional mechanical help, but I think you and your friend are more than capable of figuring out the problem.
Keep me posted will you,
Austin C. Davis
Well it seems even the best may have to do their homework for this car…
I replaced the battery and took it into a mechanic, and he put a “voltage regulator” into my car…for whatever reason I’m not sure because they talk in car language and I didn’t understand a word they said…but besides that fact…it ran for about a week..and sure enough…died…boosted it…ran for about an hour…and died again…!
I really don’t know what else there is for me to do..and I don’t want to give up on the car I just wish someone could figure out what the actual problem is instead of billing me for parts that aren’t even going to work in the first place…any suggestions other then the ones you mentioned that could be the solution to my problem?
Is it possibly my electrical or something? Someone who had also looked at my car mentioned the problem being my command start, but I never use it, ever, so I can’t see why that could be causing all these problems..anwyays, if you can get back to me that would be great.
Thanks a bunch
Hello agin Terra,
You replaced the battery correct? Brand new battery, like since my last email? I would bet you either have a defective battery or a bad alternator. I would make sure both of them are brand new.
Then make sure you double check all the items outlined in my previous email. Alternators can be pretty cheap, visit your local mechanic or auto supply store and get a rebuilt one that fits your car.
You might also want to ask your mechanic to make a set of auxiliary wires, and run them from the battery directly to the alternator, positive to positive negative to negative. When you do this you bypass any potential wiring problems the car might have. I do this for older cars or in problem situations like you have. Its cheap and easy and won’t hurt anything, but just might fix your problem.
You might talk to your local alternator and starter motor rebuilding shop, the one I use already has this auxiliary wire harness made up. I just buy it and install it.