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Help! Battery gauge drops to Low

Discussion in 'Elite Explorer 911!' started by 99ex22, November 25, 2008.

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    1. 99ex22

      99ex22 Well-Known Member

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      So the other day I was up at the mountian, Truck was running fine all that day. Stopped and grapped a bite to eat, Started up the truck, turnd the heat on because it was 29 degrees outside, turnd the 4x4 on, and all my light's. Then I look at my battery gauge and it's almost to the L on the gauge. so I turn everything off and then back on and we're back on the road again. That was 5 day's ago and it's been running great ever since. Then as im pulling into my driveway just a few minutes ago I look at the gauge and it was almost at the L again! I also noticed my dash light's dimmed and the truck's steering was stiff. Im thinking alternator or battery. I don't know how old the battery is because I bought the truck used 2 years ago. Could anyone help me determine what the problem is?

      1999 XLT SOHC 158,000 Miles

      Thanks,

      -Russ
       
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    3. IZwack

      IZwack Moderator Emeritus

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      Get a voltmeter and start reading voltages -- you should be able to narrow down which part needs to be replaced by testing parts and removing parts from the system.
       
    4. 99ex22

      99ex22 Well-Known Member

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      Thanks, Where do I stick the voltmeter to read the voltage on the alternator?
       
    5. IZwack

      IZwack Moderator Emeritus

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      There is a big wire going to the alternator -- that is the positive (sometimes has a rubber boot covering it).

      The body of the alternator is ground (or anywhere else on the engine, chassis, or body that is steel).
       
    6. Blee1099

      Blee1099 Evil Asian Moderator Emeritus EF Vendor

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      You can probe it at either the alternator or battery.. If you probe at the alternator careful not to hit any other connector to prevent a arch. You should be putting out atleast 13.0 volts DC current with the engine running.
       
    7. Cobraguy

      Cobraguy Elite Explorer

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      Your steering was stiff too? Hmmm... Is your belt tight?
       
    8. 99ex22

      99ex22 Well-Known Member

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      Pretty sure yeah. I just replaced it a couple month's back and the tensioner was in good shape. Im just losing electrical power when I have my light's and heater going for some reason. Ill check the belt later on and hook it up to the volt meter. I would do it now but it's 32 degrees outside right now. lol
       
    9. Cobraguy

      Cobraguy Elite Explorer

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      The reason I mention that is when you load the electrical system, you load the alternator. If the belt slips, it will drop your voltage and your steering will stiffen. But man...I haven't seen a serpentine belt slip like that. It would have to be pretty bad. But with what your telling me, that's where I would look.
       
    10. 99ex22

      99ex22 Well-Known Member

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      Well, I know we have a voltmeter around here somwhere but didn't have any luck finding it. So I checked the belt and there is some play in it. It doesn't seem like enough play to where it would slip though. I also cleand the battery terminals because they were pretty dirty. I took her around the block and it was fine in til I pulled in the driveway, The gauge is normal intil I turn the steering wheel and then it drops. Aloso the weird thing is just sitting at an idle with the heat and all my light's on it's fine then I turn the windshield wipers on and they are wayyy slower than normal, and then the idle jumps up to about 1200 RPM from the normal 900 or so RPM at idle. You still think the belt is a possibility?
       
    11. 99ex22

      99ex22 Well-Known Member

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      Well I just had the battery and alternator tested at the shop I used to work at and they both passed. He said I most likely have a worn out tensioner. I feel alot better now. haha thanks for your help.

      -Russ
       
    12. spdy0001

      spdy0001 Active Member

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      Same thing happened to me in my 91X about a year ago. I was driving and saw the volts drop, and like a dummy I kept driving it like that. This happened while we were camping and about 5 times over the weekend I would see the needle jump up to normal for about a mile, which I guess was enough to keep us running. We ended up making it back home and once in the driveway it wouldn't start again :D

      I replaced the alternator and it was good to go for about a week until the battery died on me as well from all the strain of the dead alternator.

      In your case if your steering is tough I would agree that is probably your belt
       
    13. 99ex22

      99ex22 Well-Known Member

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      Well I replaced the tensioner and it did not work. The belt doesn't have anymore that 9,000 miles on it so I wouldnt think that would be bad. It look's fine. It's wierd...When I turn my light's and heater on it's fine then when I turn my steering wheel it goes down to the L on the gauge. Not all the way down but close. Also when it does do that the idle jumps up to 1200 RPM from the normal 800 RPM or so. Then Ill shut it off at night when I come home, Start it up in the morning and it idling at like 1600 RPM???? What is going on? Anybody have any other idea's? Alternator and Battery both tested good.

      Thanks,

      Russ
       
    14. 99ex22

      99ex22 Well-Known Member

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      Well I went ahead and replaced the belt too just in case, and it didn't fix it either. so I went and had my battery & alternator checked again from a different place and they said my alternator is good but my battery is getting weak. But this is coming from a place that only does batteries & not alternators so i'm not sure to believe them or not. Any Idea's?
       
    15. 99ex22

      99ex22 Well-Known Member

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      Alright now I have spent over 100.00. I replaced the Tensioner, Belt and Battery and it's still doing it. is it the alternator you think? Please help me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:mad:
       
    16. fixxxer

      fixxxer Well-Known Member

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      after replacing the tensioner and belt, is your steering still stiff?
       
    17. 99ex22

      99ex22 Well-Known Member

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      No but it wasnt stiff all the time before. Just when I had my heat, and light's on then I would turn the wheel and it would be kinda stiff feeling. It stopped the wierd Idle thing it was doing. Now the gauge just drops a little bit when I turn everything on. And the lights dim a little too. Is there anything else it could be other than the alternator? I think ive pretty much nailed everything else lol ??????????????????????????
       
    18. 99ex22

      99ex22 Well-Known Member

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      anyone? Please! Im kinda freaking out here because it's my only transportation. I replaced battery, belt and tensioner. could it be anything other than the alternator? I don't want to spend a couple hundred dollars on one and find out thats not what it was.
       
    19. fixxxer

      fixxxer Well-Known Member

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      It really sounds like you nailed the problem already. If it's only dipping a little now, with everything turned on and no more low idle speed, I'll bet your alternator's fine and you just may have some corrosion inside of one or both of the battery cables. If you find your volt-meter, use it to check the voltage at both ends of the hot wire between the battery + and the alternator and also between the battery and starter solenoid. If you have more than about .2volts difference, there is significant resistance (loss) inside of the cable. Check the neg cable too, positive probe of the voltmeter on the pos. battery post and then with the neg probe, check both ends of the neg cable for a difference in voltage. If so, that could account for the dip and the lights dimming a bit.
       
    20. corkey

      corkey Moderator Emeritus Moderator Emeritus

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      when the steering gets stiff does the rpm of the engine change too ?
      could be like mine was, , the engine just settles down to too low of rpm and the belt is not turning fast enough , i checked and had a bad plug , i changed it,, the problem went away ,
      any trouble codes , or is the check engine light on ??
       
    21. 99ex22

      99ex22 Well-Known Member

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      Well after I replaced the tensioner and belt the steering and idle has been fine. Now when I turn my heat on and turn the steering wheel the battery gauge fluctuates a lot. If I am driving or rev it up it's fine. Only at an idle. which makes me believe my alternator is getting weak. don't you think? My plugs and wires are new. I don't know what else it could be? :dunno:
       
    22. cculter

      cculter Elite Explorer

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      I am going with the alternator. When you load everything it sounds like you are losing power. I have replaced my alternator already and I am having the same problem again.
       
    23. smokey91052

      smokey91052 New Member

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      I'm having a pretty much the same prob., my battery is new and my alternator is fairly new too. My buddy (whom is very knowledgeable with fords) told me to ground out my windshield wiper motor, I haven't tried it yet and don't see why it would make a difference, but i will give it a shot and post what i find out!
       
    24. patrick112390

      patrick112390 Active Member

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      if youve replaced all you say you have, it could be the voltage regulator on your alternator, this regulates voltage to around 13-15 but if its malfunctioning, the alternator will not kick up the voltage for the extra accessories when they are running......
       
    25. kako

      kako Member

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      its the alternator ..
      i had the same problem .. the thing is that when you load the battery the alternator since its bad i wont recharge the battery quick ..
      make sure u dont travel long distances or you would regret it ... i had my alternator test and everything came out good till
      it decided to die on me on the high way ...
       
    26. Bairsdad

      Bairsdad New Member

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      OK check this out..... What is your IDLE speed the alt works best at almost 900 rpm lower then you don't charge as well especially under load (lights fan etc)
      bump up rpm's and that should solve it Low idle will make steering difficult also but only at low rpm's This is what fixed mind had the same problem, and I have a plow so the problem was even bigger
       

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