1991 Ford Escort electrical

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Good day all, I am new at this forum so hope I am in the right place. My daughter has a 1991 1.8L Ford Escort. At present the vehicle will not start, if I give it a boost it will start right away. While driving it is very jerky with the batery light flashing on and off, when the turn signal is selected the lights dim and the gauges flicker with the turn signal. With the ignition off the battery voltage is 11.98 volts, with the car running the voltage is 15 volts, it seems that the charging systsem is working. Is the battery toast, what do you think. Thank you in advance for your time.

posted by  The lost one

I think that's not enough information to make an educated guess. 11.98 volts while not great, certainly is not a sign of a bad battery. More importantly though is taking a voltage reading tells me nothing about the reserve amperage the battery has which is the key measurement. 15 volts at the battery while running is excessive. That amount of voltage will kill a battery in short order.

So... From the very limited info we have here my call is the voltage regulator is bad which in turn is cooking (or has cooked) the battery. The obvious question to me is, why haven't you simply had the starting/charging system tested? Places like Advance, AutoZone, Sears, etc will do it for free. Even with the painfully uneducated people who you'll deal with at those places, the tester makes it almost fool proof. Then you'll know what the problem is and what your course of action should be.

posted by  vwhobo

I agree totally with what has been stated already. 11.98 volts in not exactly a wonderful reading, but then again, that voltage could drop to 2 volts when a load is applied to the car's electrical system. This is why you should have the battery load tested at a place like VWHOBO mentioned. It is free and will tell you if the battery is bad. 15V at the battery while running will most certainly fry the battery in no time. As I was first reading the symptoms of the problem such as the lights and electrical devises dimming and brightening with the flashers and whatnot, my first thought was voltage regulator.

You stated that "At present the vehicle will not start, if I give it a boost it will start right away." I would be willing to bet dollars to doughnuts that if you had the battery load tested, it would fail. The excessive alternator output of 15V has probably cooked it. (general rule of thumb {NOT SET IN STONE}...alternator output is usually around 13.8-14V ambient at the battery while engine running)

You need to first load test the battery to eliminate that, then have the alternator checked. What you could do if you have another car with a battery that has the same battery specs is to swap out batteries and try it, then disconnect the alternator on this problem car to see how she runs and if the idiosyncratic electrical quirks go away, that will tell you if the alternator/voltage regulator combo is bad. Good luck.

posted by  cmeseadoin

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