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Kevin, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 70
Experience:  ASE Master Technician with L1 certification. 20 years auto electric, driveabilty and A/C knowledge.
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The Check Charging System indicator (info center display)

Customer Question

The "Check Charging System" indicator (info center display) flashes intermittently and check engine light comes on at any time when car is underway and under acceleration. This is a 2004 Ford Explorer Ltd. 4.0 L V-6 with auto 4x4 transfer case. When underway, after about 40 miles at highway speed, in addition to the indicator flashing, the Amp Gage indicates the battery is also being discharged and charged intermittently. At the time, this condition eventually leads to loss of all instrument power, followed by full loss of power to transmission and then total loss of engine power. Afterward the battery was found to be fully discharged. The Battery is new. After being fully charged, the car will start and operate again and the charging system indicator repeats the conidition. The alternator has since been load tested both on and off the vehicle and is certified to be in good order, does not squeal, diodes working properly, etc. Battery terminals have been replaced, and QD cleaned.
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Ford
Expert:  Kevin replied 9 years ago.

Chances are the alternator is the cause of your concern. The vehicle needs to be tested when the problem is occuring to properly diagnose it. If it's being tested when the problem isn't happening, everything will test good. Kind of like going to the doctor today, but you were sick last week.


What's probably happening is as the truck is driven and more heat is generating, a component within the alternator is giving up and unable to perform. Allowed to cool, it returns to normal operation.





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Customer: replied 9 years ago.


Your answer is logical to me, however, it doesn't explain one problem (that I failed to mention) - the check charging system indicator comes on even when the engine is cold, after the first acceleration or at higher RPM. If the condition were caused by heat, how could it occur when the engine cold?


A bit more background: When this problem first began, it only occured under heavy acceleration. A week or later, it began to occur during every acceleration, and only stops when the engine RPM is steady at idle or at constant speed. At cruising speed of 45 - 50 the indicator is normal. At 60-70, at slightly higher RPM, the condition returns.

Expert:  Kevin replied 9 years ago.

it still sounds like an alternator. Possible worn brushes, a bad stator or rotor assembly. It may be normal for the charging system to stop working under hard acceleration if the alsternator is controlled by the PCM, but again, it is still sounding as if the alternator is faulty. It will need to be tested when the condition is occuring to verify the problem, though.

Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Expert:  Kevin replied 9 years ago.
You're welcome.