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Old 01-03-2006, 07:01   #1 (permalink)
Stickarella
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Factor Alternator ONLY??

I have been having electrical problems with my 2001 Ford Focus for
about 3 months. Replaced battery, alternator (twice) and computer.
Lights still flicker, car still idles at like 3 different speeds, etc.
Now they tell me that the car can ONLY work with a Ford factory
alternator. Has anyone else heard of this??

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Old 01-03-2006, 08:01   #2 (permalink)
Backyard Mechanic
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Re: Factor Alternator ONLY??

"Stickarella" <ntelowitz@yahoo.com> wrote:

> I have been having electrical problems with my 2001 Ford Focus for
> about 3 months. Replaced battery, alternator (twice) and computer.
> Lights still flicker, car still idles at like 3 different speeds, etc.
> Now they tell me that the car can ONLY work with a Ford factory
> alternator. Has anyone else heard of this??
>


From an engineer's point of view... that's far-fetched. NOTHING is
simpler than an integrated alternator.

The associated wiring, however, with possible bad engine and harness
grounds, connection faults etc. makes it difficult to resolve that type
of problem... but that is where they should look.



--
Yeh, I'm a Krusty old Geezer, putting up with my 'smartass' is the price
you pay..DEAL with it!
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Old 01-03-2006, 09:02   #3 (permalink)
Tom Adkins
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Re: Factor Alternator ONLY??

Backyard Mechanic wrote:
> "Stickarella" <ntelowitz@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
>
>>I have been having electrical problems with my 2001 Ford Focus for
>>about 3 months. Replaced battery, alternator (twice) and computer.
>>Lights still flicker, car still idles at like 3 different speeds, etc.
>>Now they tell me that the car can ONLY work with a Ford factory
>>alternator. Has anyone else heard of this??
>>

>
>
> From an engineer's point of view... that's far-fetched. NOTHING is
> simpler than an integrated alternator.
>
> The associated wiring, however, with possible bad engine and harness
> grounds, connection faults etc. makes it difficult to resolve that type
> of problem... but that is where they should look.
>
>
>


This is something I've never heard before, but I can see it happening. In about 2000
Ford started tieing the alternator field into the PCM to more accurately control the
charging system output. I'm sure that system has become more integrated since then
making the alternator much more specific to the vehicle. Once cores become more
available in the Aftermarket stream, they should become more available in places
beside the dealer.
I remember when GM changed the design of their alternators in the early 90s(SI
series?). They were said to be non-rebuildable and too expensive to produce for the
aftermarket, or something along those lines. The first remans available were trouble
prone and expensive. After a few years they were readily available.
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Old 01-03-2006, 09:02   #4 (permalink)
Backyard Mechanic
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Re: Factor Alternator ONLY??

Backyard Mechanic <pettyfog@yaywho.com> wrote:

> "Stickarella" <ntelowitz@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
>> I have been having electrical problems with my 2001 Ford Focus for
>> about 3 months. Replaced battery, alternator (twice) and computer.
>> Lights still flicker, car still idles at like 3 different speeds,
>> etc. Now they tell me that the car can ONLY work with a Ford factory
>> alternator. Has anyone else heard of this??
>>

>
> From an engineer's point of view... that's far-fetched. NOTHING is
> simpler than an integrated alternator.
>
> The associated wiring, however, with possible bad engine and harness
> grounds, connection faults etc. makes it difficult to resolve that
> type of problem... but that is where they should look.


Argghhh... ask them WHY that is... they'll probably tell you it's because
the voltage regulation is done by the PCM.

Forgot... sorry, still that's a lousy excuse and IMO, a stupid
uneccessary design.


--
Yeh, I'm a Krusty old Geezer, putting up with my 'smartass' is the price
you pay..DEAL with it!
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Old 01-03-2006, 09:02   #5 (permalink)
Backyard Mechanic
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Posts: n/a
Re: Factor Alternator ONLY??

Tom Adkins <newton5@remove.comcast.net> wrote:

> Backyard Mechanic wrote:
>> "Stickarella" <ntelowitz@yahoo.com> wrote:
>>
>>
>>>I have been having electrical problems with my 2001 Ford Focus for
>>>about 3 months. Replaced battery, alternator (twice) and computer.
>>>Lights still flicker, car still idles at like 3 different speeds,
>>>etc. Now they tell me that the car can ONLY work with a Ford factory
>>>alternator. Has anyone else heard of this??
>>>

>>
>>
>> From an engineer's point of view... that's far-fetched. NOTHING is
>> simpler than an integrated alternator.
>>
>> The associated wiring, however, with possible bad engine and harness
>> grounds, connection faults etc. makes it difficult to resolve that
>> type of problem... but that is where they should look.
>>
>>
>>

>
> This is something I've never heard before, but I can see it
> happening. In about 2000
> Ford started tieing the alternator field into the PCM to more
> accurately control the charging system output. I'm sure that system
> has become more integrated since then making the alternator much more
> specific to the vehicle. Once cores become more available in the
> Aftermarket stream, they should become more available in places beside
> the dealer.
> I remember when GM changed the design of their alternators in the
> early 90s(SI
> series?). They were said to be non-rebuildable and too expensive to
> produce for the aftermarket, or something along those lines. The first
> remans available were trouble prone and expensive. After a few years
> they were readily available.


Yeah I thought of that at the same time...
check post times.

--
Yeh, I'm a Krusty old Geezer, putting up with my 'smartass' is the price
you pay..DEAL with it!
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Old 01-03-2006, 09:02   #6 (permalink)
Sharon K.Cooke
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Re: Factor Alternator ONLY??

Tom Adkins wrote:
>
> Backyard Mechanic wrote:
> > "Stickarella" <ntelowitz@yahoo.com> wrote:
> >
> >
> >>I have been having electrical problems with my 2001 Ford Focus for
> >>about 3 months. Replaced battery, alternator (twice) and computer.
> >>Lights still flicker, car still idles at like 3 different speeds, etc.
> >>Now they tell me that the car can ONLY work with a Ford factory
> >>alternator. Has anyone else heard of this??
> >>

> >
> >
> > From an engineer's point of view... that's far-fetched. NOTHING is
> > simpler than an integrated alternator.
> >
> > The associated wiring, however, with possible bad engine and harness
> > grounds, connection faults etc. makes it difficult to resolve that type
> > of problem... but that is where they should look.
> >
> >
> >

>
> This is something I've never heard before, but I can see it happening. In about 2000
> Ford started tieing the alternator field into the PCM to more accurately control the
> charging system output. I'm sure that system has become more integrated since then
> making the alternator much more specific to the vehicle. Once cores become more
> available in the Aftermarket stream, they should become more available in places
> beside the dealer.
> I remember when GM changed the design of their alternators in the early 90s(SI
> series?). They were said to be non-rebuildable and too expensive to produce for the
> aftermarket, or something along those lines. The first remans available were trouble
> prone and expensive. After a few years they were readily available.


If you're using one of the chain auto parts store rebuilt alternators,
reliability is a crapshoot, and you'll waste a lot of time finding one that
works well for any length of time. If Ford's using a Misubishi-made alternator
as OEM, those seemingly can't be rebuilt reliably, and you'd be better off just
getting a new (not rebuilt) alternator from Ford or some aftermarket company
like Pa Performance or WaI.
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Old 01-03-2006, 10:01   #7 (permalink)
Tom Adkins
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Posts: n/a
Re: Factor Alternator ONLY??

Backyard Mechanic wrote:
> Backyard Mechanic <pettyfog@yaywho.com> wrote:
>
>
>>"Stickarella" <ntelowitz@yahoo.com> wrote:
>>
>>
>>>I have been having electrical problems with my 2001 Ford Focus for
>>>about 3 months. Replaced battery, alternator (twice) and computer.
>>>Lights still flicker, car still idles at like 3 different speeds,
>>>etc. Now they tell me that the car can ONLY work with a Ford factory
>>>alternator. Has anyone else heard of this??
>>>

>>
>>From an engineer's point of view... that's far-fetched. NOTHING is
>>simpler than an integrated alternator.
>>
>>The associated wiring, however, with possible bad engine and harness
>>grounds, connection faults etc. makes it difficult to resolve that
>>type of problem... but that is where they should look.

>
>
> Argghhh... ask them WHY that is... they'll probably tell you it's because
> the voltage regulation is done by the PCM.
>
> Forgot... sorry, still that's a lousy excuse and IMO, a stupid
> uneccessary design.
>
>


Actually, this design (or some variation of it) is quite necessary due to all of the
electronics in newer vehicles. Common charging systems produce wide swings in system
voltage and spikes that can damage electronic components or interfere with the
communication network between these components. As the tolerance on the electronic
controls gets tighter, better voltage regulation is a must. Sometimes it sucks to deal
with advances in automotive technology. But,like disc brakes and electronic ignition,
after we become familiar with it it won't suck as bad.
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Old 01-03-2006, 10:01   #8 (permalink)
Stickarella
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Posts: n/a
Re: Factor Alternator ONLY??

They said the reason for this is that the car was built using a "smart
alternator", which contains a circuit board, and that the aftermarket
alternators cannot function properly with the computer. They did say
they checked the wiring harness, the grounds, all the cables and wires,
etc. Of course, they are not entirely sure that this will fix my car
either. They are going by what a Ford Engineer told them. Apparently,
the issue my car has been having seems to have everyone stumped.

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Old 01-03-2006, 10:01   #9 (permalink)
Backyard Mechanic
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Posts: n/a
Re: Factor Alternator ONLY??

Tom Adkins <newton5@remove.comcast.net> wrote:



>>
>> Forgot... sorry, still that's a lousy excuse and IMO, a stupid
>> uneccessary design.
>>
>>

>
> Actually, this design (or some variation of it) is quite necessary
> due to all of the
> electronics in newer vehicles. Common charging systems produce wide
> swings in system voltage and spikes that can damage electronic
> components or interfere with the communication network between these
> components. As the tolerance on the electronic controls gets tighter,
> better voltage regulation is a must. Sometimes it sucks to deal with
> advances in automotive technology. But,like disc brakes and electronic
> ignition, after we become familiar with it it won't suck as bad.
>


We'll see....

While I had NO problem dealing with other 'advances' in automotives..
particularly Electronic Ignition and REAL Fuel Injection, both of which
encouraged me to AGAIN work on my own cars because NOW I understood the
technology... I look at this as a 'step backward'.


WHY? Because the Alternator STILL must have an internal regulator OR
ELSE there might be a failure resulting in blown batteries and the very
circuits these advances were put in place to protect.

As the cars get older and the wiring less reliable, the incidence of
coincident failure will increase.

An external regulator is still an external regulator and subject to
exactly the same foo-pahs as the old mechanical version.

{And BTW, I thought you must have read me enough to not put me in that
box?!!!}
--
Yeh, I'm a Krusty old Geezer, putting up with my 'smartass' is the price
you pay..DEAL with it!
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Old 01-03-2006, 10:01   #10 (permalink)
Tom Adkins
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Posts: n/a
Re: Factor Alternator ONLY??

Backyard Mechanic wrote:>... exactly the same foo-pahs as the old mechanical version.
>
> {And BTW, I thought you must have read me enough to not put me in that
> box?!!!}



Actually, I'm in "wait and see mode" on a lot of systems myself.

What box?? If maybe you thought that I was saying you are unwilling to adapt, I'm
certainly not. You have my apology if it sounded that way.
IIRC, you arent a tech per se (working in a shop every day), but a very competent
DIYer? You like to know the how and why of things. I was just trying to explain why
such a system is needed. The first time I saw that charging system design, I thought
it was one of the most random, unnecessary things I'd seen. Once the reasoning behind
it was explained to me, it made sense.

Regards, Tom
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