My truck (92 Ford Ranger, 140,000 miles) wouldn’t start. Had it towed to service center–apparently would have been able to drive it there had the tow truck op. jumped my battery (he didn’t because he was late arriving and I was ‘indisposed’ when he arrived and he had it part way on the truck when I got outside; I figured I’d still need to go to the service center–Ford dealer I’ve used happily for past 5 or more years–so I didn’t stop him.) Anyway, I could hear the starter attempt to engage then immediately begin the loud clicking which I assumed to be the solenoid, but no ignition or startup.
Ford dealer observed same symptoms on first attempt, so jumped it and it started right up. They ran their tests and determined the alternator was only putting out 13v and should be putting out around 14v. Also said after jumping it that the battery tested out just fine. They recommended a “new” (remanufactured) alternator AND a new battery. Reading some relevant posts in here shows that to be a reasonable suggestion. So why am I writing?
The battery is a DieHard, just over 4 years old, still covered under the “prorated 64 month warranty”, purchased at Sears. I didn’t want Ford to install a new battery for $109 plus labor if I might get my DieHard warranty’s value by going to Sears and save maybe $25-30. Hey, times are tough… But, there’s still an issue with the Alternator. And I left the truck at the Ford dealer overnight so they could do a full charge on the battery and see if the problem occurred again this morning. Which means it could be days (or longer?) before the battery is run down enough for Sears to see if there’s a bad cell or something else wrong with the battery. (I really don’t know, but the service mgr at Ford said this was a possibility… and I have been a satisfied service customer at that dealer/service center for years).
Part two: this “re-man” Alternator (it’s a Ford Ranger, so apparently “new” isn’t an option any more) will be the 3rd replacement in 7 years. The first two were at an independent shop affiliated with AC Delco, and the original equipment basically fell off the engine prompting the first replacement. That replacement did exactly the same thing just about a week after that shop’s 90-day parts/labor warranty expired… yes, fell off. That shop refused to replace the replacement, giving me only one option, $30 off the labor for a new full-price replacement. After that, I stopped going to their shop. That’ll learn 'em!
To shorten this increasingly boring story, I paid $90 to get my truck back from Ford today, but still have an alternator that they say will likely fail if I drive any long distances (I had a trip planned for this coming weekend), and still have a battery that may or may not have a bad cell, which may or may not be the reason the alternator is failing. The Ford folks, wanting to keep my business, will still perform the work for the original estimate less the $90 I paid today. But that is still a whole bunch more money than I feel I can afford to pay right now (I’m retired…)
So, is there a way for me to determine which came first (the chicken/egg issue): is the alternator failing because the battery is bad? is the battery bad because the alternator has failed for some other reason? If the battery is bad, could that be the only problem–even though the alternator test indicated inadequate voltage? In other words, do I really need to replace BOTH the battery and the alternator, and if so, is it foolish to replace one before the other, and/or at two different service shops? I mean, if Sears gives me the warranty value on a replacement battery, do I then pop right on over to the Ford dealer and have them install the alternator? And what if Sears says that the warranty is void because it’s the alternator that is bad?
I don’t have any idea which way to go on this, and I don’t know how to know what I should do?