Battery light, steering and rain puddles

For the past three years, when the roads fill with big puddles, my 1999 Ford Taurus does this thing…

Every once in a while when I drive through a puddle the battery light goes on. Sometimes the power steering goes out for a few seconds too. The dashboard and headlights stay on however, and in a few seconds the battery light stops flashing and everything’s fine.

Mechanics think I’m making this stuff up, of course, because the car only does it for me. And I’m very worried because I might be moving to the Pacific Northwest-home of big puddles in the road.

Sounds like water splashing on serpentine belt causing slipage. Ford had this problem on several models,is there a shield missing? possibly one to install (maybe a TSB?)

I couldn’t tell you oldschool, since I’m car illiterate. But this gives me something to inquire with mechanics about. Supposing this wasn’t the problem, let me know if you have any other ideas, so I can go armed! Thanks!

what’s a TSB?

Technical Service Bulletin

It’s sort of a quiet recall. A message from the factory to the dealers to correct design problems.

I don’t have a Taurus, but this happened to me recently after driving through a puddle. It must have splashed in a way that got water on the serpentine belt. My oil and coolant lights came on, the car seemed to stall, and heard a belt squeal. I put on hazards and started to pull over, but problem corrected itself in seconds. It’s annoying but nothing serious.

If your oil light came on too, water got to more than just the belt. It either shorted part of the ignition, or you got some water into the intake. Water in the intake can ruin an engine, be careful around the puddles.

My husband has a 97 Mecury Sable (the Ford Taurus’s weirdo twin, ha!) and it has done the exact same thing for years now. Not too much of a biggee - just annoying and worrisome. I just found this article online:
It says Ford put out article 97-19-2 blaming the Front End Acessory Drive Belt. Ford says to replace the belt (but THEY won’t pay for it).

I’ve had the same experience with a 1988 Ford Taurus (3.8 liter engine), 2000 Ford Windstar, and even a 1971 Ford Maverick. New belts cured the problem in every case. I have never had this happen on other makes that I have owned. The Maverick required a pair of matched belts which ran all the accessories that were rather pricey for an inexpensive car.

Sounds like the serpentine belt is slipping. Besides the possibility of a missing splash guard, when was the last time the serpentine belt was replaced. I replace mine every 3 or 4 years. If the belt on your Taurus is the original, it’s long past due for replacement.

Ed B.

That’s the difference between a TSB and recall. A TSB is simply a notification issued by the manufacturer advising the technician of a known issue and how to address it. It’s not a requirement to have it fixed and the owner is responsible for the cost of the repair. A recall is an issue that poses a safety hazard and must be addressed ASAP at no cost to the owner. Recalls are enforced by NHTSA.

Many of the City and County FORD police vehicles exibited a problem (Crown Vic’s)of loosing power steering during agressive driving. FORD its self refused to acknowledge the problem but our local FORD Dealer (Jim Click FORD) picked up the cost of fixing these cars (the guy is loaded and very active in the community)This was on 2005 Crown Vic’s with some variation on year model,but it was not water related.