Flashing dash lights in a 1997 Ford Escort LX

Whilst making a three hour drive from Henderson, TN to Huntsville, AL the other day, the battery and airbag lights on my 1997 Ford Escort LX started flashing intermitently. They did this again the next day. They only seem to be doing it while the car is in motion–I pulled over when it first happened, and the flashing stopped. Is this some sort of code…i.e., a “Your engine is about to spontaneously combust” code? Or is it something to do with a fuse or wiring or something electrical? I took it by a shop that offered to run diagnostics for me for $75, but they said they could really only know for sure if what they found was relevant if the lights would flash for them at the time of the text. Since it has only happened while the car is in motion, that’s impossible, and it just sounds very fishy to me. Can anyone shed any light on this?

My money’s on a failing alternator. Find someone with a multimeter and have them test the voltage across your battery terminals with the car idling and the headlights on. If the alternator and battery are good, you’ll see about 13.5 volts (or slightly greater) holding steady. If you’ve got a charging system problem, the voltage will be lower and falling.

Well, actually I failed to mention that I took the Car by Auto Zone this morning and had them test the alternator and battery. The car was running–I didn’t have the headlights on. Anyhoo, they said they got a good reading off everything. I also just had that alternator replaced in June.

Really, it’s getting to the point where I’m wondering if it’s viable to keep the vehicle. This year alone I’ve replaced the alternator, catalytic converter, struts, fuel pump, radiator, and power steering hose. Last year, I had to have the tranny rebuilt. The year before, the thermostat failed and I blew a head gasket. My mechanic has performed pressure tests on the tranny and engine in the last couple of months, and says they are still sound, but the engine is making funny noises, it seems to idle rough, and the tranny is shifting rougher than I recall before I had the work done on it. Yet–I’ve had two mechanics say they can’t find any problems with either of these. On top of this, I’ve also been told it needs new engine mounts. The car has almost 200,000 miles on it, and I’m sort of just waiting on it to blow up any day now, though several car-educated types are assuring me that they don’t think it will. Alas.

Try removing both ends of the battery cables (both of them) and cleaning both the cable and where it goes very well and reattaching making sure they are secure. Do the same for the alternator cables.

The flashing air bag light indicates there’s a problem with the clock spring in the steering wheel.

Count the flashes from the air bag light. If it shows a code 32 which looks like this *-, the problem’s in the clock spring.


What does the clock spring do? Also, why did the battery light also start flashing when the airbag light did?

Just drove the car around the block a few times. When I first started it, battery light came on and stayed on…no flashing like it was before. The airbag light blinked in a slower fashion, and I was able to count the blinks. They were __****_ . After I had driven a mile or so, the lights went off. This is quite curious.

So I guess no one else has any suggestions?

it is possable a simple battery cable is loose claen them and tighten them both up and try again.

That’s a code 22. This code indicates one of the Safing Sensors is shorted to battery voltage.

The safing sensor measures the amount of decelleration of the vehicle during a crash. Depending on the rate of decelleration, this sensor determines if the air bag should be deployed or not.

This is something that requires an air bag system scanner to determine what safing sensor is the problem.