I Can't Figure This Out...Geezer Needs Help LOL!

Hey Guys…please help me with this problem. I’m 73 and have no car to drive until I fix this. Thanks. :o)

I have a 2000 Ford Contour SE 6 cylinder. It has about 120k miles on it.

In August, 2017 when it was really hot, the car overheated one time. After that, it ran OK, but started leaking a small amount of oil. In early September, the alternator stopped charging, so I had it replaced. The guy who did the work told me that the leaking oil had ruined the alternator. He said that the oil leak was from the valve cover gasket.

I drove the car without fixing the leak, as the estimated cost to replace the valve cover gasket was $200, and the leak was very small. I put cardboard under the car, and the leak spot each time I ran the car was only maybe 2” in diameter. So far, so good.

Then, in about December, I was driving down a busy street, and some Bozo was going really-slow, like he was looking for something, so decided to to go around him, and I punched the gas, which I almost never do.

At that time, there was a short clunk sound, like the engine had lifted up a bit due to a broken motor mount. It has never done this previously. In addition, 2 warning lights lit up on my instrument panel. One was for the battery, and the other for the rear brakes, which were down to the metal. This has never happened before.

The question here is why they suddenly went on under this circumstance? But there’s more.

I drove the car home without incident and parked it. The next morning, the battery was dead, so I carried it to O’Reilly, where I had purchased it, and they charged it. I put it back in the car, and only drove a bit.

The next morning, the battery was dead again, so I carried it back to O’Reilly, and they had to replace it because it was bad. I then drove back up there, and they ran a test on the charging system. Their equipment showed that the alternator was putting out 18 volts, and thus overcharging the battery.

I am aware that the regulator is on the alternator, so that’s a big job to replace on this car. When I had it replaced in September, it took 2 hours for the mobile mechanic to replace it and cost me $180. Some of the mobile mechanics wouldn’t even do it.

Here are my points:

  1. Based on my automotive knowledge, it makes no sense for the battery and brakes light to go on under the circumstances in which they did. Possibly if the motor mount is bad, when I hit the gas, the engine raised up and shorted something out.

  2. I don’t want to spend another $300 for a rebuilt alternator and the labor, only to find out that this isn’t the cause.

Please help me to figure this one out.

I’m not sure what the problem is now, a dead battery, brake light on? I’ll take a shot that by accelerating a little hard, the belt could have slipped a little slowing the alternator and turning n the light. Or the movement of the engine might have moved a wire that was loose, I dunno. Also if your brake pads are worn down, the brake fluid is likely low. Once it gets too low, the brake light will go on. I’ve had the light go on goring around a corner as the fluid sloshes to one side and turns the light on. I suppose it is possible the quick movement caused the light to go on. That’s all I got.

Hey Bing, Thanks for your response. The problem now is that if I drive the car, the battery gets overcharged and ruined. The lights for the battery and the brakes go on and off intermittently. I’ll check the brake fluid; good idea. I need to replace the rear brake shoes anyway, but it’s still a mystery as to why the lights came on suddenly. The other issue still is, however, is why suddenly the alternator started overcharging. O’Reilly says it’s the regulator, but again, why did both lights suddenly come on? Thanks again, Bing! :o)

I gather that you are not going to do your own repair so the thing to do is pay an independent garage to go over the vehicle and list what needs to be done and choose what you want to do first. Many will waive the inspection fee if they get to do the work.

Thanks for your response.

My plan was to get a mobile mechanic, as they are a lot cheaper.

Also, at this time I am afraid to drive the car, as since the alternator is overcharging the battery, I don’t want to ruin a brand-new battery.

Any hints?

Thanks again.

If the alternator is over-charging, then 90% its the regulator. Usually they are inside the alternator. I don’t really trust some of the rebuilt alternators out there since sometimes they don’t even use new parts and just test them. In the old days you could just rebuild them and the regulator was about $20. So that plus brushes, a bearing or two and the diode trio and it was like brand new for about $35. Now you just replace the alternator.

Yeah, that’s what O’Reilly told me, the regulator. I used to work on cars, did motor rebuilds, etc. Now they’re too complex in some areas. My car has a 6-cyl. stuffed into the engine compartment, and it’s a big job to get to the alternator.

I bought a rebuilt alternator last time for $90, as the ones in the store were about $16, as I recall. I did just find some new ones online for about $90, but I didn’t check the shipping, and it might be high.

Thanks again. :o)

Where did you get the last rebuilt unit for $90? From mobile mechanic?
The store unit for $160 is rebuilt also? Or new?
And you think an online “new” unit for $90 will be high quality?

Lets see, the OP says some mobile mechanics don’t want to install alternator that has been determined that he needs. Plus he is considering buying one online that the mechanic will not warranty so if it is bad he pays labor again plus return and replacement of part hassle.

Talk about making a necessary repair more difficult than it needs to be. I see 2 choices 1 Have a shop fix what is really wrong 2. drive it to a car lot and trade and hope it doesn’t have problems soon.

Thanks for your advice. :slight_smile:

Thanks for your input! :o)

I got it from a place that sells rebuilt starters, alternators, etc. It had a 6-month warranty on it, but 1) I didn’t have the money to pay to get it removed and 2) they said that if there was oil on it, the warranty was void. The $160 store one is new. I’m not sure about the quality of the online one. I assumed if it was new it would be good; have you had experience otherwise?

Thanks again.

I would rather buy a quality rebuilt part, versus a cheap new aftermarket part

Thanks for your input.

Now I’m confused, as someone earlier in this thread wrote " I don’t really trust some of the rebuilt alternators out there since sometimes they don’t even use new parts and just test them."

A little help here? :o/


Not all rebuilders are equal

Not all rebuilt parts are equal

I don’t feel like slamming any particular brands, or mentioning any names, at this point

I’ll just say that I haven’t replaced an alternator for a long time. I used to just get them from NAPA. But had some issues with them such as fluctuating voltage. So the last few that I bought were Delco rebuilds that have a lifetime warranty and use all new parts for their rebuild and never had one go bad. They were for GM cars though but I assume they had them for other brands. I dunno. But its been a long time and things may have changed. I’m just a consumer though and not a mechanic.

Thanks a lot; a good and honest post. :o)

OK. No suggestions? Thanks in any case.

I’m with @bing on this

I suggest a factory rebuilt unit . . . Motorcraft in your case

And buy it locally, not over the internet

But let me add something, because if I don’t, I know somebody else will

There are no Ford employees who rebuild the cores. It’s sublet out, but it’s rebuilt to Ford’s specs, as far as I know.

Just FYI, I found one at autopartwarehouse.com for $195, plus $95 core charge, Shipping is free, but the cost to ship the core back is about $56, so the net cost would be about $245! =:o/ I know you said to buy locally, but on Sunday, online is the easiest way to get a price.

My local O’Reilly store wants $187.79 for a reman and $217 for new with a lifetime guarantee on both. Compared to a reman from Motorcraft, it might be a better deal.

The reman I bought at the shop was $90, and I believe it failed due to the oil leak. My bad. :o(

Why isn’t life simple? :o)


If it was me, I’d be checking voltage drops on the ground side. High voltage is also a symptom of weak grounds, which happens to be a symptom of snapping cables with broken motor mounts. Oh, and the oil leak isn’t bad to you because it leaks more while running. You’re slinging oil into the alternator while running.