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Old 12-27-2017, 09:14 AM   #1
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electrical issue - volt meter

I live in new england and the cold weather seems to have uncovered some sort of electrical issue. i put a brand new battery in about a month ago because my old battery died. Put the new battery in, everything was fine for a month. I chalked it up to a weak old battery in colder temps. We recently have had some really cold weather in the 20's. What's happening is at idle, everything is fine. voltage meter reads correctly, all accessories work. When i apply the throttle and rpms increase to over 2k, my voltage meter starts rising all the way to max reading then my radio and instrument panel turns off, the blower fan speed increases significantly as well when this happens. as i drive, everything stays off, engine runs fine, all other needles drop down and do not work, only the voltage meter stays on and reads max voltage. When i hit the brakes and come to a stop, once my volt meter comes back down to normal level the accessories all turn back on. I'm going to test battery terminals at idle, and at increased RPMs to see if the actual voltage is increasing. But based on the speed of my blower fan increasing as well, i am guessing there is in fact a true voltage spike. I don't want to fry the brand new battery (although it is under warranty). I did test voltage on my old battery while car was running at idle and it read 13.5 so i assumed the alternator was fine which is why i replaced the battery.

What could be causing this and where should i be looking as far as fuses, relays, etc?? I read that the gauge clusters can be problematic in these trucks, but i think the problem is something else, i could be wrong though. Any help is appreciated!! 2003 Explorer XLT V6 Flex Fuel

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Old 12-29-2017, 03:30 PM   #2
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I can't think of any way a fuse or relay would cause this. Your prior voltage reading is odd because running it should've been higher, around 14.4V not down at 13.5V. This suggests to me that the old battery was shot and not taking charge so the alternator was straining to try to get the voltage higher, constantly which may have damaged it.

That or the alternator failed first and without the regulator in it working, overcharged the battery to the point of failure, but usually in that case one sign of evidence would be that it cooked away a lot of electrolyte in a short period of time... meaning you can't just go by it being low if the battery was several years old but if it had been maintained with full electrolyte levels then a drop would be conspicuous.

I'm not clear on what you mean by the "volt meter". If it's in the dash you might have some dash or other smart box problem but that alone shouldn't coincide with a dead battery, necessarily so it would seem coincidental. Do use a multimeter to check battery voltage at the battery while running, with a helper putting engine RPM up past 2K. Replace alternator if voltage is much above 14.4V
Please post your vehicle year/model/engine/(n)WD in help topics.

'98 Explorer XLT 4L SOHC 4WD
'14 Explorer XLT 3.5L NA AWD
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Old 01-06-2018, 07:38 AM   #3
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Sounds like an alternator issue. Last week we had lows in the teens an the wind chill was a - degrees. My abs light glowed and the air bag light also. I had just replaced my battery with a new interstate. The alternator that I purchased from napa went south for the second time. The voltage regulator went out. I purchased an alternator from car quest an looks to be a better reman unit. You can use an ohm meter to check this from the battery to the alternator an then from the alternator to a good ground.
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