2003 Taurus. 8 alternators in 2 years???

85

Asked by Dec 29, 2012 at 09:15 AM about the 2003 Ford Taurus SES

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

My 2003 Ford Taurus has gone thru 8 alternators in the past 2 years. I replaced the alternator on Monday and it went out again on Friday. I bought the lifetime guaranteed rebuilt from Pepboys so I've only paid for the 1st one, but the inconvenience of changing them and not feeling secure that my car will get me where I'm going sucks. Everything in the electrical system is new. When the alternator is working, my car starts and runs perfect. No engine codes to pull up so that doesn't tell me anything. Anyone have any ideas what the problem could be? I'm stumped.

47 Answers

1,345

so what electronics are you running in your car?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
85

Nothing. Just the stock accessories that came with it. I can't remember the last time I even had the radio on.

1,835

Do they test the alternator when you bring it back? I just recently had what I thought was a bad alternator. I haven't used the 1998 Cherokee since last winter. I started the jeep and after 10 seconds the battery light would come on. I checked the voltage at the battery connections and it showed less than 12 volts. I took the alternator out and took it in for warranty. They tested it and it passed the test. They gave me a new rebuilt one any way and the same problem happened after I installed it. I started to check the wiring harnesses near the alternator and found a few wires that had been chewed by an animal. I fixed the wires and the alternator started to charge the car just fine. I hope this helps.

5 out of 5 people think this is helpful.
85

Yes, every time I take it back, it fails. It's only putting out 11 volts at the battery now. When I replace it, it puts out 13.5 to 14 volts at the battery. The longest it's lasted since the original alternator is 7 months. This last alternator only lasted 5 days.

your question is puzzling. something is backfeding big time. do you have any accesories that fail periodiclly. window switches, power locks, rear defrost, is there a button to pop the trunk. anything that randomly doesn't work.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
1,835

I wonder if the battery has a bad cell in it, causing the alternator to operate at max capacity all the time. I have had in the past a situation that the alternator was getting power from the ignition switch all the time when the switch was off also.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
85

No, everything works and the car runs great when the alternator is functioning properly. The starter, battery, A/C compressor, all new. It has me stumped. Pepboys is starting to complain of all the exchanges, but it's their rebuilt alternator and I did buy the lifetime guaranteed one.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
210,335

Plus those rebuilt alternators from the parts stores are junk. Maybe 50% work out of the box. The warranty is useless. I always try to buy new when I can.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
85

The last one (Mon.) they offered to upgrade to a new alternator, but if it fails....I went ahead and got another rebuilt.

bring your battery in and have it tested, just cause its new dont mean anything.

85

yes, they've tested it. That's where I bought it. It checks out fine

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
89,875

If it was my car, I would first check the output of the alternator with a clamp on amp-meter. I would also install a voltage gauge in the car to better see what's happening with the system while driving. The alternator should last for years, not weeks. It could be a short somewhere that's pulling a big load - maybe the insulation broke down or has rubbed through. I would check every inch of the cable that starts at the alternator and runs down to the starter. There's usually a fuseable link in that wire near the end at the starter. It could be heat. It could be vibration.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
16,225

check connections everywhere, alternator to battery, enigne grounds, body grounds, starter leads, anything. Something is pulling large amounts of current and causing them to die early.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
85

Thanks, Guys You've given me some ideas about where to start looking. I think I;m going to unwrap all of the wires in the loom coming from the alternator and check them before taking this alternator back to exchange it. If I don't find anything, I'm going to try a new, not rebuilt unit and see what happens.

85

So, I unwrapped all of the wiring that I could get to with tearing everything apart. All of the wires looked new and showed no sign of ever being hot or burned. I checked all of the grounds and all of them were still shiny and corrosion/rust free. I took the alternator off and returned it to Pepboys. They checked it and said that it tested fine...even though it still only put out 11 volts at the battery. They ordered a new (not rebuilt) alternator anyway. I took the battery with me to have it checked also when I picked the new alternator up. The battery tested low (11 volts) so they charged it up and tested it. It was fine. I took the new alternator home and installed it. The new alternator is putting out 14.2 volts at the battery and stays at 14.2 with all of the accessories and lights on. I guess I'll just see how long the new one lasts. The alternator before last lasted 8 months. Keeping my fingers crossed, but I doubt if I'll ever feel secure driving the car. Thanks, everybody for your time and suggestions. They were valuable and gave me a place to start diagnosing this perplexing problem.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
1,835

Rebuilt alternators could have chin-see parts in them. The rebuilt I had was from Auto-Zone and was still good after seven years. I think it just depends on the quality of the internal parts that are put in.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
85

The original alternator lasted over 10 years. The car didn't start eating alternators until after the 3rd starter and new A/C compressor were installed.a few years ago. I've checked all of the connections and wires going to both though and everything looks good. I bought this car new in 2003 and have the complete service records so I don't know what could be causing the problems if it's not the poor quality of the rebuilt alternators. I'll wait and see how long this new one lasts.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Starter and the a/c compressor being replaced, one of them is back feeding and killing the voltage regulator in the alernator.

since the a/c compressor is the only part (that you have replaced) that does anthing after starting the engine I would start there.

85

Okay, thanks. I've disconnected both plugs going to the A/C compressor. Don't need A/C during the Indiana winter anyway. I'll keep an eye on the alternator and see how it does. If it does OK, I'll have the dealer troubleshoot the A/C compressor this Spring. It was replaced at an independent Garage that is no longer in business so I'd probably get no joy complaining there. Again, Thanks for you time and suggestions.

16,225

The AC circuit has a diode or something that prohibits voltage spikes in the wrong direction during AC clutch operation. Not only is the compressor used to cool you down but its also used for the defrost setting. If this goes bad it can damage sensitive electrical components like the voltage regulator. But you said the battery reads 11 volts, Have you ever changed this battery? It may need replaced. If it's low then the alternator has to work harder than it should. If it's 11.0v then I would replace that battery no matter what the parts store says, i've had them tell me wrong info on batteries several times, same for starters and alternators.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
280

I have seen numerous websites that offer only guesses at the problem. The same thing happend to me. After buying an altenator, a battery, having the new battery charged, having an Autozone and Oreillys Autoparts "associate" troubleshoot with the electronic device that checks the battery and the altenator, there was never resolution. I bought a $26 Chilton manual and read the wiring diagram for the charging system. After over $280 in parts, the only thing that needed to be replaced at the beginning was a 175 AMP fuse located on the passenger side of the MAIN fuse box located under the hood. Do not waste your time tracking wires, replacing the altenator, battery, or little fuses. FIRST, check this fuse. It solved the problem.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.
20

I looked out our manual of the fuse box and I don't see any 175 amp fuses. What is this fuse called/for? The highest amp we are seeing is a 60 amp fuse.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

It's simple...the system ground chassis, engine block 1/0 cable to each is not solidly attached to the ground...one of those guys said they were "baking" themselves...this would not happen with proper grounding~

20

I don't know if this helps but I had a similar problem in my 95 taurus as well as a bunch of other little things breaking down really quickly in comparison. What it turned out to be causing most/all of the issues was a broken motor mount. every time i accelerated it pulled on my wiring harness witch then caused a bunch of electrical issues. It was causing rapid wear on everything. If I knew about the motor mount sooner I probably would have saved about 2 grand on repairs.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
10

The 175 amp fuse is called a Mega Fuse and is located at the end of the fuse box. They run about $11.00. There is also a 30 amp fuse in teh box that is part of the system. Our car is doing the same thing, the wires are fine, we have replaced 2 alternators, however, we do have a broken motor mount so we will check into that as well as replacing the mega fuse.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
240

Just a out of the box suggestion, I had this happen to me once, and it drove me crazy. Did you check all the pulleys and tensioner. If anything is off balanced. You could be running it at an angle and burning it out.

I replaced the alternator on my 2003 SES Tarus. Had a rebuilt one put on. Cranked up the car and checked at the battery posts with digital meter and was getting 14.1 volts. Cut engine off. Re-started engine and after about 20 seconds battery light on dash comes on and output of across the battery goes to 12.3 volts. I unhooked the negative post and replaced and output went back to 14.1 and no dash light on. Cut engine off and restarted and had the same problem Can anyone help

6,980

Stop that, frankie. Do you go to your home computer and pull the power cord out and then plug it back in while it is running numerous programs and systems that depend upon it for their power and logic? What happens if you did? Think about it. You are creating a startup draw in several things and several ways at once. If each of them just needs a little voltage or amperage or both, You can add it up and explain your increased need when restoring the connection. This can damage components. This can certainly heat up wires and blow a fuse. Get your system inspected and diagnosed by a competent Ford tech. You can get your answer, and an estimate, then decide if you want to perform the replacement of parts, or put motorcraft parts back on where they go. System prechecks require the factory trained technician to inspect and test several things before he even completes a charging system test. He may find a belt issue, loose or corroded connections, or there may be a bulletin and or special message from engineering known to him that you would be advised of just because you crossed the paint into his service department. Try them sometime.

I had issues with 2003 Ford Taurus alternator and we seem to be having issues again. There was a mechanic message in the box when we purchased the new replacement alternator from NAPA. A note to mechanics. Wish I had a copy of the notice/message, does anyone know about this?

6,980

I bet NAPA does. Electrical system prechecks in the Ford service manual is first step after Running an oasis. If the tech is sent to a service bulletin or receives a service message in the print out, then diagnostic steps can be different than the service manual. Every dealer I ever worked at, we wanted to know so bad, we would crowd around the shop foreman waiting to see what it was when someone had done this to their car. Can somebody explain why a Taurus needs three starters and 8 alternators? The parts manager would say, "It's a loose nut....behind the wheel." Then we would read the oasis print out. If a liquid filled engine mount was recalled? There was a bulletin or message? We did that first. If the system prechecks were in question? We would inspect and go down the list. We would precheck the battery and put it on to charge. We would find out if anybody had ever had anything strange happen. I could raise my hand and say, "it does not need 3 starters, it needs the ford one fixed and a different wire connector and nut. If the voltage regulator did not say motorcraft on it.... I started walking to parts because it was several minutes away, and we would be able to guarantee a Ford part made in usa, if it was. But those fusible links that are on the end of the power distribution box are being shorted or blown by the cause. The fuses have another thing where one gets upgraded by 10 amps. Please take the baby to it's mother. Or call them with a VIN and ask for an oasis or whatever they call it now. Your service advisor may be able to help, or you can research the automotive database at the public library. The ford dealer donates service literature to the library when it goes out of use to make room in their own library. I personally am all the way back at getting an oasis and doing system prechecks, inspect the tristarter and be sure the cable end is not touching the block. then please report your findings after all your fuses are checked and the 5 amp is increased. Or whatever the heck it says to do.

I do not grok...a fuse either passes electricity or blows and doesn't pass electricity...how can a fuse be the problem?

6,980

There is, reportedly, from a few sources, a fuse that cannot handle testing and operation, or the amperage predicted for that circuit that needs the upsize. If you look at a fuse, it is not blown to your estimation?, you go ahead into the next thing to consider, RIGHT ? But an automotive fuse that blows because of your doings-That were to come AFTER that, That is one way a fuse can be the cause, Another way a fuse can be the cause, is an automotive fuse is subjected to constant vibrations, atmospheric moisture, parking brake release jarring, being kicked, sometimes fits loosely as a result, or resistance can exist in the bussbar tips it plugs into as a result of its environment. ..What a Ford tech MUST do, to keep from being charged back in a flat rate shop, on his paycheck, is check, then later recheck it. He must know that there is or is not an electrical update given in a bulletin, recall, broadcast message or SSM. he studies them daily or his team leader brings it to his attention, or his service advisor finds it during an oasis. The service tech tests every fuse with the circuit in operation. the power existing on both sides of the circuit cannot fool a tester, and wiggling the fuse can MAKE it blow. The resistance can block current flow to a "good" fuse that has begun to turn white on its aluminum pieces that reach into the bussbar. This (scenario) if you will, is a matter for factory training. When a tech attends engineer lead school for weeks , He is shown every kind of pita they know. They use every means, fair and unfair, predictable or not, to create an open. They do not do that with short circuits because of danger and expense. Those are discussed, and students share the strange anomalies they have witnessed. When things arise that are not provided for. The engineers ears perk up, it peaks his interest. He wants to know how things were possible without his having read about it. Why is there no answer provided? Where did you see this? what model was affected? what was your repair? Do WE already provide a MOTORCRAFT repair kit, or part? Can you use one of the ones we offer for something else ? Because the ones you haven't fixed, that we have to fix for you, are having cheap unknown make fuses or connectors installed in them, and the low grade material is prone to corrosion or poor fit. Is this coming from the part? the environment? The vibrations? The release of the parking brake? Or, is harry homeowner working on his own, and you dont see it till the problem is unexplainable and covered up? WHAT ? Are you guys just coming flying at it with aftermarket alternators from ching bang ? or el guapo ? origin?........We charge your shop back when we find this junque. So, you go back to your dealership, and your dispatcher pitches curves at you for a while, Then you get to fight with your own people, But you never forget that (scenario) where you were given a time limit and told to read the manual and do the system prechecks. Your team was the last to go sit back down, why ? Your system fuse was found by you UNDER the floormat...............A humbling experience, to say the least, but saves you and your customer, and the manufacturer, exponentially for years to come......arent you glad you asked? Your apartment or house, does not go lumbering down the road at 60 MPH rain or shine, heat or cold, and get driven by your teenager. That (scenario) happens for the RV techs at the other service department a block away.

6,980

It is another thing to mention, that after the prechecks, verification of part quality, and testing, that a failed or intermittent alternator harness can sometimes be found with the wiggle test only, Specific tests and warning circuit tests may need rechecking by the time you call it fixed, and they are trying to take it to be washed, you demand that they go chew gum somewhere, while you run back down your checklist, and put it through its functions, and verify the battery is charging in reality. and the connections are serviced and protected throughout the system. Then ,you earned the "big bucks" whether you get actually paid for it or not, it wont be coming back on a tow truck with a dead battery (praise God for patience)

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
85

To put this topic to rest. The 2nd new alternator from pepboys, after all of the rebuilt ones, has been on the car for 2 years now and still going strong. Nothing else was changed. I can only think that Pepboys parts especially electrical parts are usually junk. I'll never shop there again.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.
6,980

Thanks for the update about your car, and what fixed it. can you select an answer that has your needed data to arrive at a lasting correction, please ? Then future readers can goto that bubble to help them. I cannot select it or delete things that dont help them. from here.

6,980

Lets simplify all this reading, Run an oasis over the phone with the VIN, ask the service advisor. recalls come first, then service bulletins, then service and broadcast messages. if the car is then, sound, it can be tested. The update may help you think to check ALL fuses, the connections and starter connections. the accessories that get left on sometimes relate to a thumbwheel at the base of the dash that gets bumped by the driver. Then, a good battery, an alternator with a good belt, properly connected, a tight pulley nut, can be tested for output. hope this simplifies the year-range in question. a good working warning circuit is a must, it must prove-out. a harness can show intermittent during the wiggle test. The battery must be fully charged up prior to testing. a discharged 850cca battery needing to be charged by the alternator, can cause premature alternator failure...especially parts that are not designed to last for years and years. they cost less, if they are not from here, and there is a varying quality standard FORD does not control. But they offer some of the small parts to correct yours, or you can go to a local rebuilder. now I think you can lay that to rest. test and retest use premium quality.

I have seen the word oasis appear quite often since finding this forum please tell me what an oasis is

6,980

That's the system used to stay in communication with customers and the prople who try to help them after the sale of Ford products. Thr service advisor gets the current status of the VIN, the in service date, the outstanding recalls, and important info that can help when the vehicle is serviced. When there are questions about a system, a component, a diagnosis, or some problem, he/she can request data that has already been issued,But that customer had not known yet they needed it, or the customer was contacted by written letter to respond, but was unaware or unable to respond, or it had not come up as a concern for them. Let's say you want to know about your issue, but it has timed out for coverage, or the vehicle was traded and sat. The dealer, or the new owner can access the info to figure it out. Or the new owner can get fast answers from the service department, without any need to wait, write up a warranty repair or customer paid diagnosis. In our case of the repeating electrical issue, the info I gave you already could be sought, and the info about the recall of the liquid filled engine mounts, or the possibility of a fuse specification change could be known in less than a few minutes, or the dealer receives specific info about how to look up the bulletin that would have helped. I first saw it in use in the mid 80's and have called for help even in the 2000's for help with a seemingly insurmountable problem, and received a fast answer. Customers who regularly service their cars with their dealer receive this service included at every visit. If they asked something, a "service code" is given to the system about that area of the vehicle or its issue, and some related data can be received, a service bulletin could be listed, or nothing.....is also possible, depending on the circumstances of that VIN, or the in service date. If they purchased an extended service policy, it also helps the service advisor remind them of their known coverages and write their concerns up in a way that can get paid by the manufacturer. Who has time to explain all this so you know? At delivery, you take a sort of "class" about your vehicle and your service area. They try to impart enough info to keep your attention but not make promises that confuse you. you receive a card in the owners guidebook, and present it during any visit to speed up the process of finding out where the manufacturer stands with your VIN, and ways they can help. Amazing, really. saves everyone time and helps clarify expectations, or allows you to change your coverage if you need to before something could expire, or a campaign times out. Then some needs can turn to customer pay, and you would have wanted to know, right? If you service your car there they know, or they can ask to try and help, help you, or speed up your answers so you make informed choices.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.
6,980

That's how the squeaky wheel gets its grease, or the service includes the lube placed where you need it whether you knew it or not. you dont get that at harrys tire store, or ding dong auto. And they try to complete the recommended service with your permission, and be less expensive, believe it, or dont, than the aftermarket, and more correct without using parts that CAUSE your problems.

6,980

I add up the time and cost of doing things the cheap way, excluding the help, and find that people dont want their car anymore by the time they figure something out. But if they knew not to do some things or use some parts, or how to do what it needs to find out, they love their baby and arent trying to crush it and SPEND LESS doing so, just had to ask. Hope this helps and you now have more info to solve your issues, perhaps more simply. Even more cost effectively. And the people you reach in trying, know half of what we forgot before they started buying foreign. The machines must have inspired operators sometimes, like any industry.

34,605

Pep Boys is the problem, They sell crap that is only partially rebuilt. I stopped getting alternators from them after about 6 for a Toyota I had and got my money back and bought a rebuilt from a reputable shop and never had a problem again,

34,605

There are independent shops that will fully rebuild your alternator if you cannot find a new one.

6,980

TRUe THAT, and other applications for other makes can have similar issues sometimes. they are not made here, and when their parts and assembly ARE made here, it can still be defective. It can also fail Quickly because it does not contain redundant internal circuitry that your OEM part protects itself with. Then your doings that are not the testing a technician uses, causes failure, or trying to use a cheaper reman to fully recharge a battery all at once just because you had it restart, can cause internal failure, again, parts are different than Genuine parts. We spend days in training looking at, testing, and identifying the electrical enemy, to keep that part or MFR off our list, and we can identify it simply. Repairing the part that needs brushes does not carry a replacement warranty, so it does not get selected as a choice. People ask for cheap, someone cheapens it, they buy the thing and try to fall back on the warranty. They use knock offs and whatever is available easiest, Then their pointing finger comes out. we never see them, because they listen to one another. Yea, chewie, mynocks are probly chewin on the power cables, see if you can blast a few of them......

6,980

A local rebuilder can sell you pretty decent stuff, or you can order Genuine internal repair parts and have them installed. But when we do what we are told by people who have substandard practices, we can hurt our currently barely working aftermarket, unprotected cheaper stuff. BE CAREFUL, either know, read up, or buy quality and ask alot of questions to protect your investment.

6,980

I wrote a few of the things they tried to teach me, that should help, i hope, and reading thru this thread, you can find where people are trying their kentucky eeelectric ideas. try not to do what they were writing

6,980

please pick the one that is considered helpful for diagnosis, and then the one you call your best help. that tells the answers then the next reader doesn't have to spend a day reading all this.

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