The battery warning light started coming on in our 2001 tribute. It still starts fine every time with no sluggish cranking. The warning light also comes and goes and funnily enough doesnt seem related to Revs. It can go for quite long periods not being on, then quite long periods on (30 mins being what I think it is long ) and sometimes flicks between on and off quite quickly (a few times in say 10 seconds).
I tried another battery in it, same thing. The vehicle still seems to be running fine, although I am a bit nervous about taking it too far. Is there anything else simple I might be able to check, or should I head for an auto-electrician? Unfortunately I dont have the workshop manual for it, and it didnt come with the owners manual (got it second hand).
Any tips/advice/suggestions greatly appreciated.
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Just to be sure we are not talking apples and oranges here as have seen it a bunch of times. Lets first make sure it is not the low coolant light. The 'battery' or 'charge' light is in the center bottom of the tachometer. The 'low coolant warning' light is on the far left side next to the temp gauge and just above the 'cruise' light. Have heard this light being described as just about meaning everything.
You had me wondering there, so I've just gone and double checked but its definitly the battery light thats coming on (as you describe, although I can see how the coolant light could be confused with it) .
Anyway, I'm now wondering if theres a loose connection somewhere, but I'm unsure of what and where. The vechile is still running fine, starts no problem etc, but it is very disconcerting. I took another look at the battery, and it looked like it was probably the original, so I purchased and installed a new one, but the problem persists.
I'm pretty close to taking into the shop, but its just finding the time (of course I'll be kicking myself for not doing it sooner if it breaks down).
Anyway, if you have any ideas on things to check I'd appreciate it.
Had an auto-electrician who does house calls drop by today and take a look. He reckons the alternator is giving up and probably needs to be taken out and refurbished (will need the tribute in the shop for a day or two). I've got no reason not to believe him as he's from a reputable firm, but is this a common fault on these things? I wouldnt have thought a 2001 tribute with 70,000kms on the clock would have worn out its alternator already... I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has had this fault.
Have replaced around 10-12 alternators on Tributes. Mostly older 01's. One other thing I have seen that caused a charge light on when output from alternator was normal. Take the cover off of the under hood fuse/relay box there by the battery. At the front inner corner area you will see two large diameter wires entering the fuse box from below and held into place on the mounting lugs with 10mm nuts. See pic below. Check to make sure that both of these nuts are tight and there is no corrosion on them. Those two wires are the connection point between the alternator and battery. Loose connection here will cause a voltage/amperage drop that has been known to cause undercharging and charge light on. Also check the 15 Amp ALT or #11 fuse in that same fuse box. Should be a fuse diagram on the underside of fuse cover to help locate. Otherwise just need to be able to go off of voltage and amperage outputs from alternator to determine if it is ok. Assume this is what was checked by the auto-electrician.
Thanks for that. I've checked those connectors and the fuse and all seems ok there. One thing I was wondering about - whats the fuction of the 120A relay that sits across the the connector? Is it to control the charging? i.e. disconnects the charging circuit when the battery is fully charged, but connects it when the battery does need charging? - if so, is it possible this thing is sticking or something? Just wondering really, I'm pretty resigned it it being the alternator tho.
Not actually a relay gav but just a really big fuse like the smaller 10 and 15 Amp ones that you were checking. It is called the main fuse to be exact and is there to protect the entire electrical system whereas the smaller ones are there to protect individual circuits such as the brake lights, horn, etc. Charging rate is controlled by the regualtor inside the altenator although the 2.0l 4 cyl has much of the charging rate controlled by the PCM. Sounds like a new alternator is probably in need at this point if output voltage is below 12 volts.
I booked it into a sparky earlier in the week and got it back last night - turns out the regulator on the alternator was playing up so they replaced that and now my battery light stays off when the tributes running. Apparently it was not easy to get at the alternator.
Anyway, thanks for all your help - much appreciated.
I have a 05 tribute. I just changed out the altenator about 1 year ago. The other night I noticed that the battery light was on. It was very faint but it was on. It went away when I got to speed, and my rpm came down. When I got home I put my multi meter on the battery (while the tribute was running) and I have 14 volts. I will check all the fuses and the grounding cable tonight, is there anything else I need to check?