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Ford Fiesta 1.4L Titanium Automatic 2011 - 2011 Ford Fiesta 1.4L Automatic Undercharging - gizz_10

Hi All

I'm looking for some advice. I've got a 2011 Ford Fiesta which i have had since new - but as a low mileage driver i have only clocked up 19k miles in 10 years. Everything was running fine with no issues until we were into the latest lockdown and i didn't drive the car for about 3 weeks. The battery went dead. I called out the breakdown guys who gave it a jump start but when it was revved it kept cutting out - so they tested the battery and alternator and said they thought it was the alternator as it was undercharging under revs. Breakdown swapped my battery for one of theirs temporarily and followed me to the local garage - trustworthy - where i normally take my car for service, MOT etc. The power steering was also not working and the breakdown guy suggested that was because the car was not getting enough power - ie all related. The local garage had the car for a week - put on a new alternator but it was still undercharging. They charged up the battery from the mains and it was charging up ok. So they ruled out the battery. They ran diagnostics - only one error came up for the camshaft sensor which they replaced but the problems still occurring with the undercharging. Some days it would start with a jump but again cut out when you went to drive it - other days it wouldn't start at all. They removed the new alternator as didn't want to charge me for a part i didn't need - and said they had checked everything mechanical was working fine, and the issue must be do to with the computer - and that i should probably take it to Ford who would be able to fix it straight away.

I called Ford, explained the issue, booked it in, and arranged to have it towed to them Ford started by insisting it needed a new battery and a new alternator. I explained to them that battery had already been tested by breakdown and the local garage plus was under warranty anyway so if it needs changing would do that with the place i bought it. They still insisted on changing the alternator even though i told them that had already been tried. I got them to agree that if it turned out not to be the alternator after they changed it they would put my one back and not charge me for it. As expected when they put in the new alternator it was still undercharging and the problems still persisted. I agreed they could change the Auxillary belt at the same time as it was wearing/cracked in places - however this made no difference.

Ford have now suggested that there was water in the Engine wiring harness - which they have removed and cleaned up cos it was rusty but they said they want to try changing the Engine wiring harness - quoting me a cost of £600 parts plus £400+ labour. However it may still not fix the problem. However if they change this even when it doesn't fix it i would still have to pay for it. Other than that they also are unsure what could be causing the problems with undercharging and stalling. It feels like Ford are just trying random things even if they are not needed and expecting me to pay for them - however none of their 7 expert technicians at that Ford location seem able to know what it is - and so they have to keep trying different things. Meanwhile the consumer just has to keep paying out till the fault is found. That doesn't seem right to me.

So now we are at a stalemate as i don't really know if its worth spending that £1k+ if they don't even know if that is what is causing the issue. The car is also not worth much now being 10 years old but I've only done 19K miles so it seems a bit premature to be giving up on it just yet. But if 7 FORD technicians can't diagnose the problem, what hope do i have? I have already spent £100 at the first garage for diagnostics, £70 towing it and now Ford are charging me £165 for the Aux belt and the diagnostics. So already spent £335 and been without my car for 3+ weeks and am no further forward.

Note - I am not a car expert by any means, just a lady consumer who loves her Ford Fiesta that has served her well for 10 years.

Edited by gizz_10 on 17/02/2021 at 12:13

Ford Fiesta 1.4L Titanium Automatic 2011 - 2011 Ford Fiesta 1.4L Automatic Undercharging - elekie&a/c doctor
I can’t believe it can be that difficult to fix a Fiesta . I would try and find a competent auto electrician who is conversant with modern day electronic systems . Main dealers are a waste of time . Most don’t have the skills to work “out the box “ and rely solely on computer diagnostics .
Ford Fiesta 1.4L Titanium Automatic 2011 - 2011 Ford Fiesta 1.4L Automatic Undercharging - Railroad.

Checking the battery and charging system is very basic stuff on any vehicle. Any competent technician should have no problems doing this. All it takes is knowledge of how to volt drop test and possession of a multimeter and a current clamp. If any technician doesn't know how to do this he should give up his job and stack supermarket shelves instead.

Ford Fiesta 1.4L Titanium Automatic 2011 - 2011 Ford Fiesta 1.4L Automatic Undercharging - gizz_10

Checking the battery and charging system is very basic stuff on any vehicle. Any competent technician should have no problems doing this. All it takes is knowledge of how to volt drop test and possession of a multimeter and a current clamp. If any technician doesn't know how to do this he should give up his job and stack supermarket shelves instead.

You would think so right which is why i don't understand why my local Ford haven't found anything although they claim to have checked all the wiring. I have found a decent local guy who comes highly recommended - with 16 years experience previously at Ford. He says he thinks he can fix it but if he cant he won't charge so nothing to lose. He is going to look at it tomorrow. I will let you know how it goes.

Ford Fiesta 1.4L Titanium Automatic 2011 - 2011 Ford Fiesta 1.4L Automatic Undercharging - skidpan

A Fiesta of this period probably has a smart alternator, our Focus of 2005 certainly did. I did not realise this until I checked the voltage across the battery with the engine idling, and then using a volt meter plugged into the ciggy lighter when the car was being driven. I was convinced we had a problem, from memory it was between about 12.5 and 14.7 volts. Using the same meter in the Caterham when fitted with a Lucas alternator it was 13.7 volts when hot, with the current Denso alternator its about 14.15 volts when hot.

So are the readings obtained relevant with modern electrics.

Ford Fiesta 1.4L Titanium Automatic 2011 - 2011 Ford Fiesta 1.4L Automatic Undercharging - elekie&a/c doctor
Just looked at your original post , and you say it is automatic gearbox. There was an issue on the early autos whereby the engine to chassis earth was found to be inadequate. The mod was to run a new lead direct from the engine to the battery negative terminal .
Ford Fiesta 1.4L Titanium Automatic 2011 - 2011 Ford Fiesta 1.4L Automatic Undercharging - gizz_10
Just looked at your original post , and you say it is automatic gearbox. There was an issue on the early autos whereby the engine to chassis earth was found to be inadequate. The mod was to run a new lead direct from the engine to the battery negative terminal .

That is interesting. I will also mention this to the new mechanic who is looking at the car today. Thank you.

Ford Fiesta 1.4L Titanium Automatic 2011 - 2011 Ford Fiesta 1.4L Automatic Undercharging - Railroad.

The smart charging system will reduce the charge rate when the load placed on the battery is low. This is to conserve energy. If the smart charging system were to fail the alternator would charge at the normal rate. The condition of the battery will have a big effect on the charge rate, so the OP should not rule out a battery problem until it is independently and properly tested. Very often a low charge rate turns out to be a battery issue. And with a smart charging system a calcium type battery must be used otherwise problems will occur.

Ford Fiesta 1.4L Titanium Automatic 2011 - 2011 Ford Fiesta 1.4L Automatic Undercharging - jp2021

Seconded - had the same sort of issue with 10 plate Focus and it was still the battery . Exactly how old is the battery, and is it a recognised brand?

The comments above about the earth lead should be followed up as this caused a weird set of faults on a Peugeot due to poor engine earth, and main dealers failed to spot that as well

Ford Fiesta 1.4L Titanium Automatic 2011 - 2011 Ford Fiesta 1.4L Automatic Undercharging - gizz_10

The Battery is a Bosch S4 Battery which is 18 months old and has a 4 year guarantee. Both the breakdown guy and the local garage did test the battery - the local garage also charged it from the mains and it was charging up ok so that is why they ruled out the battery. Also the breakdown guy had put his own battery on my car temporarily to follow me to the garage and whilst this did allow me to drive to the garage, the alternator was still undercharging - so this is why he thought it must be an issue with the alternator initially. I will ask the local guy who i found to double check to be sure. Thank you.

Ford Fiesta 1.4L Titanium Automatic 2011 - 2011 Ford Fiesta 1.4L Automatic Undercharging - skidpan

the local garage also charged it from the mains

I really hope they used a battery charger.

Ford Fiesta 1.4L Titanium Automatic 2011 - 2011 Ford Fiesta 1.4L Automatic Undercharging - gizz_10

the local garage also charged it from the mains

I really hope they used a battery charger.

I believe they did. lol

Ford Fiesta 1.4L Titanium Automatic 2011 - 2011 Ford Fiesta 1.4L Automatic Undercharging - gizz_10

Hi Everyone - thank you all for your replies and guidance. I am happy to say that a local mechanic I found after posting this issue on social media was able to fix the problem on the same day. He found the issue was to do with the Alternator after all - one of the brushes was broken. He fitted me a genuine new Ford alternator for £335 incl labour and the car is running like a dream now. He also checked the Engine wiring harness and could find nothing wrong with it. This guy is a keeper and I will be going to him in future for anything my car needs. He also did a service and MOT (as they were due) and he found one of my brake pad cables was twisted the wrong way round and straightened it. I had been living with squeaky brakes for years - and whenever i mentioned it at the service or MOT the garages just dismissed it. Now there is no more squeaking from the brakes and the car is driving better than it ever has. Thanks again everyone for your guidance and help.

Ford Fiesta 1.4L Titanium Automatic 2011 - 2011 Ford Fiesta 1.4L Automatic Undercharging - elekie&a/c doctor
Sounds like the Ford dealer did nothing and charged you for the privilege.
Ford Fiesta 1.4L Titanium Automatic 2011 - 2011 Ford Fiesta 1.4L Automatic Undercharging - bathtub tom
The local garage had the car for a week - put on a new alternator but it was still undercharging.

I called Ford, explained the issue, booked it in, and arranged to have it towed to them Ford started by insisting it needed a new battery and a new alternator. I explained to them that battery had already been tested by breakdown and the local garage plus was under warranty anyway so if it needs changing would do that with the place i bought it. They still insisted on changing the alternator even though i told them that had already been tried. I got them to agree that if it turned out not to be the alternator after they changed it they would put my one back and not charge me for it. As expected when they put in the new alternator it was still undercharging and the problems still persisted.

I find it strange that two garages could fit new alternators without curing the problem, but a mechanic could fit new brushes to your existing alternator and cure it. Are you sure it was brushes and not something else?

Ford Fiesta 1.4L Titanium Automatic 2011 - 2011 Ford Fiesta 1.4L Automatic Undercharging - Galaxy

It's possible that the first garage might have fitted a new alternator that was faulty.

Sounds like the Ford dealer didn't do anything at all except charge you!

The last garage did well. They fitted a new alternator and solved the problem.

Of course, it's still possible that the first garage didn't do anything, either.

Ford Fiesta 1.4L Titanium Automatic 2011 - 2011 Ford Fiesta 1.4L Automatic Undercharging - elekie&a/c doctor
You get more than new brushes for £335 . You get the rest of the alternator attached .
Ford Fiesta 1.4L Titanium Automatic 2011 - 2011 Ford Fiesta 1.4L Automatic Undercharging - gizz_10
You get more than new brushes for £335 . You get the rest of the alternator attached .

Yes - it was a new alternator - genuine FORD part - cheaper than the original garage's price for an after market one

Ford Fiesta 1.4L Titanium Automatic 2011 - 2011 Ford Fiesta 1.4L Automatic Undercharging - gizz_10
I find it strange that two garages could fit new alternators without curing the problem, but a mechanic could fit new brushes to your existing alternator and cure it. Are you sure it was brushes and not something else?

The new mechanic put on a new genuine FORD alternator. He explained that the local garage may have used an after market alternator (i checked and they did) - and he showed me where the brushes were iin the voltage regulator part of the alternator marked "Valeo". He said that Fiestas dont respond well to after market regulators- and that part needs to be a Valeo part. He sent me a video too showing me the broken brushes. I can believe this explanation. Whether he could have changed just the Valeo regulator part instead of the whole alternator I am not sure, but by then i was just so happy to have the car running again
As for FORD, well - as some have mentioned above I believe they probably didn't bother changing the alternator although they claimed they did. If they had done so with genuine Ford parts then it should have fixed it.

Totally unfair that they can still charge diagnostics when they are unable to diagnose the issue as well.

Edited by gizz_10 on 24/02/2021 at 09:24

 

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