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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The other morning it failed to start, clicking noises only and dash lights. The battery looks old, and recently I had to add a significant amount of water to it. I've owned this car for only a year and a half. I took a voltage meter to the battery, and measured 10.3 volts without a load, left the voltage meter hooked up to the battery and turned the key to start it, and under load to the starter I measured fluctuating between 4-7 volts at the battery. Do I need a new battery? I'm fixed income and so I have to be careful and don't want to unnecessarily spend but it seems like the battery is bad. Your opinion?
 

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The other morning it failed to start, clicking noises only and dash lights. The battery looks old, and recently I had to add a significant amount of water to it. I've owned this car for only a year and a half. I took a voltage meter to the battery, and measured 10.3 volts without a load, left the voltage meter hooked up to the battery and turned the key to start it, and under load to the starter I measured fluctuating between 4-7 volts at the battery. Do I need a new battery? I'm fixed income and so I have to be careful and don't want to unnecessarily spend but it seems like the battery is bad. Your opinion?
Two things.
Need to know the volts when running. 13.8-14.5V this tells if the charging system is working right.
Need to charge the battery and see if it charges OK.
Should never have to add water. either over charged or bad battery.
You need a battery charger. I have bought at garage sales for $1 for 6 A. $1.5 for 10 A auto shutoff and jump starting Craftsman.
Best of luck.
-chart-
 

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OK got my chargers by memory wrong.
This one Sears, really old but old ain't bad. And it was +8% tax as it was an estate sale. Went by next street on Sat afternoon half price and this was in the garage, face down in a 5G bucket.
And my $1 one was 4A. Gave to carpenter working on out house, he wanted 6V for his snow blower and I had no use for it. Bought it when we had to live in apartment for nearly 2 years due to house fire. Came with garage and I kept the Buick inside and used this to top off the battery. The '03 Sable wagon was our hauler and daily driver.
-chart-
 

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A car battery is considered bad if its none load voltage is below 12.3 while fully charged.

10.3v is very low for battery with no load on it. You need to recharge the battery and test it after letting it sit 30 mins after it is done charging. If you test it right after it is done charging you might get a inaccurate reading so let it sit at least 30 mins before testing.

Running a lead acid battery down or letting it drain below 50% (around 12.3v) can damage the battery. If fully discharged and left to sit for days while empty it can become permanently damaged. Car batteries are only suppose to be drained down to 50% discharge and discharging past this amount can damage the battery.

Here is a good site about car batteries, take the time to read through a few sections if you want to learn more about what you should and should not do with them.

How to Test Your Car Battery

Replace Car Battery
 

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Chart attached, shows "reserve capacity" new and again at 3.5 years. In this test, I top off the bat with a automatic charger, then attach a resistor bank and start a simple kitchen timer and a volt meter on the battery posts. I then note from time to time the volts and time passed. I end when the volts reaches ~11.5V. In the case of the older battery, I it go as it is terminal for my use.
This shows the normal wear of a battery in auto use. Left is storage, this could last 10 years with periodic topping off. The enemy of battery life is, heat and vibration in normal use. Over/under charge will accelerate this aging. In this case, the old battery in the car cranks same as a new one in moderate weather. Of course you could have a non-wear fail early.
In the chart is another new battery for a brief period and it shows the test repeats on a new battery, Walmart 36R. I have 3 G-4 Bulls in my herd and I replace every 3 years as I do not want to
get the CALL. Daughter has the '03 Taurus, Grandson the '05 Taurus.
I have other charts of tests like this chart. My past Lin Cont, and my present Buick Lucerne use larger batteries and the scale is different.
I have had few charging fails on the road. Lin Cont, two times. First cost me $530 and a night in a motel. '80 Mercury, made it home 100 miles. '87 Sable, made it home 135 miles at night. Put in a new battery at the start. '03 Sable (present car) overcharging = 15.8V, burned out lamps, likely damaged battery.
-chart-
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Two things.
Need to know the volts when running. 13.8-14.5V this tells if the charging system is working right.
Need to charge the battery and see if it charges OK.
Should never have to add water. either over charged or bad battery.
You need a battery charger. I have bought at garage sales for $1 for 6 A. $1.5 for 10 A auto shutoff and jump starting Craftsman.
Best of luck.
-chart-
Thanks, my gut instinct says battery, my neighbor says it could be the starter going out. Funny, never had issues with either one until Sunday morning. My neighbor has a charger/jumper, he used his charger on it Sunday to jump it, but he also tapped the starter. It started and I drove it to where I needed to go, kept the engine running, and after I shut it off at home I got the same symptoms, no start, just clicking. In the next few days I hope to know for sure, because it's a great car and my daily driver.
Chart attached, shows "reserve capacity" new and again at 3.5 years. In this test, I top off the bat with a automatic charger, then attach a resistor bank and start a simple kitchen timer and a volt meter on the battery posts. I then note from time to time the volts and time passed. I end when the volts reaches ~11.5V. In the case of the older battery, I it go as it is terminal for my use.
This shows the normal wear of a battery in auto use. Left is storage, this could last 10 years with periodic topping off. The enemy of battery life is, heat and vibration in normal use. Over/under charge will accelerate this aging. In this case, the old battery in the car cranks same as a new one in moderate weather. Of course you could have a non-wear fail early.
In the chart is another new battery for a brief period and it shows the test repeats on a new battery, Walmart 36R. I have 3 G-4 Bulls in my herd and I replace every 3 years as I do not want to
get the CALL. Daughter has the '03 Taurus, Grandson the '05 Taurus.
I have other charts of tests like this chart. My past Lin Cont, and my present Buick Lucerne use larger batteries and the scale is different.
I have had few charging fails on the road. Lin Cont, two times. First cost me $530 and a night in a motel. '80 Mercury, made it home 100 miles. '87 Sable, made it home 135 miles at night. Put in a new battery at the start. '03 Sable (present car) overcharging = 15.8V, burned out lamps, likely damaged battery.
-chart-
Thank you. I think I failed to mention also that one of the battery terminals started showing corrosion. Today or tomorrow I should know for sure where the problem is at. My first step is going to be cleaning all the corrosion with baking soda and water, and now (since last night) that I know the coding of the date of manufacture of battery, see exactly how old the battery is. Either a starter or battery is about the same price, just can't afford both. I will check the charging while the engine is running, too. The idiot lights gave no sign anything was wrong, just "Poof."
 

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My bet is the battery but you need to clean the terminals to make sure your alternator is able to charge the battery properly. I would not even think of it being the starter until the terminals are clean and battery tested. It can also be a weak alternator with worn brushes which normally happens at 100k plus miles. Maybe get it started and go to Autozone to have the whole system tested for free.
If you are going to keep the car spending money on a new battery even though it may not be bad now is not a waste of money. You maybe able to find a date code on it to indicate how old it is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My bet is the battery but you need to clean the terminals to make sure your alternator is able to charge the battery properly. I would not even think of it being the starter until the terminals are clean and battery tested. It can also be a weak alternator with worn brushes which normally happens at 100k plus miles. Maybe get it started and go to Autozone to have the whole system tested for free.
If you are going to keep the car spending money on a new battery even though it may not be bad now is not a waste of money. You maybe able to find a date code on it to indicate how old it is.
I plan to keep the car even though it has 225k miles on it. It runs very well (when it is running) and the body and paint are in excellent condition. Today I'm going to look for the date code, last night I just learned how to read it off the battery. And it has a brand new oil change.:LOL:
 

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Clean bat cables make the difference between long life and JY. Pic common if not 98% at the JY. Likely many arrive here due to bad maint.
Bulls need their ground to the fender and the one to the firewall cleaned. Ford bolts the eyelet over paint and depend on the bolt threads to conduct. RUSTY.
Do it yourself maint. is easy and rewarding.
Alt. Battery, tires, belts, brakes, and such wear out.
-chart-
 

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To answer your question: yes, you need a new battery.
Agree, new bat, clean the cable ends, clean your ground to the fender and the one to the firewall.
Then check your volts with the engine running. 13.8V minimum.
For me, I use household ammonia instead of soda. Also a caustic, but the ammonia vapors leave and no residue except water.
-chart-
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Agree, new bat, clean the cable ends, clean your ground to the fender and the one to the firewall.
Then check your volts with the engine running. 13.8V minimum.
For me, I use household ammonia instead of soda. Also a caustic, but the ammonia vapors leave and no residue except water.
-chart-
Thanks, I'm going to clean the cable ends where they connect to the fender and firewall, and measure for any resistance at all, and I'm hoping tomorrow I'll be back on the road. I'll update here, if it's not tomorrow then for sure on Thursday. Today is my neighbor's birthday and I won't bother him today and I'm awaiting the result of a covid test that I hope to get back tomorrow, even though I'm fully vaccinated I came down with something over the weekend, feeling better even before the results are in but best to be safe and stay home and away from others until I know for sure.
 

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Thanks, I'm going to clean the cable ends where they connect to the fender and firewall, and measure for any resistance at all, and I'm hoping tomorrow I'll be back on the road. I'll update here, if it's not tomorrow then for sure on Thursday. Today is my neighbor's birthday and I won't bother him today and I'm awaiting the result of a covid test that I hope to get back tomorrow, even though I'm fully vaccinated I came down with something over the weekend, feeling better even before the results are in but best to be safe and stay home and away from others until I know for sure.
Congrats on your '01. One year only fuel system. Alt not like '02 and later. Best not mix them up. Been there.
Few people we know, have been sick a few days with NON Virus.
Wishing you well.
-chart-
 

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Look to see if the alternator has been replaced. At 225k miles, if original, could have worn slip rings and brushes. On my 2001 and 2006 alternators didn't make 200k miles. My 91 and 93 easily made 200k miles on the alternators. You need to check the output voltage on the alternator at idle. Should be around 14 volts.
 

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A quick test I use to determine dead battery vs bad starter, head lights on and try to start the car. Lights go dim or out, dead battery. If all you hear is clicking or nothing and headlights do not dim, then bad starter or bad ground. I agree with checking the whole charging system at an auto-parts store when you get it started. A dead battery can really be a bad alternator.
 

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I plan to keep the car even though it has 225k miles on it. It runs very well (when it is running) and the body and paint are in excellent condition. Today I'm going to look for the date code, last night I just learned how to read it off the battery. And it has a brand new oil change.:LOL:
Two things: 1) I take a label maker and create a date label which I then stick on the top of the battery as a reminder as soon as I install the battery. Then I never have to rely on my failing memory as to how old the battery is.

2) I keep my vehicles on a battery maintainer whenever I'm not using it. My car, truck, and motorcycle are all garaged so keeping the maintainer out of the weather is no problem. My boat, OTOH, lives out in the driveway so I keep the maintainer inside and run a 12 volt quick disconnect charging cord out to the boat. It doesn't matter if it gets wet then.

I typically get at least 7 years out of a battery, A new battery maintainer runs about $35. In the picture below of the maintainer, I hardwire it to the battery using the ring connectors. That allows me to hook up without having to open the hood. I have no use for the alligator clips.
Musical instrument accessory Camera accessory Font Automotive lighting Auto part
Audio equipment Electrical wiring Cable Wire Gadget
 

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The other morning it failed to start, clicking noises only and dash lights. The battery looks old, and recently I had to add a significant amount of water to it. I've owned this car for only a year and a half. I took a voltage meter to the battery, and measured 10.3 volts without a load, left the voltage meter hooked up to the battery and turned the key to start it, and under load to the starter I measured fluctuating between 4-7 volts at the battery. Do I need a new battery? I'm fixed income and so I have to be careful and don't want to unnecessarily spend but it seems like the battery is bad. Your opinion?
I Believe irregardless of a fixed income
To go purchase an Interstate Battery , I got 7 years out of my last one when typically 4- 5 is the Normal life Expectancy ... You can only charge them for So long and if you take my advice you have less of a chance of getting Stranded.
 

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2001 Taurus SES Sedan in Chestnut
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The answer to your battery problem is that original battery IS a maintenance battery (unless it has in large letters MAINTENANCE FREE on the top of the battery which is very rare) and if you have removable caps(it will be either 2 semi rectangular or 6 screw caps) on the top of the battery you should check the water level in all 6 cells every few months, this will extend the life of the battery(I had a stock battery last 7 years doing this). The stock battery has Only 650 cold cranking amps, I changed my 01 SES battery out for a 850cca battery(Exide battery, which is made by Interstate) , this Will Not in any way damage Anything in your system and it will start easier in any weather. Go on line and look for a Police alternator (150 and above amps, I have a 200 amp with 0 problems) they are not as expensive as you think, go to Home Depot for the battery and eBay for the alternator and all your problems will be solved and by the way I am also on (low) fixed income. Good Luck.
 

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I have been around working on engines, and cars, longer than most here have been alive.
I have not seen a "maintenance" battery on a car for so many years I cannot remember.
Att. Alt output vs rpm and core temperature. Output # is max cold and at top RPM. Bragging rights only. And they get hot and degrade. Hotter at idle with low cooling.
Factory designs meet ~99% of the car needs. Adding more at idle can be done with smaller Alt pulley. Car makers are interested in mpg. Nothing free.
Top end numbers are useless.
My Buick Lucerne is the only car I have owned that would maintain and not drain the battery at idle with everything on. They spin the Alt very fast (small pulley) and use a one way clutch so it does not squeal the belt on downshifts.
Chart of Lin Cont sitting in traffic with A/C and no HL. Speed vs volts. And I kept it in "P" when not moving. Same Alt that isused on G-4 DOHC.
-chart-
 

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I've owned and worked on Ford cars and trucks since 1980, now do you want to rethink that? My first car was a 1970 Ford Country Squire, then a '78 full size Ranger F-150, '86 Mustang GT convertible (1- one of 4 of it's combo sent to the NE and 2- worked to over 300HP), '88 Eddie Bauer Bronco (worked to 275HP and little known fact that the 5.0L was the HO GT motor in the Eddie Bauer not the EFI), and my 01 SES, not counting the bull lowest clock on any of the other ones was 1.2 Million miles, so yeah I know exactly what I'm talking about.
 
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