2000 Focus SE Alternator Problem?

I have a 2000 Focus SE (Manufactured 11/1999) with the 2.0L Z-Tech engine, A/C, A/T, P/S, P/L, P/W.
Here's the problem:
When driving down the road, it seems that the voltage of the electrical
system dips. All lights go dim, and the blower motor slows down. It does this for about 5-seconds then returns to normal. The problem keeps repeating itself. It seems to do it more when it's warm outside or there's a heavy load on the electrical system.
With lights on, rear defroster on, radio on, blower on 4, and windshield wipers on continuous low, and 10-15 miles of freeway driving it will start acting up. However, with just lights, radio, blower on 2, and wipers on 3 or 4 intermittent, it seems to take 35+ miles of highway driving before symptoms appear, if at all.
The other thing is that when starts to really act up, the radio will crash (like a computer) and I have to reset it.
To me, this seems to be a problem with the alternator. It was recently replaced due to bearing wear by the mechanic shop. And does anybody know what the specified output of the alternator is? I've seen 105 amp and 110 amp.
--
Maelstorm

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Maelstorm wrote:

Rather than ask us, why not take the care back to the mechanic?
It sounds like it could be the voltage regulator, which is usually part of the alternator or a problem the electronics in the alternator.
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At about the time of 12/31/2009 9:02 AM, dr_jeff stated the following:

I did, and they cannot duplicate the problem with their meters attached. Normally, these guys are pretty good about finding electrical problems but this one seems to have them stumped.
--
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Maelstorm wrote:

Did you take it with lights on, rear defroster on, radio on, blower on 4, and windshield wipers on continuous low, and 10-15 miles of freeway driving it will start acting up. However, with just lights, radio, blower on 2, and wipers on 3 or 4 intermittent, after 44 miles of highway driving?
That might be the only way to duplicate the problem. Of course, you need to have the mechanic set up with the meters and all, so that she can just put them on as soon as you pull up to the shop.
And, what happens when you drive the car for more than 50 miles without all the electric stuff on?
Also, do the light dim, motors slow down, etc., more than if you shut off the engine? I am wondering if there is something that is shorting out, causing a big drain on the system. If the voltage drops low enough to reset your clock, it sounds more than what would happen than if just the alternator stops making electricity.
If you're going to reproduce the problem, that might be the only way.
I am also wondering if you can get any info out of the OBD II. You are also able to hook up an iPhone or iPod touch to the OBD II, but you need special cables and devices (I think starting at about $100). This may help you.
Jeff
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At about the time of 1/6/2010 6:09 PM, dr_jeff stated the following:

Well, after 20 miles of driving. Something else that I mentioned though in another post has me wondering. It only seems to act up when the vehicle is moving, more so over bumpy roads. That tells me it's a connection problem somewhere. Could be a cold-solder joint in the voltage regulator too, that would explain BOTH the voltage cutout AND the fact that it only really happens while moving. I just recently made this connection myself.

It rarely acts up until I stop for a few minutes then start moving again.

It doesn't reset the clock on the raido. What I was referring to was that the CD player in the radio will crash. The radio itself works fine. I have to remove the faceplate for a few seconds and then put it back to get the CD player to work again while I'm on the road.

They already tried that. No codes were stored in the computer.

The thing that gets me though, is that this didn't start happening until AFTER the alternator was replaced. The original one was replaced due to the bearings going out. I really want to put some hurt on the engineer who designed this thing though. Who in their right mind would place the alternator between the engine and the firewall where you have to dismantle the top half of the engine compartment to get to it?
--
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At about the time of 12/31/2009 10:12 AM, David Skelton stated the following:

I wonder if the alternator was replaced with a lower-capacity unit. It seems to me to be a design flaw if the alternator cannot output enough power to run all those loads on your focus. When I'm driving home, I run the engine between 2500 and 3000 rpm so the alternator is turning plenty fast enough. Something else that I noticed though...it only seems to act up when the vehicle is moving, not stopped, and it seems to act up more on bumpy roads. That tells me loose connection somewhere. What do you think?
--
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At about the time of 1/6/2010 7:51 AM, David Skelton stated the following:

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On Thu, 07 Jan 2010 04:55:58 -0800, Maelstorm wrote:
[...]

It's designed to do that to speed up screen defrosting; it's pretty standard on many cars with A/C.
WRT your alternator problem; did it have the problem before the alternator was replaced? If not, surely the alternator or the connections to it have to be the cause?
Chris
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--- I've put on "brand new" reconditioned alternators on other cars, only to find out they were no good. I would bet there is a 50% chance the replacement here was no good. The other 50% chance is the high amp connection to the alternator. It may have corrosion. I had a Ford Mustang and there was recall to replace that connector. Due to corrosion it was developing high resistance, voltage drops and heat, causing fires. I had that car a long time, so I replaced the alternator a couple of times. By then, even the rebuilders were including a new connector with each reconditioned unit.
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"snip"

On ours, the tellltale light is not lit, even though the air-con is operating when full defrost is selected. Ours is a 2003 1.6 litre model (facelift), so that may be one of the differences.

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There are some diagnostics on the dash http://www.mustangworld.com/ourpics/fcar/dtcodes.htm http://www.mustangworld.com/ourpics/News/99hec.htm the above also works on my 2001 UK Focus
The above gives instructions for using the diagnostics whilst driving (for a digital tachometer) but by selecting the voltage setting I assume that you will be able to the same monitoring the battery voltage. You may be able to see if the voltage falls gradually or just "dives over the cliff".
--
Alan
news2009 admac myzen co uk
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