Focus Electrical Problems

Hi there!
I bought a used Focus, 2001, in early January. Three days after I purchased it, it started to die due to electrical problems.
Initially, I noticed just a split-second flicker of gauges going
haywire -- the speedometer and temp gauge would max out, the fuel gauge would bottom out -- but it had no effect on engine performance. Then, a few seconds later, the gauges would go nuts again, ALL the warning lights on the dash went on, the digital odometer read all 8s, and the engine began to stall. Depending on how fast I was going, sometimes things would kick back in and I could continue driving before the engine completely stalled out. Most times, though, I was on residential roads and the engine completely stalled and had to be restarted.
I took it to the shop for electrical diagnosis, and they found nothing. They told me nothing was wrong with my car. He said he would take it for a spin and see if he could recreate the problem. Not surprisingly, he called back and said that there was definitely a problem, but he didn't know what it was. After "some more fiddling" he found that the battery was "crap," and thought that replacing it would fix the problem. He replaced the battery and took it for another drive to see if that fixed things, and it seemed to.
I was less than convinced, but took it back anyway. I've only driven it about 50-75mi since then, and it's started having the same problems again. I took it back to the mechanic to have them test the battery, thinking maybe there was a problem that was CAUSING a drain on the battery.. but the battery is fine.
Now they're saying it's the alternator. Meanwhile, at the beginning of this mess I suggested the alternator, but they said that wasn't possible due to the fact that my system "kicked back in". They said that when an alternator goes, it's gone, and that's that. Now the guy I talked to yesterday is saying he's "seen them come and go."
I've pretty much had it with this car. I worked nights and summers through college to save up and I paid in cash, and I've already had to dump $250 into the thing, and I'm still on the first tank of gas!
Has anyone had this problem, or have any idea what it might be?? I think I'm taking it back to the dealer tomorrow to see if he's willing to do a trade-in...
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Why are you blaming the car when it's obvious even from this distance that your true complaint is that your mechanic didn't nail the diagnosis the first time yet he's smart enough to continue to get you to pay for the parts he's replacing as he tries them out? In fact he could have been correct that the battery was bad but the alternator may also be bad.
Any car can have a problem, the fact that it's a little tricky to find doesn't mean the car is a lemon, it's nearly always that you don't have a sufficiently talented mechanic working on it. Most failures, even very hard to diagnose failures are not due to superbly complex interrelated causes, they are usually down to a single simple cause that may be a bit difficult to find. Logic, knowledge, and an ability not to fall in love with your favorite theory are all hallmarks of a true diagnostician.
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Mark Olson schreef:

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battery well could have been crap along with the alternator though, just cause they were done separate from 1 another doesn't make it unnecessary. a simple load test of the battery can confirm if it's good or bad regardless of the alternators condition
wrote:

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I have had a similar problem with my 2003 ZX3. It's an automatic. Sometimes if I've just turned on the car and pop it into reverse and back up quickly, then switch back to drive right away, i get a power surge similar to what has been described. The gauges max out, the lights go on and the radio goes up to full volume for just a split second.
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I had similar issues with the dashboard. There is some info on the UK Ford Focus forums.
See here: http://www.ffoc.co.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t 5418
MK
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Excerpt from the link below sure sounds plausable to create this problem.
All the problems are down to the cluster not being plugged in properly

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Based on the symptoms, it doesn't make sense to me that it could be the battery or the alternator. I'd be more inclined to blame an intermittent high resistance point somewhere in the wiring harness. Maybe some corrosion in a connector or an intermittent floating ground or something like that...
I've learned the hard way that sometimes a car's wiring is where all the problems start from. My previous vehicle, a '93 Escort wagon had a habit of blowing fuses almost at random. It wasn't until the day when the fuse didn't blow but the wiring overloaded and smoldered that I was able to trace the problem. It turned out that the point where the wiring went through and into the hatch had a point where the wiring harness was rubbing against the sheetmetal of the hatch. After several years of abrasion, the wire's insulation wore away and would short into the hatch intermittently. Once I rewired the rear of the car the problem went away.
Another example, and one which is perhaps more applicable to your situation was in my '87 Mustang. The electric cooling fan wouldn't operate. I did the usual checks of the fan motor, temp sensor and controller and found that they were all working as they should. Further diagnosis led to the discovery that I had a higher than expected resistance in the wiring harness from the controller (under the dash) to the fan (in the engine compartment). It was only about 10 or so ohms, as I recall, but it caused enough of a voltage drop that the fan motor wouldn't initiate. After I rewired that circuit the fan worked as expected.
I don't know if wiring problems are exclusive to Ford products, or are a common problem with modern automobiles in general, but it is something of which I am always checking when I debug a problem...
Good Luck!
-=RaOuL=- '05 Focus ZX4
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In alt.autos.ford.focus snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com:

Might just be a problem with a flaky VSS? Had no problems on my Focus, but this seems a frequent problem. If you use groups.google.com (advanced search) enter this ng name into the Group box and search for "speed sensor".
You'd better get you car to some Ford dealer who should know about the problem and how to fix it.
Good luck
BTW Please try below URL(s) before answering, most people aren't using a browser here to read/write, this is usenet.
http://www.safalra.com/special/googlegroupsreply http://cfaj.freeshell.org/google
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