“Charging System Service Now” - stranded on road

Yamahauler

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Long story short: I was driving some fairly wet country roads today when I got a warning message “charging system service now.”

Fast forward an hour, and my battery dies and the truck shuts down completely on the highway. I wait 20 min and am able to start it and limp it to the rest stop 1/2 up the road where I currently sit.

My concern is that the alternator is shot due to the puddles and water crossings encountered today and that the dealership will void my warranty on claims of off-roading. Has anyone had this problem before?

the water crossings were no deeper than the bottom of the bumper and it is ridiculous that a truck would be vulnerable to these problems, imo. Very disappointed. Never would have happened in my old ranger.

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Yamahauler

Yamahauler

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Update: it is 100% the alternator. Thing is caked w mud. Here's a pic of the deepest crossing from today...
88DE1268-9DB8-488B-84C4-DCC7B05F2B7E.png

Quite disappointing for a truck that says off-road on the side LOL! Otherwise very impressed but pissed off rn.

To add insult to injury, Ford roadside assistance could tow me to the dealership next to my house, but the dealership is closed due to coronavirus, so they will not take me anywhere near home lol.
 
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tnewcomb6370

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Mud messes up a lot of things. I try to stay away from it as much as possible.
 
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Yamahauler

Yamahauler

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Well...in that case you should get towed to your house before the dealer
Wash it like you never went off road, especially the mud caked alternator.
Then check your fuses anyways.
We limped it to a car wash already. Will be pressure washing at home as well. Probably going to put a sealed alternator in myself. Cannot live w a truck that can’t take a little mud.
 


Charley

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If you can, wait before doing the alternator. I had a similar event, battery died do to charging system failure. - Dealership didnt specify on my work order, but they said a fuse/circuit breaker failed and once the battery gets below 11 amps, things start shutting off. Fixed under warranty. (I had not been off roading)
 
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Yamahauler

Yamahauler

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Ford wanted $200 to tow me home, so I ended up using a friend's unlimited towing miles instead. Going to clean the truck up like new once it stops raining on Tuesday and then wait for the dealer to reopen to see what we can do about this. Hoping it is just a simple issue as mentioned above. I still think a sealed alternator is in my future though. I frequently take my truck through rough and muddy roads to ride my dirt bike and I would feel nervous doing so after this experience.
 

JonB

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Here's what the owners manual says - "Driving through standing water can cause vehicle damage. Before driving through standing water,check the depth. Never drive through water that is higher than the bottom of the wheel hubs. "
 

P. A. Schilke

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Update: it is 100% the alternator. Thing is caked w mud. Here's a pic of the deepest crossing from today...
88DE1268-9DB8-488B-84C4-DCC7B05F2B7E.png

Quite disappointing for a truck that says off-road on the side LOL! Otherwise very impressed but pissed off rn.

To add insult to injury, Ford roadside assistance could tow me to the dealership next to my house, but the dealership is closed due to coronavirus, so they will not take me anywhere near home lol.
HI YH,

What was your speed through these muddy roads. Even with a low mounted alternator, the mud splash into the alternator is puzzling? When at Ford and we tested in more sever conditions than you posted...the speeds were at a crawl in an appropriate gear, be it a manual or automatic.

Hope I am wrong but I sense there is more to this incident. Hope you get your truck fixed. I am glad you did not let this virus get you from venturing out into the wild! It might be better to craft an splash shield around the alternator to deflect the mud if you are a DYI sort of person.

Okay....Another back Story,

Ford had the Granada/Mercury Monarch. Both had low mounted alternators like our Ranger. They were plagued with failures on Michigan winter road salted conditions. It was never fixed as I recall and thankfully these vehicle are, for the most part, not on the road anymore. I was dismayed to find the current Ranger had a low mounted alternator, but thankful that this is not likely a problem in Arizona. I am of the opinion that packaging of an engine and FEAD into an existing design required this and the stupid oil filter location.

Very sorry to hear of your misfortune.

Best,
Phil Schilke
Ranger Vehicle Engineering
Ford Motor Co. Retired

Best,
Phil Schilke
Ranger Vehicle Engineering
Ford Motor Co. Retired
 
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Yamahauler

Yamahauler

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HI YH,

What was your speed through these muddy roads. Even with a low mounted alternator, the mud splash into the alternator is puzzling? When at Ford and we tested in more sever conditions than you posted...the speeds were at a crawl in an appropriate gear, be it a manual or automatic.

Hope I am wrong but I sense there is more to this incident. Hope you get your truck fixed. I am glad you did not let this virus get you from venturing out into the wild! It might be better to craft an splash shield around the alternator to deflect the mud if you are a DYI sort of person.

Okay....Another back Story,

Ford had the Granada/Mercury Monarch. Both had low mounted alternators like our Ranger. They were plagued with failures on Michigan winter road salted conditions. It was never fixed as I recall and thankfully these vehicle are, for the most part, not on the road anymore. I was dismayed to find the current Ranger had a low mounted alternator, but thankful that this is not likely a problem in Arizona. I am of the opinion that packaging of an engine and FEAD into an existing design required this and the stupid oil filter location.

Very sorry to hear of your misfortune.

Best,
Phil Schilke
Ranger Vehicle Engineering
Ford Motor Co. Retired

Best,
Phil Schilke
Ranger Vehicle Engineering
Ford Motor Co. Retired
Thanks Phil. I was going pretty slow, probably <5mph through this area. There are some large rocks in the water so I would not risk going faster. It was raining today and I did go through some puddles at speed but I can't imagine that would cause any damage to the alternator.
 
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Yamahauler

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So here's the current update:

Ford will not cover the alternator, as it was not a defective part. I'm disappointed, but not surprised.

It was the alternator that failed due to mud and debris, and not a fuse or connection. Oddly, the truck did not go through any significant mud on the day of failure, but I did cross some rutted/muddy roads the day before. My theory is that water splashed some debris from that onto/into the alternator.


I'm disappointed that Ford would put the alternator so low in a truck that's marketed as an off-road capable vehicle (there is literally a mud terrain setting!), but it is what it is, and I could have taken more precautions knowing that the alternator was so low.

I've put a new alternator on order ($468 plus fees and taxes ?), and will be replacing it myself. Ford would charge 3hrs labor at $133/per for the replacement.

I'm also going to have the old alternator rebuilt if possible and keep it as a spare.

I'm trying not to let this sour me on this truck, as I've been super impressed with it apart from this, but I'm still disappointed in the low alternator. I really haven't pushed this thing hard at all compared to what my old ranger has been through without issue.

For now, let this be a warning to others-- BE CAREFUL CROSSING MUD AND WATER. Even something that I would consider a mellow crossing can get your alternator. If you're planning on crossing a lot of water it would be smart to add a sealed alternator, but there are no options currently available.

A friend and I are going to try to fabricate a splash guard for the alternator. I'll make an update when we have something.
 

P. A. Schilke

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So here's the current update:

Ford will not cover the alternator, as it was not a defective part. I'm disappointed, but not surprised.

It was the alternator that failed due to mud and debris, and not a fuse or connection. Oddly, the truck did not go through any significant mud on the day of failure, but I did cross some rutted/muddy roads the day before. My theory is that water splashed some debris from that onto/into the alternator.


I'm disappointed that Ford would put the alternator so low in a truck that's marketed as an off-road capable vehicle (there is literally a mud terrain setting!), but it is what it is, and I could have taken more precautions knowing that the alternator was so low.

I've put a new alternator on order ($468 plus fees and taxes ?), and will be replacing it myself. Ford would charge 3hrs labor at $133/per for the replacement.

I'm also going to have the old alternator rebuilt if possible and keep it as a spare.

I'm trying not to let this sour me on this truck, as I've been super impressed with it apart from this, but I'm still disappointed in the low alternator. I really haven't pushed this thing hard at all compared to what my old ranger has been through without issue.

For now, let this be a warning to others-- BE CAREFUL CROSSING MUD AND WATER. Even something that I would consider a mellow crossing can get your alternator. If you're planning on crossing a lot of water it would be smart to add a sealed alternator, but there are no options currently available.

A friend and I are going to try to fabricate a splash guard for the alternator. I'll make an update when we have something.
Hi YH,

Does your vehicle have a front skid plate? Was wondering if that would help with mud splash into the engine compartment. Ford does test 4x4s in mud on our Romeo Michigan Test Track on a specially designed 4x4 course and am surprised they did not find this problem during testing. There are some real serious water and mud areas on the course. Will have to pop the hood and see if I can understand more clearly what might have gone wrong. I would elevate this to Ford Customer Care for reconsideration.... I am puzzled by your unfortunate event... You should be able to go off road with confidence. Is you vehicle lifted with bigger tires? Not sure if lifting would change things that much. Sorry for the questions...I am trying to understand why it happened to you.

Got to go wake up my Tortoise and give him a soaking bath and then some fresh yummy Kale for his breakfast....

Best,
Phil Schilke
Ranger Vehicle Engineering
Ford Motor Co. Retired
 
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Yamahauler

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Hi YH,

Does your vehicle have a front skid plate? Was wondering if that would help with mud splash into the engine compartment. Ford does test 4x4s in mud on our Romeo Michigan Test Track on a specially designed 4x4 course and am surprised they did not find this problem during testing. There are some real serious water and mud areas on the course. Will have to pop the hood and see if I can understand more clearly what might have gone wrong. I would elevate this to Ford Customer Care for reconsideration.... I am puzzled by your unfortunate event... You should be able to go off road with confidence. Is you vehicle lifted with bigger tires? Not sure if lifting would change things that much. Sorry for the questions...I am trying to understand why it happened to you.

Got to go wake up my Tortoise and give him a soaking bath and then some fresh yummy Kale for his breakfast....

Best,
Phil Schilke
Ranger Vehicle Engineering
Ford Motor Co. Retired
Hi Phil,

It does have skid plates, it is a bone-stock FX4, no bigger tires or anything. This truck sprays the engine bay with mud A LOT even in shallow mud.

In this video, you can see how the engine gets covered in mud after splashing through a mud puddle at 2:13:

I'm no expert, but judging by splash patterns on my vehicle it seems like mud can be picked up by the fan and basically blasted over the engine and alternator.

You can see in the attached pic of the alternator that there is grass type debris that somehow swept up there, which puzzled me. I'm assuming that this was swept up there by a puddle I crossed, but I'm really surprised that it got past the skid plate!

Hoping a guard for the alternator will prevent this in the future.

20200401_082648.jpg
 

Michel Jeanneau

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I remember spending about 3 hours cleaning after one hour playing in dirt...and I mean pressure-washing everything, taking wheels off and hosing wherever I thought mud couldn't possibly get..the stuff would dry up pretty quick and stick like glue to driveshafts, inside of wheels, you name it..the ride back from a mudding trip was like sitting on top of a washing machine on spin cycle...
20200218_135154 (2).jpg


Exhibit A...of course, the good thing about the Vulcan 3.0 was a high mounted alternator...but still would get mud around it
 

RVA Overland

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sounds like we will need a relocation bracket to get that alternator up higher.
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