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99 & up 7.3L Power Stroke Engine and Drivetrain Discussion of the 99 & up 7.3L Power Stroke diesel engine and drivetrain in the 1999-Up Super Duty trucks and Excursions. No gas engine discussion allowed except on transmissions and drivetrain that pertain to all models. Please confine discussion of topics in this forum to those items that are specific to the 7.3L Power Stroke engine.

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Old 01-28-2010, 08:56 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Alternator Problems

I have a '01 7.3L 4WD Excursion that has 250K on it. I have had it into the dealer six times with battery and alternator problems. And every time the computer diagnostic program finds nothing wrong with the wiring or systems. The last 2 times the alternator has gone out I have changed it myself. So in 250K miles I have gone through 8 alternators and six heavy duty batteries!

Has anyone heard of this before?

I have been told every wiring harness and fuse has been test for "shorts" or "drains".

This is really becoming disheartening. Any ideas or help?????

Also this truck is a daily driver, NEVER pulled a thing and driven like a grandma to increase mpg's....
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Old 01-28-2010, 09:16 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Kind of puzzling for sure. I have had bad alternators though. I put 3 in during a 4 month period. The parts store said it was just bad luck.LOL. After the third failure, I upped to the 220 amp alternator and it is still going strong. I figure either my old one couldn't handle all the load of my accessories, or I just got lucky. Prolly doesn't help, but that was my experience. The ones that went bench tested fine, but in the truck they would charge till warm, then the needle would jump down to 10 volts, then up to 18, and back down to 10. So something in there was wacked on all three. If you do end up replacing it, maybe try the higher amperage. Higher voltage (15 an up) will kill your batteries as I found out on the three. They actually were boiling! Is it real cold were you are by any chance, or did you get it wet some how. Mine all started off an engine shampoo. Killed the first one, then the other two went as well, even though I didn't shampoo them. So I could have got something else wet that shorted the others. Sorry I don't have more. Good luck.
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Old 01-28-2010, 11:52 AM   #3 (permalink)
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How long has the 220 amp alternator been working for you?
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Old 01-28-2010, 12:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
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You could try alternatorparts.com and get the 140ampHD. Alot of people have are having multiple alt. failures using remans from FORD and corner auto supply stores, which I think is the same supplier. If they checked your wiring and found nothing wrong I would go with a quality built piece instead of the lifetime warranty ones that need to be replaced multiple times because their lifetime was cut short because of poor quality.
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Old 01-28-2010, 02:11 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by boomboom View Post
You could try alternatorparts.com and get the 140ampHD. Alot of people have are having multiple alt. failures using remans from FORD and corner auto supply stores, which I think is the same supplier. If they checked your wiring and found nothing wrong I would go with a quality built piece instead of the lifetime warranty ones that need to be replaced multiple times because their lifetime was cut short because of poor quality.
Mine must be the exception, then. I replaced my oem alternator exactly 4 years ago this week with a new (not remanufactured) unit from O'Reilly's, and it has not given me one ounce of problems. It has a life-time warranty. iirc, it was in the $179 range. But, I also don't have any high amp radios or speaker systems, or extra light systems, installed in the truck. I don't know if that would kill a stock alternator or not. If I had a need to, I would probably upgrade to a higher amp alternator.

just my .02 cents worth

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Old 01-29-2010, 12:06 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Any chance your GPR is stuck open, glow plugs draw alot of power?My 220 has been in for over a year.
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Old 01-29-2010, 03:40 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Dec 04 I replaced batts and had alt rebuilt using USA parts. Just replaced batts last week. I run a high amp stereo/lights and have run the batts down too many times to count. 160K+
You have something awry for sure.
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Old 01-29-2010, 08:46 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I've had alternator problems and with mine the main cable from the alt to the battery came loose from the copper fitting that bolts onto the alternator. I think it was a bad connection and the alternator was working to hard trying to push enough amps through the bad connection. I put a new connector on with torch and solder and things have been good since. So based on my experience it might be worth replacing (or making sure it's ok) the main lead to the batteries.
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Old 01-29-2010, 08:52 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by danielcward View Post
I've had alternator problems and with mine the main cable from the alt to the battery came loose from the copper fitting that bolts onto the alternator. I think it was a bad connection and the alternator was working to hard trying to push enough amps through the bad connection. I put a new connector on with torch and solder and things have been good since. So based on my experience it might be worth replacing (or making sure it's ok) the main lead to the batteries.
I mentioned the bad post earlier in the post and he didn't acknowledge it as good or bad, so I assumed he checked it and it was ok. He has a large load somewhere, I think it may be his glow plugs drawing continuously. They usually end up burning out though, so its speculative at this point. Lets see if he answers more of our questions.
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Old 01-29-2010, 12:13 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Just read everyone replies! First thanks for everyone's input! I have had the first 6 replacements done by 3 very large ford dealers with "so called" multiple diesel mechanics. I have been told and CHARGE several time to have the entire wiring systems checked for shorts or drains. NOTHING has ever been found. Half of my glow plugs went out about 80K ago. And I had ALL of them replaced at that time. My truck is an Excursion so it does have a few extra lights and a aux blower for the back of the truck for heating and cooling but everything else that would drain the batteries is stock. I can't imagine that an Excursion would be anymore of a load on the electrically system than an Super Duty.

I am not a mechanic at all so this is going to sound dumb but what is a GPR?

Again seriously thanks for all your comments a future advice!

By the way I am now on the 8th alternator (4 Mopar, 1 O'Reilly, 3 Autozone)

If I go to A higher amp which is suggested the 140 amp from alternatorparts.com or the 200 amp DP. And due they both just bolt on the same way without any mods needed. Because I'm thinking I need to just carry a spare in the back for the next time is happens!
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Old 01-29-2010, 12:41 PM   #11 (permalink)
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you need to get to the root not just bandaid this. You could end up with more serious issues than batts/alts ie PCM, GEM, etc or slight possibilty of fires. You have an electrical PROBLEM not an altenator/battery problem. Good luck.
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Old 01-29-2010, 12:57 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I am not a mechanic at all so this is going to sound dumb but what is a GPR?

GPR = Glow Plug Relay got it!
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Old 01-29-2010, 01:04 PM   #13 (permalink)
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and have run the batts down too many times to count.
There is part of the problem - standard lead acid batteries are not designed to be completely discharged - especially repeatedly. It will cause the battery to "sulphate out" - or bridge the cells with lead sulphate. Effectively shorting out your battery.

If you are running your batteries into the ground that regularly, you need to consider switching to a marine type battery that is designed for repetitive full discharges.

If this is happening with the engine running, then for sure your current alternator doesn't have enough amperage to overcome the load.
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Old 01-29-2010, 01:27 PM   #14 (permalink)
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There is part of the problem - standard lead acid batteries are not designed to be completely discharged - especially repeatedly. It will cause the battery to "sulphate out" - or bridge the cells with lead sulphate. Effectively shorting out your battery.

If you are running your batteries into the ground that regularly, you need to consider switching to a marine type battery that is designed for repetitive full discharges.

If this is happening with the engine running, then for sure your current alternator doesn't have enough amperage to overcome the load.
Thanks dray8165 but that isn't what is happening. I watch my standard voltage gauge daily. The last 2 times the alternator has died the volt meter has been steady at about 12 volts for a day before it dies. Next time I see any drop at all I'm headed straight for a parts store!
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Old 01-29-2010, 09:30 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Have you ever replaced the belt tensioner? There are few people here that have replaced alternators only to find later that the tensioner was the problem?

I would suggest a digital voltmeter. The easy way to do this is to get one that plugs into the cigarette lighter. This way you can watch the readings and report back here what your voltage is just after start and then when cruising around, with lights and AC on, etc.

OR, if you have an auxilary idle control module (it is a digital control box in the cab of your truck) you will know if you have one. You can hit charge protect while driving and you will get a digital voltage readout for a few seconds.
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