Motoring Discussion > Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery
Thread Author: SteelSpark Replies: 71

 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - SteelSpark
I was sat in my year old Mondeo, in a car park the other day, waiting for my wife. The key was in the ignition, but was turned all the way to the left - so there was no radio, air con etc on.

Suddenly I noticed a "low battery" warning flash up on the dashboard. Afraid that it might be about to run flat, I started the engine and just let it run for about 10 minutes and then I didn't notice the warning again.

Now, I have not been driving a lot recently, maybe no more than 100 miles in the last month, and I had only driven a couple of miles that day, and not at all for the previous couple of days.

So, I am wondering if there could be a problem with the battery or if, because of the lack of driving recently, it might have just not been charged enough. However, I would really expect to be able to leave the car for a few months, without running it and not come back to find a flat battery.

Any input would be greatly appreciated.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - -
You might have been able to leave a car for a few months without problems 20 years ago, but modern cars never turn off fully, there's always something electrical ticking over.

Some people can't even leave their cars at the airport for a month without there being a good possibility of a non starter on return.

Sounds to me like there's nothing wrong at all with your car given the recent usage you've stated, might be worth investing in a smart charger and letting it have an overnight or weekend trickle charge to top it up, i have done exactly that now and again since recently being advised to get a smart charger meself (used to have an old fashioned jobbie), both vehicles turn over far quicker as a result.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Iffy
Tend to agree with gb, although slightly warmer weather and more daylight means less drain on the battery, so you might not see the little light again.

With modern car electronics, I'm always wary about advising anyone to put a battery on charge.

Too much chance of blowing something expensive if the job's not done right.

As gb says, I think it really does need to be a 'smart' trickle charger/battery conditioner

Something modern, anyway.

 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Zero
It sounds to me like an electronic glitch or spike. Battery is probably fine.

Any other strange electrical type symptoms?
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Arjades
Yep! I'd go along with the charger ~ tinyurl.com/yz9r6ew
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - SteelSpark
Thanks guys.

I also saw this charger when looking last night, not sure if it is any good:

tinyurl.com/yj8z93h

Excuse the stupid question, but how do you actually use them? Do you charge them from the mains, then disconnect and attach to the car battery, or do they need to be connected to the mains and the battery at the same time?

Also, in response to Zero, no I have not noticed any other electrical symptoms.

Thanks again.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - -
I'm not able to comment on the one you've shown SS.

I bought almost the same as in Dog's link, but the next model up because my battery is higher rated.
Simple as can be, no need to disconnect battery with that make, just connect leads to battery light tells you connection is ok, turn on at mains and select mode reqd (small outline of car usually) on mode switch.
Close bonnet, lock car go and do whatever you want for however long you want to do it, a day a week a year.
Open bonnet, light on charger will show you if battery fully charged.

CTEK will come supplied with extra fittings that you can leave permanently fitted to your battery if you wish for quick connection, i haven't.

My old MB takes 2 days to top up, my pick up 1 full day, (MB indy has probably already fitted new brushes in the alternator whilst it's in for some work).
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Iffy
SS,

The charger needs to be plugged into the mains and connected to the battery for it to work.

The charger is converting mains alternating current - AC - into direct current - DC - which is what your car uses.

If you have a laptop, the 'chocolate box' in the mains lead is doing the same thing.

The Halfords charger looks OK, but everyone seems to speak well of the CTEK in the other link, which is neater and a bit cheaper.

You may have seen car starters, which tend to be a big, yellow plastic box with a moulded handle.

They are basically a battery which you charge in the house and then attach to your car to 'jump' start it.

I would be wary of using that type of appliance because it punches out a lot of current.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - sherlock47
The CTEK intelligent chargers (rebadged) were available from Lidl recently for 13! The only failing is that they are too intelligent and cannot cope with a completely falt battery. But great for keeping on permanently.

 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - SteelSpark
Thanks again guys, really helpful.

The only thing is, if I need to connect it to the battery and the mains at the same time (without removing the battery from the car), that means I would need to run a cable from the car to the house (no garage, or external sockets).

At a best guess a lead would need to be about 25 feet to go from the battery to our nearest internal socket. I looked on the CTEK website, it doesn't say how long the cable is, but it does say to not get it wet, so I assume that even if it was long enough I couldn't leave it out unattended (in case it rained).

Do you reckon that I need to look at getting something like this:

tinyurl.com/y8wwp72

and run that so that the socket is under the bonnet, and the CTEK is plugged into that?

 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - -
The CTEK (or Lidls good equivalent) mains lead is only about 4 ft long, so an extension is called for, i use an ordinary good quality extension lead and make sure the socket is under the bonnet out the way of the elements, i feed the lead under the car down by the radiator so i don't have to trap it under the bonnet.

 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Iffy
I agree with gb, an ordinary mains extension lead with the socket end under cover is more than good enough for the job.

A drop of rain's not going to hurt it either.

If it does get wet, just make sure the first thing you do is yank the plug out of the wall socket.

 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - SteelSpark
Right, sounds good, I'll go with that.

Thanks again for the advice, much appreciated.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Zero
Its a lot of agro to resolve an issue you havent actually had, or probably wont even get?

I still think the message was spurious.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - spamcan61
It does seem odd for a year old car to be doing this, I would think a decent capacity battery (55AH or more ) on a modern car, which should be able to handle plenty of starts without the voltage dropping excessively low.

so, possibilities

1) Excess current drain for somewhere ( alarm / boot light / ??) tricky to track down on a modern car for the reasons already stated.

2) Duff battery - shouldn't be at a year old but you never know.

3) Spurious alarm like Zero says

4) Slightly iffy charging circuit not charging the battery as well as it should - there should be 14 -14.5V across the battery terminals with the engine running.

I'd be tempted to get the battery & charging circuit checked out, at least, provided it isn't going to cost s.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - SteelSpark
>> I'd be tempted to get the battery & charging circuit checked out at least provided
>> it isn't going to cost s.

Well, it is going in for a service next week, it doesn't seem that the battery is part of the service schedule. Am I naive to assume that if I ask them to check the battery, that they will do it for free as part of the service (it is the dealership that I bought the car from)? I have already mentioned that I think the headlight level is wrong (I need to set it to the maximum dip, to avoid dazzling people), not sure if they will try to charge me for checking/fixing that.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - SteelSpark
>> Its a lot of agro to resolve an issue you havent actually had or probably
>> wont even get?
>>
>> I still think the message was spurious.

OK, but I was getting the impression that, with my current level of use, it is not unlikely that the battery could discharge in a fairly short space of time, so that having a charger could be prudent.

I wondered if I should just get a multimeter to begin with, to keep an eye on the battery, but then it seems that I almost might as well just get a charger.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - spamcan61
A basic multimeter is 7 quid from Maplin, a useful thing to have around the house / car IMHO anyway:-

www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=37279&C=Froogle&U=37279&T=Module
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - SteelSpark
>> A basic multimeter is 7 quid from Maplin a useful thing to have around the
>> house / car IMHO anyway:-
>>
>> www.maplin.co.uk/Module.aspx?ModuleNo=37279&C=Froogle&U=37279&T=Module

Thanks. I have ordered this one from Amazon (bit pricier but I could get free delivery and they seem to deliver quickly even when it is free).

tinyurl.com/ydxcswl

I will give the battery a check, and see just how low it is. If it really is quite low, I might then get a charger. As you say, it is probably a good idea to have a multimeter anyway.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - spamcan61
>>
>> I will give the battery a check and see just how low it is. If
>> it really is quite low I might then get a charger. As you say it
>> is probably a good idea to have a multimeter anyway.
>>
That should be fine for car battery voltage checks, checking car / household fuses and so on.

There was a good comprehensive guide to the correct voltages over on the Backroom ages ago, I can't find it from a quick search though.

basics are:-

Measure across battery terminals ( engine off) :

12.7 Vdc = fully charged battery
12.0 Vdc = pretty flat.

Start the engine and re-check the voltage, should be around 14.5V, certainly any less than 14V and i'd be suspicious.

whack the HRW and headlights on, voltage shouldn't drop below 14V ish.

Those are off the top of my head, shouldn't be far out though.

As I said before, personally I don't think a year old battery should need top-ups, either it was a rogue alarm or something is not working properly.

 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - VxFan
>> The only failing is that they are too intelligent and cannot cope with a completely falt battery.

Quite a few are like that. They need to see something like ~7volts for them to work.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - spamcan61
SWMBO's Zafira has developed a mystery battery drain ( ho hum). If the battery voltage drops just below that needed to start the car the dash goes bananas, lights flashing on and off everywhere, speedo and rev counter flick up and down rapidly. Most disconcerting.

The other relevant point is many cars have a security feature such that if you wait for more than a few seconds after ignition off before disconnecting the battery to charge it or investigate problems the alarm goes off.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - sherlock47
>>>Quite a few are like that. They need to see something like ~7volts for them to work.<<

The trick is to hit the battery with an old style charger for a short time first (30min?) then put on the semi intelligent charger. Very strange since even on the 6v setting it would not start charging.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - FotheringtonTomas
Go to a Motorbits shop and get them to test the battery, many will do this for nothing.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - spamcan61
Thinking about it, the reason I'm suspicious of having to top up a 1 year old battery is that SWMBo's Zafira is in its tenth year on the original battery, gets used for many 1 mile journeys and is unused for days, but has never needed topping up. Well until this week when this mystery battery drain started anyway. :-((
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Bellboy
car sounds like a right lemon? :-0
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - SteelSpark
My multi-meter arrived, so I decided to check the battery today. However, when I went to do it, I couldn't figure out how to get the negative terminal. There is a small flap at the top left of the battery for the positive terminal, and a minus sign with a arrow pointing downwards on the top right. There is also a diagram that seems to be of the negative terminal, but I could see it.

I wondered if I needed to take the plastic cover off the battery to get at the terminal, put it seems to be fixed in place at one point , and I didn't want to wrench the cover off.

I will have to dig out the manual.

I read another thread about testing under cranking, but then it started talking about pulling fuses, so that the engine wouldn't start.

If I just test with the engine off, is that test valuable?
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - VxFan
>> I couldn't figure out how to get the negative terminal.

Your car is negative earth so anywhere that's bare metal will be ok to attach the -ve probe of your multimeter to.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - SteelSpark
>> Your car is negative earth so anywhere that's bare metal will be ok to attach
>> the -ve probe of your multimeter to.

Ah yes, I did wonder later if that might be the case. Thanks.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - SteelSpark
>> Measure across battery terminals ( engine off) :
>>
>> 12.7 Vdc = fully charged battery
>> 12.0 Vdc = pretty flat.
>>
>> Start the engine and re-check the voltage should be around 14.5V certainly any less than
>> 14V and i'd be suspicious.
>>
>> whack the HRW and headlights on voltage shouldn't drop below 14V ish.
>>
>> Those are off the top of my head shouldn't be far out though.
>>
>> As I said before personally I don't think a year old battery should need top-ups
>> either it was a rogue alarm or something is not working properly.

OK, so the readings that I got were:

Engine off = 12.24
Engine running = 14.72
Engine running with headlights plus front and rear heated windows = 14.45

From what SpamCan says above, I reckon it sounds OK (not fully charged, but then it hasn't been run much lately). So, as he mentioned, it perhaps was just a rogue alarm.

I will keep an eye on it, especially if I don't run it for a few days.

Thanks for all the input.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Old Navy
My Focus displays "low battery" when the key battery needs changing. A look at the user manual may help.
Last edited by: Old Navy on Sat 27 Mar 10 at 14:48
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - VxFan
>> My Focus displays "low battery" when the key battery needs changing.

The MFD on my Vectra tells me when the remote fob battery needs changing.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - SteelSpark
I took some more readings today, because I have been running the car a bit more recently (although still not a lot). I got the following (previous readings in brackets)

Engine off = 12.58 (12.24)
Engine running = 14.52 (14.72)
Engine running with headlights plus front and rear heated windows = 13.70 (14.45)

So, with the engine off the reading was higher (which I expected), but the reading with the engine running was lower, and with the lights and heated windows on, was much lower.

Then, when I turned the lights off (but kept the heated windows on) it went up to 14.60 (which is higher than with the heated windows off). I re-checked later, and with the windows off got 14.50.

Do those readings sound OK? Why would the readings with the engine on be lower than before, when the reading with it off was higher? Why would it drop down to 13.70 with the lights on (when it only dropped to 14.45 last time)? Why would it be higher with the heated windows on, than with them off?

If there isn't a logical explanation, maybe I made an error with the readings. If so, I will check again tomorrow.

Any input would be appreciated.

 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Zero
Steeley..

I think a touch of paranoia is creeping here my old mate. Understandable with a new car that had a strange aberation, but none the less paranoia.

Voltages will vary depending on state of the battery when turned off, how much the system needs to charge it - all sorts of variables.

Only minimums and maximums are of concern, not the inbetweens.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - SteelSpark
>> I think a touch of paranoia is creeping here my old mate. Understandable with a
>> new car that had a strange aberation but none the less paranoia.

You just don't understand Zero. I spent a tenner on a multi-meter, I have to test something!

If not the car battery, then I'll either have to dig out my bag of spare double As or start sticking it in the wall! :)

Seriously though, thanks for the feedback. So you don't reckon the 13.70 reading was a bit on the low side, eh?
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Zero
13.7 with both the screen heaters on is OK. If you did it five minutes later you could find the charging system has upped that to 14.x, the charging rate depends on the state of the battery.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - crocks
Maybe a bit warmer than last time so tickover speed was lower?
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Screwloose
SS

A battery must stand for at least two hours, with no current flow in or out, before a voltage test becomes meaningful.

You're also checking an ECU-controlled "smart" charging system that is confusingly capable of changing it's desired voltage at will.

All the charging voltages that you've seen fall into the acceptable range.

Make sure that the top of the battery is spotlessly clean - you'd be amazed how much current can leak through salty dust.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - SteelSpark
Thanks Screwloose and Zero.

>> Make sure that the top of the battery is spotlessly clean - you'd be amazed
>> how much current can leak through salty dust.

On that subject, when I opened the flap to get at the positive terminal, the flap snapped off (pretty flimsy). Do I need to bother repairing it? If so, can I just tape it back in place with a bit of duck tape?
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Screwloose

Duck tape should be ideal for keeping it down.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - SteelSpark
>> Duck tape should be ideal for keeping it down.

Thanks Screwloose. My only concern was how well the tape and its adhesive would cope with the heat under the bonnet when the engine was running.

From your answer, I guess it will be OK.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Screwloose

Not all duct tape is created equal - use the cheap stuff at your peril.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Iffy
Battery terminals used to be exposed to the elements.

We used to use Vaseline to keep the terminals free of corrosion, although it picked up the dirt, of course.

Often a battery would come in with one of the terminals - can't remember which one - covered in white stuff.

The solution was a wire brush and boiling water.

 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - SteelSpark
I've had a handful of these battery warnings over the past 2-3 months and after having one today, the engine took a few seconds of ignition to start up (normally starts pretty much straight away).

Just taken some readings.

12.69V with the engine off
14.42V with the engine running
13.75V with the engine running and the headlights, the internal heater and front and rear windows heaters on

Can anybody see any problems with the above readings?

I'll take them again in the morning to see if they dip overnight.

It's almost exactly a year since I first raised this, and I've probably had half a dozen battery warnings since then. It is almost time for the 2nd annual service, so I will ask them to look at it.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Zero
I would suspect an iffy earth somewhere, or possibly even a software fault.

Measure voltages with the +ve on the main feed box, and the -ve on the engine block

The software fault may be resolved if there is a new update for the car so ask at the next service.
(they may even have a TSB - technical service bulletin - for the issue)
Last edited by: Zero on Wed 2 Mar 11 at 20:18
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Iffy
You didn't leave the keys in, with the ignition on, for two days?

No?

Thought not. :)

Might be worth double checking the boot or glovebox light isn't staying on.

 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - SteelSpark
>> Might be worth double checking the boot or glovebox light isn't staying on.

Thanks, I'll do that.

I hadn't thought much about these intermittent warnings, until the one today coincided with the engine taking a while to start.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - spamcan61
The readings look fine to me.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Zero
Taken at the battery posts - yes they are.

What are they like further down the power buss tho....
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - swiss tony
12.74V is correct for a fully charged battery, so your figures aren't far out.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - SteelSpark
>> Taken at the battery posts - yes they are.
>>
>> What are they like further down the power buss tho....

Thanks Zero, how do I check that?

I'm getting deja vu from following your instructions with testing that power supply :)
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Zero
Well, the negative lead of your multimeter on the engine block somewhere (not the battery)

If you follow the red positive leads from the battery, a big thick one will go down to the starter solenoid, and some other ones will go into a box somewhere where the main distribution fuses are.

Pop the lid on that box, and measure the voltage there.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - SteelSpark
>> Pop the lid on that box, and measure the voltage there.

Thanks. I'll take a look in the morning.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Cheddar

>> Thanks. I'll take a look in the morning.
>>

Why bother? It's a year old car, if you have any concerns ask the dealer.

 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Iffy
...If you follow the red positive leads from the battery...

A word of warning - the positive leads on some Fords are black.

They are on mine, and the breakdown man said he'd seen quite few Fords with the same arrangement.

Makes jump starting in the dark quite a challenge, apparently.

It's reasonably easy to work out the negative side of the battery on mine because there is a short earth lead to the top of the nearest suspension post.
Last edited by: Iffy on Wed 2 Mar 11 at 21:42
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Skoda
>> A word of warning - the positive leads on some Fords are black.

VAGs too :-(

Some negative leads are bright yellow! Wonder if BT's Kia has a yellow negative lead.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - bathtub tom
When it's light, I'll wipe the dirt off and have a look.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Iffy
... A word of warning - the positive leads on some Fords are black...VAGs too...

I wonder why?

Seems to be asking for trouble, although I think the OP has enough nous to work out his positive from his negative.

 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Old Navy
>> >> A word of warning - the positive leads on some Fords are black.
>>
>> VAGs too :-(
>>
>> Some negative leads are bright yellow! Wonder if BT's Kia has a yellow negative lead.
>>

All the leads attached to my Ceed's battery are black. There is a plastic cover over the positive terminal with a big red cross on it.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Iffy
...There is a plastic cover over the positive terminal with a big red cross on it...

The CC3 doesn't even have that.

I imagine there's a small '+' sign etched into the battery post, but if there is, it's obscured by grease.

 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Cheddar

Reckon it's normal, it was just indicating that the battery was a little low, nothing a reasonable run would not sort out.

Ask the dealer if in doubt.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Runfer D'Hills
S'pose you're a bit sensitive to low battery warnings now then Cheddar....

:-)

Well, I thought it was funny...Whoops...Tum Ti Tum....
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - corax
>> S'pose you're a bit sensitive to low battery warnings now then Cheddar....
>>
>> :-)
>>
>> Well, I thought it was funny...Whoops...Tum Ti Tum....
>>

Humph, while you're around I have to apologise for likening you to John Barry, with him curling his toes up and everything. I'm sure there's a few years in the old frame yet :)

PS. I'll have to think of another character.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Cheddar

>> Well, I thought it was funny...Whoops...Tum Ti Tum....
>>

You should have your own show Humph ... ...
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - IJWS14
A couple of points -

Back during my engineering training it was explained to us that testing a battery voltage without a load is pointless. With the engine running you are not testing the battery voltage. Now with engine off and headlamps on . . . .

Second - and have posted this before but no-one believes me . . . .

The "everything off" current can be very high, my experience was a Passat which once ran its battery down overnight and when the AA man could not identify the cause he called base and was told the specified everything off current was 1.8A.

The car only did it once in four years and was left for two weeks at one stage without a problem.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - spamcan61
>>
>> Back during my engineering training it was explained to us that testing a battery voltage
>> without a load is pointless. With the engine running you are not testing the battery
>> voltage. Now with engine off and headlamps on . . . .
>
At least it gives a reasonable level of confidence that the alternator is at least charging the battery, agreed an engine off test would test the battery itself better.


>> Second - and have posted this before but no-one believes me . . . .
>>
>>
>> The "everything off" current can be very high, my experience was a Passat which once
>> ran its battery down overnight and when the AA man could not identify the cause
>> he called base and was told the specified everything off current was 1.8A.
>>
1.8A is bonkers, that would drain a fully charged battery flat within 2-3 days, the AA must've moved the decimal point two places. 1990s Vauxhalls' spec. was 30mA quiescent , which is about what SWMBO's 2001 Zafira draws (alarm and remote locking sensor). OK more modern cars have more gubbins permanently live, but battery capacity isn't increasing, so they must be working to similar quiescent current limits.
Last edited by: spamcan61 on Thu 3 Mar 11 at 09:32
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Clk Sec
>>a "low battery" warning flash up on the dashboard.


Slight thread drift...

My car is a few years old and does not have any type of low battery warning. Are they more common nowadays?

 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Redviper

>> My car is a few years old and does not have any type of low
>> battery warning. Are they more common nowadays?
>>

Neither does mine - must be a fancy thing

mine is no charge - and thats your lot
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Zero
I have one the first time you use it.

It starts or it dont.
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Clk Sec
>> must be a fancy thing
>>mine is no charge - and thats your lot

It would be a very useful tool for low mileage drivers like me.



>>It starts or it dont.

Loud raspberry...
 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Cheddar

>> 1.8A is bonkers, that would drain a fully charged battery flat within 2-3 days, >>

I have had one occasion where the battery was flat on the FocuST, it had not been used for a couple of days, the AA attended and checked the battery, the charging and the drain, it records around 2amps after the ignition is switched off and the doors locked for about 15mins, the dash LCDs stay illuminated and various functions are apparently live, then after 15mins it shuts down. The AA man could only suggest that for some reason it had not shut down in this instance however I think I would have noticed the LCDs when walking past it on the drive. It has been fine since.

 Ford Mondeo IV - Low battery - Iffy
...the dash LCDs stay illuminated and various functions are apparently live, then after 15mins it shuts down...

The trip computer on the CC3 remains lit for a while after the car is locked.

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