Question about 1997 Ford F150 Regular Cab

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We replaced the temp senor because that is the code that was pulled. It was put on the monitor at Ford and they said that we have a voltage problem. When they were driving the voltage was all over the place and while sitting still the voltage was non exisitent when there should have been plenty. It seems to drive fine but the overdrive light flashes once in a while and the truck has pulled funny only once going up a large hill. Other than that everything appears normal. We were told to try the internal harness. Any additional suggestions would be helpful. My husband is a tech but with a newborn has little time to track it down and locate the problem. Even Ford said that they weren't really sure where to start.

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You may have a defective alternator, but other things should be checked and ruled out first. Erratic voltage can be due to several things. 
A bad battery can cause the alternator to put out inconsistent voltages. Check battery voltage with a voltmeter. It should be over 12.4 volts without vehicle running. Battery connections should be removed and cleaned, even if they look ok.

A loose or worn out fan belt that is partially slipping can cause a good alternator to not charge the battery at idle speeds. The voltage at idle should be above 12.8 volts, and preferably 13.2 to 14.5 volts. Tighten the fan/alternator belt to see if it makes a voltage difference or use a bit of "belt dressing" spray for better belt grip. Replace the belt if questionable.

There could be an "internal harness" problem with the wiring connectors between the alternator and the battery. That can be traced by unwrapping the wiring tape on the alternator main wire and looking for signs of overheated wires.  Also, the plastic wiring connector that plugs into the alternator can be bad on the ford alternators, with a new connector often being required. 

Posted on Jan 19, 2009


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A code P0401 most likely means one or more of the following has happened:
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