Question about 2002 Ford Explorer Sport Trac

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Went to start my car - dead - the lights inside work - this happened once before checked the battery it is good and cleaned the battery post and cables and it worked fine- could it be the altinator?

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Well it depends. You didn't tell us what you have to do to fix the problem. It sounds to me like the starter relay is going bad. If you had to charge the battery up to get it to work then the starter and relay are probably fine. An alternator that is not charging will usually show low voltage on the volts gauge or the check engine light will come on. Also if the alternator is just not putting out enough to keep the battery charged then usually your lights will start to go dim and when you go to start it the relay will at least click and sometimes crank the engine over slowly. A low charge alternator that will do this will also let the battery go dead enough that the car will start running rough and then die right on the road. If the battery does not need charged at all but you just have to keep trying with the key - that indicates an intermittent electrical problem with either the ignition switch, or the relay. Without more diagnostic information it is impossible to tell.

Posted on Aug 21, 2010

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How do you know the battery is good? If you are sure the battery is good (not sure how you determined this), then you should check the charging system. You can do this by checking battery voltage with engine off, then again with engine running. Voltage should be 1 - 2 volts higher with engine running if charging system is working. This is just a quick check, but will definitely identify a charging system that is not working at all.

Posted on Aug 21, 2010

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There are even more areas worthwhile checking ... but unless you have the correct tools and diagnostic equipment - it can be tough to nail-down the right specific problem. A lot of places *like Sears* will have that - and used to not charge for the diagnostic - because they wanted to sell you THEIR battery.

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