I have a 2004 Ford Escape Limited on which the battery light has been coming on randomly for varying amounts of time while the vehicle is in active operation.

I have checked the battery cables and fuses, and the only thing I can see is that the light comes on by itself sometimes. It will occasionally stay on for an hour on a long trip, and other times only come on for 30 seconds, then not come on again at all during the rest of the journey.

What cause(s) can there be behind the light? I'm trying to get a feel before heading to my mechanic.

  • As a Ford mechanic in the past, escapes came in all the time for the battery light, but it was actually a low coolant light. What color is the light? Are there one or two bumps on the top? Dec 10, 2012 at 1:57
  • I have exactly the same situation with similar readings. My car is a 1998 Town Car with just over 100K miles. Until I get a drop in the voltage when the light is on, I'm going to suspect something other than the alternator.
    – user2652
    Jan 20, 2013 at 17:54
  • Same issue on my ford escape 2004 alternator light came on so replaced it all was good for a week now the battery light comes on and stays on what a pain I have a whole list of other items to check now from Google and forums seems to be very common with no straight answer thanks for all the suggestions Items are Alternator belt Iac valve Egr vac me solenoid Egr valve Main charging wire No 1 fuse 20 amp power point Battery to motor and bayberry to ground bolts Voltage regulator as alternator was after market Radiator fans using to much power
    – user3887
    Oct 27, 2013 at 22:36
  • has anyone checked to see if there AC works, my light started coming on when the AC stopped getting cold
    – user4787
    Apr 2, 2014 at 2:13

6 Answers 6


Have you tried putting a multimeter across the battery terminals? The battery light simply means that the battery is not charging, which usually means the alternator is not giving enough charge.

On a car of that age, it is likely that the alternator is coming to the end of its life, as they can often only last around 8 years before needing refurbishment/replacement.

  • 1
    I have not - but can check that later today ... thanks for the pointer
    – warren
    Dec 7, 2011 at 14:40

Like the previous poster said this is most likely an issue with your alternator. I'm not sure where the alternator is located on your car but in many cars they are very easy to get to and it's just a matter of loosening a few bolts and releasing the belt tension to get them out. If you are comfortable doing this, you can take both your battery and alternator to NAPA auto parts and they will test it for you for free.


I have been searching the internet for a day. Had to replaced the alternator on my 2002 escape after it died on the highway. THEN, the battery light kept coming on. Read the first post on this thread.... ITS NOT A BATTERY LIGHT, rather the low coolant light. If its a little box with flame-looking things, it's the low coolant light. hope this helps someone!


Same thing happened to me with my 2001 Ford Escape. We replaced the battery & then they said alternator that is placed only where a mechanic can get at it. A year later now, I am having the same problem. I found out it is the radiator fans!!! They are using too much power and draining the battery and you would only notice it if on long trips or using the a/c more. The kicker is it is NOT a recall or warranty job that Ford will replace for free even though they know about the error.

  • 3
    This seems unlikely, too much current would cause the fuse to blow. The Battery light means that the alternator is not charging, not that the battery is dead. Jul 3, 2012 at 2:37
  • I'm not sure if newer vehicles have more advanced ways of detecting alternator function, but on older vehicles, the battery light just means the main voltage is below 13.5 volts or so (i.e. in the range the battery outputs rather than the range you need to charge it). It's conceivable that, under high load, the voltage would drop that much, but like Larry said, I'd expect that much load to blow a fuse. If something's wrong with the alternator, however (even just a corroded connection to it), voltage could easily drop... Dec 9, 2012 at 2:47
  • My car goes down to 12.6v on a hot day at low idle (which is where flooded lead acid batteries normally float). On alternator failure the load pulls it down to 12.1-12.3 or so and the light does come on. Dec 23, 2013 at 21:28

This lights means that the generator does not generate enough power and the car should drain power from the battery.

Most of the time the generator are drived by belts. If that belt slips then it could cause this kind of problems. The generator belt only slips if the power consumption is big (high load) and when the blet is a bit slippier (high humidity, dirty roads).

Check the belt and if it looks like bad replace it. The belts are cheap but if they fail they could cause much higher repair costs.


My first thought was to replace the serpentine belt. My 2004 Escape is now 11 years old and still has the original drivetrain belt and I'm guessing its starting to slip some.

  • I've now not had the vehicle in almost three years, but thanks for the idea :)
    – warren
    Nov 6, 2014 at 21:38

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