No Mercy For Fords Here

I did the alternator swap on the Wifely Unit’s 2004 Ford Focus today.

It took me SIX HOURS to get it done.

First I had to spend an hour getting the Sprite started and moved out along with a bunch of other shit outside along with it, just to make room to get the damn thing in the garage.

I knew in my bones that it was going to be too cold to do it outside and that I would run out of daylight not long after I started in on it if I did it outside.

Screw that noise.

I wound up going to Harbor Freight, on Black Friday, about forty five minutes after I started in on it to get a new drop light.

I don’t know how I managed it but I was in and out of there in less than fifteen minutes.

I had it unbolted in less than an hour, the bolts come out towards the fender instead of the firewall.

Then I fought that dirty bastard for three hours getting it out of the car.

I’m sure you are supposed to take it out from underneath.

Fuck You Ford, we are doing it MY WAY.

I was changing the front motor mount while I was at it and I had the engine jacked up so far it was trying to pick the front tires off the ground.

Lots and lots of fighting involved just to get the damn thing out of the location it was bolted into after I got all the fasteners off. Then fighting connectors that I couldn’t see the release mechanism on, brackets and tubes, fuel vapor emissions solenoids with hoses, tubes, connectors  and all kinds of crap in the way.

I almost had it out and ran into a bracket that is welded to the strut tower and another one protecting the fuel regulator that was actually a two piece bracket. I got half of it off and then discovered the bolt to take the other half off was trapped behind the fuel regulator and they wanted me to take the entire fuel rail off of the injectors just to get that one stupid bolt out.


That round thing right in front of the pulley nut is where a ground strap bolted on to that bracket that is welded on. I bent that tab down and in the end wound up flattening that whole bracket down with a hammer and a pry bar.

No Mercy.

You can see the big bracket at the top, all it does is protect the fuel regulator from damage. I got that big part off and then found the trapped bolt.

IMG_20191129_175613 (1)

This here was what was underneath that bracket and what the trapped bolt was holding. As you can see it was plainly in the way.

Was being the key word.

Like the title says, I have zero mercy on these fucking Fords anymore.

I have been putting up with their bullshit way too long.

The dirty bastards pull shit like the trapped bolt, the connectors you can’t see to get unplugged, the fucking brackets welded to the strut tower that you can’t remove and a bazillion other sadistic tricks to discourage people from working on them, including their own technicians.

When I found out I couldn’t get that bracket out of the way without taking the fuel rail off to get one motherfucking bolt out, it was Game On Bitches.

I got the Angle Grinder out with a cutting wheel on it and cut that fucking bracket right the fuck off.

Fuck with me will ya?

After that and pounding that welded bracket out of the way it was still a frustrating trial and error mess of trying to get it lined up right to get it out.

I even had to pry the engine backwards a bit.

I obviously did get it out, there is a whole lot more to this story with me fighting all kinds of crap but it DID, come out the top.

It took another hour and  half to get the new one back in, turned end for end and right side up to kind of get it where it needed to be. Needless to say there was much cursing, prying, hammering, folding, spindling and mutilating but I FINALLY got the sonofabitch back in under the plastic fucking intake manifold, the bolt holes lined up and the bolts started.

I had pried some other shit out of the way getting it out so I had to pry it all back into position, reconnect everything and swap out the motor mount on it’s bracket.

I had that back in and two bolts tight when I noticed that the serpentine belt had somehow gotten all fouled up in the course of all of this. Take the motor mount and bracket back out, get on the internet to find the correct routing because the sticker is gone, up down up down underneath the car fighting the belt back on the pulleys and then get it back on the alternator. Reinstall the motor mount, the power steering and coolant reservoirs and get all the tools off the engine.

No extra bolts, nuts or washers this time either.

Hook the battery up and start the damn thing. Checked the voltage, its a bit high at 15 volts and change but it’s not jumping up to 18 like it was before.

I’m going to call it good for now.

What an ordeal just to change a damn alternator.

My lower back started hurting two minutes into this little fiasco, that Focus is the perfect height to kill my back when I have to work on it because I have to bend over for everything to just about thigh high.

Now that I am done, I am basically crippled. It was all I could do to get that bastard back out of the garage, crawl into the Sprite and get it back inside, then roll out of that damn thing. All of the tools are still laying right where I set them down.

This is why I hate working on newer cars.

At least it’s done now. The Wifely Unit tells me that we may get some snow tomorrow night. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

When I went to get in the Sprite it was frozen.

Iced up but good.

I am really glad I decided to go to the trouble of getting her car inside now and get this little chore out of the way and off my plate.

Oh yeah, I had to diagnose a water leak on the dishwasher,  by getting on Youtube and  then try to find a lower front door seal Wednesday. Couldn’t find a seal. One outfit said they would have one in on Friday.

So I got to drive across town and pick one of those up then come back and change that out before I even started on that car.

I see a whole bunch of doing very little for the rest of the weekend if I have my way.

So after I published this, I got to thinking about wanting another old Ford Pickup because they are so much simpler to fix and will get you where you want to go without a bunch of frills and needless gizmo’s that I don’t need or even want.

Six miserable hours to change an alternator in a fifteen year old car or this?

Ford 223 CID

How about fifteen fucking minutes?

Any questions?





42 thoughts on “No Mercy For Fords Here

  1. Just replaced the High pressure Power Steering hose to the rack and pinion on my 2002 infiniti, talk about no room to get at anything. 3 hours for a job that should take 1 hour.


  2. I quit working on cars a long time ago. I used to do everything myself until maybe sometime in the nineties. One thing that I still would do was charge people’s A/C for them. I had all the hoses and gauges to do a proper job. That stopped in about 2004 when the lovely missus needed the freon topped up in her 1997 Olds Achieva. I couldn’t even find the low side fitting. Took it to a mechanic friend’s shop down the road. He just laughed and told me that you need to put the car on a rack because the fitting is underneath the engine almost hidden in among all the other crap. If I did it at home I would have to jack up the car and slide underneath to do it. I may be a wuss, but there’s no way in hell that I’m going to fuck around underneath a running car.
    Traded in the Achieva on a new 2005 Hyundai Elantra. A few years later one of her headlights burned out. No sweat. A thirty second job. Yeah, right. To get at the driver’s side bulb you need to take off some shrouding. Then you have to remove the battery and battery box. There’s still barely enough room to get my skinny ass hand down in there to pop off these weird fucking clips. They are even harder to get snapped back in after you change the bulb. Then you need to put all that shit back together. And don’t even think about dropping a bolt from the battery box. Another 10 minutes to find that bastard. Took me about 45 minutes total to change a fucking light bulb.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Having baseball gloves for hands, I have accepted that I need to pay people to do crap that I should be able to do, like replace bulbs, hoses and stuff.

      Especially since my hands in gloves are about as coordinated as a warthog on ice.


    • I ran into that hidden A/C tap on this Focus too last year. I literally spent fifteen minutes looking for the damn thing and finally found it by Braille, following the lines with my hand.You gotta crank the wheels all the way to the right and peel the inner
      fender back to get a it. Sonsabitches.
      There ain’t a reason in the world they couldn’t have put that up top except they are assholes.


  3. A friend of mine straddled a traffic island in his ’71 alfa 1750 Spider, shearing off the false bottom on the oil pan. I had the manuals and was helping him pull the pan. The manual said, “Tilting conveniently”. Yeah.


  4. Last time I worked on a Ford was around ’69 or so, when I had to swap the starter out of a Squire Wagon. Nevermore. As for the dishwasher – the seal on the Bosch went out years ago, and I said fuck it. The sinks work just fine.


    • Actually, that bottom door seal was so simple I didn’t even need any tools. Just slide it out the bottom, clean all the soap and crap out, (there is a lot!)
      then slide the new one back in. I was amazed.


  5. After changing a Honda alternator once (remove the left wheel drive assembly, as I recall) I noticed Subaru has their alternator dead center ON TOP of the engine. I’ve not had to change one so I’d guess it’s very simple. But I also guess they don’t fail much because they are in the cleanest location to not fail. As compared to the Toyota pickup where it’s on the side, exposed to more mud. Still simpler to change than what you describe.
    Say what you will about Subaru, (we’ve got 4, moved up out of the first oldest one), the only thing that stops them is deep snow.


  6. I had an 85 Ford F-150 short box with the 300 straight 6, working on it was simple compared to the new shit. Wish I still had it,
    I currently have an 05 Wrangler with a 4.0 – still relatively simple. I am going to keep it until either I die, or it does


  7. Phil, those F-4s that used to fly out of Portland? Every component that failed-often had a similar story. The design of the F-4 was the first industrial application of LSD. F-15s on the other hand, are a dream to work on, much more reliable too.


  8. What you need to do is get a winning lottery ticket, that’s so you can afford a house with a tall garage. In that tall garage you need a lift, most car work is easier with a lift…

    Anyway, that’s my plan… so far getting a winning lottery ticket has been the hard part. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Phil,
    I looked up the book time in Mitchell for a 2004 Ford Focus and they only refer to the Zetec 4 and the Duratec 4 procedure is not available. 2.1 hours for the Zetec. There is some additional time allowed for DOHC. I know you can double that for not having familiarity with the job so 4 hours, well, I have had to deal with worse so you are right on track.

    I used to have an old flat side 1991 suburban which was so roomy you could crawl into the engine compartment for any work on top of the engine. My newer suburban 1996 is not so generous and it is not just the engine bay that is tight. Everything is stuffed in against other stuff.

    It still is a damn sight easier to work on than the Focus so I will stop complaining.

    Hope the aches and the myriad of little cuts and scrapes heal quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Why of course it’s the Twin Cam!
      I’d get frustrated and walk outside to have a smoke but even two hours is a bullshit time.
      I did Flat Rate work for ten years and I know how that bullshit works.
      I should look up how they recommend taking it out but I would bet money they want you to take it out the bottom.
      That would have been very problematic. I had to have the wife guide me in and I had the passenger door up against some shelves and still barely had room to get out of the car and I am VERY skinny. There was just enough room for me to stand next to the left side fender and I had to put the floor jack in at an angle because there wasn’t room to pump the handle straight on.
      It was tight.


  10. Make a sawhorse about fender height to lie on to work inside the engine compartment. It’ll save your back. One fellow mounted a 2×12 on top of his engine hoist as a topside creeper. I may do that for my pickups.

    It can always be worse. I’m fighting a loader right now. I have to stand on the tracks and bend over double to reach down inside the arms to the engine.


  11. Due to multiple injuries the only vehicles I can drive without pain have air-suspension. My first air-ride vehicle is an ’03 Range Rover with the BMW V8. Would you believe the alternator is liquid cooled? Or that to change the left upstream O2 sensor you have to remove the front driveshaft?
    In comparison my old Mercedes S class is a low-maintenance economy car. Fortunately, I have a hoist ($1,200Cdn used, some assembly required and $1,000 more to replace the three phase 5hp motor with a single phase 5hp motor) in my garage or I’d be walking. My retirement vehicle is going to be a ’60s pickup body on a ’97 Range Rover chassis with a Chevy V8 and tranny and lots of room under the hood.

    I’ve seen these at Costco (Canadian branch of Price Club) and think they would quickly pay for themselves. All you need is a flat concrete floor.

    PS You should try working on old airplanes, especially British ones. The Hawker-Siddeley 748 manual actually contains the warning phrase “some difficulty will be experienced removing” which translates to three hours to get the mass airflow control out of the forward lower fuselage after you’ve disconnected it. The taper pins that secure the control rod ends are made without holes for cotter pins, you first install the rod end, clamp the saddle washers (which have tapered bores) in place and use a tapered reamer to ream the washers, control rod tube and rod end as an assembly. Then you install the pin, torque the nut and drill the hole for the cotter pin. Then you do it all again to install the second taper pin. If you’re unlucky enough to be working on the elevator controls you’re doing all this inside the horizontal stabilizer (it’s 11″ thick IIRC) using mirror(s) to see what you’re doing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a typical miserable S.O.B front wheel drive Econobox.
      I absolutely hate working on it and it seems that when I have to it is always cold and/or raining outside


  12. Friend here does Mech work, like what you just did, all the time. I sympathize.
    But, Phil, what would you have been doing with all that time, instead?
    (“relaxing’ is not a valid answer)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Took me 3 hrs to change the ac compressor in our 04 Suburban. You can see it plain as day from up top, but you gotta slide it forward and take it out the bottom unless you want to take off the exhaust manifold. But the booby prize has to go to the Ford 3.5 and 3.7 v6 with the timing-chain-driven water pump. When mounted transverse, as in the suv’s, you are looking at 20 hrs labor, and most places will pull the engine/subframe for easier access. For a fucking water pump! Bastards! As soon as I finish re-painting parts on my other car, I’m gonna change that water pump in the ford myself, in my cold garage without a lift either. BFYTW.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I had to rebuild my 6.4 in my ’08 F350. That required removing the entire cab. Thankfully, I have a friend with a lift.
    I plan on adding a lift this summer. Too bad your so far south of me, I’d let you use it any time.


    • Shawn
      You are lucky to have a buddy with nice toys. I pulled the engine from a 2000 F250 and swapped it with the sick motor of an Excursion. Both were pulled / replaced with an engine crane. Granted it was only a 6.8 V-10, not a Powerstroke, but it can be done. Would have been a damn sight easier doing it on a bare frame like you guys did.

      Whitehall, NY


  15. I feel ya, man.
    Spent the day after Thanksgiving getting the wife’s 04 Mercury Monterey going. Just made a bunch of clicks and beeps but wouldn’t turn over. Battery charged? Check. Hmmm… maybe the starter is bad. Have to drag the thing out through the drivers side wheel well. New one put in, still nothing. Hmmm… maybe the starter relay. No one has one and has to be ordered. Ok, did that but pretty sure that’s not the problem. Start tearing out the bottom of the dash board in order to drop the steering column, could be the ignition. While my head was up underneath I turn the key and hear that beeping again. Rummage around and find a little box wired into the ignition. It was labeled Smart-lok. Son of a bitch, it’s an after market anti-theft device. Disconnect that and a whole bunch of other wires, and…barely nothing. Hmmm….battery is not holding charge. New battery (thankfully under warranty). Started right up. All day Friday, about 20 trips to the O’reilley’s and ABC auto parts stores, talking to kids who clearly have never turned a wrench in their lives, busted knuckles, blood, and a whole lot of swearing later the vehicle works. For now.


    • I have a similar story regarding my 96 suburban. It would start if you did not let it sit more than a week. After that it would need a battery charge or a jump. Thought the battery was bad. Had it tested and it was ‘so-so’. New battery.

      There, fixed it! Nope.

      Still turned over slow if it sat for a few days. Finally would not start with a jump or charge. New Starter. One of the bolts was so tight we had to use a 4 foot pipe to break it loose. Starts right up. Fixed???? Nope, still goes dead after a week or so. I start looking for a drain on the system. Could not find it. So I made sure I started it at least once a week. A pain if I travel out of town with my grand kids. Come home to a dead car and it is not good for the battery to keep running it down like this.

      Finally, I was fixing the heater resistor and that involved taking the glove box out. Talk about a miserable job as far as no room to get your hands or tools in to work on it.

      Put it all back together. It was late and I noticed that the area to the side fo the glovecbox was warm….. hmmmm WHY?

      The glove box light was not going out when it was closed. I pulled it out and disconnected it.

      Voila!!!! Fixed. This is a 96. It is the newest car I have ever owned. I cannot imagine what it is like to track down some BS problem with a newer car,


  16. Phil, like you I have worked on cars in independent and dealerships for a lot of years. So the question for you is and I have always hated having to work on fords, the plate system on the front of the motor can send you into a tailspin at least for me that is. The 460 had such a heavey intake that you needed a engine hoist to pick it up. Why in the hell would you let your wife get a ford!! I allowed my wife in 85 to talk me in to buying a used 81 ford t-bird with a less than 300 ci engine that locked up 8 months after we bought it. I used to be a mopar man and I hated jap cars, of course 60 to the 80s they were POS then they got so much better that I was a Asian mechanic after that. If you remember the mid 90s the Monte Carlo SS model was an all day job just remove the Alt. from the bottom. You were not going to get it out of the top!!!


  17. Phil, I am not OCD. but I do have a factory maintenance manual on every machine I own or am responsible for. Back when I was young(long, long time ago) we learned to do it by the book every time. have the book open to the page that covered what you were doing. do it step by step. do not do it by memory. book changes but memory doesn’t. document it all. saved my ass more than I want to admit to.
    My 22 year old lincoln mark eight is my current bane of peaceful retirement. hell, I even found the correct bit of test kit for all the damn electronics in it. who says old dogs don’t like learning new tricks. Why, just last week I got the biggest sledge hammer I have out of the tool kit, waved it in front of the car saying”behave or you get this” where upon the bitch puked hydraulic fluid on to the floor under the steering pump. not her fault, bad o-ring on a swivel fitting. all good now. Oh well, better that than a air leak on the air suspension. I love old machinery. simple and reliable. just so long as the data plate doesn’t have the words “lockheed” on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah yes, the Lincoln MK VIII.
      I worked on a couple hundred of those damn things in my day. They were a going concern though. I had one up to 135 mph once with plenty left but it started raining so I had to back out of it.
      How ya like where they put the air compressor for the air suspension on those bastards?
      Behind the front bumper cover.
      What a pain in the ass to change, you have to take that whole bumper cover off to get at it which is basically the whole front nose.
      I don’t know if you have had to mess with that but from my experience, if you start having issues with the suspension sagging overnight or when it’s been parked a day or two, pull that bumper cover off and spray soapy water at the quick connects for the air lines on the dryer where it mounts to the pump.
      That’s where 95% of the problems are at. You should be able to replace just the dryer and be good.
      Nice cars to drive but technological nightmares and a complete bitch to work on.
      You have my condolences.


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