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Ok... Here's the problem today....I can be driving along, rain or shine, hot or cold, day or night... All of a sudden... ABS lite comes on, gauges go crazy (needles peg,then zero out and stay) and (I'm assuming) when the battery runs down, car begins to sputter, I try to keep running.. but eventually it dies. I coast to safe place and stop, put in park... Flashers don't even try to work, .... If I turn key to on... gauges do not go all the way over as they should... if i try to start... I have nothing but dim ABS lite and a sickly sounding faint beeping... No starter click, nothing... Will not shift from park... It's been doing this about once a year/ every 9 months for past 3 years... In the past, it would magically fix itself or the last time, I replaced ignition switch and that fixed it... This time, I replaced ignition switch and it didn't solve it... I bought new battery and it starts, runs and no problem... I meter alternator and it's working as it should...then a day later after driving 40+ miles with no problems... I'm sitting in a drive through, foot on brake and ABS lite pops on.. (I'll assume cuz of new battery) stays running till I park.. Try to start again and nothing... Meter battery and it reads 11.5v. Put a jump box on it and it starts, pull jump box off and it stays running... Meter alternator and it's working just as it should... I replaced brake switch cuz I had no brake lights... Still wont start.... I've had dash open, checked all looms, plugs, gauge cluster, all wires to alternator, battery and starter and grounds, checked headlight wiring... Everything looks great.... Nothing melted, nothing weird..... ANY IDEAS ANYBODY??? If I had another vehicle to carry my tools and test equipment...
I would have pushed this to a field and lit it up. Thanks for any ideas or questions in advance...
 

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If your sure the main battery cable is good, even under the insulation, than I would take a hard look at the battery junction box. Both ABS and the cluster, along with every other important load on the car gets power through the BJB. Start with the little cable that runs from the battery to the BJB...if thats good, then pull the whole box out and give it a good inspection, even take off the bottom covers if needed.
 

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I feel stupid for not thinking about this first...When's the last time you replaced your serpentine belt and tensioner and idler pulley (if you have one)?
Also, do you have oil all over the belt?
 

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Thanks for all the ideas... Keep them coming, though till I get this figured out.... So yesterday.. (I'll just go thru what I did)... Went out there... First thing I measured new battery (it's connected as normal).. 9.3v.. take off neg. Cable.... Jumps to 9.8v and slowly rises to over 10v. Take pos cable off.. Take dash apart again, go thru all looms looking for pinch, scrape, chew, melt.... Only thing I forgot to mention before... Gauge cluster has 2 looms going to it.. black and white.. both factory wrapped in cosmolene fabric tape... However, one feels sticky/moist and where it was laying up against gauges and dashbosrd... It has left black, oily residue and when opened, wires had all over also (see picture)
 

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Thanks for all the ideas... Keep them coming, though till I get this figured out.... So yesterday.. (I'll just go thru what I did)... Went out there... First thing I measured new battery (it's connected as normal).. 9.3v.. take off neg. Cable.... Jumps to 9.8v and slowly rises to over 10v. Take pos cable off.. Take dash apart again, go thru all looms looking for pinch, scrape, chew, melt.... Only thing I forgot to mention before... Gauge cluster has 2 looms going to it.. black and white.. both factory wrapped in cosmolene fabric tape... However, one feels sticky/moist and where it was laying up against gauges and dashbosrd... It has left black, oily residue and when opened, wires had all over also (see picture)
Ok, today I jump start it.. Meter at battery and all is good alternator working as designed.. Until it didn't... All of a sudden... Getting no charge, battery depleting until car dies... Jump start again and charges for 10 minutes then doesnt... Anyone ever seen an intermittent alternator like this? I've not... Please advise...
 

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It sounds like either your alternator or your belt. Both are normal wear and tear items.
Not really sure why you've been messing with the dash.
 

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I'm not great with electrical issues, but this totally sounds like alternator failure to me.
 

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Don't know if you've fixed this yet, but having dealt with a 2000 cougar and replaced the alternator several times(not an easy job), along with what others have said, I'd check the mega-fuse connections(yes, for some reason they fuse the main cable between the alternator and the battery, it's on the passenger side on the back of the engine between it and the firewall under the coil pack.), but it pretty much sounds like a bad alternator(fairly likely), or bad connections at the alternator, mega-fuse, battery posts/clamps or the battery ground. There's also a fuse(#2) in the fuse box under the hood that has to be good for the alternator to work and charge the battery, plus there's a common issue with one of the wires(the sense wire) that connects to the alternator from the wiring harness(IF you have the type of alternator that has 3 wires going to the wiring harness connector) and sometimes damage to some of the wiring from being routed right next to the engine. Voltage at the battery posts should be around 13.7-14.7 volts, with the engine running and the alternator charging correctly. With the car off, before being started and having been off for an hour or more, a good, fully charged battery should read 12.6 volts or so. If you haven't fixed it yet, maybe some of this will help. Good luck!
 
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