Whether you drive a Ford Ranger, F150, Bronco, or Fusion one of the most common faults is the battery light coming on followed by the “Charging System service now” message.
The Good news is I have dealt with this issue before in my workshop and it’s not as bad as it sounds.
In this article, I will go through how to troubleshoot, diagnose, and repair a Ford vehicle that has the “charging system service now” Fault. Let’s get to it.
What Does “Charging System Service Now” Mean on a Ford?
In layman’s terms, the charging system is a vehicle’s alternator and battery. The alternator is used to charge the battery and send power to the electrical systems in your vehicle while it is running. So when you get this fault code it means there is something wrong with the charging system of your Ford.
Now let’s take a look at the causes of this issue.
Common Causes of “Charging System Service Now”
The most common cause for this fault I found is a bad battery, this can be a failing battery or a bad connection. When the battery is failing, it will not hold a charge as well as it used to and this will send a message to the Battery Monitoring System (BMS) that the battery needs to be checked.
The BMS will then send a message to the powertrain control module (PCM) that there is an issue with the charging system and then this code will be set.
If you have had your battery checked and it is still not holding a charge, then there could be another issue with your vehicle.
99% of the time I found the issue is caused by a bad battery, however, since the charging system on a ford consists of other components, let’s look at other possible causes:
1. Bad Alternator:
The alternator could be failing and not charging the battery as it should. If the alternator is not charging properly, then your battery will not be able to hold a charge.
You can test this by checking the voltage on the battery with a multimeter and comparing it to what it would normally read when running. I should add that this rarely happens but I did have cars come to me with the same issue caused by a failing alternator.
2. Worn Serpentine Belt (Drive belt):
The serpentine belt is a rubber belt that connects the pulley on your alternator to the pulley on your water pump. If this belt breaks stretches or comes off, then it can cause your alternator to stop working.
This is because the pulley on the water pump will be spinning but there will be nothing to power it with.
3. Broken Alternator Wires:
The wires that go from the alternator to your battery can be worn due to wear and tear or rodents eating them. If this happens, then it will prevent your car from charging at all and as a result, your ford will display “Charging System Service Now”.
How to Deal with Check Charging System Fault on Your Ford?
The first thing I recommend that you do is to have your battery tested, if the condition is below 55% then replacing the battery will most likely solve the problem.
Most Ford vehicles use AGM batteries which are known for durability and power but over time they can start to lose power. This will cause your car not to charge and in turn, display “Charging System Service Now”. One of the best ways to see if your ford battery needs replacing is when electronics such as start-stop functions start to malfunction.
Also, make sure that you properly tighten the battery terminals to ensure that there are no loose connections. If the battery checks out, then you can move on to checking your alternator and its wires.
Can You Drive Your Ford with Charging System Light On?
Since the fault is related to the battery and the charging system, I wouldn’t recommend that you ignore the warning. You should get your ford checked out as soon as possible and if you do have to replace the battery, make sure that you get the right size and type.