Ford Explorer “Check Charging System” (Causes & How To Fix)

The Ford Explorer is a popular mid-size SUV that has been a driver’s favorite for decades. One of the most important components of the Ford Explorer is its charging system, which is responsible for keeping the battery charged and supplying power to the electrical system. 

A bad alternator is a common cause for the “Check Charging System” warning message in a Ford Explorer. To fix a bad alternator in a Ford Explorer, you will need to replace the faulty alternator with a new or rebuilt one.

In this article, we will explore the common causes of the Ford Explorer “Check Charging System” warning message and how to diagnose and fix these issues. We will also discuss preventative measures to avoid charging system problems in the future.

Causes Of the “Check Charging System” Warning Message in a Ford Explorer

The “Check Charging System” warning message in a Ford Explorer is alarming, but understanding the common causes of this issue helps you diagnose and fix the problem quickly.

  • Dead Or Failing Battery: If the battery is dead or not holding a charge, the alternator cannot keep up with the electrical demands of the vehicle, triggering the warning message.
  • Faulty Alternator: The alternator is responsible for generating the electricity that charges the battery and powers the electrical system. If the alternator is faulty or not working properly, the battery will not charge properly, and a warning message will appear.
  • Damaged Or Worn Out Battery Cables: Battery cables connect the battery to the electrical system, and if they are damaged or worn out, they are not able to conduct electricity properly, leading to charging system problems.
  • Malfunctioning Voltage Regulator: The voltage regulator controls the alternator’s voltage to the battery. If it malfunctions, the battery will not receive the proper voltage, leading to issues with the charging system.
  • Broken Or Loose Drive Belt: The drive belt connects the alternator to the engine and is responsible for turning the alternator. With a broken or loose belt, the alternator cannot generate electricity, leading to charging system problems.

Symptoms of a Failing Charging System in a Ford Explorer

As a vital component of the vehicle, a failing charging system in a Ford Explorer can cause various symptoms that can indicate potential issues. Here are some common signs to look out for:

  • Dimming Headlights And Interior Lights: The lights in the vehicle appear dim or flicker due to insufficient power if the charging system fails.
  • Slow Or Difficult Start-Up: If the battery does not receive a proper charge from the alternator, the vehicle will struggle to start or take longer to turn over.
  • Electrical System Failures: A failing charging system causes other electrical components to malfunction, such as the radio, power windows, or air conditioning.
  • Warning Message On The Dashboard: The “Check Charging System” warning message on the dashboard indicates an issue with the charging system.

Diagnosing a Charging System Problem in a Ford Explorer

Diagnosing a charging system problem in a Ford Explorer requires a systematic approach to identifying the root cause of the issue. The following are the steps to take when diagnosing a charging system problem in a Ford Explorer:

  • Check the Battery: Use a voltmeter to test the battery’s voltage. A fully charged battery should read around 12.6 volts. If the reading is lower, it indicates a battery problem.
  • Check the Alternator: With the engine running, use a voltmeter to test the alternator’s voltage output. The voltage output should be between 13.5 and 14.5 volts. A lower reading indicates an alternator problem.
  • Examine the Drive Belt: Inspect the drive belt for signs of wear, cracking, or looseness. If the belt is damaged, it cannot properly drive the alternator, which causes a charging system problem.
  • Check the Battery Cables: Examine the cables for any signs of damage or corrosion. Make sure they are properly connected to the battery and alternator.
  • Inspect the Voltage Regulator: The voltage regulator regulates the charging system’s output. If the regulator is malfunctioning, it causes a charging system problem.

Fixing a Charging System Problem in a Ford Explorer

Fixing a charging system problem in a Ford Explorer will depend on the underlying issue causing the problem. Below are some potential solutions to help you get your charging system back in proper working order.

  • Replace the Battery: If the battery is dead or not holding a charge, it must be replaced.
  • Change the Alternator: Replace the alternator that is not working properly.
  • Replace the Battery Cables: If the battery cables are damaged or worn out, they should be replaced.
  • Change the Voltage Regulator: Change the voltage regulator if it is malfunctioning.
  • Switch the Drive Belt: If the drive belt is broken, loose, or worn out, switch it.

Preventing Charging System Problems in a Ford Explorer

Preventing charging system problems in a Ford Explorer is key to ensuring the longevity and reliability of your vehicle. Here are some preventative measures you can take to keep your charging system running smoothly:

  • Regular Maintenance: Maintaining your vehicle is essential to keep it running smoothly. This includes regularly scheduled maintenance such as oil changes, battery checks, and belt inspections.
  • Avoid Short Trips: Short trips cause the battery to discharge and not fully recharge, leading to premature failure. Try to take longer trips or use a battery charger to maintain the battery’s charge.
  • Turn Off Electrical Components: When the engine is not running, turn off all electrical components, such as the lights and radio to avoid draining the battery.
  • Keep Battery Connections Clean: Check the battery connections regularly for any signs of corrosion or damage. Clean any buildup with a wire brush or battery cleaner to ensure a good connection.
  • Replace Worn Parts: Regularly inspect and replace worn-out parts, such as the alternator or battery cables, to prevent further damage to the charging system.

When to See a Professional Mechanic

Taking your Ford Explorer to a professional mechanic to fix a charging system problem is recommended. While some charging system issues can be diagnosed and fixed by an experienced DIYer, the charging system is complex and requires specialized knowledge and tools to diagnose and repair properly.

A professional mechanic will have the necessary equipment to diagnose the root cause of the problem, as well as the expertise to repair or replace the necessary components. Professional mechanics typically provide a warranty or guarantee on their work, giving you peace of mind knowing that the repair is done correctly.

Attempting to fix a charging system problem yourself without the necessary knowledge and tools can result in further damage to your vehicle or even personal injury. Therefore, it’s always best to take your Ford Explorer to a professional mechanic to ensure that the charging system problem is properly diagnosed and repaired.

Final Words

Ford Explorer “Check Charging System” warning message shows a charging system problem. Symptoms of a failing charging system include dimming headlights, slow cranking, and a dead battery. 

If you suspect a charging system problem, diagnosing and fixing it is important to avoid further damage to your vehicle. Following preventative measures, such as regular maintenance and avoiding short trips, can also help keep your charging system in good working order. Always consult a professional mechanic if you need clarification on performing any repairs yourself.