ALTERNATOR TEST 2: Checking The Continuity Of The Alternator Fusible Link

How To Test The Alternator (Ford 4.6L, 5.4L)

The voltage and amperage that the alternator delivers to the battery and the rest of the vehicle is delivered across one single cable. Before this juice reaches the battery, it has to cross an inline fusible link. The newer Ford vehicles use an inline fuse that goes by the name of mega fuse.

So, before we can condemn the alternator as bad, we need to make sure that the fusible link or mega fuse between the alternator and the battery is not blown. Cause if it's blown, the alternator could be working OK, but unable to deliver its output to the battery.

Verifying if the fusible link or mega fuse is blown or not can be done with a simple multimeter resistance test (Ohms).

  1. 1

    It's important that you first disconnect the battery negative (-) cable from the negative battery post. Disconnect only the negative (-) cable. The battery positive (+) cable MUST remain connected for this test.

  2. 2

    Once you've disconnected the battery negative (-) cable, place your multimeter in Ohms mode and place the red multimeter test lead on the center of the battery positive (+) terminal.

  3. 3

    Now, with the black multimeter test lead, touch the center of the alternator stud to which the battery cable is attached to. The orange arrow in the photo points to this stud.

  4. 4

    If the mega fuse is not blown, your multimeter will show an Ohms value of about 0.5 Ohms.

    If the mega fuse is blown, your multimeter will register an infinite Ohms reading, which if you're using a digital multimeter, it'll display the letters OL.

OK, now that the testing part is done, let's take a look at what your results mean:

CASE 1: Your multimeter registered 0.5 Ohms. This result indicates that the mega fuse is OK and not blown.

Now, there's just one more thing to check and you're done! The next test is to make sure that the alternator's voltage regulator is getting power. For this test, go to ALTERNATOR TEST 3.

CASE 2:  Your multimeter DID NOT registered 0.5 Ohms, it registered OL. This result tells you that the mega fuse is blown.

Replace the fusible link or mega fuse and retest. More than likely your problem will be solved and the alternator will begin charging again.

A blown fusible link or mega fuse doesn't happen very often. But if it does, you'll have to find out the reason for this, since they don't get blown for no apparent reason.

Now, in case this is the condition that your specific Ford vehicle is experiencing, you'll need to consult a repair manual to find the exact location of this fusible link or mega fuse. But, it's general location is in the battery cable that connects to the alternator to the battery or engine compartment fuse box. if you follow this cable to its final destination, you'll find the inline fusible link or mega fuse.

ALTERNATOR TEST 3: Checking The Alternator Fuse

How To Test The Alternator (Ford 4.6L, 5.4L)

The alternator's voltage regulator needs an injection of 12 Volts to get the alternator to start producing a charge.

This voltage comes from a fuse and is provided at all times, even when the engine is turned off.

In this test, you're gonna' verify that there is indeed power (12 Volts) available in this circuit.

This is what you'll need to do:

  1. 1

    Reconnect the battery negative (-) terminal, that you disconnected in the previous test step.

  2. 2

    Locate the engine compartment fuse box. This is where you'll find the alternator fuse.

    The exact location of this ALT fuse will vary from one vehicle to another. You'll need to consult your owner's manual or repair manual to find its exact location.

  3. 3

    Once you have located the ALT fuse, pull it out and verify that it is not blown.

Let's interpret your test result:

CASE 1: The fuse is NOT blown. This means that the alternator's voltage regulator is getting power.

Now, this test result, in conjunction with ALTERNATOR TEST 1 and 2, let's you now that the alternator on your Ford 4.6L or 5.4L is equipped car, pick up or SUV is bad. Replace the alternator. Replacing the alternator will solve the no-charge condition on your vehicle.

CASE 2: The fuse IS blown. This tells you that the voltage regulator is not getting power.

Without this voltage (12 Volts), the alternator will NOT produce a charge. Replace the fuse and re-test.

Related Test Articles

If you found this tutorial helpful, you might be interested in the other 4.6L and 5.4L Ford test articles I've written. You can find them here:

At easyautodiagnostics.com, you'll find four more 4.6L & 5.4L test articles which are:

Reader's Real Life Case Studies And Solutions

In this section is input and feedback from all of the folks who have had a similar issue with their vehicle and found a solution. If you're one of them, I want to thank you for sharing your experience with all of us!

If you want to share your repair and/or diagnostic experience, you can use the contact form below.

Real Life Case Study 1

Vehicle: 1995 Mercury Cougar 4.6L

Trouble Codes: None

Complaint: LOW CHARGE “...Charge Gauge jumping up and down on the dash. I would have to jump start the car to get it started...”

Test Notes: “..I thought it was a bad battery so I bought a new one, but that did not solve the problem. I probably needed a new one anyway, but it didn't solve the problem...”

“...spent some time researching online and found your webpage and followed the test procedure with my dads volt meter...”

Repair: REPLACED ALTERNATOR “...after taking off the alternator, I still had O'Reillys test the alternator to be sure I don't mean to doubt your test procedure, but I'm not a professional mechanic anyhoo, the alternator tested bad and man I felt so good i had found the problem. The alternator cost me $167 but at least I did not have to go the shop to get it fixed, thanks dude!!!...”

Courtesy of: Tim M.

Thank You For Your Donation

If this info saved the day, buy me a beer!

If This Info Saved the Day, Buy Me a Beer!


Ford Vehicles:

  • Crown Victoria
    • 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
  • E150, E250, E350
    • 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002
  • Expedition
    • 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009

Ford Vehicles:

  • Explorer (4.6L)
    • 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
  • F150, F250
    • 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
  • Mustang (GT & Cobra)
    • 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005

Ford Vehicles:

  • Thunderbird
    • 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997

Lincoln Vehicles:

  • Aviator
    • 2003, 2004, 2005
  • Mark VIII
    • 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998

Lincoln Vehicles:

  • Navigator
    • 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009
  • Town Car
    • 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005

Mercury Vehicles:

  • Cougar
    • 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997
  • Grand Marquis
    • 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005
  • Mountaineer (4.6L)
    • 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005