Ford Tempo/Topaz 1984-1994 Repair Guide




See Figures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

Your vehicle may be equipped with a maintenance-free battery, in which case the need for periodic checking and adding of fluid is greatly reduced, or not necessary at all. To check if your car has a maintenance free battery, fist check the labeling on the battery. Also, the absence of filler caps would indicate a maintenance free battery.

A maintenance free battery can be either a sealed or non-sealed type. A non-maintenance free battery is always a non-sealed type unit. A sealed battery is one in which you can not open the battery to access the cells. This means the fluid levels cannot be adjusted. With a non-sealed battery, the top(s) can be removed so the cell fluid level can be adjusted.

To determine which type of battery you have, consult the battery label first. This will tell you whether the unit is maintenance free or non-maintenance free. Look for individual round caps on the top of the unit, or a single long rectangular cap, which will identify the battery as a non-sealed unit.

Batteries normally produce explosive gases which can cause personal injury. Therefore, do not allow flames, sparks or lighted tobacco to come near the battery. Always shield your face and protect your eyes. Also, always provide ventilation.

Fluid Level

Although the battery in your vehicle may be a sealed, maintenance-free battery, it still is a good idea to check the fluid level. To do this, look at the side of the battery. The level in all the cells should be just below the top of the battery. If the level is not, refer to the testing section to determine battery strength.


Check the battery electrolyte level at least once a month, or more often in hot weather or during periods of extended car operation. The level can be checked through the case on translucent battery cases. On other batteries, the cell cap(s) must be removed. The electrolyte level in each cell should be kept filled to the split ring inside, or the line marked on the outside of the case.

If the level is low, add only distilled water, or colorless, odorless drinking water, through the opening until the level is correct. Each cell is completely separate from the others, so each must be checked and filled individually.

If water is added in freezing weather, the car should be driven several miles to allow the water to mix with the electrolyte. Otherwise, the battery could freeze.


When unfastening battery cables, always disconnect the negative cable first.

Once a year, the battery terminals and cable clamps should be cleaned and checked. Loosen the clamps and remove the cables. On cables that are difficult to remove, try twisting the cable back and forth, or purchase a battery cable puller. This tool is inexpensive and extremely useful on stuck cables.

Clean the cable clamps and the battery posts with a wire brush or battery post and terminal cleaner, until all corrosion, grease, etc. is removed and metal surface is shiny. It is especially important to clean the inside of the clamp thoroughly. Even a small deposit of foreign material or oxidation can inhibit full battery power.

Before reinstalling the cables, loosen the battery hold down clamp or strap, and remove the battery to inspect the battery tray. Clear it of any debris, and check it for soundness. Rust should be wire brushed away, and the metal given a coat of anti-rust paint. Once the tray is clean, replace the battery and fasten all hardware. Be careful not to overtighten the clamp, this could crack the battery case.

On many batteries, a white powdery substance develops. This oxidation is both bad for the battery as well as the car. This oxidation takes power away from the battery, because this powder contains battery acid. This oxidation is bad for the car because of the acidic nature of the powder, which can eat through plastic, rubber, paint and metal. The most effective solution to this problem, is to remove the battery, clean with water, and apply a layer of baking soda to all surfaces of the battery.

Wear safety goggles and heavy clothing. This acid can burn eyes, clothing and skin.

This baking soda with react with the acid and bubble. This bubbling effect is actually neutralizing the oxidation. Continue to wash and add baking soda until the bubbling stops. Perform the same steps to the battery tray as well as the area around the battery. Allow all areas to dry before reinstalling the battery.

After the clamps and terminals are clean, reinstall the cables, positive cable first, then negative cable.

Do not hammer or excessive force on the clamps when installing. Tighten the clamps securely, but do not distort them. Give the clamps and terminals a thin external coat of grease after installation, to retard corrosion.

Check the cables at the same time that the terminals are cleaned. If the cable insulation is cracked or broken, or if the ends are frayed, the cable should be replace with a new cable of the same length and gauge.

Keep flame or sparks away from the battery; it gives off explosive hydrogen gas. Battery electrolyte contains sulphurate acid. If you should splash any on your skin or in your eyes, flush the affected areas with plenty of clear water; if it lands in your eyes, get medical help immediately.

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Fig. Fig. 1: Loosening and removing battery cables

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Fig. Fig. 2: Twisting battery cable to ease removal

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Fig. Fig. 3: With cable removed use clamp spreader to enlarge cable terminal opening

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Fig. Fig. 4: Whenever the cables are removed clean both the clamp end and terminal

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Fig. Fig. 5: Cleaning a battery with a paint brush and baking soda

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Fig. Fig. 6: Adding fluid to a non-maintenance free battery


Tests are made on a battery to determine the state of charge and also its capacity or ability to crank an engine. The ultimate result of these tests is to show that the battery is good, needs recharging, or must be replaced.

Visual Inspection

Before attempting to test any battery, it is important to thoroughly examine it to determine if it has been damaged in any way.

To inspect the battery, remove the cable clamps. Disconnect the negative cable.

Check for dirty or corroded connections as well as loose battery posts. Also, check for a broken or cracked case or cover. If a defective, loose or broken post or cracked case or cover is found, replace the battery.

Many batteries contains a visual test indicator which can give a color signal when an adequate charge level exists, and when charging is required. Consult the battery label, or battery manufacturer for color levels.

Capacity Test

A battery capacity test should follow the "Visual Inspection". A high rate discharge tester (Rotunda Battery Starter Tester 020204 or equivalent) in conjunction with a voltmeter is used for this test. Follow the instructions supplied with the tester. If the battery is below minimum voltage for the capacity test, charge the battery for 20 minutes at 35 amperes and repeat the capacity test. If the battery fails a second time, it should be replaced.

Load Test

Another useful test for checking battery output is a load test. To perform this test, a load tester will need to be purchased. This is available at most automotive parts stores. In this test, the battery is loaded to represent a "draw" or reduction in output. This test's advantage is that it indicates the available output remaining after a significant drop in output. This test is extremely useful in colder weather because it can help show how a battery will perform on a cold morning.


If it has been determined that your battery needs charging, either by sight glass inspection or testing, charge only until the appropriate dot appears or maximum charge is reached. Never over charge a battery.

Whenever a battery is being charged, it is giving off hydrogen gas. Charge the battery in a well ventilated area, and never smoke around a battery.

Charging Rate

The following specifications should be used as a general guideline when battery charging is necessary:

5 amps-not to exceed 15 hours
10 amps-not to exceed 7.5 hours
20 amps-not to exceed 3.75 hours
30 amps-not to exceed 2.5 hours.

A slow charge is much better for the long term life of a battery than a fast charge. Each time a battery is charged, it looses some energy. By charging a battery for a long period of time at a relatively low power level, less energy is lost.

Use fast charging only in an emergency.

If the battery indicator does not turn a full charge color, even after the battery is charged, the battery should be replaced. Do not overcharge.

Specific Gravity

See Figure 7

If your battery is not a maintenance-free type, a specific gravity test can be performed.

At least once a year, the specific gravity of your battery should be checked. If the individual cells of the battery are healthy, the gravity reading level of each cell will be between 1.20 and 1.26.

The specific gravity can be checked with the use of an hydrometer, an inexpensive instrument available at most auto parts stores. The hydrometer has a squeeze bulb at one end and a nozzle at the other. Battery electrolyte is drawn into the hydrometer until a float is lifted from its seat. The specific gravity is then read by noting the position of the float. Generally, if after charging, the specific gravity between any two cells varies more than 50 points (.050), one or more cells are weak, and the battery should be replaced.

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Fig. Fig. 7: The specific gravity of the battery can be checked with a simple hydrometer.


When it becomes necessary to replace the battery, refer to the owner's manual for battery specifications. There are many batteries available, and not all of them will fit your car. Depending on an individuals needs and budget, will determine whether the battery is a maintenance free type or not.

Because today's cars utilize computers and equipment that most memorize information about a particular car, it is a good idea to provide some power to these pieces while changing a battery. Most automotive parts stores sell a product that uses a small radio battery and plugs into a cigarette lighter, and allows these electronic items to maintain their information. It also allows the clock and radio to maintain the correct time and channel memory.

The procedure is as follows:

  1. First, disconnect the negative battery cable, followed by the positive cable.
  3. Remove the battery hold-downs and heat shields, as required.
  5. Remove the battery from the vehicle.
  7. Inspect and clean if needed the battery tray and clamps.

To install:
  1. Install the replacement battery into the vehicle.
  3. Clean the battery posts and install the battery hold-downs and heat shields, as required
  5. Reconnect the positive cable first, followed by the the negative cable.
  7. After installing the cables, apply a small quantity of grease to each battery post to help prevent corrosion.


See Figure 8

Whenever a vehicle must be jump started, precautions must be taken in order to prevent the possibility of personal injury. Remember that batteries contain a small amount of explosive hydrogen gas which is a by-product of the battery charging.

Sparks should always be avoided when working around batteries, especially when attaching jumper cables. To minimize the possibility of accidentally sparks, follow the procedures very carefully.

NEVER hook the batteries up in a series circuit or the entire electrical system will short circuit, especially the starter.


Be sure both batteries are of the same voltage. Most vehicles covered by this guide and on the road today function on a 12 volt charging system.
Be sure that both batteries are the same polarity, that is they are grounded similarly (usually through the negative battery terminal). Many early British cars and some antique vehicles were actually positive grounded.
Be sure the the vehicles are not touching or a short could occur.
On serviceable batteries, be sure the vent cap holes are not obstructed.
Do not smoke or allow sparks anywhere near the batteries.
In cold weather, make sure the battery electrolyte is not frozen. This can occur more readily in a battery that has been in a state of discharge.
Do not allow electrolyte to contact your skin or clothing.

Jump Starting Procedure

See Figure 8

  1. Make sure that the voltages of the 2 batteries are the same. Most batteries and charging systems are of the 12 volt variety.
  3. Pull the jumping vehicle(with the good battery) into a position so the jumper cables can reach the dead battery and the vehicle's engine. Make sure the the vehicles do NOT touch.
  5. Place the transmissions/transaxles of both cars in NEUTRAL or PARK, and firmly set the brake.

If necessary, for safety reasons, both vehicles hazard lights may be operated throughout the entire procedure without significantly increasing the difficulty of jumping the dead battery.

  1. Turn all lights and accessories off on both cars. Make sure the ignition switch on both vehicles is turned to the OFF position.
  3. Cover the battery cell caps with a rag, but do not cover the terminals.
  5. Make sure the terminals on both batteries are clean and free of corrosion, or proper electrical connections will be impeded. If necessary, clean the battery terminals before proceeding.
  7. Identify the positive (+) and negative (-) terminals on both battery posts.
  9. Connect the first jumper cable to the positive (+) terminal of the dead battery, then connect the other end of the cable tot the positive (+) terminal of the booster battery (good) battery.
  11. Connect one end of the other jumper cable to the negative (-) terminal of the booster battery and the other cable clamp to an engine bolt head, alternator bracket or other solid, metal point on the dead batteries engine. Try to pick a ground on the engine that is positioned away from the battery in order to minimize the possibility of the 2 clamps touching, should one loosen during the procedure. DO NOT connect this clamp to the negative (-) terminal of the dead battery.

Be careful to keep the jumper cables away from moving parts like cooling fans and belts on both engines.

  1. Making sure that the cables are routed safely, start the donor vehicle's engine. Run the engine at moderate speed for several minutes to allow the dead battery a chance to receive some initial charge.
  3. With the donor vehicle running, try to start the car with the dead battery. Crank the engine for no more than 10 seconds at a time and let the starter cool for at least 20 seconds between tries. If the car does not start in 3 attempts, it is likely that something else is also wrong or the battery needs additional time to charge.
  5. Once the vehicle is started, allow it to run at idle for a few seconds to make sure that it is running correctly.
  7. Turn on headlights, blower and rear defroster of both cars to reduce the severity of voltage spikes and subsequent risk of damage to the vehicle's electrical system when the cables are removed.
  9. Carefully disconnect the cables in the reverse order of connection. Start with the negative(-) cable that is attached to the engine ground, then the negative cable on the donor battery. Disconnect the positive (+) cable from the formerly dead battery, then the positive (+) cable from the donor battery. Be careful when disconnecting the cables from the positive terminals not to allow the cable ends to touch any metal surface or sparks will occur.

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Fig. Fig. 8: Connect the jumper cables to the batteries and engine as shown