1978 Chevy G20 Van, Radio Works, Inside Lights Work, Battery stays too weak to crank

Tiny
CHEVYVANFAN78
  • MEMBER
  • 1978 CHEVROLET
  • 5.7L
  • V8
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 87,000 MILES
I have a 1978 Chevy G20 Van. The Battery In The Van is Good (I brought it to Advance and Auto Zone) and have even put in another battery from my truck which my truck alternator says it's good and keeps it charged. The Alternator Hand on the Van is between 8 (drained) and 18 (highest it can go). I purchased a new alternator for the Van and put it in. Yet, the readings on the alternator hand still stay next to the 8 which means the battery is drained. I can turn the ignition to the left and the radio will turn on and the inside lights will turn on as well as The Windshield Wipers. However, when you try to crank it the battery acts like it is too drained to crank the car. I let the van set for about 2 years and when I set it. The Alternator Hand always worked like it was supposed to. When the Battery is fully charged, it cranks like it is supposed to. The ignition switch cranks it on a dime, and it doesn't have any trouble cranking. It's just something that keeps killing the battery each time it is parked for a day or less now. I pulled the fuses also and there was a few 20 fuses that looked bad and I already replaced them but otherwise they all looked good. I haven't added anything to the Van now since the time it was parked and working except for a Battery and The Alternator. Any assistance in helping me figure out what might be the culprit would be greatly appreciated.
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Sunday, June 15th, 2014 AT 12:16 PM

8 Replies

Tiny
CJ MEDEVAC II
  • MEMBER
I'VE GOT TWO POSTS FOR YOU TO LOOK OVER

(THIS SAVES ME A BUNCH OF TIME, AS I HUNT AND PECK AWFUL SLOW!)

http://www.2carpros.com/questions/2000-ford-taurus-lx

HERE'S THE OTHER

http://www.2carpros.com/questions/1989-ford-tempo-98-tempo-bran-new-battery-shut-car-off-didn-t-days-now

JUST TO ADD TO THIS LAST ONE - TAKE THE ALTERNATOR WIRES OFF OF THE ALTERNATOR TO SEE IF THE PARASITIC DRAIN CEASES

'MEMBER, EVEN NEW STUFF CAN BE BAD OR IT MAY EVEN BE HOOKED UP INCORRECTLY

RETURN TO THIS THREAD WITH GOOD NEWS!

THE MEDIC
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Sunday, June 15th, 2014 AT 1:53 PM
Tiny
CHEVYVANFAN78
  • MEMBER
Well, I know now that it isn't the alternator. I unhooked the positive battery cable while the van was going and the alternator kept powering the van even though the positive battery cable was disconnected. I noticed my Dimmer Switch was not working either, so I replaced it with a brand new dimmer switch and it is still isn't functioning as it should either. That is a prelude I think to the problem. Once my lights could no longer dim which I thought it was the dimmer switch that was doing it. I have problems with the battery charging. Is there a specific wire that would cause the dimmer switch not to work and for the battery not to receive a charge from the alternator? Any assistance in helping me figure out what wire or if it is another part that is causing this would be greatly appreciated.

The problem with the Dimmer Switch and the battery hand not moving off the 8 which means it is very low on power do seem to coincide with each other.
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Friday, June 20th, 2014 AT 10:36 AM
Tiny
CJ MEDEVAC II
  • MEMBER
REMOVING THE ALT WIRES WHILE/ DURING RUNNING IS NOT A GOOD IDEA, NOR A TEST FOR THE DIODES. LAST DITCH EFFORT, PULL IT AND GET IT TESTED AT THE PARTS STORE!

DIMMER?

I RECKON IT'S A FLOOR DIMMER LIKE MY JEEPS'?

LOOK THIS ONE OVER - SEE MY ANSWER ON NOV 30, 2012 (A FEW PICS THERE TOO)

http://www.2carpros.com/questions/1983-jeep-cj7-low-mileage-6-had-been-while-since-started-two-months-ago/page/2

THE MEDIC

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Saturday, June 21st, 2014 AT 2:27 AM
Tiny
CHEVYVANFAN78
  • MEMBER
Yes sir, it is a floor dimmer switch.

Someone told me if I ran the Van and while it was running to remove the positive cable from the battery and if the van didn't shut off then the Alternator was good. I only did it for a minute or so to see if it went off and it didn't. So by that test I know that the Alternator is good. It's something between the alternator and battery that is stopping it from getting a charge and like I said the problem with the charging didn't begin until the dimmer switch no longer dimmed. I have since put in a brand new dimmer switch and the dimmer switch isn't doing what it is supposed to do.

I did a live chat on Autozone with one of their live chatters. I explained to them the problem. That I have a new battery, put in a new alternator, that I did the test removing the positive lead from the battery while the van was running and the alternator kept it going. So I know that The Battery and Alternator are both good, and I asked him what I should look at next and he said either the Ignition Switch Harness then if that doesn't work then the ignition switch itself. If the Ignition Switch Harness or Ignition Switch itself went bad, would that cause the battery not to take a charge even though the Alternator is working, and would either the Ignition Switch Harness or Ignition Switch control the Dimmer Switch on the van? Because it only has one wiring harness that I can see. Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.
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Saturday, June 21st, 2014 AT 9:00 AM
Tiny
CJ MEDEVAC II
  • MEMBER
ONCE AGAIN, I'M GONNA LINK YOU HITHER AND YON!

I LOOKED UP YOUR RIG AT "AUTOZONE" - SEEMS THERE ARE 2 STYLES OF IGN SWITCHES FOR THAT MODEL

THE 1ST LOOKS LIKE A DASH MOUNT- THE SECOND IS A "SLIDE SWITCH" SIMILAR TO THE ONE IN MY '77 CJ 5 (AND MOST OLDER FORDS). THIS TYPE IS ACTUATED BY A ROD THAT IS HOOKED TO THE KEY PART (MECHANISM). HERE'S A LINK SHOWING A FORD. NOTICE THE ROD IN THE PICS. THE KEY IS ON ONE SIDE OF THE DASH (NOT SEEN/ SHOWN) - THE ACTUAL SWITCH IS ON THE OTHER SIDE, ON THE COLUMN

http://www.2carpros.com/questions/1989-ford-f-250-remove-ignition

HERE'S WHAT COULDA GONE WRONG IN THIS NEXT LINK. I HAVE USED AN OLD IGNITION SWITCH, MODIFIED IT SO THAT I NO LONGER NEED TO USE THE KEY. THIS OLD SWITCH PLUGS INTO THE HARNESS (JUST LIKE WHEN IT WAS NEW) I CAN EASILY REVERT BACK TO THE OLD WAY WITH THE KEY (NO WIRES ARE CUT OR SPLICED IN MY ORIGINAL HARNESS)

SO MUCH FOR THE INTRODUCTION. IN THE PICS OF THIS LINK YOU WILL SEE I HAVE TAKEN THE SLIDE OFF OF THE SWITCH AND DID SOME SOLDERING (AFTER FIGGERING OUT WHAT WENT WHERE). THE PARTS YOU ARE NOT SEEING IS THE "MOVING CONTACT BARS" (MY MADE UP NOMENCLATURE) AND THE "SPRINGS" THAT FELL OUT WHEN I TOOK IT APART

THESE PUPPIES WERE PRETTY WORN, SHOWED SIGNS OF GETTING HOT AND ARCING. I FEEL SURE THIS WAS THE ORIGINAL SWITCH FROM 1977. ON OTHER JEEPS I'VE HAD, SOMETIMES THE "MOVING CONTACT BARS" WOULD BE SO WORN THAT FUNCTIONS INTERMITTENTLY WORKED, KEY JIGGLING SOMETIMES HELPED!

http://www.2carpros.com/questions/1973-lincoln-mark-iv-starting-problem

YOU AIN'T GONNA BE HURT IF YOU REPLACE IT JUST OUTTA DOING PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE!

TO ANSWER THE QUESTION SHORT AND SWEET - IF CONTACTS IN THE IGNITION SWITCH DON'T "MAKE", YES, YOUR ALTERNATOR MAY NOT GET "ENERGIZED"/ OR CHARGE THE BATTERY!

YOUR TURN!

THE MEDIC

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Saturday, June 21st, 2014 AT 8:39 PM
Tiny
CHEVYVANFAN78
  • MEMBER
My Ignition Switch is mounted to the dash. I am probably going to buy both The Harness and Ignition Switch. The irony is that with this ignition switch that I already have on the Van. It is the best ignition switch I have ever had in terms of cranking the van on a dime when I put the battery in after it has been charged at a place like Auto Zone. Just a really smooth ignition switch in terms of how easy it cranks if a charged battery is in there.

So if I have a Good Battery which I do, A New Alternator which I do, if I purchase and install a New Ignition Switch and Ignition Switch Harness. Are those 4 things the only obstacles in the battery not being charged by the alternator, in that I mean is there anything else other than those 4 that interrupt the charging process. I know there are things if I can ever get the battery to start charging that could drain it in the future, but I am asking does Battery + Alternator + Ignition Switch + Ignition Switch Harness = Your Possible Suspects in the battery itself not charging?

Would the ignition switch and the ignition switch harness being swapped out fix this problem with the Dimmer Switch as well? Because when I put a fresh battery in. The High Beams will come on, but it won't switch to the low beams after pressing the dimmer switch in the floor. I just put a new Dimmer Switch in on Monday and it never dimmed. Just The High Beams came on.

Like I have said all along. I had the problem with the Dimmer Switch one night and all of a sudden it would no longer dim then it was simultaneously as in the next day or so that I noticed that the battery would no longer take a charge any more. I firmly believe there is a direct correlation between the two. So I am hoping that if I purchase both the ignition switch and ignition switch harness that it will eliminate the problem with the charging and the dimmer switch not dimming the lights down from high beams like it is supposed to.

I have personally enjoyed the links from "Hither to Yon", very detailed information that has been a great educational read. I also want to personally thank you for the help that you have provided me so far, it means a lot to me that you would take time out of your day to help me with this problem. I just wanted to say that, because I really do appreciate it.

I also like your image of The Wise Men Travel in Real Jeeps. My dad has a 1994 Jeep Cherokee, it is close to 400,000 miles. They are some really tough and nice vehicles.
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Saturday, June 21st, 2014 AT 10:46 PM
Tiny
CJ MEDEVAC II
  • MEMBER
LETS INSURE MR. BATTERY IS GOOD BEFORE WE CONTINUE!

THEN PERFORM THIS TEST YOURSELF W/ A DIGITAL VOLTMETER

WE WILL NOT TRUST YOUR DASH GAUGES!

LOOK AT THE LINK IN THIS ONE!

http://www.2carpros.com/questions/2002-chevrolet-silverado-could-alternator

IF YOU AIN'T GOT ONE, A CHEAPO $5 ONE FROM HARBOR FREIGHT WILL WORK JUST FINE! YOU WILL BE NEEDING IT FOR ADDITIONAL TESTING

IF STILL, THINGS ARE NOT GOOD - RUN THRU THIS ONE VERY THOROUGHLY. DO NOT TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED OR IT "LOOKS OK". GET YOUR FINGERS DIRTY! LOOK AT MY PICS! THIS IS USUALLY THE EZist AND MOST COMMON PROBLEM(S) THAT TEAR YOUR HAIR OUT BUT ARE SO SIMPLE TO FIX. SEE "MY ANSWER" IN THIS ONE!

http://www.2carpros.com/questions/2000-ford-taurus-lx

RESULTS?

THE MEDIC
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Sunday, June 22nd, 2014 AT 9:09 PM
Tiny
CHEVYVANFAN78
  • MEMBER
I bought an Autocraft Gold Battery at Advance Auto Parts brand new for $130.52, and had them test it to make sure it was perfectly functional before I brought it out the door even though it was brand new. It just came off the line and has a sticker that reads 06/14 on it. So I can definitely rule out the battery, and I know the alternator works. The old battery was a 01/10 so I figured I would have it replaced anyways and this one has a 3 year free replacement warranty on it.

So I have put a new Dimmer Switch in (though the lights still do not dim properly and I still think it coincides with the problem of the battery not charging), A brand new Battery, and a Brand New Alternator, but it is still staying on 8 on the charge even with the new battery in.

I know one time my dad had the same exact problem with his 1994 Jeep Cherokee. The Alternator would not change his battery and he had a problem with his lights, and he changed out The Dimmer Switch, Ignition Switch, and The Ignition Switch Harness. Would you suggest that being the area that I should perhaps look into next or do you know of something I should check first

List of things already done:

Checked All Of The Fuses In Good Operational Order

New Dimmer Switch

New Alternator

New Autocraft Gold Battery with 3 year warranty that was checked before I left the store.

Another question is what is left that is causing it not to charge, what is the likely culprits and suspects left?

Ignition Switch?

Ignition Switch Harness?

Starter?

Wiring?

Is that the only things left that could possibly be left on a vehicle that is causing it not to charge?

Oh, and one more thing that I had completely forgotten about as well. In addition to the lights not dimming that night before the battery stopped receiving it's charge from the alternator that next morning, one other thing I forgot to mention is that my horn no longer works since then. Is there a wire inside that would control all 3. Horn, Dimmer Switch (Lights Not Dimming as they should despite having a new Dimmer Switch in), and causing the battery not to charge?

Sorry I have been away so long, I just had a lot of stuff I had to do in the last couple of weeks. So I apologize for that, and any additional assistance you could offer me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Again
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Thursday, July 17th, 2014 AT 4:09 PM

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