What would cause my 1996 Town and Country battery to drain

Tiny
JUSTAMOM003
  • MEMBER
  • 1996 CHRYSLER TOWN AND COUNTRY
  • 165,000 MILES
Multiple issues. We have had an odd electric smell which we associated to the brakes at one point. Van would not start but we could jump. We changed the battery but then I would have to wait for the electric to power up before I could start the van. 2 days later the van would not start. Checked alternator there is no problem here. It appears the battery is draining. If we attach charger to battery we do have power but will not jump start now.
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Saturday, March 17th, 2012 AT 5:17 PM

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Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
What are the symptoms when it doesn't start? Do the dash lights, heater fan, power windows, etc. Work? Do you hear a single rather loud clunk each time you turn the ignition switch to "crank"? Do you have a digital voltmeter or test light and know how to use them?
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Saturday, March 17th, 2012 AT 6:23 PM
Tiny
JUSTAMOM003
  • MEMBER
What would happen is when I turn the key everything on the dash would blink and the gas gauge would go up and down. I can get a digital test light if necessary. We did pulled the alternator to find out it was good. Put it back in charged the new battery again. The terminals are new. This time it started back up but we are skeptical I won't have any further issues. It seems the battery has been draining after a few days. Any suggestions?
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Saturday, March 17th, 2012 AT 9:07 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
It is very common for the little silver Nippendenso alternators to be intermittent. Removing them for testing is a waste of time because it will usually work fine on the test bench. That can happen to any brand, but the Nippendenso is easier to fix than most others. First of all you have to pay particular attention to the "Volts" gauge on the dash. If it drops lower than normal, that's when you have to measure battery voltage with the digital voltmeter with the engine still running. The voltage must be between 13.75 and 14.75 volts. If it is low, the battery will not be recharged while driving. Measure the two voltages on the two smaller wires on the back of he alternator to start the diagnosis.

Measure the voltage even if no charging problem is suspected so we know what normal is.

Another common problem is a loose connection at the under-hood fuse box. Everything will work fine sometimes and at other times everything can be dead. Follow the smaller red positive cable from the battery to the fuse box and check that nut for tightness.
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Saturday, March 17th, 2012 AT 9:41 PM
Tiny
JUSTAMOM003
  • MEMBER
Your suggestion concerining a volt meter was a good idea and I thought I would let you know we believe we have found the problem. While working on the van my bf used a vice grip to apply pressure to the light switch under the hood to keep it from draining the battery. The switch must have been damaged by this not push down all the way or properly the hood is closed so the lights stay on. I will need to purchase one of these and have it replaced. Thank you for your help and I can assure you I will be back with a new problem.
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Sunday, March 25th, 2012 AT 1:44 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Don't go nuts on a new switch. Head to the nearest salvage yard. This is normally such a low failure item that they won't have much call for it. You'll probably get one for a buck or two. Look for one of the little salvage yards. The big professional operations sometimes have something like a five-dollar minimum. That's fine for expensive parts but not for a dinky switch.

Also, since this is such a low failure item, I don't even remember what it looks like. If it looks like the photo I posted here from rockauto. Com, it is self-adjusted and it may just be over-adjusted from being squeezed too tightly. Replacement is not necessary. It has to be removed and reset, then reinstalled.

Look at the plunger, (blue arrow), and check if it's moving in and out properly. The hood light will turn off when you press it if it's working. If it is, see how many ribs are showing on the switch body, (red arrow). That's the section that will slide down into the white ring to self-adjust as necessary when you close the hood. If no ribs are showing, the switch just needs to be reset.
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Sunday, March 25th, 2012 AT 6:23 PM
Tiny
JUSTAMOM003
  • MEMBER
Well the duck tape holding down the switch gave out and now I need to search for this part. I was so happy to see you had a response here. I am curious if this is broken and has to be replaced. What's it called? I can't seem to find the part on any of my searchesor in my chilton book, and our salvage yards are limited in this area so I will need to call them in advance. Wow this is a hard part to find for all the trouble it can cause.
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Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 AT 2:48 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Did you check to see if the switch needs to be reset? It's easier to do that than to describe it. If your switch is damaged from being squeezed, I'm sure I can find some in a salvage yard here. You can also reach underneath and just unplug it.
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Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 AT 7:19 PM

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