MY VANS BATTERY LIGHT CAME ON A FEW WEEKS AGO ...

  • Tiny
  • Anonymous
  • 1996 Dodge Caravan
  • 195,000 miles

My van's battery light came on a few weeks ago; that same night I was stranded. Left car for 2 days, jumped for 30 seconds drove fine (light still on). Took it to AutoZone to have starting system checked; battery was slightly drained so could not check alternator (battery and starter are only 6 months old tops). Took it to Goodyear and they said that the alternator is good, but voltage regulator was bad and suggested replacing the computer. I drove car for 4 days until it completely died; would not stay charged. I had computer replaced today; car was put on charger (not sure how long. Install and charge was approx 20 minutes (computer was preprogrammed). Battery light was on; as soon as charger turned off car would die. Now there is a clicking and ding from the driver side fuse box near the computer.

Friday, January 18th, 2013 AT 11:09 PM

2 Answers

  • Tiny
  • ASEMaster6371
  • Expert
  • 25,502 posts

The noise is low voltage. It sounds like the alternator has failed. You need a new shop that can repair the car correctly. The regulators are a rare failure. Thats why they moved them to the computers

Roy

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Friday, January 18th, 2013 AT 11:21 PM
  • Tiny
  • caradiodoc
  • Expert
  • 24,907 posts

I would be suspect of the diagnosis. Without seeing the testing myself, the voltage regulator in the Engine Computer is the least likely thing to cause a problem. By far the most common cause of an intermittent no-charge condition is worn brushes inside the alternator. The assembly costs around $9.00 and can be replaced in about an hour. On the easy-to-work-on '95 and older models it can usually be replaced without even removing the alternator from the engine.

Most shops and mechanics will not do this repair for a couple of reasons. First, the additional labor time brings the cost to you up almost as high as the cost of replacing the entire alternator. Second, there is a small chance something else is wrong and the new brushes won't be the solution, then their time will be wasted. A rebuilt alternator will also come with a warranty and it will have been tested.

The way to find this is to measure the voltages on the two smaller wires on the back of the alternator. This must be done with the engine running and while the problem is occurring, (battery light is on). The alternator is going to test okay if the testing is done when the battery light is off.

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Friday, January 18th, 2013 AT 11:25 PM

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