Are you prepared to run around with a digital voltmeter or a test light to take some voltage readings? If you are using a test light, just substitute "bright light" for 12.6 volts. :)
If so, start by measuring the voltage on the two battery posts while the headlights are turned on. Since you said it acted like a dead batery, I assume the lights will not be on during this test. You must have around 12.6 volts. Less than, ... Oh, ... 10 - 11 volts points to a run down battery or it has a dead cell.
If you find around 12.6 volts, move one meter probe or the test light to the cable clamp on that battery post. The voltage should be the same. Next move the other probe to the other cable clamp, and the voltage should be the same again. You're only moving each probe half an inch. This will show a loose or dirty cable connection. Next, move the probe from the negaive cable clamp to the sheet metal body of the van. You'll need to find something not covered in paint, such as a bolt, to measure on. Now move the other probe from the positive battery cable to where it connects to the underhood fuse box. Put the probe on the threaded bolt where the cable is attached. If the voltage dropped in either of those two tests, that's the area to check for a loose or corroded connection. It may be hard to compare, but the test light must be the same brightness at all test points. If it gets dimmer at one spot, check there for a bad connection.
I'll wait right here.
Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010 AT 5:13 PM