Question about 1996 Dodge Caravan

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1996 Dodge Caravan Electrical problem

My van died the other day while i was idling, the radio when off and the headlights went dim. I pulled over and shut it off and then it would not go back on. Got a jump and it started, but after putting it in drive it did the same thing. AAA gave me a tow, jumped it with a portable jumper and he said that it was the alternator. The gauge on the jumper said the battery had charge but it was not getting 12 volts or something like that. I Took it to the mechanic and he had it for 1-1/2 hrs and told me Alt was fine and battery was fine, but the battery cables were corroded. Replaced them and all was fine after that. On my way home yesterday, I was looking at the Volt gauge and in the matter of 15 min it went from the middle of the gauge, to the line right above the last line (8 volts?) I Got home, parked it and turned it back on, the gauge red lust a little below the middle line again. It was dark, so my lights were on and I had the radio on loud until i noticed the gauge. Was my mechanic wrong and could it be the alternator still?

Any help is greatly appreciated, thanks, Randy

Posted by on

  • randy364 Jan 08, 2009

    Thanks Curt & work4it, Today while driving, the gauge dropped to the bottom and the "Check Engine" and "Check Gauges" lights came on. 
    I brought it to my mechanic (not the one that changed the cables) and he said yes indeed it was the alternator. I think that the first mechanic was taking me for a ride and was hoping that I brought it back to him after the problem was not fixed. I hate to think that, but I have been burned by so many mechanics in my life (in Jersey City NJ) that it is just my first thought that I am being taken advantage of. 1st mechanic said that it definitely was not the battery or the alternator after changing the battery cables and charging me $90 labor. If he was not trying to rob me and and just did not know what he was talking about, I will not go back there either way.

    Thanks again for the help, 



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Randy, the mechanic was correct about the battery connections, now it does sound like u need an alternator. Can u drive the van to a parts store? Most offer free charging system/battery check. You can also remove the battery and/or alternator from the van, and they can test them out of the vehicle. Let me know what testing reveals, and if u have more questions, post them here. Good Luck! Curt

Posted on Jan 07, 2009

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Its sure sounds like the alternator to me. If you have a battery charger charge the batteryup for an hour or so start the van and if you have a volt meeter put it on th e battery and see what it reads should be around 13.6 volts make sure everything is off at this time heater radio ect if that reads around 13. volts now turn on the light s radio heater and 4 way flashers and see if the voltage starts to drop if it drops below 13. volts the alternator is bad also if the battery is over 4 years old replace it.If all elese fails take it to a well know repair shop

Posted on Jan 07, 2009


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