Sometimes the car will work without problem but when the battery indicator is red all the following parts do not work.Power windows,seat belts,gage temperature,right and left blinkers, Air conditioner,automatic shift, and fan.They are dead.
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check the fuses first then if they are good then you could have a bad signal flasher that needs to be replaced.do the lights work front and back when trying the signals,if so then it could be the flasher.note that the hazard flasher looks the same as the signal flasher,also do the hazard lights work when operated if so this indicates the signal flasher as well,and eliminates the turn signal switch as the problem.
you need a pot of coffee and google, just start searching and keep searching for it and you will find one somewhere. the dealer is basically being straight with you. how much do you want to spend to fix a 500 dollar car? spend a thousand dollars and get a 99 model.
The garage has no clue? ..... Sure it wasn't just a diner with particularly good parking amenities?
It sounds like there could be an open or short in the electrical system. Batteries and alternators don't short without taking shrapnel much anymore, but between the main bus fuse warping out of spec or loosening itself and corrosion, there are lots of options that would kill the thing as described....though you could say how long it took to go from warning to dead.
As for literally swapping the alternator; have a replacement coming, big bins for parts, and move stuff (shielding, airfilter...up on a lift if you can) out of the way and get the metric and liquid wrenches going on the bolts that hold it. Put in the new one, tension up the belt, and try it out. If you want illustrations see the giant torrents of car Service manuals and select components....
I doubt it, try replacing the transmission control unit (TCM) or transmission computer. Follow these links so you can learn more and hopefully be able to diagnose your problem better. Link 2, Link 3 and Link4. I think your problem is electrical, bad sensor(s) or computer(s). Speed Sensors. Check out the links here and let me know how this information applies to the problem you're having.