2001 Dodge Neon Alternator/Battery Problem

I replaced the battery in my 2001 Dodge Neon (it may be older, but it’s a good little car still), four years ago. The battery started draining again, which required starting and running every couple of days to prevent dead batt upon start. Last week while running an errand, my check engine light came on and batt light started flashing (have had it come on in the past but have never seen it flash like that, before), car was obviously losing power while operating.
Checked the alternator by removing positive terminal to batt, car died. Had it towed to professional garage. Was told the alternator needed replaced, mechanic replaced it. After picking the car up, the engine light came back on and engine delays stopping when I turn car off. It’s never done this before. When trying to start it to take it back to mechanic, batt was dead, starts right up with a jump though.
NOW it has a strange constant loud clicking sound coming from engine after I turn it off (and it finally does shut off), unrelated to engine cool down. It’s now in same mechanic’s shop, but I don’t trust what he’ll tell me. When I told him the problem with it after alternator replacement, he kept saying they didn’t do anything but replace the alternator and it couldn’t be anything to do with that. I’ve done some research and have found it could be several things gone wrong with replacement, though I wasn’t yet aware of the clicking noise to add that in to troubleshooting.
Any helpful thoughts, opinions or advice would be greatly appreciated!

Let’s hope you didn’t fry to many of the electronic things in your car doing that.


Thanks for replying! The car’s function is otherwise as it was before the replacement.

The check engine light may or may not be related to the alternator. Take the car to AutoZone or someplace similar and have the code(s) read and post them here.

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Well except for…………

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Will do that when I get the car back, if the light’s still on. Woulda thought the mechanic would’ve done that before working on it. ???

I see your point but I’m being told it might be that the mechanic didn’t check the warning light system and clear it, before doing the work. The result could be a fast idle due to the car ‘learning’ the right amount of idle again…that’s just what I was told.
The owner of the shop did mention a fast idle in reference to the delayed shut off. I just hope it’s as simple a fix as that!

I’d take the car to another shop.

I’d also be prepared to start shopping for another car. A 20 year old Dodge Neon is going to be well past its expected life at this point.

Good luck.


Thanks for the advice, ledhed. I’m planning to take it to my regular mechanic’s shop, if it’s anything not connected to the alternator replacement. If it’s connected, I really need this shop to make good on it.

Can’t really afford another car outright just now, and I won’t use this one for a trade-in at this point. It has a lot of sentimental value for me being that my cousin, who was more a brother, bought it for me just before he passed away.

Thanks for the wish of luck!

Maybe I missed it but did the battery get replaced

You seem to have a parasitic drain. It would be better to fix that problem instead of working around it like this and putting stress on your battery and alternator.

Don’t do that in today’s cars. You can damage electronic components.

My first guess is a relay. I’d think you could narrow down where that noise is coming from.

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I replaced the battery four years ago.

I agree that I need to find the source of the drain, but I thought it may be the alternator causing the problem. Would an audio system installed incorrectly cause the problem?

Thanks, I’ve been recently educated about pulling the terminal like that and I really hope it’s not done any further damage.

The clicking sound is coming from near or in the fuse box under the hood, so most likely a relay? Do you know what would cause it to click, and what it would mean?

If I had that problem, after cleaning battery posts and connectors of corrosion, first thing I’d do is a basic battery/alternator test. Before first start of the day the battery should measure about 12.6 volts; then immediately after starting engine, 13.5 - 15.5 volts. Let us know what your shop measures, probably get some ideas here.

Years ago I had a similar problem w/my Corolla, the above test showed no change to battery voltage after starting engine, so I knew something was wrong. Turned out the alternator was working fine, but thick charging wire between alternator and battery had broken inside the wiring harness.

As already posted above, suggest to discontinue using the test where the battery is disconnected while engine is running. Battery acts as a big capacitor, protects car’s sensitive electronics from alternator’s voltage spikes.

Clicking sounds heard after engine turns off can be from the HVAC system door actuators. They may be confused by the prior power interruptions and lost their home positions. If so, actuator home position usually has to be relearned using an appropriate scan tool.

You seem to have lost faith in your shop. If so, ask friends coworkers etc which shops they use, and try another.

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Yeah, I’m starting to wonder if the alternator was bad to begin with.

Thanks for the suggestion, I have definitely learned my lesson! lol

This is another shop I’ve used, because my regular mechanics shop was having trouble with his phone, and didn’t return my call for a week. I needed the car before then, and of course he called right after my car was towed to this shop.
My plan is to try to get this shop to make good on the alternator replacement, if it’s a problem with the replacement. If it’s anything else, I’ll take it to my regular mechanic.

Let’s just say I may have good cause to doubt this mechanics’ abilities. He almost broke my hood release right in front of me.
I’ve also been told he should’ve run a diagnostic on it and then cleared the warning lights before working on it, so…

When car’s approach the 15 year old vintage, keeping them on the road often becomes troublesome and expensive. Both of my vehicles are older than that, but I service them myself. If you have to use a shop to keep your car on the road, might be a good idea to start looking for a newer car.

Agreed, a newer car may be less troublesome as well as less expensive in the long run, but I can’t really afford to go that route at this time. I’d also have to use this one as a trade in, and I’m not ready to let go of it just yet. I’ve some strong sentimental attachment to it, being that it was bought for me as a gift.

I do the minor servicing myself, though if it continues to accrue higher priced repairs on a frequent basis, I’m going to have to rethink the situation.

That is an old battery. In my area a Dodge Neon battery will only last 2 years, it is so close to the engine that the heat damages it.

You don’t necessarily have a power draw on the battery, an old weak battery can go dead over night just sitting.

It is common to hear relays clicking when the battery voltage is very low, you have a dead battery.

By who? If you dropped the vehicle off at the shop with a dead battery, there will be no fault codes in the computer’s memory and no warning light.

Cable operated temperature and mode doors.

Good point. When my Corolla’s battery is low the EGR relay can go into a clicking fit. That relay’s purpose is to inactivate EGR operation in certain driving situations, like when gas pedal is floored you don’t want any EGR b/c presumably you want all the engine power available. Once battery is charged, no more clicking. Never clicked with engine off though.

I understand. My gf had a very difficult time parting w/her car, even though it was clearly past its prime. A neighbor recently purchased a Dodge Stratus, seems to like it, so that might be one to consider when you start looking if you want to remain a Dodge-owner.

Oh oh, notice Stratus no longer made, production ended 2006. Maybe not such a good choice … lol … Presumably there’s another model which replaces it.