Electric problems - dodge caravan

Hello, I have a 2000 dodge caravan that has been having electric problems. While driving the radio shorted out, then the heater, then the vehicle cut out. I thought this might be due to my battery which I had been having issues with. I replaced the battery and the car worked well for a day or two, but then the same thing happened and everything started to cut out. It seems like the cold weather might have some effect on this. My mechanic buddy put his tester thing on the battery, and at first it was only putting out like 11 amps(or watts); then all the sudden it kicked up to 14, which he said is normal. He said his best guess is that it is the alternator, which was also my best guess.

This van has 240,000 some miles on it, and I’m tired of fixing all the various things on it. I was told a new alternator would run me 300 some dollars (plus labor). I was also told that this would not be a guaranteed fix, because it could also have something to do with the wiring or something.

If anyone has experience with this type of problem or maybe just some advice on how to make sure what the problem is; then I would be very very grateful.

Get the charing system checked, it sounds like the alternator is not charging or is under charging.

The car can run off the battery if the alternator isn’t working but as soon as the battery runs low the car will die.

Thanks. So the charging system is something different from the alternator?

If you have a volt meter on the dash, watch that. Any lights coming on? Check and clean the other ends of the battery cables to make sure they are good. You can get a free alternator check at an auto parts place that offers that service.

The alternator is part of the charging system. If the car was running when your buddy put his “tester thing” on the battery then its not normal for it to be putting out 11V and then jump to 14V. It should just be at 14V (give or take - say 13.5-14.5). So if it was at 11 and then jumped up this is abnormal and indicates a problem.

The problem could be wiring - but this is not complicated - you just pull the main power cables and clean the connections. If necessary you replace the cables. This is not an over the top, car killing kind of repair.

It may also indicate a problem with the alternator. I don’t know what your buddy put on the battery - but there are pieces of equipment that run a series of tests on battery & alternator to check their condition. As noted, many auto parts places do this for free.

Thank you!

Thanks…I do not have a volt meter on the dash though.

I think you meant to say 11 volts in your first post since 14 volts is about a normal voltage to see while the engine is running and the alternator/regulator are working correctly.

I assume the belt tension has been checked. MAke sure the battery connections are clean and also check to see that the connections on the back side of the alternator or making good connection.

If you want to keep an eye on the voltage you could get a voltmeter. Some are even made to plug into the lighter socket and don’t cost too much to purchase.

If You’re Thinking About A Charging Systen Check And A New / Rebuilt Alternator For 300 Bucks Installed, forget About It.

Who gave you this estimate ? That’s too much on an 11 year-old high miles vehicles.

You need to find a reputable local Auto Electric Shop that has been in business forever, preferably family owned and an old dog that hangs around inside.

I have needed new / rebuilt alternators on high mile vehicles because the brushes were worn out (for example) and replacement brush holders or brushes weren’t available for them.

My local (50 miles one way, but worth every mile) had brush holders that they reloaded with new brushes in their down time and bench tested and installed the brush holder and then retested again for a price that was so low I won’t print it here as nobody would believe me.

Open the phone book, look under Auto Electric and see if you car scare up a place like that near you. Give them a little interview on the phone and check them out.