Electrical problems (Me thinks)

I have a 2006 Dodge Grand Caravan. Back in November 2014 my car began giving me trouble starting, making clicking noises when I turn the key. My mechanic told me I needed an alternator so I had him install one. A few weeks after that I had the same problem. He told me a wire leading to the alternator was bad and he replaced it. A few weeks after that the exact same thing happened. He said another wire was bad. I asked him to check all the wires, which he says he did. Back in June of this year my car started giving me problems starting again. Every now and then it would click when I turned the ignition key. Finally, I went back to my mechanic and this time he said I needed a new starter. This was July. Then, last week, my battery light came on while I was driving. Long story short, I had to replace my alternator again. It’s only been 9 months! Coupled with all this, both my back lights are out; my right turn signal is out, most of the time, every now and then it works, and sometimes my windshield wipers won’t come on. Can anyone shed some light on what might be going on? If there is an electrical problem I want to fix it because I don’t want to have to replace another alternator.

First off, I don’t think your mechanic is very good. He is guessing what the problem is, changing a part, charging you and then doing it again when the problem is not fixed. I think the original problem was a bad starter solenoid or a corroded battery wire to the starter that got all cleaned up when your mechanic changed the whole starter. I suggest you find a new mechanic, this one is costing you money needlessly.

That said, it sounds like one of the battery cables is corroded and needs cleaning or replacing and/or a ground wire needs cleaning or replacing. The rear light and wiper problems just scream “ground wire problem.”

I think you are on alternator #2 for one of 2 reasons, 1) your mechanic installed a poor quality rebuilt alternator (wasn’t there a warranty on this part?) or 2) since the wiring problem wasn’t fixed it caused the alternator to fail.

Find a new mechanic at an independent shop, explain the history of your problems and expect to pay them for the labor to find and fix the problem. Good Luck.

Sounds like bad connections due to, I’d guess, corrosion. Does your car live on a salty diet over the winter?

When you hear clicking while trying to start the engine it is usually due to poor battery connections or a very weak battery. The alternator may be having a problem so it should be checked out. The light and wiper issues need to be tracked down separately. Hopefully the wiper issue isn’t due to a problem within the BCM module.

When clicking sounds are heard when the key is placed in “start”, and all you get is a click, no “rrrr rrrr rrrr” sound, there’s a half dozen things that can cause that symptom. It is best diagnosed by measuring the voltage at the two starter motor terminals during attempted cranking. That will determine whether the problem is likely to be the starter motor or not. If it isn’t the starter motor; i.e. the proper voltages are not getting to the starter motor, then it’s a matter of working backwards from the starter motor towards the ignition switch and battery to find out where the problem is occurring.

It’s like if you have no water coming out your kitchen faucet, you don’t first off replace the kitchen faucet, right?

The other problems sound like fuses or corroded connectors or grounds, and likely unrelated.

I have found weak/failing battery cable end crimps on Chrysler products. Where the battery cable end is crimped the the cable is where the failed connection occurs.

This is easily overlooked and elusive. When a mechanic probes around looking for the problem or cleans the battery posts the poor connection is disturbed, the problem will go away for two weeks.

The symptoms include intermittent no start, no charging while driving, instrument cluster light turning on while driving as though you just started the engine and others.

If the cable crimps and copper cables are blackened at the crimp it is likely the problem.

The image below isn’t the same vehicle but shows the location to inspect in the circle.

For even more vehicle-specific advice, go to allpar.com. They specialize in Chrysler vehicles and there’s a discussion board devoted to the minivans and the Pacifica. I have found help there often for my two Town and Country vans.