Our mini van keeps needing a jump

Hi everyone,

I hope someone can help us. We are planning a road trip to see my granny for thanksgiving. For the past few weeks our mini van (2001 town and country) has been needing a jump on some days. Once we jump it, it seems to be fine for a while. We got both the battery and alternator checked and was told they are fine.

Any idea what else this can be? Usually, the car will click and a few of the things function. For example, a few minutes ago I tried to start it and couldn’t but I was able to let the window up (moved slowly though) and the windshield wiper came on (not sure why since I didn’t have it on).

Is this something we can make an 8 hour road trip (and then 8 hours back home) on and address when we get back or do we need to get this fixed asap?

Thanks so much!!

While I am not good with diagnostics there are a couple of things I would check. Mainly things that drain the battery while van is off. I would at night make sure no interior lights are on: dome, map, interior tailgate etc. On different days remove the underhood bulb and glove box bulb, see if it makes a difference. I don’t recall if storage under passenger front seat has a light. It sounds small but these little things cost nothing to try and could explain the OK testing by the time you drive to get it checked.

You either have an alternator or battery that’s bad. I know you had it tested, but here’s the thing (and I feel kind of bad about saying it because I know that not ALL of the people I’m describing fit this stereotype): Your average AutoZone employee gets a 5 minute lecture on how not to electrocute themselves when they’re plugging in the alternator tester, and then they’re sent out in to the world. Take it somewhere else, have the alternator and battery tested again, and I can almost guarantee one of them will show up bad.

Though I have to say, homer2804 has a good point. A friend of mine had a Cherokee that kept getting a dead battery, turns out someone had shoved some napkins in the glovebox and was keeping it from closing all the way, leaving the light on.

But I’m pretty confident that you need either an alternator or a battery (sounds like a battery if you can drive the van after you get it started), and I would not drive 8 hours without getting it addressed.

I would certainly make sure the terminal connections where the cables attach to the battery are nice and clean. Someone should disconnect the battery and clean off the contact areas.

Have the battery checked for a parasitic drain while the engine is off. It sounds like there is a an excessive current drain while the van is parked and is draining the battery. There should be no more than 80 milliamps of draw on the battery when the van is parked.