Van broke down yesterday. My wife was driving and it just died. When you try to turn it over it does a rapid clicking sound. Hooked it to jumper cables fired right up. Didn't let it charge on cables long to avoid draining other battery. When I unhooked it van kept running. My brother in law told me to unhook negative terminal and if it quit alternator was bad. I unhooked negative and van died but nothing I look up says to do that and I didn't leave van running long enough for it to try to charge itself cause I was listening to brother in law. Does it sound like I have bad battery or bad alternator?
My car has 250000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.
The rapid clicking sound is definitely a problem with the battery. From the description of the failure, this certainly could be an alternator failure. Disconnecting the negative cable does confirm the alternator is not charging. The reason you don't find any information about this test is that it is not good for the car and it isn't a complete test.
You could have a blown fuse or wiring problem that powers the alternator. The Caravan in particular has a PCM controlled alternator that often fails. The fact that is uses the PCM to control the alternator is a good reason not to disconnect the battery cable while the car is running. When you do this, it creates an electrical surge that delicate computer systems don't like.
The alternator and the battery work together to provide the electrical power your car requires to run. A comprehensive diagnosis of this charging system requires the use of a scanner and experience diagnosing Chrysler charging systems. If you need help with this, a certified technician from YourMechanic can come to your car's location to diagnose the charging system for you.
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