Q: Charging System Failure on van

asked by on February 26, 2016

I am having the Charging System Failure warning light come on in my van. My electric assist power steering locks up as soon as it does. My battery is currently reading 11.2 amps, though when I first started the van up it was at 11.4, and dropped to 11.2 as soon as I tried to turn. I checked the battery leads, and they are tight, snug, and free of corrosion. I saw online where it said it could be that the cables are loose, the battery is bad, or the alternator is weak. I checked the cables, as stated, and they are fine. I have no way to test the battery or alternator. My guess is that the battery is holding a charge of above 11.2, but that the alternator dumps out when it tries to charge on it. Another option is that the alternator is weak and cannot charge and maintain the running of the van.

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It definitely sounds like you are experiencing a charging issue. The alternator is the component responsible for charging the battery in a vehicle. System voltage needs to be a minimum of 12 volts. Anything less than this could potentially create issues with electronic components. The easiest way to diagnose a faulty alternator is to disconnect the battery’s positive + cable while the engine is running. If the engine stalls the alternator is not charging. If it continues to run the alternator is good. If you need help, an experienced technician, such as one from YourMechanic, can test your charging system and determine what repairs you should move forward with.

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