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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 1997 Dodge Grand Caravan, which now appears to have a little electrical problem.

So I'm driving along, and this little icon appears on the instrument panel that looks like a little red battery.
I originally thought "Oh maybe my battery is going dead... I'll replace it soon."
But today I was driving to a friend's house, and my instrument panel lights went very dim, and so did the headlights. The stereo then switched off as the lights got even dimmer.

Could this still be my battery? Or is this more likely an alternator problem?
 

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BYO Plastic Cutlery
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It means the alternator is in the final stages of dying. If you don't change it now, you could be stranded somewhere at some point in a few days.
 

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BYO Plastic Cutlery
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You can get them at parts stores. Many stores bench test it right before your eyes at the parts counter if you take it out and bring it in. Changing it is a big job. I have not even looked for where it is on that vehicle. If it's at the top it might not be too bad. I just inherited a '98 3.3 that I barely ever looked under the hood of despite my parents owning it for 11 years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You were correct that it was the alternator. The thing died right in the parking lot of the auto parts store.

After looking under the hood and having them test the alternator output, I determined that it was bad and that I wasn't getting it out of there without some help.
I managed to get it into the parking lot of the repair shop next door(Conveniently located no? This was like the best spot on earth to have a car problem... parts and mechanics all in one place...)

I got the alternator replaced, as well as the battery which now didn't hold a charge after being abused for the previous week. The mechanic actually had difficulty figuring out how the F*** to get the thing out of there cause it was hidden behind most of the stuff under the hood, and the bolts were quite well stuck.
In any case, it works now... $400 and a new battery and alternator later... but it works. Labor cost was only (surprisingly) a small portion of that... the battery (like 80$) and the alternator (like 200$) were most of it. (Apparently my van uses a larger, more expensive alternator than most vans like it do.)

Thanks to Madbradthe2nd for the advice, it ended up saving me from attempting to drive all the way home and getting stuck in the middle of the road at 2 am last night. (I had the common sense to stay put till morning...)
 

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BYO Plastic Cutlery
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Aww you're making me blush.
They run the gamut as to how hard they are to re and re. On my Lumina 3800 it's at the top and you can do it with your eyes closed. On my MPV itis at the bottom and the right running gear must be removed. The driveaxle with all that is attached to the end of it like the upright and the disc and hub. Then you get at the bolts with a 2 foot long extansion on your ratchet because the only hole is that far back. I spent a week doing it.
 
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