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Tue Dec 1, 2020, 04:18 PM

Car question?

Didn't know where else to post this, so . . .


Anyway, 2002 Dodge Caravan. Went to start it, rattled like a machine gun, dashboard dials spinning. Check engine light has been on for over three years.

Alternator, maybe? I really can't afford to get ripped off, so any help is very welcome!

Bought in 2009, it had 130K on odometer, I've added less than 20K.

TIA

UPDATE -- Friend brought his jumper cables and got the car running. We drove it to Auto Zone where they checked everything under the hood; alternator and starter are fine, but the battery needed replacing. I sat in the car while my friend and the Auto Zone guy talked hot rods as he replaced the battery. Also got new wipers, so now I can actually see where I'm driving.
Thanks for all the input, everyone!


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32 replies, 774 views

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Arrow 32 replies Author Time Post
Reply Car question? (Original post)
madamesilverspurs Dec 2020 OP
mahatmakanejeeves Dec 2020 #1
LineLineReply .
madamesilverspurs Dec 2020 #5
mahatmakanejeeves Dec 2020 #8
madamesilverspurs Dec 2020 #10
gibraltar72 Dec 2020 #2
frazzled Dec 2020 #3
madamesilverspurs Dec 2020 #6
nykym Dec 2020 #4
madamesilverspurs Dec 2020 #15
Karadeniz Dec 2020 #26
mr_lebowski Dec 2020 #7
madamesilverspurs Dec 2020 #9
mahatmakanejeeves Dec 2020 #11
madamesilverspurs Dec 2020 #12
Squidly Dec 2020 #13
Brother Buzz Dec 2020 #14
mahatmakanejeeves Dec 2020 #18
Brother Buzz Dec 2020 #21
mahatmakanejeeves Dec 2020 #22
nykym Dec 2020 #16
Squidly Dec 2020 #17
mahatmakanejeeves Dec 2020 #19
Squidly Dec 2020 #20
Disaffected Dec 2020 #28
mr_lebowski Dec 2020 #29
madamesilverspurs Dec 2020 #30
madamesilverspurs Dec 2020 #31
Niagara Dec 2020 #32
bluestarone Dec 2020 #23
abqtommy Dec 2020 #24
Worried2020 Dec 2020 #25
Niagara Dec 2020 #27

Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 04:21 PM

1. It's not the alternator. What's the engine?

Post the VIN. Leave out the last six digits, so no one can trace the car to you. With the first eleven characters, we can see what engine the car has.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Reply #1)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 04:33 PM

5. .

1B4GP443228......


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Response to madamesilverspurs (Reply #5)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 04:47 PM

8. I think that last "8" is actually a "B."

That works out.

1B4GP24322B709964, for example.

What I'm trying to figure out is if you have what is called an interference engine.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Reply #8)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 04:52 PM

10. You are correct, it is a B.

Ironically, I was on my way to get my glasses fixed . . .


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Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 04:26 PM

2. From here it sounds like bearings.

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 04:28 PM

3. Check engine light was on for three years?

Maybe itís the engine. Did you ever have it checked during those 3years?

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Response to frazzled (Reply #3)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 04:35 PM

6. When it first came on

shop said it was something to do with power steering box, they wanted $1400 to fix it. My SS wouldn't stretch that far, still doesn't.


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Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 04:32 PM

4. To check your alternator

Get a multimeter.
Set to DC volts.
Open the hood and locate alternator.
Start the car.
Touch the probes of the multimeter to the positive (RED) terminal
and the Negative terminal (BLACK) on the alternator.
You should get a reading of 11.8 or more then your alternator is working properly.
If below time for a new alternator.

More detailed info:
http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/01/how-to-test-a-car-alternator/

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Response to nykym (Reply #4)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 04:59 PM

15. Thanks, but

I have neither the knowledge nor the dexterity to do what you suggest, afraid I'd blow myself up if I tried!


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Response to madamesilverspurs (Reply #15)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 08:07 PM

26. How about a friend?

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 04:40 PM

7. So did it just keep turning over, but never actually started?

You didn't really fully describe what's wrong other than a noise.

And this rattling is completely out of nowhere, it's never rattled like this before? Or it's had it before and it's just gotten louder?

Can you describe the rattling with any more detail aside from 'like a machine gun'? Any idea where it's coming from? Front or back of the car even? Does it rattle in sync with the sound of the engine turning over?

A bad alternator manifests totally differently differently than this. Typically your car will slow down, lights will dim, and your car will just die from lack of any electricity. Or it won't turn over at all (or maybe just go tick-tick-tick when you try). Although that latter is the same as a dead battery, which can be caused by an alternator not doing it's job of charging the battery while you drive.
This is the DU member formerly known as mr_lebowski.

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Response to mr_lebowski (Reply #7)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 04:49 PM

9. ...

Car has NEVER made this noise before.

It's coming from the front where the engine is. Rapid tick tick tick when I turn the key, engine does not turn over.

Electricity seems fine, door fob works, radio works.


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Response to madamesilverspurs (Reply #9)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 04:52 PM

11. How old is the car battery?

A car battery can source enough current to run the radio and not have anywhere near enough to turn over the engine.

Is this an engine sound, or is the ticking sound reminiscent of a starter solenoid that keeps energizing and dropping out?

I've also known it to happen that the battery is just great, but a bad connection won't let the current through.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Reply #11)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 04:57 PM

12. Battery is about two years old.

That's about the extent of my mechanical knowledge, so I can't comment on 'starter solenoid'.

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Reply #9)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 04:57 PM

13. not sure if a 2002 has one

but that sure describes a bad solenoid to me. Back in the day we would just jump them to get the car going, if thats what it is, its an easy replacement and not too spendy either.

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Reply #9)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 04:59 PM

14. Back in the day, I'd say your battery terminals need cleaning

Your vehicle is getting 12 volts, but the dirty terminals are preventing the battery from delivering the amperage needed to turn the engine over.

At least that was how it was before they started putting all these advanced electronic devices in vehicles, something I know nothing about.

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Response to Brother Buzz (Reply #14)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 05:16 PM

18. I have personal experience with just such a situation.

It was a 1972 Nova, which was just a bit less complicated in terms of engine controls than a 2002 Dodge Caravan.

I applied some sandpaper to the terminals and the connectors, and it started right up.

Things were different in the '80s.

Top post battery, of course. You knew that.

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Reply #18)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 05:30 PM

21. I'd wager you experienced your problems when the weather turned cold

Am I right?

Top post batteries are still prevalent, as it should be. NOTHING beats a stainless steel 'toothbrush' for cleaning terminals (zero aluminium oxide residue to contaminate and accelerate the crude growth)

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Response to Brother Buzz (Reply #21)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 05:36 PM

22. February, March, something like that. It's been a while. NT

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Reply #9)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 05:04 PM

16. That sounds more like a starter problem.

You can change the starter yourself but from what you have posted I don't think you would do it.
And generally its in a hard to reach spot.
You can keep trying to get the car started with the key.
Sometimes the Solenoid hangs up but if you keep trying it may move into position to start.
Or
Jump start it to get it going.

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Response to nykym (Reply #16)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 05:10 PM

17. heres an easy trick that sometimes works

tap the starter lightly with a hammer. sometimes they lock up and just need a little tap to reset themselves. worth a try.

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Response to Squidly (Reply #17)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 05:16 PM

19. If you can reach it. NT

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Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Reply #19)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 05:19 PM

20. yea, im not familiar with Caravans

might be tight under there, idk.

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Reply #9)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 10:18 PM

28. Sounds like a weak battery or

bad connection at battery terminals. What you are probably hearing is solenoid chatter at the starter motor due to low voltage from the battery that results from the high current draw when the starter tries to kick in.

Try cleaning the terminals or wiggling them to see if they have become loose. If one or the other terminals is loose, tighten bolt/nut in the terminal clamp(s).

If cleaning terminals, remove negative terminal (before removing positive terminal) first and reconnect last to avoid a possible short circuit between the wrench you are using on the positive terminal and the car frame or other close by metal object..

If that doesn't work see if you can get a battery boost from another car. If that gets it started, go to a garage and get battery and alternator checked (battery may be weak or discharged; alternator may be faulty).

If the battery is more than 4 or 5 years old, you might want to replace it in any case.

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Reply #9)

Wed Dec 2, 2020, 02:14 PM

29. Okay as others have mentioned, your battery is low ...

"rattled like a machine gun,"
and
"Rapid tick tick tick when I turn the key"

Are quite different ideas. For one, machine guns are mind-numbingly loud, and a 'rattle' is not a 'ticking'

This CAN be the alternator going bad, but more likely (in these times) the battery is not getting well charged because you're not driving a lot anymore (am I right?). Batteries slowly drain just by sitting in the garage and if you don't drive the car around on decently long trips on occasion you can find yourself with a battery that's too low to start it when you go out to the garage.

Get a jump, then drive down to the autoparts store and get the battery tested. If it's not okay, replace, if it is, buy a cheap trickle charger and start making a habit, when you get home after trips, to hook the battery to the charger.

If you ARE still driving around a lot, and this suddenly happened, this situation gets more complex. Let us know
This is the DU member formerly known as mr_lebowski.

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Response to mr_lebowski (Reply #29)

Wed Dec 2, 2020, 02:53 PM

30. Thank you,

Last edited Sat Dec 5, 2020, 03:05 PM - Edit history (1)

and I do hope you're right! And, yes, I will let you know!


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Response to mr_lebowski (Reply #29)

Sun Dec 6, 2020, 05:02 PM

31. All better!

See my update in OP.

And thanks again!

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Reply #31)

Sun Dec 6, 2020, 10:22 PM

32. Excellent news!

I bet you feel a great deal better knowing it wasn't too expensive to have fixed and now you can run errands.



One more thing, make sure that your vehicle is driven at least once a week, even if it's only around the block. It's hard on a battery when the vehicle isn't driven on a regular basis.

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 06:40 PM

23. Start with the battery (that's the cheapest)

Sounds like the battery needs replacing. If you have a battery charger put it on for a half a day or full day. If it starts take it to auto parts store. They can test it and your alternator. GOOD LUCK!

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 06:54 PM

24. Any time I have a warning light on my dash I take my car to Auto Zone. They'll read your

system and recommend a course of action. For free! That's well worth the price!

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 07:01 PM

25. Sounds like a weak battery, or poor connections at the starter.

.
.

70 yr old retired mechanic here

A battery can be strong enuf to run pretty much everything, even if it's almost dead . . .

but the starter is a hell of a load, and the solenoid will kick in and out in an effort to turn the starter.

Start at the battery, especially the connections, and also the connections at the starter.

Good luck



w

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Response to madamesilverspurs (Original post)

Tue Dec 1, 2020, 09:17 PM

27. I'm not a mechanic by any means.

It sounds like it's a bad or weakly connected battery. It only happened to me one time, I purchased a brand new battery from Autozone that I had a 2 year guarantee on it and it died on it's own within 1 years time. It was replaced for free because it was a bad battery. A brand new vehicle battery can be bad or discharged.



Here's a video on how to test a car battery. I hope this helps and that you're able to get back on the road inexpensively soon.

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