'95 Astro Charging Problems

courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man

Dear Bob,
I have a 1995 Chevy Astro van that I bought new in Jan 95. It has been a good vehicle and I have put 80,000 miles on it. Last summer it began to give me electrical problems. The unit is a LT with front and rear air-conditioning and the other basic components of these units. What began to happen is that when the front and rear AC were on and the headlights added in the evening the battery goes to discharge. I took it to a repair shop and they claimed it needed a new alternator. The existing one was rebuilt plus I added a new battery. The same problem continued. I then took it to the local Chevy dealer who claimed the newly repaired alternator was not working correctly and replaced it with a new unit. That did not solve the problem. I have spent $500 on these repairs with no solution. Normally the voltmeter used to read about 14V but now when I run the front AC and the lights I get a 12V reading and when I add the rear unit it goes to more negative. Any ideas?

Dear Terry,
I am assuming by your questions that this is not a normal occurrence for your car. In most of the cars that I have seen, whenever you put on a lot of high draw devices, the needle will drop.... I am surprised that they did not just say that it is normal.

Okay, now assuming that there is a problem.... What size alternator did they put in.... I would how a high output model.... next, how is the voltage regulator... Is it match as high output as well.... Then, we need to look at the wiring... are all the grounds okay... especially look at the main chassis ground connection.... then look to make sure that the main wire from the battery to the starter is good as well as the main wire to the alternator.

If all these check out okay, then maybe it is just a bad gauge. One way to verify this is with a hand held voltmeter.
Good Luck!
Drive Safely!
Bob, The Auto Answer Man

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