Author Topic: 1987 ramcharger alternator won't charge  (Read 1703 times)

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Offline mfmagicmike

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1987 ramcharger alternator won't charge
« on: December 3, 2009, 02:39:59 PM »
Hello everyone!

I am the happy new owner of a 1987 Ramcharger 5.2 AW150 !!! I brought it home yesterday (400 mile ride), but the car broke down 80 miles from home. Here's what happened: beginning of the trip everything OK, several engine starts w/o trouble, heater vent on, radio on, etc. About halfway, it started to rain (wipers on), and it got dark (headlights on). While driving I felt that the lights became weaker and weaker until finally the engine started to stutter and shut off. During the whole trip, the charge indicator was either on 0 (neutral), either slightly negative (the more lights and wipers were on the more negative it was.
Obviously, I have a charging problem. The alt looks very old and lousy, so do the wires.

So here are my questions:
- what replacement alternator can I/ or better should I buy: 65 Amps, 75 Amps, 100 Amps or 120 Amps? (I don't even know what amperage the stock alternator has)
- Does the external voltage regulator have to be changed also?
- how can I check the wiring and Alt with a Voltmeter?
- Is it possible to drive for more than 300 miles with the battery only?

Thanks in advance for your help and comments!

Offline s ǝoɾ

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Re: 1987 ramcharger alternator won't charge
« Reply #1 on: December 3, 2009, 02:59:27 PM »
So here are my questions:
- what replacement alternator can I/ or better should I buy: 65 Amps, 75 Amps, 100 Amps or 120 Amps? (I don't even know what amperage the stock alternator has)
- Does the external voltage regulator have to be changed also?
- how can I check the wiring and Alt with a Voltmeter?
- Is it possible to drive for more than 300 miles with the battery only?

Thanks in advance for your help and comments!



- how can I check the wiring and Alt with a Voltmeter?
Yes.  http://ramchargercentral.com/index.php/topic,122771.0.html

- Is it possible to drive for more than 300 miles with the battery only?
Drove for 2 weeks without one....a hard task for a FUEL INJECTED vehicle.  ;) Lot's of jump starts and a stall in the middle of a hill, and I suddenly learned how to rebuild them myself.  ;D $15 later, back on the road charging at around 14.4 volts (european car)

- Does the external voltage regulator have to be changed also?
Technically speaking, no. Highly recommended.

I skipped the larger alternator question, because I myself am still trying to figure out what I will need to do in order to fit a nippondenso 136A unit.

Time for a voltgauge in your truck, the ammeter sucks.

Last note, check your wiring using the 1st link, the alternator may be just fine.
Avoid replacing any part that you have not proven to be faulty through extensive testing.

Offline mfmagicmike

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Re: 1987 ramcharger alternator won't charge
« Reply #2 on: December 3, 2009, 04:45:24 PM »
Thanks for all these advices. The multimeter thread is great. Are there any particular check points on the alternator?
I promise to check the fuse-link also.
Do I have to match the voltage regulator with the alternator amperage, or will any regulator do the job?
 

Offline s ǝoɾ

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Re: 1987 ramcharger alternator won't charge
« Reply #3 on: December 3, 2009, 05:16:33 PM »
Thanks for all these advices. The multimeter thread is great. Are there any particular check points on the alternator?
I promise to check the fuse-link also.
Do I have to match the voltage regulator with the alternator amperage, or will any regulator do the job?
 

As far as I know any will do. Hell, there are even people mixing and matching ford regulators with dodge alternators. (not saying you should) I also know people are using older external regulators on newer pcm controlled alternators (fuel injected)

Do yourself a favor, and don't buy your electronics/modules ect from autozone. NAPA should be able to set you up with a higher quality piece for reasonable.

There are a few check points on the alternator. A large positive terminal (battery cable connected) and the engine block. Alternator is case grounded. There is also a small negative and positive wire, either blue/green or red/white depending on year.

With a few simple multimeter measurments, you can diagnose the entire system in about 5 minutes.

Those "free test" places, cough-cough....autozone, are not very good at diagnosing problems. That's not their job. They sell parts.

Oh, btw, there are a few confusing instructions in that write up as far as where to put the multimeter leads. If you suspect a run of wire may have high resistance, BOTH leads go on the same wire, or atleast same polarity. This tests for connection/wiring issues.

If you simply want to know how much voltage is in your battery, or how much the alternator is producing (positive alternator stud to engine block) then you go negative/positive. Otherwise for those connection/wire resistance tests, keep 'em both on the same side.
Avoid replacing any part that you have not proven to be faulty through extensive testing.

Offline KThaxton

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Re: 1987 ramcharger alternator won't charge
« Reply #4 on: December 3, 2009, 05:46:37 PM »
Do I have to match the voltage regulator with the alternator amperage, or will any regulator do the job?
 

Nope, any regulator will do. The regulator controls voltage, not amperage.
STOP PLATE TECTONICS!

You're absolutely correct, Kendall. My mistake  ;D

Offline atowinram

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Re: 1987 ramcharger alternator won't charge
« Reply #5 on: December 3, 2009, 08:14:56 PM »
I am the happy new owner of a 1987 Ramcharger 5.2 AW150 !!! I brought it home yesterday (400 mile ride), but the car broke down 80 miles from home. Here's what happened: beginning of the trip everything OK, several engine starts w/o trouble, heater vent on, radio on, etc. About halfway, it started to rain (wipers on), and it got dark (headlights on). While driving I felt that the lights became weaker and weaker until finally the engine started to stutter and shut off. During the whole trip, the charge indicator was either on 0 (neutral), either slightly negative (the more lights and wipers were on the more negative it was.


I think our RC's might be related...that is the EXACT same scenario that happened when I drove mine 200+ miles back from MD to PA.  This is how it made the last 72 miles on it's first trip home... ;D



Joe is right about the NAPA parts being better than autozone.  X2 on recommending replacement of the voltage regulator.  Request the part out of the Echlin line, it is the better of the two lines that most NAPA stores carry. 

As for alternators, I've seen new ones croak out of the box and remans that go forever...I've also seen the opposite occur.  Base your decision on your checkbook balance & personal preference.  A reman will have a core deposit, while the new one will not.  Both lines are decent and about the only thing they recycle on the reman is the case & pulley.  I believe our reman's have a 1 year warranty and the new ones have a 3 year, but don't quote me on that...it's been a long day.  ;)

If you need any part numbers, just holler...it isn't like I'll have trouble remembering the specs of your particular RC! :D

Good luck & keep us posted!
Missy
1987 Dodge Ramcharger LE (318, 2bl,auto, 4x4)

Success is a journey, not a destination.

Offline dreamer1uk

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Re: 1987 ramcharger alternator won't charge
« Reply #6 on: December 4, 2009, 12:39:29 AM »
Hi,

I have to dissagree somewhat about the NAPA parts been better than Autozones. I have nothing but bad experiences at NAPA. The one in my town was so bad, it closed down (one worker there did not know the difference between a high beam and a low beam bulb...).

No matter which parts store you shop at, you will run into some parts sellers who, to be brutally honest dont know much at all about diagnosis proceedures, where as sometimes, you will get lucky and find a very knowledgable person behind the counter. The Autozone close to my house has several ASE certified technicians that work full time at there respective dealerships (Ford, BMW) and just work at Autozone for a 2nd income. Most parts stores regardless should be able to test charging and starting systems on and off the vehicle as well as testing most sensors and ignition related parts.

Everyone has there own opinions i guess on certain parts stores and this one is mine :)
1989 Dodge D150 (Project Rust Bucket)
1993 Ford Mustang

Offline MOPAR-REDNECK

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Re: 1987 ramcharger alternator won't charge
« Reply #7 on: December 4, 2009, 01:12:59 AM »
hey man this same thing happend to me, i got in my truck and went to a store went to go start it and it did nothing, pissed me off, so first like a dumb ass i went and bought a battery first, and found out it was my alternator, i was told a alternator off of a 360 will work, and i was also told it is a upgrade from the 318 one, i am just gessing you got a 318, i hope i can help
87 RC, 2 1/2'' single side piped exhaust with jones glasspack, stock 31-10-50's, autolight plugs. but soon to be a 3/4 ton monster with 33-35'' tires, 4'' lift, lock out hubs

Offline s ǝoɾ

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Re: 1987 ramcharger alternator won't charge
« Reply #8 on: December 4, 2009, 01:26:37 AM »
Hi,

I have to dissagree somewhat about the NAPA parts been better than Autozones. I have nothing but bad experiences at NAPA. The one in my town was so bad, it closed down (one worker there did not know the difference between a high beam and a low beam bulb...).

No matter which parts store you shop at, you will run into some parts sellers who, to be brutally honest dont know much at all about diagnosis proceedures, where as sometimes, you will get lucky and find a very knowledgable person behind the counter. The Autozone close to my house has several ASE certified technicians that work full time at there respective dealerships (Ford, BMW) and just work at Autozone for a 2nd income. Most parts stores regardless should be able to test charging and starting systems on and off the vehicle as well as testing most sensors and ignition related parts.

Everyone has there own opinions i guess on certain parts stores and this one is mine :)

That does carry truth.

Unfortunately, even with 100 master techs, it doesn't improve the quality of junk peddled from there (certain brands). 

Further more, when someone does an on-car, whether it is the dealer or autozone napa adavance ect, they can tell you if the alternator is producing a charge, but cannot tell you WHY it is NOT. That machine doesn't know the difference between a bad connection, a smoked regulator, or a shorted winding.

With so many GM internally regulated vehicles on the road, they can *guess* with a pretty safe margin of error that an internal is bad, since most of the components are on the inside. Not so much so for a dodge, old ford, many newer non gm vehicles ect.
Avoid replacing any part that you have not proven to be faulty through extensive testing.

Offline dreamer1uk

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Re: 1987 ramcharger alternator won't charge
« Reply #9 on: December 4, 2009, 01:47:07 AM »
That does carry truth.

Unfortunately, even with 100 master techs, it doesn't improve the quality of junk peddled from there (certain brands).  

Further more, when someone does an on-car, whether it is the dealer or autozone napa adavance ect, they can tell you if the alternator is producing a charge, but cannot tell you WHY it is NOT. That machine doesn't know the difference between a bad connection, a smoked regulator, or a shorted winding.

With so many GM internally regulated vehicles on the road, they can *guess* with a pretty safe margin of error that an internal is bad, since most of the components are on the inside. Not so much so for a dodge, old ford, many newer non gm vehicles ect.

I totally agree with you. I actually bought a CKP sensor for my Sentra after it failed from Autozone, installed it and the car still wouldnt turn over. We purchased one from the dealer and the Sentra fired right up.
And again, i agree with you on some parts stores Alternator and Starter testing machines.
« Last Edit: December 4, 2009, 01:50:16 AM by dreamer1uk »
1989 Dodge D150 (Project Rust Bucket)
1993 Ford Mustang

Offline atowinram

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Re: 1987 ramcharger alternator won't charge
« Reply #10 on: December 4, 2009, 07:34:15 AM »
Everyone has there own opinions i guess on certain parts stores and this one is mine :)

And that is absolutely okay!  Even I have my opinions...that's why I told him which specific line to get that regulator from.  ;)  There are some parts I won't get from where I work because I have a preference for the Carquest version...I like them that much to give up my discount.   8)

I think it's important to realize that, regardless of who you prefer, some parts stores are "corporate" and others are "independent franchises".  This plays a huge role in what parts are available to them and how they manage the store.  For example, if you see the fancy "NAPA Auto Parts" sign out front...it's corporate.  If it just says "NAPA" with the logo, then it's probably an independent franchise. 

The manager of our store is insistent that his employees all have automotive experience.  We're a small town store...we can't afford to pi$$ a customer off.  All five of us do serious work on our own vehicles.  Three of us have older "hobby" vehicles, just for the fun of it.  John, the manager, has been there 24 years and is the Chevy guru.  Josh is the HP/performance/diesel dude.  Bill has 10 invaluable years of knowledge in that store and is familiar with several 90's cars.  Lyle is the lawnmower, heavy equipment, newer Dodge dude.  I bring up the rear as the old Dodge, mid-80's Ford dudette.  :) 

1987 Dodge Ramcharger LE (318, 2bl,auto, 4x4)

Success is a journey, not a destination.

Offline uptonfg

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Re: 1987 ramcharger alternator won't charge
« Reply #11 on: December 5, 2009, 11:10:28 AM »
fabrication to mount a gm 1 wire alt. all regulators and such are internal. one wire to the batt. and thats it. fabricated mounts to install one on an 70 something fj40 the guy loves the simplicity of the thing, plus much more amps over the stock one.  a 65 amp alt was about 70 dollars. you can ask most people at napa for a gm one wire and theyll suggest one.

Offline KThaxton

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Re: 1987 ramcharger alternator won't charge
« Reply #12 on: December 5, 2009, 12:08:50 PM »
True one wire alternators have only one advantage.....ease of installation for the electrically challenged/lazy person.

Otherwise, they are a downgrade as far as alternator performance is concerned.

http://www.madelectrical.com/electricaltech/onewire-threewire.shtml
STOP PLATE TECTONICS!

You're absolutely correct, Kendall. My mistake  ;D

Offline s ǝoɾ

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Re: 1987 ramcharger alternator won't charge
« Reply #13 on: December 5, 2009, 04:11:05 PM »
fabrication to mount a gm 1 wire alt. all regulators and such are internal. one wire to the batt. and thats it. fabricated mounts to install one on an 70 something fj40 the guy loves the simplicity of the thing, plus much more amps over the stock one.  a 65 amp alt was about 70 dollars. you can ask most people at napa for a gm one wire and theyll suggest one.

Then you get to pay $70 when a voltage regulator goes out instead of $20.  ;D

Avoid replacing any part that you have not proven to be faulty through extensive testing.

Offline ToxicDoc

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Re: 1987 ramcharger alternator won't charge
« Reply #14 on: December 5, 2009, 05:32:29 PM »
Then you get to pay $70 when a voltage regulator goes out instead of $20.  ;D

$14.90 at Carquest this week  ;D
'85 W150 SB, 408 stroker, Magnum manifolds, Performer RPM, 670 Truck Avenger, HEI ignition, Auburn LSD 9.25 and '82 D44 (non-CAD) with 3.55/3.54,  NV4500/NP241

Offline uptonfg

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Re: 1987 ramcharger alternator won't charge
« Reply #15 on: December 5, 2009, 05:58:53 PM »
yeah voltage regulators burn out every ten years? were talking about 70s and 80s model dodge pickups and chargers, and a one wire alternator is a downgrade? yeah ok

Offline KThaxton

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Re: 1987 ramcharger alternator won't charge
« Reply #16 on: December 5, 2009, 09:47:56 PM »
and a one wire alternator is a downgrade? yeah ok

Uhm, yes it is. Did you read the link I posted?
STOP PLATE TECTONICS!

You're absolutely correct, Kendall. My mistake  ;D

Offline erob914

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Re: 1987 ramcharger alternator won't charge
« Reply #17 on: December 7, 2009, 01:48:16 AM »
Then you get to pay $70 when a voltage regulator goes out instead of $20.  ;D


But they throw in a free alternator with that full price purchase.
If it aint broke, your not trying hard enough.

 

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