87 Aerostar charging problem

Wife's Aerostar would not start, battery was dead. I removed battery, brought in house and charged to approx 25%, put back, started and checked dash digital volt meter. The meter shows 3 bars on range from 8
to 18 volts. I tightened belt, but no difference. Too cold and windy to do anything more right now. Battery is back in house for full charge.
Any ideas on what this might be, before I start to pull the alternator for testing ?
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doesnt the cluster have an 'alt' light?
And HTH do we know what 3 bars means if you dont tell us how many bars there are between 8 and 18?
If the radio has recemtly started to get 'singing' interference, I suspect the brushes are shot. Hint: Usually can determine by watching volt gauge while you rap the alt housing smartly with handle of heavy screwdriver... will make a brush contact for a little while.
Go to google groups and look on this group for my post on brush replacement/refurb.
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Backyard Mechanic wrote:

If it does, the light doesn't work

Don't know myself, I suspect that it may be 10.

Will do this.
Wife received this vehicle in the fall, for free and there is no owners manual, as usual.

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wrote:

Most likely worn and/or sticky brushes - possibly a bad (integrated) regulator, or a bad rotor. I've had all 3 on my Aerostars over the years. First one just needed brushes. Second one the brushes were bad - I replaced them - the regulator was also bad (found after re-installing) and after putting in a new regulator, I found the winding in the rotor was intermittent - it charged OK when cold, but the rotor went open when warm, so I went to the wreckers and picked up a recently rebuilt alternator off a wreck for 1/2 the price from local jobber. The wrecker gives a ONE YEAR warranty - the jobber part was only 90 days. *** Free account sponsored by SecureIX.com *** *** Encrypt your Internet usage with a free VPN account from http://www.SecureIX.com ***
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clare at snyder.on.ca wrote:

Thank you for the info. Saved txt. for future.
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Cosmopolite wrote:

it would be best to make sure the cables are clean and have the alt and battery checked IN the van.
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If the voltmeter does not go , IIRC at least 2 bars over 12 the alternator is not charging.(sounds like this is the deluxe version, like the "eddie bauer" with the EL (ElectroLuminescent) dash) There is no charge indicator light, and the fact the battery takes a charge and starts the engine after being charged pretty well proves it is a charging system, not battery problem. As the ENTIRE charging system except the wires, is in the alternator, and the alternator is likely 9 years old, the chances of it being bad brushes are EXTREMELY high. Bad regulators on that unit are also not uncommon, and as I noted from my experience as a former multi-aerostar owner, the problems occaisionally go beyond that to electro-mechanical failures. *** Free account sponsored by SecureIX.com *** *** Encrypt your Internet usage with a free VPN account from http://www.SecureIX.com ***
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