Problem with 95 e150 econoline van!!!

Help!
I am wondering what I'm looking at as far as repair..
My '95 e150 van began exhibiting the damndest behaviour a few weeks ago. Won't start. After jump-start, was fine.
Few days later, same problem. At first attributed to light that was seen to be staying on (conversion van) and draining battery. Light fixture disconnected entirely.
Few days later. Won't start AGAIN! Jump van. works.
Take to local Sears auto center to replace battery. They INSIST after doing their diagnostic that the battery and alternator are FINE. Ugh.
Few days later. Dead van AGAIN. This time, will NOT respond to jump start! Nothing. Friend comes over, jiggles wires to starter, van starts up. Diagnoses as faulty starter wire connection. Removes, cleans, tightens connection.
Van works FINE for a few days.
Then, start it, drive it 5 minutes down the road to gas station, where it dies AGAIN. And inexplicably, just needs to be jump-started. wtf????
Sears and two mechanic friends are totally stumped telling me the battery, alternator, and starter are fine.
Help!!! I'm going nuts?
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doug mandeville wrote:

someone run a test on the voltage from the battery to each part. from the positive post to the cable(where it meets the post and then from the cable there to the other side of the cable, then from there to the next part it attaches to.. they have to work it along to find out where the voltage is dropping.... thats probably why the thing will not start, but with a jump it starts.. with the jump you can have a starter that is pulling more that one battery would support, but with two it would start.. same for a bad connection: you start out with 12 volts at the battery and by the time it gets to the starter you have less than 9 volts and the car will not turn over, you attach another battery and the two 12 volt batteries give you 24 volts(minus what you are loosing due to the bad connection ) and its over 9 volts so the vehicle starts.... the one bad connection that your friend found just might be one of many bad connections or this one loosen itself up again and needs more repair.. pretty easy fix if you can find it..... and dont say sears.. i had a car that died on me at the shopping center and i pushed it to the sears automotive section that was in the mall... oh, its the battery.... and then said it was the starter, and then it was something else.. i went back to the shop after an hour of shopping and he tells me that he put a new battery in and it started right up, but that my battery just needed charging????/ came back 45 minutes later and he told me that it is OK now.. i drive home 25 miles and when turning it off the car was dead..... no nothing, radio, lights, no click , just like you took the battery out the car... i then charged up the battery at home and it starts right up.. i put the meter on the car and found that the alternator would not put out to the battery.. it was a 83 mustang at the time.. went to autozone and got new/rebuilt alt. for $40 and a voltage regulator for $10 and the problem was solved.... and this guy was a mechanic, he had meter attached to the car and could not figure out that the alt. was not putting out?????
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hi jim - you gave pretty good advice except on one part and i don't want to sound critical, but it is very important someone doesn't get the wrong idea.
when you hook up another battery for jumping purposes only, you still just have 12 volts, but you increase the current that is available. this is because the batteries are hooked into a parallel configuration.
it is possible to hook them in series to get a 24 volt operation, but it takes some doing. this is a series configuration.
also, a 24 volt configuration would probably blow a lot of the sensitive electronic components in the car as well as the bulbs. the very least would be very rough on them.
may i use this space to warn folks about the gasoline battery jump units on some of the emergency trucks. they put out more than 12 volts and when you get the jump cables on your car, your dash will glow like a christmas tree and it will burn up your start if you try to hold it for a long period of time. they are design to start right now and if they don't - then there is hell to pay - usually on the vehicle that stalled.
in minnesota, i've seen where the temperature was so cold and metal gets brittle too at extreme temps. they would use these units would cause the starter to slam into the teeth of ring gear so hard, that it would shatter the teeth right off.
hope this info help.
~ curtis
knowledge is power - growing old is mandatory - growing wise is optional
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c palmer wrote:

fingertips... More current, not more volts, thanks for the info...
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I had an 89 Ford F250 with the 351 engine in it. it has a two or three ground wires that ran from the bateries negetive cable. when the truck would warm up the wire would get hot and I dont know if it would get loose or what but the truck would not start at all. the lights would either be very dim or not come on at all once the truck died. I thought it was the negetive cable and replaced it but that did not resolve the issue when I replaced all the little ground wires it solved all my problems and I ended up getting about 389000 miles out of that truck. I would still be driveing it if someone hadnt scooped a hole out of the road about 4 feet deep
So if it were my truck I would look at those wires first
IceMan

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