Made some progress today
Today the B1500 started and ran perfectly without the check gauges light coming on all the way to the garage where I was having the drag link replaced. Once they were done installing the drag link (15 min job if the mechanic is skilled), the check gauges light came on as I was backing it off the rack. Then the Van died and when I restarted it the check gages light went out.
I was beginning to wonder if the Van just needed time to clear the codes now that the battery ground wire was replaced and also the badly clogged air filter.
So after the drag link was replaced I drove another 25-30 miles mostly hwy to go back to a local sears store to have my tires reversed on the rims so the white raised letters were out and so they would recheck the alignment I had done. Sears is not my first choice but when I was in Ca I was short on time and Sears actually had the best price on tires and were able to install them quickly. They also were able to do the alignment the next day in a short period of time.
While replacing the drag link should not have affected the alignment at all, I suspected that alignment had not been done properly. Since it was only a few days since I had gotten done, I wanted to have it checked again. As it turns out I was correct in my suspicion and the alignment will be done again tomorrow.
Now on to the electrical:
After I left sears, the check gauges light came on. So apparently the new ground wire on the negative battery cable to the block did not fix it. Something new also happened. The check engine light came on which meant that I would be able to get the codes checked for the vehicle. So on the way home I stopped at Advanced auto parts. They came out to read my codes and i also requested they test my alternator.
The code came out (you probably can guess) that the IAC sensor was bad. After replacing such a clogged air filter, and reading steve's post in the forum, I suspected my IAC was more than likely bad or very dirty. The code read confirmed this.
Then we tested the alternator. If you recall I said the lights would get brighter and the heater fan would blow harder when the check gauges light would come on. Of course this made me wonder if the alternator or voltage regular was faulty. Since the check gauges was on, the check showed the alternator was overcharging the battery. It read 19volts during the test. That kind of voltage can end up melting your battery. My van is a conversion van that requires a 136amp Alternator which are not cheap. I currently am debating whether to have it rebuilt, buy a Reman, or spend a little extra money for a completely new one. Please share your thoughts on this with me.
While I have not gotten into studying alternators and what affects their output, I do know there is a grounding strap that is very important to be aware of when installing and alternator. I will have to read up on that to find out how it affects the output. Also there should be a frame to engine ground strap and I have to find it because I am going to replace it as well.
So I just thought I would share my experience so far. From what I have read on line its a common problem for the check gauges light to come on. I would have thought if there was a problem that the check engine light would have come on first so a person might have a clue but I guess thats not the way it works with dodge.
If anyone has any thoughts on anything else I should be checking, cleaning, or replacing please let me know. I would like for this van to turn out to be as trouble free as possible.