96 Intrepid - Something is draining battery
First post here..... and I'll be as detailed as possible.
I've been working on my 1996 Dodge Intrepid 3.3L V-6 for about 2 days now (off and on) and I'm at my wit's end....
The problem started like this: I was driving down the road and my battery light came on on my dash. I went to Advance Auto and asked them to check my battery and alternator and the employee said he could check both in the car, but I would get a more accurate read out of the car. So that's what I did. I drove the car home, took the alternator and the battery out of the car, carried it back to AAP and got it bench tested. Both checked out to be good.
I put the battery and alternator back in the car, cranked it up and started driving down the street.....then all of a sudden, my radio starts going off and on, then finally dies, my A/C fan starts to barely blow (on high) so I turned around and made it back to the house with the engine barely running. I cut the car off and she wouldn't start back up. Now remember the battery light is still lit up.
I charged my battery completely, and the car started right up, like everything was normal, but my battery light was still on. I checked my battery voltage and I only had about 12V, but as I was keeping the probes on the battery post I noticed the voltage was slowing dropping down (digital meter). I then turned on my headlights and A/C and the voltage dropped even faster. I popped the safety cap off the alternator terminal and checked the voltage between post on the alternator and the negative post on the battery and noticed I had exactly the same voltage as I had when I checked my battery voltage. IOW, this voltage was dropping at the same rate, as the voltage between the positive and negative posts on the battery.
Any suggestions on what could be causing this and how I should proceed from here. I'm really strapped for cash and don't have the $$$ needed to take it to a dealer nor take it to one of the local so called mechanics (parts swappers). Also, I'm very mechanically inclined and always do my own repairs on my vehicles, but this one has me scratching my head...