96 E350 - major power loss, rough idle, etc
Hey y'all, first time poster here, but I've been reading for a while now. Lots of great info on here, really like it. I'm fairly new to these PSD's since up until now I've only had a little Toyota Corolla that's served me incredibly over the past few years. I'm anxious to learn more though. Anyway, I have a 1996 E350 Club Wagon XLT with about 215,000 mi on it. I bought it back at the end of March and up until recently it's been awesome.
Anyway, last Tuesday I was driving the van home from a show we had here in town. I noticed the headlights and all the dash was a little bit dim, along with the voltage seeming a little bit low. The next day the van wouldn't start and the battery was dead. Jumping the battery seemed to be a temporary fix to this. I tested the alternator using a multimeter and it read 11.9 dcv or so. I don't know if it means the battery is dead, or if it's the alternator. I haven't gotten around to replacing either.
Anyway, on Saturday I had the van all charged up overnight on trickle, and while we were jamming I made sure the battery was charging so I wouldn't be left stranded 20+ mi from home when I had a date that afternoon after practice. I started up the van, and the engine was running rough. I should say that about a month and a half ago it would periodically run rough with about 1/2 power just after starting, then clear up soon after. This time it was the roughest it's ever been and didn't clear up in the least. I had an incredible time getting the van to get anywhere close to a reasonable speed and I limped it a little over half way home on the freeway before I got off to miss the insane long-weekend traffic. As the van was running in this pitiful state, I was driving along a busy two lane road and the van just right died on me. From here I had to get out and flag traffic for a good hour on the hottest day of the year until help arrived.
My friends came and helped me push the van a little off onto the shoulder while we waited for my friend's dad to come and pick the van up. We jumped the van with another battery and it started up with the same running problems, before loading it onto his trailer and towing it home to my house. I'm lost at this point as to what to do about this whole situation as everything I own seems to be self-destructing and falling apart right now.
All in all, not a good day (or time) for me or the Ford - being towed home behind an '07 Dodge Cummins 3500. Thanks to good friends for being there, but hopefully someone can help me here and give me some advice to restore some honour to my precious ride. Thanks in advance.