car electrical system

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Old 09-25-08, 10:15 AM
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car electrical system

Do you know what may be causing this problem?

My Honda Civic 2002 had the battery indicator on the dashboard flashing 2 days ago. I could start the car just fine with the radio etc. going. I drove straight to the dealership. The indicator stopped flashing by the time I got there (about 3 miles). They tested the battery and said it was low so they had me buy a new battery. To me, the battery would be low as it had somehow discharged. The fact that the indicator was ok by the time I got there did not ring a bell with them that maybe the problem is NOT the battery as it had charged up by the time I go there. I then drove around a bit to recharge the battery.

The next day the battery indicator again was flashing when I started the car. I opened and closed all door and trunk to be sure they were tight and not draining the battery. I drove around about 45 minutes to charge the battery. And again the indicator stopped flashing after driving about 3 miles.

This morning the indicator was flashing again when I started up the car.

I am dropping the car off at the dealership this evening and they will test it in the morning.

Any ideas what might be causing the problem so I am not too ignorant? Is it clearly true I bought a new battery unnecessarily and the battery is not the problem? I'm also concerned why they stopped testing anything else, knowing the battery was drained and recharged ok - they just assumed a new battery was the answer when it was not.
 
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Old 09-25-08, 11:00 AM
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You are correct....if you went to a dealer, they should have done a charging system test, not just a battery test. It sounds like your charging system is doing its job (maybe), but there could be a drain, maybe even through the alternator itself.

I'm pretty sure there was a time when I had a bad diode in an alternator that allowed it to charge (not to the correct voltage, though, but enuf to drive), but when it sat, it drained the battery. This was back in the day before everything was electronic, so that may not even be close to what your issue is.

A battery thats been charged at too low a voltage will probably show bad on a test, unless fully charged to spec first.

I think you've at least got a case for a credit on labor or diagnostics. You do have a new battery, so as long as you weren't raked over the coals on it...how much did they hit you for on just the new battery?

An 8 yr battery from Autozone is $90.
 
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Old 09-25-08, 12:32 PM
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thanks for your reply ! i think it was $129 (north NJ so everything here costs).
 
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Old 09-25-08, 05:38 PM
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Come back and let us know the story. Like how they finally determined what was wrong. Like did they do a volt test, then disconnect the battery overnight and retest in the morning? Or did they simply take some kind of an in series amp draw test between post and cable to see if there was a current flow when the car was off, and how much it was?, etc. Posts like yours crop up from time to time here.
 
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Old 09-25-08, 06:27 PM
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The dealership probably used a Midtronic battery/charging system tester that does both the battery and charging systems. If the battery was original equipment it was probably due to be changed anyway. To their defense if the light was not on when they checked the charging system it could have shown good.
Good luck.
 
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Old 09-26-08, 07:10 AM
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I took the car back yesterday as the symptoms persisted. They looked into it right away. The battery indicator did not stop flashing this time by the time I reached the dealership a few miles away. Another thing about the indicator is that it showed without flashing if I was idling at a stop light (brakes used), and flashed only when driving (pushing the accelator).

This time the advisor had someone come up from the service repair building to the car drop off building. They had the hood open. The advisor then sat down with me. He said something about how I would not have made it to the dealership except for the new battery. Then something about the alternator and I think a relay between them were both bad. So these two things need to be replaced as well. They gave me a free loaner to get home. The new bill will be about $600.

I don't know why they did not check all these things on my original visit. If what they are saying now is true, I might have been stranded.

The one driving habit that changed about 2 months ago was from a very heavy daily commute of about 100 miles a day to now a couple of miles a day locally and some days I don't drive.

The car is 7 years old. This was the original battery. This area has never had any problems until now. In fact, I still have the original muffler, which surprises me and I heard the heavy daily driving keeps the muffler area dry so it does not rot.
 
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