My 1991 Prelude had a power steering leak that basically poured into the
alternator. The battery light came on and the car eventually stopped.
After recharging the battery, the vehicle was restarted and ran for about 3
minutes before the battery light started coming back on and died (which I
assume the alternator is now bad). There was also a puff of white smoke
from the alternator area as it died. The battery is in good charge again.
The question is: now there is no power when the ignition switch is on. The
dome light does not work but the brake lights do come on. My understanding
is that the alternator would not cause this because the battery runs thru
the ignition to the starter and then back to the battery with a branch the
alternator off of this loop. What am I missing? What would cause this?
Thanks for your feedback.
I'm not sure what is going on at this point, but I suspect the sequence of
events included the power steering fluid (basically an oil) getting on the
brushes and disrupting contact with the slip rings. What I fear happened was
intermittent contact between the brushes and rings (thus the smoke) and wild
gyrations in the voltage.
First thing to check is every fuse you can see. Some of them might not have
survived the ride. After that, it's time to troubleshoot the easiest things
(lights) first. There may be a large "main" fuse for the switched power - I
The alternator may even be okay after cleaning and relubricating or it may
have been spiked too much - you won't know unless you remove, disassemble
and clean it up. You may elect to replace it at this age, depending on how
much you fight to get it out and in.
Alternators use sealed bearings, they don't need relubing. It will, at the
very least need to cleaned up and checked out electrically, e.g., diodes,
regulator, stator and rotor windings. The "puff of white smoke" symptom was
probably a component inside the alternator that burned up or one of wires
connecting to it. The factory service manual has procedures in it for
checking the alternator. You can get one at http://www.helminc.com . The
simple solution, of course, is to replace any blown fuses and any bad wires
along with the alternator. Honda sells nice remanufactured units but
they're a little on the pricey side (but then you shouldn't have to worry
about it again for many years).
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