For the first time the battery icon on the instrument panel of my '94
Accord is staying on, indicating that the battery is not being charged,
I guess. This is the worst time of the year to think about getting it
quickly serviced by a shop, so I wonder if anybody could think of
something that I might try to do on my own to try to resurrect charging
for at least a short time.
A quick guide to using a car without a working alternator:
1) Leave the headlights and rear window defogger /off/. They are BIG
2) If possible, leave the car idling rather than shutting it off, so as to
keep from having to use the starter, which is also a BIG power-sucker.
3) Each time you park in a place where you have an electrical outlet, hook
up a portable charger to the battery, and leave it until you need the car
To fix the problem permanently, you need to replace the alternator. That's
kind of involved on your vehicle, because you need to remove the power-
steering pump first.
But... one question before you replace the entire alternator: did the light
start coming on intermittently at first, flickering from time to time?
I kinda' thought about these things but I was hoping for something like
"tap the alternator gently with a hammer" advice. ;-) Fortunately I do
have a battery charger I can use in the garage. But that still leaves
out pretty much the idea of taking a night drive.
No flickering. It just happened today after a lunch at a local
restaurant. The indicator light stayed on solidly after start. I could
hardly wait to get home and post that message. Any idea what Honda
dealers would charge for such a job? Oh, I think you are in Canada, so
that might not apply here in the US, anyway.
I bough the car from a bank (repo) when it had 35 K miles and unless it
was replaced before that, it was not replaced after. I think it's the
original NipponDenso alternator.
So what's your gestimate?
BTW, I followed my own tip and did tap the alternator on a few places
(just in case some brush needed to be reseated) and when I started the
engine again, the charge indicator light (surprise!) turned off when the
other indicators did. But now I don't know if it would have done it even
without that tapping or not. I'll see how this thing behaves tomorrow,
but even if it appears normal again, I think I'll have it checked out
next week anyway.
Yes, that's my thought, too. I just have no idea if it's possible to
just replace the brushes without removing the alternator. I have a
feeling that if I take it to a shop, they would just want to replace the
whole alternator assembly and not bother with the brushes. It would be a
better deal for the shop because of the markup on the whole unit.
It would be nice to be able to replace the brush with the alternator in
place. Maybe that way I could do it myself. Any of you have done this
By the way, was it here some time ago that somebody posted about that
hammer tapping method or I've read about it somewhere else? First when I
read it I thout it was a joke, but now I'm not so sure.
Soon after I posted my prior reply to you, the light started doing what
you suggested. However, one or two strategically placed taps with my
small hammer would fix the problem for a while. I guess this behavior
confirms for you that the cause is indeed worn brushes, right?
That's the brushes all right.
You can buy a new brush-holder (comes with brushes) from the dealer (~$30).
The brush holder can be removed from the rear of the alternator from under
the car. Space is VERY tight, but it can be done. This means you don't need
to remove the alternator from the car. You'll need a very well-fitting
stubby Phillips screwdriver.
If you're handy with a soldering iron, you can buy loose brushes from any
rebuilder and solder them onto the existing brush-holder. That's what I did
Thanks for the confirm, Tegger. I am going to try to do it today, just
need to get an 8 & 10 mm socket first. One thing I did try was to see if
I could remove that 4-P connector covered with a large rubber boot. I
tried to slip the boot back to expose the connector, but it seems to be
pretty solidly cemented to it. Now I wonder if the boot is not even
supposed to be slipped back from it and instead, just removed together
with the connector. But then I don't know where the connector clips are
under that rubber that would release it. The smaller rubber boot
covering the terminal seems to slip off easily.
If levering has no effect, or appears to threaten damage to the wires, try
removing it entirely. /Carefully/ slice it with a sharp utility-knife and
peel it off by hand.
Many Hondas never came with that rubber boot in the first place, so its
loss is not very important.
You were right again, Tegger. It was not as bad as I first thought and I
was able to slip back both boots to expose what was under them. If
anything, the terminal nut under the smaller boot caused me some problem
because it was so tight that I managed to crack a chip off the top of
the insulator bush. No big deal, but I'll probably still replace it if I
can get one at my dealer.
Frankly, the hardest part of the whole job was to install the new brush
assembly with the brushes retracted. It was a bitch! Eventually I had to
improvise a small tool just for that purpose and once I managed to slip
the new brush assemly on, the rest was a piece of cake. It helps though
having a short philips screw driver that's magnetic.
I measured the battery voltage as it was disconnected and it was 12.5 V.
Then with the newly installed brushes at idle speed, it was 14.6 V. Does
that look like normal to you?
Just in case my experience might be useful for somebody else, I made
some pics of the process and placed it in the following photobucket.com
folder. I hope the link works for you:
One thing that surprised me was the seeming battery-like corrosion
noticeable on that 4-P connector that's normally covered by that big
rubber boot. You can see that discoloration on the pictures above. Is
this kind of corrosion typical on that connector? I cleaned it up
somewhat, but it's not exactly an easy cleaning job.
All in all I'm pretty happy that this job is behind me and that I saved
myself a bundle by doing it myself. So thanks to all of you who helped
me with you comments.
Check a few times in the next while to make sure the nut hasn't worked
loose. If it hasn't, then you can leave it alone.
That's for sure. I ended up tearing the skinny part of the orange rubber
that mine was made of (my alternator is slightly different from yours).
That's just about perfect. Check the voltage again with all the
accessories turned on (headlights, rear defogger, etc) just to be sure.
I see from your pics that you were able to do this all from above. Lucky
you! I had to work from underneath. On a wet driveway in January.
Pull that 4-P plug again and press some dielectric grease into the
recesses. You can use white lithium grease if you have no actual
dielectric grease. The grease will help keep oxygen way from the metal,
reducing corrosion by quite a bit.
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