I'm a new Element owner so I tried to find posts about the engine
error codes but I could not find anything. I found one that was
applicable to other Hondas.
Last night, when starting, I noticed the engine maintenence light
came on and blinked then went off. About three blocks away as I slowed
to make a turn, the engine cut off. It will start and drive but only
if you put your foot on the gas pedal. It seems that it idles so low
now that it just cuts of.
I checked the connection to the throttle position sensor and it was
fine. This morning it started and ran fine. I went to my local auto
parts store and they put a code reader on it but it showed nothing. It
acted up again as I was leaving. It will drive fine as long as I keep
my foot ready to step the idle up when needed. For the most part is is
fine but it starts up again unexpectedly.
A couple of people have mentioned checking the idle air sensor. How
many more sensors could there be.
How do I get my error codes and where can I decipher them. Do I need
to go to a Honda service center?
That's a great clue. There aren't likely to be any stored codes, since that
would be indicated by the "check engine" light.
Instead, my attention turns to the electrical system, especially system-wide
things like the charging system, battery or battery connections and the
engine ground. Others may have Element-specific ideas. Anyway, I suspect
what is happening is that the power to the ECU is not stable. The easiest to
check if you have a voltmeter is the charging system and battery in
combination. A voltage check across the battery with the engine running
should show about 14 volts (higher when the underhood temperature is cold,
lower when it is hot. It must not be above about 16 volts (17 volts is a
typical overcharging reading) and should not be below 13.5 volts. Assuming
you are measuring with a digital meter, the AC voltage across the battery
with the engine running should be less than 0.1 volts AC. A reading of half
a volt or more AC points to an alternator or battery problem; typically I've
seen AC voltages around 1.5 volts for bad batteries and bad alternators
alike. I've never seen a reading between 0.1 (good) and 0.5 (bad), so there
isn't much room for doubt. With the engine off, the battery voltage should
be a little above 12 volts DC, no AC.
The other electrical defect that can cause a bunch of weird electrical
problems is a bad ground between the engine and the chassis. A visual
inspection and wiggling of the ends to be sure they are tight usually is
good enough, but it's even easier to use a voltmeter to look for AC and DC
voltage between the engine block (or manifolds or whatever bare metal is
handy) and the body. There should be under 0.3 volts DC and under 0.1 volts
AC. Again, there is a big difference between good and bad.
If you don't have a voltmeter, this is a good time to buy one. Adequate ones
are available for less than $10 US if you look around.
My SWAG: the battery or engine ground are more likely than the alternator.
Alternators usually don't get better if they are putting out AC (trash).
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