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alternator symptoms

 
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Old 02-06-2011, 03:38 AM
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alternator symptoms

I was driving at night when my battery light came on for a few seconds. The idle went up and the lights got brighter, Then the problem went away. Does this mean the voltage regulator is on its way out? The first time it did it was earlier in the day and noticed that the temp guage was almost pegged out. Anybody have those kind of symptoms? 91 2.0 Si Lude.
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Old 02-06-2011, 04:38 AM
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Re: alternator symptoms

Do you have a volt meter?
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Old 02-06-2011, 11:49 AM
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Re: alternator symptoms

Last time I tested it with the voltmeter it read 13.66 volts. I'll check it later.
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Old 02-06-2011, 01:20 PM
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Re: alternator symptoms

I have a few thoughts that may get some other comments coming in:

So the battery light came on while you were driving, lights dimmed. Then the lights got brighter and the battery light went off. So your components were receiving low voltage which could be caused by a few things.
a) Alternator is working intermittently and was not charging the battery long enough for it to become nearly depleted and it kicked back on before your car died.
b) A weak electrical connection causing voltage drops (either hot wire or ground)
c) Bad battery, but if your car shows no other symptoms of this then it is probably the other 2.

All of your alternators power is routed through the battery so that if the voltage regulator goes out it cooks the battery and not your electrical components. What you are seeing is probably not a spike in voltage, but rather a drop in voltage followed by normal voltage allowing the dimmed lights to come back to full power.

My solution would be to pull the alternator off and take it to an autozone and get it tested. In doing so you can observe your wires and note their degradation choosing to replace any overly worn wires. Check your grounds too.

I don't know how the above problems could be related to your car overheating. You might want to treat that as a separate issue...?
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Old 02-06-2011, 03:17 PM
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Re: alternator symptoms

almost certainly the alternator
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Old 02-06-2011, 05:31 PM
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Re: alternator symptoms

I would point towards an alternator as well but one thing that gets taken for granted is the connections. Primarily the battery post connections. If it is loose or dirty/grimy/corroded you can have high resistance between the battery and alternator causing weird electrical/charging problems. Particularly in voltage sensitive components like the temp/fuel gauge.
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Old 02-06-2011, 06:07 PM
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Re: alternator symptoms

You are probably correct cause the negative cable was loose. And by the way, When the batt. light came on. the headlights got brighter. Time for some new terminals I guess.
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Old 02-06-2011, 06:24 PM
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Re: alternator symptoms

Glad you found a problem. You don't necessarily need new terminals. An auto parts store will have a little tool that has a male and female brush to clean the terminal and the clamp. Get yourself some battery cleaner spray on, let sit, wash off. May take a couple times then clean with the brushes. You may be fixed up and good for $5. Its always good to clean them if you find one loose. The electricity can "arc" a poor connection leaving oxidization and such.
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Old 02-06-2011, 07:26 PM
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Re: alternator symptoms

Quote:
Originally Posted by mortifiedvictim View Post
All of your alternators power is routed through the battery so that if the voltage regulator goes out it cooks the battery and not your electrical components. What you are seeing is probably not a spike in voltage, but rather a drop in voltage followed by normal voltage allowing the dimmed lights to come back to full power.
Not really....
The alternator's output is routed to the fuse box first then it is paralleled to the battery. This is so the ECM can regulate the alternators power output.

Pg 11-100 "Troubleshooting Flow Chart - Alternator FR Signal."

pg 23.46 " Under hood Fuse Relay Box" (diagram)

pg 23.51 - "Power Distribution" - ECM Diagram
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Old 02-06-2011, 08:50 PM
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Re: alternator symptoms

Quote:
Originally Posted by LilMsPrelude View Post
Not really....
The alternator's output is routed to the fuse box first then it is paralleled to the battery. This is so the ECM can regulate the alternators power output.

Pg 11-100 "Troubleshooting Flow Chart - Alternator FR Signal."

pg 23.46 " Under hood Fuse Relay Box" (diagram)

pg 23.51 - "Power Distribution" - ECM Diagram
Quite.

When you said the temp gauge went up, was it only when the lights got brighter and the battery light was on? Or was it actually overheating? I have a feeling your voltage regulator is going out and you'll be turning 16V soon, then things will start to fry
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Old 02-06-2011, 08:55 PM
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Re: alternator symptoms

Quote:
Originally Posted by LilMsPrelude View Post
Not really....
The alternator's output is routed to the fuse box first then it is paralleled to the battery. This is so the ECM can regulate the alternators power output.

Pg 11-100 "Troubleshooting Flow Chart - Alternator FR Signal."

pg 23.46 " Under hood Fuse Relay Box" (diagram)

pg 23.51 - "Power Distribution" - ECM Diagram
Oh, I wasn't aware it was wired that way. Good to know, thanks.
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Old 02-07-2011, 01:00 AM
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Re: alternator symptoms

Yes the temp guage went up only when the batt. light came on.
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Old 08-26-2022, 11:14 AM
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Re: alternator symptoms

I know this is an old thread but I am having this same problem and I haven't seen anyone else with the same problem except here.

Temperature gauge goes right up and then comes back down when the battery charge light comes on. I'm my case, once the battery light comes on, it won't go off unless I let the car sit.

I have scrubbed my negative battery post terminal with a steel brush but it didn't help.

Lespaul59 hopefully you still use the e-mail address associated with your account. If you do and you see this and you can remember the problem, could you please give any other info about the problem if you have any.
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Old 08-26-2022, 11:14 AM
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Re: alternator symptoms

Double post
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Old 08-27-2022, 09:48 PM
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Re: alternator symptoms

Check or replace your battery ground strap (the one connecting the negative terminal to the chassis). The cable itself can be corroded and not conducting, leading to the same sort of thing as a corroded connection.
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Old 08-28-2022, 12:21 PM
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Re: alternator symptoms

I was thinking of doing that but I am getting good grounding everywhere. I don't know heaps about electricity so this might not make sense, but the ground might be good but it can't handle the current. Does that make sense?

I actually read over this thread again. My problem is a little different. When the battery charge light is off, the temperature gauge sometimes goes right up to hot, but as soon as the battery charge light turns on, the temperature gauge instantly comes down. The temperature gauge acting like this only started in the last 3 weeks.

I also have another problem where my headlights go up and down non-stop when turned on with the stick, but stay up when using the manual pop up button. I don't know if its related to the charging system/temperature gauge problems but retractable headlight control unit also grounds to G401, G402 and G471, while using the manual pop up button bypasses the headlight control unit.

I'm wondering if I have a bad ground. I have gone over every ground in the car except G401, G402, and G821. I'm currently in the process of removing the dashboard to get to G401 and G402. Then I'll do G821 if I need to.

One strange thing I found is there is a voltage drop of 0.4 volts at the ignition wire on the alternator plug, despite the voltage being good.

BLK/YEL (IG) at alternator plug (unplugged) to battery positive post: 400
WHT/BLU (L) at alternator plug (unplugged) to battery positive post: 363
WHT/GRN (S) at alternator plug (unplugged) to battery positive post: 037
Alternator B post to battery positive post: 038
Alternator body to battery negative post: 007

I am also getting voltage loss at the under-hood relay box plug which connects to the engine wire harness with accessories on, engine off.

WHT/GRN (alternator sense): 12.32 volts
BLK/YEL (alternator ignition): 12.23 volts
BLK/WHT (Starter): 1.04 volts
YEL/RED (engine oil pressure switch): 12.20 volts
WHT/BLK: 11.67 volts
WHT/RED: 10.27 volts
WHT/BLU (charging system warning light): 12.23 volts
RED (coolant temperature gauge sender): 10.53 volts

Look at the starter wire. Its got 1 volt. That doesn't look normal, I don't think it should be energised unless the key is turned to start. It's like something else in the ignition circuit which grounds to G401, G402 and G471 is not grounding properly and is bleeding voltage into other components sharing the ignition circuit, but I still don't fully understand how this is happening.

Power distribution.pngGround distribution.png

Last edited by Kolusion; 08-28-2022 at 01:29 PM.
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Old 08-28-2022, 09:09 PM
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Re: alternator symptoms

Hmm...it really sounds like there's an intermittant short somehwere involving the alternator. Something kicks the alternator out of the circuit (so the charge light goes on) and the short goes away. Could be as you describe...chasing electrical gremlins is painful. Let us know what you find with the dash grounds.
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Old 08-29-2022, 10:16 AM
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Re: alternator symptoms

Cleaning G401 and G402 didn't help. The alternator dropped in and out of charging and then eventually just stopped charging.

I totally agree that there is an intermittent short somewhere. I never thought about there being a short because I thought a short would mean a fuse would blow, but a short to power would not cause a fuse to blow.

The alternator and temperature gauge run through separate circuits after the dash fuse box which rules the fault being past the dash fuse box, and the starter motor BLK/WHT wire is independent from the ignition switch BAT-A IG-1 as it runs through BAT-A ST, and I believe the start motor wire is only suppose to be energised when the key is turned to start, so this suggests to me that there is a short to power from the wires beyond the ignition switch to, and including the dash fuse box.

What do others reckon? Where do I go for from here?

Power distribution:

https://i.ibb.co/k5yPc7S/Power-distribution-1.png

https://i.ibb.co/y8rWvs8/Power-distribution-2.png

Last edited by Kolusion; 08-29-2022 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 08-29-2022, 04:22 PM
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Re: alternator symptoms

Tomorrow I am going to disconnect the ignition switch plug from the dash fuse box and see if I get a 0.4 voltage drop on the plugs ignition wire like I do on the alternator plugs ignition wire. If I do get a voltage drop on the ignition switch plugs ignition wire then the short is likely the ignition switch or its wires. If I don't get a voltage drop then it's the dash fuse box.

Last edited by Kolusion; 08-29-2022 at 04:40 PM.
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Old 08-30-2022, 12:57 PM
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Re: alternator symptoms

Sounds right...suspect the ignition switch first.
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Old 08-30-2022, 01:41 PM
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Re: alternator symptoms

Oh really, how come? I'm suspecting the harness as its dirty and twisted.

I can also check for voltage on the ignition switch starter wire which will confirm its not the dash fuse box.

I can't tell you how relieved I am being so close to fixing the problem and getting my car back! :)

I just ran out of contact cleaner. Is cleaning the ignition switch terminals with a microfibre cloth damped with distilled water alright?

Last edited by Kolusion; 08-30-2022 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 08-30-2022, 02:45 PM
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Re: alternator symptoms

According to the shop manual I can test the ignition switch by testing for continuity at the terminals but I don't understand what it means by the multiple points in the table. Are you able to please clarify for me how the test is performed? Is each terminal suppose to be tested to ground?

https://i.ibb.co/nwq1CwZ/Screenshot-...043421-061.png

Last edited by Kolusion; 08-30-2022 at 03:05 PM.
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Old 08-31-2022, 11:36 AM
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Icon7 Re: alternator symptoms

Alright so I tested the ignition switch by checking the starter solenoid wire voltage on the outside part of the switch where the circuits have been soldered on.

I found no electricity with the key on 0.
I found no electricity with the key on I.
I found 1.04 volts with the key on II.
I found 12 volts with the key on III.

I then did a voltage drop test with the key on II and found a whopping 11 volts. Add the 1.04 volts and there you have full battery power on a 70 amp capacity circuit shorting into other wires leading into the dash fuse box which is probably what is causing my alternator and gauge problem, and perhaps even my retractable headlights problem.

I removed the ignition switch, pulled it apart and soaked every part in WD-40 all over, let it sit for a bit and then rinsed it off. Here is a photo of it.

https://i.ibb.co/D1802ds/IMG-20220901-011627991.jpg

I don't know what I am looking for to see where the problem is, but if it doesn't work after putting it back in the car then I'm going to order one from Auto Zone in the U.S.A. to here in Australia as they are the only place I can find that has one. Funny enough its the identical part to this one, which was put in as a replacement six years ago when my old one went. So five years is all you get!

Here is something I made that shows the location of alternators regulator ignition circuit and the gauge ignition circuit, both on each side of the starter solenoid circuit.

https://i.ibb.co/C6kMVpW/1.png

I think the contact on that spinning that is making contact with both IG-1 and ST, causing a short. How though is now the question. Is it the rotation spring that's bad, the two little springs pushing the wheel outwards towards the key, is it the key cylinder, was it residue?! Its probably impossible to tell without seeing it and I CBF studying it. If it doesn't work I'll just get a new one.

Last edited by Kolusion; 08-31-2022 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 08-31-2022, 09:05 PM
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Re: alternator symptoms

Switches and relays are notorious on old Japanese cars in general (main relays are pratically consumables on Miatas -- I carry a spare in the car), and ignition switches on Preludes in particular.

After more thought, though, I keep coming back to the alternator. I wonder if it's overcharging (which would point to a voltage regulator fault...but IIRC, the regulator is integrated into the alternator assembly on our cars, so it's all the same part), then as everything under the hood warms up, the alternator stops charging due to a short or an open wire, and everything defaults to battery power. After the car's cooled off, everything goes back to the way it was...start over again. That would explain the temperature guage, and the behavior between hot and cold. Most parts stores here will test alternators for you (in hopes you'll buy one there if it's bad); if you can do that there, pull the alternator and get it tested.

FYI (since you have it apart), to perform the ignition switch continuity test, turn the key to the correct position, and jump the different pins of the connector with a short piece of wire. So with the key turned to I (accessory) for example, you should get continuity between the ACC and BAT-B pins, but no other combination. In II (run), you should see continuity between any combination of ACC, BAT-B, and IG2-B, and any combination of BAT-A, IG1, and IG2-A, but not outside of those triplets. In III (start), you should get continuity between any combination of BAT-A, IG1, and ST, but not between any of those and any other pin.

Another good source of parts here is Rock Auto (https://www.rockauto.com/) -- they usually have a pretty good selection, and ship worldwide.
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Old 09-01-2022, 08:48 AM
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Re: alternator symptoms

Oh really? Its a good idea to carry basic tools in the car. A 10mm spanner can go a long way!

This problem isn't a new problem. We've talked about it before, but I had to walk away from the car as it was consuming my life.

Alternator failure after wash

I replaced the alternator twice, the crankshaft pulley, the drive belt, and I recently pulled out the engine wire harness and stripped it down to clean and inspect it. It was doing this with the wire harness that lead me to success. The wire diagrams in the shop manual really suck as they don't show absolute paths for circuits. There are two plugs on my engine wire harness, I saw the colour of the alternator wires at the one plug and assumed that was them, but when I had the engine wire harness out and did a resistance check, I wasn't getting any response from the plug. My heart sunk as I unwrapped the socket that connects to the under-hood relay box to find more wires with the same colour, which was them! It was partially might fault, all but one of the wires at the other plug where thinner than the alternator plugs. I didn't catch on. The one correct wire at the other plug was the FR wire going to the ECU- that entire plug was for the ECU wires! Then I found that stray 1 volt on the start wire at the under-hood relay box and worked my way up to the ignition.

My car has been sitting outside for 1 year because of this **** but many good things came out of this. My timing belt is due in 12K's. I was planning to get rid of the car as it wasn't worth the mechanic costs, but now I know how to do the timing belt myself as its only one more step after the crankshaft pulley and I will do my head gasket if I can be bothered as I have street parking which makes it hard. I also now fully understand engine internals and I think I now have a pretty good idea of the electrical side of things. Drop volt testing is a powerful test.

The problem with the gauge only started in the last few weeks since I returned to the car. This is what kept my faith up as I began realising there was more to it than the charging system, which I had practically replaced.

So tonight I put the ignition switch back in. The problem persisted. I pressed on the outer circuits a bit and could get the alternator to flicker on charging, then I pressed the key into the ignition and boom, no more charging issues. I would say those two little springs inside pushing the inner piece to the contacts has lost their resistance.

I will keep driving the car now as everything is good, but should the charging system problem return then I will get a new ignition switch straight away. I'm expecting it to return but I might have bought myself some time.

The retractable headlight problem persists. I didn't think it was related as I had the problem long before the charging system problem. It came and went, but now its here to stay. It was actually the next thing on the list to fix but for now I'm just going to rest my mind and use the manual popup switch. I'm just happy to have my car back. Public transport seriously sucks!

This problem started after the car was sitting for a few months during the pandemic. Perhaps those springs lost their resistance from being compressed in the same place for months or perhaps the ignition switches time was just up.

Thanks for your help. Prelude Zone really is the place to be for Prelude owners.

Last edited by Kolusion; 09-01-2022 at 08:57 AM.
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Old 09-01-2022, 09:22 AM
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Re: alternator symptoms

I have another theory. One of the little springs has lost its resistance and the centre piece is not evenly pressing against the contacts, and is off shooting on the side of the ignition circuit, causing a short between the ignition and starter.

I actually remember seeing one of the springs being a bit off when I pulled the ignition switch apart.
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Old 09-02-2022, 07:42 AM
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Re: alternator symptoms

The ignition switch started playing up again today after running the car for twenty minutes. The car is ruff idling now and it seems the fuel injection system isn't getting the power it needs.

I just ordered a new ignition switch off Amazon with international priority delivery for ~$70 AUD which is about ~47 USD. It should arrive within six days. So cheap!!! So awesome!!!

Last edited by Kolusion; 09-02-2022 at 07:46 AM.
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Old 09-02-2022, 11:03 AM
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Re: alternator symptoms

Let us know if that solves it.

Life with old cars...nothing I have is less than 20 years old, and each one has a tool roll and a selection of spare parts in the back!
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Old 09-07-2022, 12:45 PM
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Re: alternator symptoms

It wasn't the ignition switch, it is the voltage regulator that is causing the charging problem.

https://filebin.net/5agad223i1dyfeu2..._regulator.mp4

I dismissed the alternator being bad because I bought a remanufactured one that didn't work, and then they sent me out a new one and didn't think two in a row could be bad. They bench test these, right?!

I bet their bench testing is simply spinning up the alternator with a drill and full field testing it, opposed from energising the ignition circuit so the regulator allows current to pass through the rectifier diodes.

I read other people also complaining about these $3 AliExpress regulators being notoriously unreliable.
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Old 09-09-2022, 01:52 PM
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Re: alternator symptoms

I replaced the regulator with another aftermarket one and it fixed the problem. The aftermarket one that came with this remanufactured alternator was a complete piece of ****, held together with white glue which was protruding out of the case and saturating the circuit board, and their was even a circuit sticking out of the case that couldn't fit in the PCB housing. Its an absolute piece of ****, something you'd find manufactured in China in 2005. Perhaps it was.
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