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Uber Mystery of Electrical Chaos!

 
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Old 12-13-2013, 07:11 PM
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Icon5 Uber Mystery of Electrical Chaos!

So I hope I am putting this in the right spot. I've been a member for a while but never post. I have a problem that defies reason, logic and quite possible gravity. It may be a series of issues so I'll start from the beginning.

1992 Honda prelude S 2.2L

Two months ago:
Heavy down pour causes big puddles where little puddles should be. Due to traffic and poor lighting I end up going into one of these big ass puddles and its deep enough that the water blows over the top of my hood and windshield. Lucky though that I was going fast enough that the car didn't stall or sink. No water in the air filter or any other crucial system. Or so I thought. 2 days later my headlights ceased to come on when I turn them on. I have to get out and give them a little "Fonzi" bump and then they will work. At this point only the drivers side gives me trouble. The situation has kind of resolved itself. At least in that aspect.

Two weeks ago:
I went down to Eugene to visit some family. Had no trouble on the way down. But on the way back home to Portland I noticed the headlights getting dim then kicking back to normal brightness. The internal lamp wasn't fluctuating and neither was the dash lights. But the Battery light would come on at low rpms. So I didn't pull over I just kept on going home, fast. By the time I reached town the headlights would hardly stay lit. But they would still occasionally go back to normal. It was late so I went in and to bed. The next morning I come out to figure out WTF was going on. I start her up and she fires like nothing was wrong. I turn on the lights to see if they dim - Nothing. Not even the battery light was coming on. So once again I wrote it off to gremlins and had no trouble until…

Three days ago:
The car started to have the same issues as my trip back from Eugene. Except now its worse. Headlights dim, stereo fizzles out, dash lights dim then disappear, tach and speedo stop functioning altogether no matter my rpms. So I pull over to pop the hood and all of it comes back. Like some kind of joke my car was just saying "HA HA Psych!". So I give it a dirty look and call her a few names then drive to the battery exchange place. To have her tested. They run a test and tell me the Alternator and battery are fine but my power cable connector is broke. Five bucks and they replace it. She has no issues for the rest of the day. Next day I go to start her up and she fires but then immediately the Battery light comes on at low rpms and stereo won't work. So I go to autozone and have them test everything. They say Alternator is fine but battery is toast. A little gun shy now I head across the street to Les Shaub and have them test it. They say the same thing so I buy a new battery at $130 damn dollars. But she runs like a champ afterward so I'm feeling ok. But then yesterday happened. Last night it all happened again. Lights went dim, stereo died, dash ceases to function and then the car died. Had to have a friend come jump me 5 blocks from my house.

Here is what I've done so far:
Checked for loose grounds - none that I can find
cleaned the plug on the back of the alternator - clean
Checked for loose connections - none that I can find
Checked all fuses - all good under the hood
Replaced Battery

The randomness of this is making me nuts. And I think this situation is making me grey or go bald. Maybe both. Any help/ideas would be appreciated! Maybe an old priest and a young priest to exercise the demons. I'm willing to do whatever I have to!
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1992 Prelude S
215K miles
Stock everything except the stereo
Was owned by a chick that tried to put radiator fluid in the oil. So I am slowly fixing/replacing everything she touched. Nice thing is I bought it for $500 cause she thought it was dead. It was the clutch.
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Old 12-13-2013, 08:33 PM
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Re: Uber Mystery of Electrical Chaos!

First, stop going to eugene.
Second, did this begin when you ran through the puddle.
Something got wet. What got wet and why it's work/not work is the mystery.

Fonzi? That's an oldy but goodie.

Now back to the wet thing... you've replaced a battery... do you by chance have painted terminals? If so remove the paint at contact points.
How old was the battery? Sometimes new batteries fail too. Wires ok? Posts clean?

Do you have a service manual? If not, check the diy section. Scope out your wiring and ensure all grounds have good connection.

My thinking is either something is still wet or the water has caused a short.
Wet electronics can be a muthascruntcha to figure out. Best of luck.
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Old 12-14-2013, 12:08 AM
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Re: Uber Mystery of Electrical Chaos!

alternator. mine did the same thing, but mine was caused by the leaking power steering pump above it,
one day, my batter light came on, headlights dimmed, I popped the hood and saw how caked in power steering fluid the alternator belt was, so I swapped in a new belt. problem did not arise again.. for a little while anyway. fast forward a couple weeks, battery light comes on, pop hood to check belt because I've been so busy at work fixing other peoples cars, ive neglected to fix my leaking power steering pump. much to my surprise, the belt isn't even wet, so I scurry off to my parents house, which is about 15 miles from mine, which is where my spare alternator was. I barely made it, literally.. anyway,
change your alternator. I also understand that my failure was caused by leaking power steering fluid, but you have same symptons caused by a foreign liquid.
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Old 12-14-2013, 11:03 AM
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Re: Uber Mystery of Electrical Chaos!

Even though the alternator was tested it is still suspect. It may be failing under load.
Look everything over once again, you may come across some loose or intermittent connections due to overall age and corrosion. Check your wiring diagrams of the lighting system for any relays associated with the headlights. They may be causing your issues, especially if the got drenched!

Good luck!
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Old 12-14-2013, 03:19 PM
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Re: Uber Mystery of Electrical Chaos!

Alternators go all the time without any other outside cause. Battery light means your alternator is done, cause that's all you're running on. X2 on alternator swap. If its your volt regulator that's shot, replace the whole unit to be on the safe side.
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Old 12-15-2013, 02:17 AM
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Re: Uber Mystery of Electrical Chaos!

Thanks guys for your input! My brain has been cooked on this thing! I'm gonna replace the alternator tomorrow. I'll let ya'll know if it resolves the issues.
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1992 Prelude S
215K miles
Stock everything except the stereo
Was owned by a chick that tried to put radiator fluid in the oil. So I am slowly fixing/replacing everything she touched. Nice thing is I bought it for $500 cause she thought it was dead. It was the clutch.
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Old 12-15-2013, 11:43 AM
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Re: Uber Mystery of Electrical Chaos!

Before you replace it see if the tester guy will test under varying loads. Maybe it's not the alternator.
It sounds like the regulator could be as in the water fried it, and like op said, it's a good time to do the whole thing if so. But that's a lot of dough if it's just a short in your system somewhere.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ogsmakdade View Post
welcome to site Carl
...is a golden car fax kinda like a golden ticket? Sure hope willy wonka didn't put any snozberries in your motor.
Quote:
Originally Posted by elspectro29 View Post
Only seen the first one, 15 years ago in theaters. Plan on keeping it that way. Get off my lawn.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindso View Post
I remember my first thread, asking what a noise was when I got going 110mph.
Pretty much got flamed for driving like a jackass and was told to slow down. And I'll be damned, slowing down fixed it.

God's Not Dead
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