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88 DX battery weirdness

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88 DX battery weirdness

Postby eurowerke » Wed Feb 10, 2010 9:49 am

Hey all,

I've had this issue for some time now, and tried checking several things, all to no avail. The problem is this: when starting the car, the battery does not immediately begin to charge, it takes about 1.5-2 minutes before the alternator seems to "kick in." Accompanied by this sudden kick in of the battery charging is a quick fluctuation in the idle just before it kicks in. The alternator was replaced about 2 months ago, and originally a year before that. When I replaced it, it tested out fine but the guy offered me a new one anyway. The alternator can be made to start charging more quickly if a high load item is switched on, such as the headlights or the HVAC fan on full speed. The alternator fuse 14 is not blown or missing, and the battery itself holds voltage over time. It is also about 2 years old. Once the alternator kicks in, the charging voltage is just over 14 volts, right in the range it should be. The battery light on the dash sometimes remains on, and other times is off. It was on for me the other day, and when I revved the engine, it did not turn off. I just took out the main ECU relay tonight and replaced a couple of the solder joints on it that looked like they had cracked, on the slim chance it would help, but it did not (but maybe the sudden engine shutting off is solved now :-P).

Other than that, anyone have any ideas? The charging circuit is quite simple, and everything in it seems fine. I'm sure this isn't normal behavior. Since everything else seems okay, I'm going to go ahead and have the battery tested tomorrow hopefully, but I suspect it will probably be fine given that it holds charge over time just fine. Even still, I wouldn't be surprised if that ends up being the culprit. I've heard that the battery light turns on when the output of the alternator isn't sufficient...is this in reference to output voltage or output current? Voltage sounds more logical to me, but the light has still been on at times that my multimeter shows the battery charging at 14+ volts. Hopefully someone might have heard of something like this before.

TIA!
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Re: 88 DX battery weirdness

Postby freydaddy » Wed Feb 10, 2010 5:28 pm

have you checked the ground connections?
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Re: 88 DX battery weirdness

Postby Jaime 91siB18 » Wed Feb 10, 2010 5:49 pm

I would check the "ELD"(electronic load detector) located in the fuse box under the hood, but it sounds like a bad voltage regulator(located inside the alternator)
;)
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Re: 88 DX battery weirdness

Postby eurowerke » Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:59 pm

Alas, freydaddy, I thought I mentioned everything, but as always, something was forgotten. The battery ground wire was replaced about 2 years ago as well, and is in fine shape. The middle bolt on the frame rail is tight, as is the bolt on the tranny tab. The valve cover to body cable is tight as well, but much older (probably original), and somewhat rusty at the ends (what is up with these cables not having sheathing all the way to the ends and leaving exposed wire?! That's the reason I replaced the battery ground cable, thinking it was just so worn out that the wire itself was showing!)

Where is this ELD relay Jamie? Is there a diagram on the box cover? I don't remember seeing anything labeled like that.

I just realized that I hadn't been clear in the original post: the problem existed before I changed the alternator, hence the reason for changing it again. After changing, the problem still existed, leading me to believe the culprit lay elsewhere.

Thanks again for your help.
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Re: 88 DX battery weirdness

Postby Jaime 91siB18 » Thu Feb 11, 2010 12:29 am

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Re: 88 DX battery weirdness

Postby el_jelly » Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:40 am

Welcome eurowerke.

I know what your problem is because it happens to mine sometimes, more often when I leave the car at idle. I have a voltage gauge and I can see clearly when it drops well below 14v and the alt seems to be not working until it kicks in, then goes back to 14. I changed the alt, battery, grounds, etc and still the problem happens sometimes. The only thing I haven't tried is the ELD as Jaime said since the problem doesn't happen all the time. Also you should check the alt belt to see if it's good and tight.

Here's the ELD test (click it):

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Re: 88 DX battery weirdness

Postby eurowerke » Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:42 am

Awesome. I suspect this is the issue. Is the unit some sort of solid state circuitry that fails, or is it some sort of electromechanical device that is repairable? I ask because the fuse box is NLA from Honda, and there is no longer any recourse for this part besides a junkyard, which is a gamble at best.

Thank you!
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Re: 88 DX battery weirdness

Postby el_jelly » Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:38 am

I really don't know, people just replace it completely with another fuse box. Since I posted the test above I decided to do it on friday. After driving it for a while and letting it at idle the voltage fluctuation started and stayed at 12. So I turned it off, tested it and everything was fine until step 6 where I got only 1.2V (it fluctuated to 1 and 1.1). As said I should replace it all ::) .
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Re: 88 DX battery weirdness

Postby eurowerke » Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:24 am

What the heck. :( The voltages were all fine. The step 6 voltage was 2.33V. The step 4 voltage was 4.55V. Very odd. Where is this delay in beginning to charge coming from?! Maybe this alternator is bad too...

I don't know what else to do!
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Re: 88 DX battery weirdness

Postby el_jelly » Tue Feb 16, 2010 8:59 am

If you have an auto zone near take the car to it and ask them to check the alt while it's still in the car, they do it for free. If the alt and the belt are good, the wires and grounding points are good, the eld and fuse box are good then the next thing could be the ecu. And I doubt that.
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Re: 88 DX battery weirdness

Postby freydaddy » Tue Feb 16, 2010 8:12 pm

Auto Zone alternators and starters SUCK!!!
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