1988 Honda Accord Electrical Issue

Yeah, I know, a 1988 car. The model is an LXi, purchased new, now has 100,000 miles on it. The car is excellent cosmetic condition, has been properly maintained over the years. However, last year, it developed a problem. It will drain a battery overnight. A mechanic took the meter and we started pulling fuses to see if we could find any switch or accessory that might be draining the battery. It would seem to be a fairly substantial drain to pull the battery down overnight. We found nothing to be draining any power.

I’d like to keep the car on the road, it has been a good running car, still looks nice, good gas mileage, and I’m a cheapskate! I am hoping that someone here might be able to give me a good suggestion as to something that might be causing the drain.

Thanks for the great ideas!

I’m guessing the alternator and battery have both been checked. My guess is that you may have a bad ground or the battery has run it’s course. How does the vehicle run with the lights on at night? Are they weak? If they are it will point to a bad battery or alternator. Since you didn’t mention their status it’s kind of hard to know.

the OP didn’t say anything about checking the alternator. It wouldn’t surprise me if that’s what’s wrong. I had an alternator in an 88 CRX that did exactly that. Would drain the battery thanks to a short. Replaced the alternator and drove it for many more years.

The alternator is new, installed last year, battery is new, was checked at auto parts place.

The lights seem to be fine at night.

I guess the new alternator could be bad as well.

I’m sorry, I forgot to post both of those items in the original post.


I would think this would be either the battery or current draw.

You state the mechanic connected a meter and started pulling fuses? Does this mean a current draw was showing and if so, how much?

While this test is not definitive by any means you can try this. Disconnect the battery negative cable from the battery. (Battery not run down, etc.)
In the dark, lightly touch a sharp edge of the cable terminal or pinch bolt to the battery negative terminal. Do this several times.

You should not see a blue/white arc of any significance. If you do, there is a current draw and someone is overlooking something. You may see a faint yellow spark but this can be normal and is due to the clock.

Always make sure that a trunk light is not staying on. Just like a refrigerator you never really know and trunk lights are one of the biggest causes of this kind of problem.