1998 Honda Civic Battery Issue

Back on 7/27 I changed my battery. I bought the battery from a used auto parts dealer with a 1 year guarantee. Everything ran totally fine until Friday, when on my way home from work the battery light came on. More specifically, it would come on when my foot wasn’t on the gas and would fade to off or just mostly dimmed when I was on the gas. Stupidly, I thought I could make it home. After making it a decent ways (maybe 15 minutes of mostly stop and go highway driving), I stopped at an intersection and the car completely died. Couldn’t turn it on, couldn’t even get a sound out of it or any of the dashboard lights to even flicker on. Totally dead.

I was towed home and on Saturday I took the old battery out of the car. After picking it up my hands were slightly burning, making me think it had been leaking acid (I know next to nothing though so I could easily be wrong). Today I finally had a chance to get a new one. I got another battery from the same used auto parts dealer (free exchange with the 1 year guarantee). I just put it into the car and it turns on, which is a huge improvement. The battery light came on at start (which it’s supposed to) and then faded but didn’t turn completely off. As soon as I put the car in gear it came back on in full. So I turned the car off with the conclusion that it doesn’t seem to be a battery issue.

Any ideas on what might be going on here? Does this sound like a problem with the alternator? I am brand new to trying to figure this stuff out myself so any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

Yes, sounds like a bad alternator. Go to a parts store and have them check out your charging system.

Be sure you check your alternator belt first. Press down in it. It should deflect some (maybe 1/4 inch or so) but there shouldn’t be too much slop in it.

You need someone to diagnose the problem with your electrical system.

This is a perfect example of “penny wise and pound foolish.” You bought a used battery, and then had to have the car towed. Why not buy a new battery instead? After all, I’ve seen cars with charging systems that were damaged by bad batteries. That might or might not be what happened to your car, but there is no way to definitively tell.

Electrical trouble-shooting is not a good place for a first time amateur mechanic to start. Hire a mechanic. Normally, I agree with texases, but I wouldn’t leave this to an auto parts store employee to solve. You need a qualified and experienced automotive diagnostician.