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2002 Honda Civic EX Alternator Woes!

I have a 2002 Honda Civic EX and the battery light has shown up on the dashboard. It will go off when the car is revved up to 2500 - 3000 RPMs. If it isn’t revved to that degree the car begins loosing power… clock, lights, fan etc etc.

Could this be a loose or worn alternator belt? The battery still holds a charge when put on a charger, and the electrical system is restored when kept at high RPM. So that’s why I suspected it’s only the belt and not the alternator itself!!

Signed… the Wife who’s going to win this arguement!

I seriously doubt it’s the belt. What you describe is not an uncommon failure mode for an alternator.

Why am I getting the feeling hubby is trying to tell you the alternator is bad? Or that the battery is due for replacement (it is)?

Any parts store will (for free) test the alternator for you as well as the battery.

So, when you lose this disagreement what do you owe hubby?

A worn or lose belt might be your problem, but that is pretty easy to detect, simply try to turn the alternator pulley with the car shut off. If you can, tighten the belt and check it again. Another likely source is the alternator itself. It’s not charging at lower RPM’s like it should. You might have one or two of the diode blocks burn’t up. Take it to autozone or another place that will test it on the car for free. It’s a pretty accurate test and only takes 15 minutes. They can load up the alternator, and check for current output, as well as test the voltage.

LOL… Hubby say’s Thank You! and I should fill in the blanks for what I will owe him when this arguement is completed! LOL

Hubby tried to turn the pulley with the car off but being 6’4" and an ex-football player (GO MISSOU) his hands are too big to get into the small space to do that. HE said the belt appears to be as tight as the serpentine belt we replaced last year. So it seems that a trip to the auto parts store for a free diagnostic is in our future tomorrow! Is this something that can be repaired at home or shall we leave it to the professionals (with smaller hands)?

Ah, I see a romantic evening out on the agenda…well worth the cost of an alternator.

This is a fairly common trouble with alternators. I think the trouble you are having is due to the brushes not making contact inside the alternator. If your husband can get the belt loose and remove the alternator then replacing it should be no problem. Not too much is required for tools to do this job. If he works on it be sure to remove the negative battery cable from the battery first. The main wire to the alternator is hot to the battery. That will prevent any possible shorting problems. It would be a good idea to have the battery checked out. If it has never been changed it is time to do that also. Replacing the battery along with the alternator is a good preventative maintenance procedure. But if the battery handles a good load test then there is no reason to replace it.

OK we got to get the spelling right, here. Went through Columbia yesterday.


Courtesy of your border-straddling Jayhawk!

Me Again… I am having problems again with my dumb (yet I love it) 2002 honda civic.
I have replaced the alternator in may 2009, and again in may 2010, and now I think I am going to have to replace it yet again. The engine makes a clanging sound when it hits around 1000 RPMs. It also makes this sound when you turn on the defrost, or A/C, and sometimes when you operate the power windows… Is this the alternator again???
Why is this such a chronic problem??

My husband thinks this is an 02 sensor problem… and so it begins again! lol

The 02 sensor would have nothing to do with this problem.
As to repeated alternator failures this is going to boil down to:
A. Misdiagnosis and the alternators have not really failed.
B. If the alternators are really failing then this would be caused (more than likely) by a lousy battery or poor connection in the alt to battery circuit.

Before doing anything you need to consider this clanging noise. Something like this that occurs when coming off of idle can often point to a major engine problem, as in rod bearing knock, etc.
Oil level ok, no oil light flashing, etc? You are positive this red light you see if the one for the alternator circuit and not a low oil pressure lamp, right?

Well the light is not red it’s actually orange. and it is a picture of a car engine not an oil can/drop
Could it be a short in the connection from the battery to the alternator? The battery is one year old (may 2010) We replaced it at the same time as the alternator. But we never changed any of the elect. cables/wires

The light you describe sounds like it is the ‘check engine’ light. It is saying there is something wrong and it needs to be serviced. There will be error codes stored in the ECU that will indicate the area of the trouble.

There shouldn’t be a short on the alternator output to the battery. If there was the battery wouldn’t be charging. There could be something wrong with the voltage sense lead for the alternator. A low voltage on it could make the alternator think the battery charge is low and make the alternator put out full output all the time. One trick you can do is touch the alternator after it has been running for a while and the engine has been turned off. If the outside of the alternator is real hot then it may be working too hard due to a problem on the sense lead.