2004 Honda Element Alternator/Battery

Sorry if this has been asked before…

We have a 2004 Honda Element.

We had the alternator changed in March 2020.

The battery light started coming on (back in March). We had the battery tested and it said it was fine. Kept driving it and it was fine for a bit. Then the light started coming on again. The battery would die and we would charge it up. Died one time while out and had to have it towed home. We tried to jump it and it wouldn’t stay on. We put in a new battery in May and the light still came on. But the battery didn’t drain. During the time with the old and new battery we would lose radio, ac and anything electrical. The car wouldn’t die. We would cut it off once home and then use it again and it would be fine. I went out to use it 2 weeks ago and it wouldn’t start. We got it to a mechanic and they say it’s the alternator. I didn’t think alternators would die after a year and a half. Could there be a short somewhere or maybe a fuse? I’m just trying to see what my options are before I shell out money to have a new alternator put in and it not actually be that.

Alternators do in fact conk out earlier than you might think. Have yours tested. Parts typically have warranties. It’s possible the shop that installed it will replace it at no cost.

It depends on the quality of the replacement alternator. There are cheapo rebuilt units that are designed to be put on cars that will be sold or traded in 6 months. And then there are good rebuilt units that will last a long time. Those are much more expensive than the cheapos.

I suspect your last alternator was a cheapo installed on this then 16 year old car. That was you or your mechanic’s choice, don’t know.

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It’s definitely possible the replacement alternator has failed. The first test I’d do w/that problem is

  • before first start of the day the battery should measure about 12.6 volts
  • immediately after starting the engine, 13.5-15.5 volts.

If you know how to use a DVM, you could report the results here and you may get some more ideas.

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The battery light is the charging system failure warning light. You have been driving since March with a failing alternator, if the alternator came with a one year warranty you missed your opportunity for a warranty replacement.

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