Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Battery? Alternator? Both?

So, I brought the car to the Honda dealer this morning for a Safety Recall having to do with the driver-side airbag. Two and a half hours later I picked it up and they told me that they had also done a courtesy inspection and found that the battery and alternator tested “bad”. With a quote of $960, I knew I wasn’t going to be doing anything about that today, so I drove it home. On the way home, I noticed that the clock was wrong (easy to fix) and the radio display said “Code” or “Err” whenever I tried to turn it on or set a station. I figured it was because they had unhooked the battery to test it and I would need to look in the owner’s manual to figure out how to reset it. On the way home I stopped at the grocery store, and when I came back out (about 5 minutes later), the car wouldn’t start. Some flickering dash lights, and electrical sounds behind the dash (like sparks flying, almost), but nothing else. Multiple attempts at a jump start didn’t work.

So what gives? Is it just a bad battery? Does the alternator have anything to do with the fact that the car won’t even start? Why did this only happen right after I got it from the dealer? I NEVER noticed signs of a bad battery and/or alternator before today.

It sounds like the dealer fried a few things in your car and wants YOU to pay for it. If the car was otherwise normal when you brought it in it should not cost you anything. A new battery would be about $100 at most.

I would be agressive and only offer to pay oro a new battery. If they dig in their heels say they will hear from your lawyer. Small claims court is best for this.

If you weren’t able to boost it, there’s likely something else wrong.

The dealership fouled up something. They should pay to fix it.


The shop may have done a load test on the charging system and damaged the alternator. If the vehicle wasn’t doing what you describe before they got their hands on it then it seems they damaged things. From what you say it sounds like some of the diodes in the alternator have shorted and AC voltage is getting into the battery/power bus.

batterys are strange things they will give up when its at the worst possable time. to reset the radio you will the secerity code for it it should be in the owners manuel or on the side of the radio itshelf.

Have it towed to an independent mechanic and have them find out what happened. Be willing to pay the independent for the diagnosis. If it looks like a dealer fault, then call the dealer and give them the option of doing all the repairs and compensating you for the tow and independent diagnosis or you have the independent make all the repairs and you take them to court. They should be given the option first, if you don’t give them that, then it will be harder to prove your case in court.