Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Battery light and pop up headlight warning lights intermittently comes on

1987 Acura Integra
I noticed that the pop up headlight dash warning light intermittently comes on when the engine is running.
Now Battery light (charging light) and pop up headlight warning lights are coming on simultaneously (still intermittent) when the engine is running.

Battery is new. Headlights (and pops up) are working. High beam is working.
Parts store used their meter to test the battery and alternator - it passed - however, their equipment initially did not detect the battery voltage - I was told that it needs to be repaired - but when the engine was running, he was able to do the test - it passed all the test.

There is a separate switch to just to pop the headlight - when I push the switch, it makes the sound as if it begins to pop but there is a hesitation and then it fully pops it up (only issue that I can observe) - whereas when I turn the headlight on, it properly pops it up and turns the headlight on - whether engine is running or not.

Anyone had similar experience or any suggestions?


I wouldn’t expect a stellar diagnosis from a parts store, to be quite honest

Are your connections clean and tight, no corrosion, loose and/or frayed wires . . . ?

What is your charging voltage at idle?

Is your alternator able to keep up when you have a bunch of loads turned on?

If your alternator is still original, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it is now failing. The brushes might just be worn down to nothing by now. Seen this a few times.

Alternator was replaced no more than 10yrs ago
Voltages - I once saw 14.2v - don’t know what it was

He did not ask me to load while testing.

For about $10 you can buy a tester that plugs into the cig lighter. It’ll tell you the battery voltage when the engine isn’t running and the charging voltage when the engine is running. Not perfect but it tells you if your battery is being charged anyway. If the charging light comes on, it generally means the battery is not being charged which is something to be concerned about. I don’t know anything about pop up lights.

@Bing - shouldn’t light be steadily on?
Mine is intermittent.

Not necessarily. Anytime the light comes on, its either a bad connection or the alternator is not putting a good charge out. If its on steady, its not charging at all but intermittently not charging sometimes.

@Bing - thanks for the good pointers. Will have it checked out

Make sure the battery connections and the connections to the alternator are clean and snug tight, do not over tighten the battery clamps or the alternator stud nut. Also make sure the alternator belt is tight and not slipping.

No more than 10 years ago? Based on age alone I wouldn’t be surprised if it was bad.

@db4690 & @Bing
Here are my voltmeter readings:
12.53 (battery - engine is not running)
14.57 (engine running - no loads)
14.47 (engine running - loded up + heater turned on)
14.36 (all the above + head light)
14.34 ( all the above + high beam)

My question is - are the above readings meaningful if the issue is intermittent? I let the engine running and waited for the issue to occur - it did not happen. Yesterday it was driven after the car idled for 1.5 days.

I checked the battery terminal wire connections - they are all good and firm - alternator belt seems tight but could not reach. Could not confirm the state of other wire connections.

Nothing wrong with those readings in my view. When the light goes on though you’d want to know what the charging voltage is. That’s why one of those plug in testers is nice since you can look at it while you’re driving.

Like this one except I think I only paid $10 on Amazon:

1 Like

@Bing - that device is new to me.
What do u look for with it - “light goes on though you’d want to know what the charging voltage is” - what can derived from these values?

Its just a voltage tester. Tells you what the battery voltages are. Plug it in to the cig lighter and with the engine off tells you the battery voltage. With the engine running it tells you what the alternator is putting out as far as voltages. Just like the old voltage meters that used to be in cars instead of the light. Its kind of accurate except for the lights but gives you an idea of your charging system anytime you want while driving.

@Bing - the volt values I posted are essentially identical to this meter right?

Ahh, you can check the voltage when the intermittent issue comes up, right?

WAG the pop up headlights are electrical motor driven, not vacuum, now to get the battery light to go on my guess is a motor is shorting out or locking up causing battery drain.

@Barkydog - can that motor lock up even when it is not in use - meaning day time?

Can you full the fuse for the pop up headlights (for daylight driving of course)? If you do and the problem goes away you know the trouble is in the pop up circuit, be it short, motor or whatever.

@Barkydog - makes sense.
Yes will do
Everything seems to add up and make sense to me.
Thanks indeed.

The readings are meaningless if the problem is intermittent

I agree that you need to take readings when the light is on. Chances are the battery is NOT being charged properly at that exact moment

1 Like

I am puzzled as to what the purpose would be to pop-up the headlights without turning them on. Maybe to act like aircraft speed brakes?