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Diagnose my crazy Honda dash warning lights problem

I have a 98 Honda Accord V6. Everything is great when I first start the car. But then when I accelerate the SRS light, the Brake light, the Battery light and the “doors are open” light all come on. They go off for a second when it shifts into second(it’s an automatic). The lights stay on unless I take my foot off the gas pedal. Also, sometimes the gas gauge and spedometer stop working but the temp gauge and the RPM gauge work fine.


The warning lights are tied into the alternator circuit. I would venture to guess that the alternator is having a problem. Perhaps bad brushes.

So, do you have similar results when the car is sitting still, but pointed up a hill? Sounds like a loose wire (probably ground) to me.

Thanks for your input! This does seem to be the case (up hill)…any thoughts about why this is?

Good point by Tardis. There may be a loose connection at the alternator. Check those connections out.

My guess is that it is either wiring behind the dash, or a problem inside the instrument cluster. If it were at the alternator, it might explain some of the issues you see, but not all of them. Also, I think that a loose connection at the alternator would be more subject to engine vibration, than to gravity.
Lots of times, problems like yours are hard to find and fix, but you are lucky here. Yours messes up often and easily enough that any good electrical shop or dealer should be able to find and fix the problem. The dealer would probably be quicker, but also more expensive.
Alternately, if you are good with such things, you could take the cluster out and check all the wiring behind it, taking particular care to see that all ground wires are tightly screwed down.

I guess I should have answered you actual question too. I think that you have a loose electrical connection somewhere (probably not on the engine). When you are pointed up a hill, or accelerating, then gravity is pulling you back into the seat. At the same time, it is pulling a wire or electrical component somewhere in the same direction. This pull seems to be causing a loss of connection. If you point down hill, or decelerate then the pull is in the opposite direction and probably restores the connection. This could be a loose wire somewhere. If so, it is probably a ground since few of the other wires would be likely to come loose. It could also be a bad solder joint in an electronic assembly, or a broken copper trace on a circuit board. You may be able to narrow down the area the problem is in by banging on different parts of the car and watching for the problem to start or to go away.

I just attempted to post an update but it doesn’t appear to be posted - so forgive me if this turns out to be a duplicate.

The car was completely dead this morning so I had it towed to a local shop. Their gadget indicated that my alternator was giving my battery 17.5 volts. It didn’t actually kill my battery, though. Thank goodness. They replaced the alternator and I’m cruising! If you find yourself in the north bay area of San Francisco in need of a repair shop you might try Oliver Automotive in Novato. They were quick and the price was about half of what other places wanted to charge me. Nice people, too.

Thanks for the update. I suspected the alternator was bad. Glad to hear that the excessive voltage didn’t hurt the battery. You caught it in time I guess.

You stated that the car was dead in the morning. I would think that even though the output voltage was high on the bad alternator it would still keep the battery charged. The old one may have caused a battery drain while the car was parked and that would explain the reason why it was dead. Hopefully your car troubles are over with but if you do have more trouble, let us know.