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Honda Accord 2004 intermittently does not start

One morning after parking and turning the car off, I tried to restart and it just made a sad attempt. A few minutes later it started, but still seemed to take too long. I took it to the dealer and they said the Alternator needed to be replaced, so they replaced it with a rebuilt alternator (without asking me if i wanted rebuilt or new). Anyway… when i picked it up it still seems to start a bit slower than normal, but they said that is typical for hondas.
a couple of weeks later, I picked up my car from the airport after it sat there for 2 nights. It started slowly but surely. I stopped at store, and then it would not start at all. Barely made any sound at all. no cranking… So i had to have it jump started by a tow truck service.
I took it back to Honda and they said everything check out ok, and cannot find any issue.
I am afraid to get stranded again. Do I need to buy a new car? This one only has 70k miles !
thanks!!

That sounds like a bad battery to me. Eventually batteries just refuse to hold a charge, so I’m guessing that’s what happened. I’d have it tested at AutoZone or something like that, chances are it may test bad. Even if not, I’d certainly try a new battery before a new car, and if that doesn’t take care of it, a mechanic (perhaps other than the dealer) should be able to figure it out.

thanks for your response. they said the battery tested ok, and it is only 1 year old. they are suggesting perhaps the starter has intermittent problem, but I don’t want to replace something that doesn’t test bad, or i will end up replacing everything. I am wondering if the alternator actually needed to be replaced, since it still has the same issue.

What is it doing when it doesn’t start? Does the engine turn over but not start? Does the engine turn over but at much lower speed than normal?

You’ll need to determine whether the battery is indeed holding a charge first. It may not be the alternator or battery. For instance, you could very well have a bad connection from the battery to the starter, from the battery to the frame or from the frame to the engine.
It could also be the starter, as someone mentioned to you already.

But don’t allow them to blindly swap out parts. Do a little bit of investigating first.
Buy a multimeter like this cheapie: http://www.harborfreight.com/7-function-multimeter-98025.html

Read the instructions and figure out how to read DC volts. You’ll probably need to set it into the 20V range. When everything is okay and the car is running, hook the two terminals across the battery. It should read around 14.4 volts with the car running - possibly even a bit higher as you may have just started the car.

Then, when the car does not start, measure the voltage across the battery. It should read at least 12V or more. With the aid of an assistant that starts the car, read where that voltage goes while starting.
Report back.

Thanks for the advice. yes, I don’t want to blindly swap out every part. I already wonder if the alternator really needed to be replaced since it did not help. thats why I started thinking of just getting a new car. I’ll look into the multimeter, but I’m not very comfortable getting under the hood.

Perhaps you have a friend that knows a little about cars and/or electricity?
I’m not suggesting you fix it but at least, when you do go to a repair place, arm yourself with some knowledge.

i picked up my car. they did not find anything, but said they charged the battery completely. I asked if they charged it when they replaced the alternator, and he could not say (he seemed pretty clueless). So i assume they did not and hopefully that was the issue. Thanks for your responses!

I truly hate to say it but doubt that’s the last of it unless you had a bad battery connection and they unintentionally fixed it when they charged the battery. Be sure you have road assistance or towing included in your insurance.

Well, you were right! I am back. and very frustrated.
Friday, my car would not start at all. I called the tow service and we decided not to jump the battery, but to tow it in so the Honda service center can troubleshoot while it will not start. More info: Battery seemed fine since the lights turned on and did not dim after a while. There was no cranking at all, and no clicking.
Also, , here is the reading from the original alternator that tested 'BAD’
No Load: 14.49, 26.0 A
Loaded: 13.77, 93.1A

With the ‘new’ alternator, they tested to make sure it is ok, and said it is. Here is the reading:
No Load: 14.45, 27.1A
Loaded: 13.69, 90.6A

These numbers seem pretty close to me. Do you think I have any case against them that the alternator did not need to be replaced?

Thanks !