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Old 06-01-2011, 12:36 PM
 
538 posts, read 1,255,111 times
Reputation: 719

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Seconding going to a parts/battery store and have them check it out for FREE before you do anything else.
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Old 06-01-2011, 02:55 PM
 
Location: Minneapolis
1,617 posts, read 4,525,773 times
Reputation: 1203
First, I'd rule out the alternator with a voltmeter (engine running, it should be around 14 volts, give or take a few points), and make sure the battery was strong (free test at many auto parts stores--in the OP's case, it's new, and not really indicated, so skip this step the first round).

Then I'd look for:

A starter going bad. If tapping on the starter with the end of your tire wrench gets it going without a jump, replace the starter).

Corroded or missing grounding cables, particularly the ones between the engine and body, and between the body and the battery.

Hondas of that vintage also tend to have intermittent problems with what's called the main relay, which don't prevent the starter from cranking, but do keep the engine from firing up.
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Old 06-01-2011, 03:06 PM
 
19,122 posts, read 21,362,274 times
Reputation: 7313
Might even be a bad neutral safety switch..... If this is a slush box tranny car..
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Old 06-01-2011, 03:47 PM
 
10,139 posts, read 22,404,584 times
Reputation: 8239
Cables not making proper contact with battery terminals but making good contact with jumper cables. Get a terminal connector brush.
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Old 06-01-2011, 05:09 PM
 
Location: Wicker Park, Chicago
4,791 posts, read 12,894,374 times
Reputation: 1933
I had hard starting problems too, even after changing my battery and in the end it was a bad starter motor.
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Old 06-01-2011, 07:51 PM
 
10,868 posts, read 41,128,193 times
Reputation: 14009
IIRC, this car was one of a series of Honda's that had alternator diode failures ... way back when they were newer. After 15+ years of service, it wouldn't be unlikely that this car's alternator has finally failed.

The twofold problem that results is that the alternator diodes allow:

1) A floating A/C current on the D/C circuit, which eats batteries, and

2) allows a reverse current to flow from the battery when the car is off, so the battery gets discharged when the car is not running.

A simple voltage charge test will not necessarily show this problem, and a DC voltmeter may well read in normal charge voltage ranges when the car is running at a fast idle or faster.

You must perform two tests:

1) A full load output test on the alternator, which may reveal that it cannot produce it's rated amperage, and

2) An engine off battery draw test. It wouldn't be unusual with a couple of diodes out for the alternator to draw several amps (or more), which can rapidly deplete a new charged battery between the cycles of not charging properly when the motor is running and discharging the battery when the car is off.

I've seen this cycle of electrical problem baffle many a shop that only checks charge voltage and nominal charge amperage (rather than a full load test). A competent battery retailer wouldn't simply replace a new battery without testing the battery, to include verifying that it's fully charged, charging it, and then draw testing the battery to assure that it did accept and hold a full charge.

Best to take this car to a shop with knowledgeable techs who can properly diagnose the issues with the car. If the car has clean battery cable terminal to battery connections, all of the comments above miss the obvious problem in this car: a new battery is not able to retain enough charge to start the car.

If the only thing that is being done to get the car started is to jump it with another known good battery, then all of the suggestions of neutral safety switch, bad starter, etc ... are not the problem.

In my shop, I was alerted to this type of problem many years ago with a series of defective rebuilt Bosch alternators that were coming through the aftermarket cheapie retail parts stores, where the alternators were getting cleaned up with new brushes and bearings, but the diodes weren't being tested. I got in the habit of checking the alternator performance with an old H-P O'scope ... because it would show a visual output of the voltage produced by the alternator, and I could immediately spot bad diodes dumping the A/C into the D/C charging circuit. It was then conclusive to put an in-series ammeter into the battery circuit and measure the battery discharge rate when the motor was off. I embarrassed a lot of dealership techs who couldn't fathom that the factory new alternators were defective, let alone the counter people at the parts stores who couldn't diagnose a defective alternator. Not only that, but I had a couple of local automotive electrical rebuilder shops that couldn't properly diagnose a defective alternator ... and I had one shop that wouldn't do business with me after I sent back a dozen defective Lucas alternators in a row for a TR-6; several in a row had such poor connections that you could spot the blue arcing inside the alternator case at the diodes when the car was idling. I had the shop owner come down to my shop on a bet ... I could show him the poor quality of his shop's work product visually, or I'd pay him for all the alternators that he'd sent to me. The fellow came down to my place with a big attitude that he was going to collect a huge bill ... and instead, left with my bill for the R&R of all those crap alternators that didn't even make it out of my shop because I hadn't fixed the car to give it back to my customer. He was so embarrassed about his shop's work product that he wound up buying a brand new Lucas alternator and sending it to me for the car in my shop.

Last edited by sunsprit; 06-01-2011 at 09:15 PM..
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Old 06-02-2011, 01:02 AM
 
Location: Yucaipa, California
9,596 posts, read 17,698,995 times
Reputation: 6248
Sounds like the alternator. I have had the problem like yours more then a few times & its always been the alternator.
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Old 06-02-2011, 07:18 AM
 
14,777 posts, read 34,490,118 times
Reputation: 14278
Good suggestions all around, the next step would be to have the alternator checked out.
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Old 06-02-2011, 09:22 AM
 
19,122 posts, read 21,362,274 times
Reputation: 7313
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunsprit View Post
IIRC, this car was one of a series of Honda's that had alternator diode failures ... way back when they were newer. After 15+ years of service, it wouldn't be unlikely that this car's alternator has finally failed.

The twofold problem that results is that the alternator diodes allow:

1) A floating A/C current on the D/C circuit, which eats batteries, and

2) allows a reverse current to flow from the battery when the car is off, so the battery gets discharged when the car is not running.

A simple voltage charge test will not necessarily show this problem, and a DC voltmeter may well read in normal charge voltage ranges when the car is running at a fast idle or faster.

You must perform two tests:

1) A full load output test on the alternator, which may reveal that it cannot produce it's rated amperage, and

2) An engine off battery draw test. It wouldn't be unusual with a couple of diodes out for the alternator to draw several amps (or more), which can rapidly deplete a new charged battery between the cycles of not charging properly when the motor is running and discharging the battery when the car is off.

I've seen this cycle of electrical problem baffle many a shop that only checks charge voltage and nominal charge amperage (rather than a full load test). A competent battery retailer wouldn't simply replace a new battery without testing the battery, to include verifying that it's fully charged, charging it, and then draw testing the battery to assure that it did accept and hold a full charge.

Best to take this car to a shop with knowledgeable techs who can properly diagnose the issues with the car. If the car has clean battery cable terminal to battery connections, all of the comments above miss the obvious problem in this car: a new battery is not able to retain enough charge to start the car.

If the only thing that is being done to get the car started is to jump it with another known good battery, then all of the suggestions of neutral safety switch, bad starter, etc ... are not the problem.

In my shop, I was alerted to this type of problem many years ago with a series of defective rebuilt Bosch alternators that were coming through the aftermarket cheapie retail parts stores, where the alternators were getting cleaned up with new brushes and bearings, but the diodes weren't being tested. I got in the habit of checking the alternator performance with an old H-P O'scope ... because it would show a visual output of the voltage produced by the alternator, and I could immediately spot bad diodes dumping the A/C into the D/C charging circuit. It was then conclusive to put an in-series ammeter into the battery circuit and measure the battery discharge rate when the motor was off. I embarrassed a lot of dealership techs who couldn't fathom that the factory new alternators were defective, let alone the counter people at the parts stores who couldn't diagnose a defective alternator. Not only that, but I had a couple of local automotive electrical rebuilder shops that couldn't properly diagnose a defective alternator ... and I had one shop that wouldn't do business with me after I sent back a dozen defective Lucas alternators in a row for a TR-6; several in a row had such poor connections that you could spot the blue arcing inside the alternator case at the diodes when the car was idling. I had the shop owner come down to my shop on a bet ... I could show him the poor quality of his shop's work product visually, or I'd pay him for all the alternators that he'd sent to me. The fellow came down to my place with a big attitude that he was going to collect a huge bill ... and instead, left with my bill for the R&R of all those crap alternators that didn't even make it out of my shop because I hadn't fixed the car to give it back to my customer. He was so embarrassed about his shop's work product that he wound up buying a brand new Lucas alternator and sending it to me for the car in my shop.
I agree, but this info is probably well past the scope of most readers. It's past the scope of most dealer techs too

Perhaps the most challanging repair I made was on a 1981 XS 850 Sh Yamaha, with a dead shorted stator, and on a brushless Alt.

Mounted correctly the stator was dead shorted to ground, but off the engine case it ohmed out great. This fubarred the charging totally and my head a while. I came to discover one bolt tightened correctly dead shorted the stator, somehow invisably warping the copper coils to ground.

Since parts were unobtainum of the instant, I tightened 3 of the 4 bolts correctly and left the 4th slightly loose, but with a dob of blue locktite. Then a quick check with the bike running on the ACV wires showed up the right voltages 2 pairs of 3 wires all reading right. I was lucky to not have fried the rec/reg. That stator still runs today, but I have a complete charging system and 1/2 laid by.
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Old 06-02-2011, 03:13 PM
 
20,301 posts, read 37,784,136 times
Reputation: 18081
I once had a battery come loose while on a long trip. It bounced around and came to rest against a pulley, which promptly ground it way through the rubber side of the battery, which spilled out the acid. We quickly replaced the battery at a roadside auto parts store but it wouldn't start with the new battery. We could push start it as it was a stick shift.

Turns out the battery acid ran down onto the battery cable ground wire that bolted to the engine block and set up a thin film of corrosion between the block and the cable. Once I was removed that corrosion with a bit of sandpaper it was perfect for the rest of its years.

Simple thing to repair for the price of a small square of sandpaper.
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