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Discussion Starter #1
When my a/c was getting fixed, my mechanic told me the battery kept needed to be jump started. I sort of ignored him because I know the battery (stock) has always been weak and if I don't drive it for a while, it usually dies pretty quick.

So last weekend I drove and had no problems. It stayed parked from Sunday night till yesterday night. (I commute so most driving is on weekends) I tried to drive it yesterday night and it wouldn't start.

I had to use the other car in the house to jump start my Element, which started right away.

Then, when I was driving, my lights would dim (headlights, radio lights, etc). The car itself never stalled, but just the electronics kept dimming. When I got to my destination and parked, the car would then refuse to turn back on again without another jump start.

IS IT MY BATTERY OR THE ALTERNATOR? I'm leaning towards battery, but I want to see if anyone has any input...
 

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Battery. Clearly.

As far as the dimming goes, that's also confirmation that it's the battery. Operating perfectly, the alternator at low RPMs (<1500) can't keep up with the full load with lights and A/C. Normally it depends on the battery to bridge the gap, and since your battery is toast, or nearly so, it's Dim City.
 

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You need a battery, without doubt.

You may also now need an alternator since you refused to take heed of the warning supplied by your mechanic.

The dimming maybe just the effect of low RPMs, your battery could be pretty much useless and you are strictly running off the alternator. The alernator output is relative to the rpm and load applied by the voltage regulator. Normally your battery acts as a buffer for the voltage load and you see little if any dimming when your engine rpms lower. With litte or no help from the battery these load/speed variations become very apparent. If you continue to drive without replacing the battery your alternator will go to its only a matter of how long. Alternators are peak rated but like run far more conservatively so running them on the outside edge of there full load is bad.

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter #4
You da You da best.

I'm reading around and searching the forums and seems like people either like to get the DieHard replacement (exact same size as factory) or the 56-DL Duralast battery from autozone.

I have an autozone close to my house, so maybe that's what I'll end up doing.

Will repost with update.

Thanks a ton.
 

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my battery also died at work this week. it has been doing fine. no warning, just was dead as a door nail when i left work. got a jump and made it home. it wouldn't start even after driving it home. took it out and went to the local autozone the nest morning. they said it had zero cranking amps left and only 9 volts showing. bought new battery and everything is good so far. i am going to let my dealer check alternator when i take in for the next oil change. i think it was just the battery.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I was worried that it was my alternator as well, but the battery I put in is still running strong, at least it has since I put it in (Sat morning).

I've never been so disgusted in the size and power of a battery as I have been with that in the Element.

I upgraded to a much bigger and better battery.

For the record: My car had only 52,300 miles on it when the battery took a dump on me.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
FYI: Replacement battery is a Duralast Gold 24F-DLG battery.

Rated *** 750 cold cranking Amps (935 cranking Amps) ***

Cost: 89.99 + tax at Autozone
3 year free replacement and 8 years warranty coverage.

I would recommend it to everyone. It's much bigger than the Element battery and minor modification is required (bigger battery tie down), but you won't ever miss your factory battery again with this 45lb beast. (The battery is intended for use in an 08 Honda Pilot V6 4WD)
 

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Alternator vs. Battery? -Me Too

Dummies guide please:

I went camping a couple weeks ago, and the car sat unused for a few days. When I went to start it, it simply wouldn't. I got a jump, and then I was good for the rest of the day (4-5 stops on the way home). When camping, I had occasionally used the dome lights, and charged my phone off the car (rear plug always hot mod). I have done this, and FAR MORE on many previous trips, with no problems.

Yesterday, I went to move my car a few feet in the driveway and it seemed to half-heartedly start. Usage the days before that had been normal.

Looking back, over the past year, I have noticed maybe 6 times, when the car almost didn't start. Usually I have to back the car out of the driveway, get out of the car, shut & lock the gate, then get back in the car, start it and go. The front end of the car is higher, the back in lower. It's that SECOND start that seemed weak. I started giving it a little gas when I heard it turn over, which seemed to help, but it's never NOT started in the driveway scenario when I didn't give it gas. NOTE: I'm NOT looking for your opinion on leaving the car running (or not) while I lock the gate. That's just the way it goes, and it's not going to change. Just assume I live in a horrible neighborhood.

So how do I diagnose if this is a battery, alternator, or both issue?

Thanks
 

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Battery. I will wager that a cell has shorted, so you have a nominal 10V battery (will read ~11V) instead of a nominal 12V (13.2V). It starts OK when freshly charged from driving because it will retain what is now an overcharge of the "smaller" battery. Let it sit, then the overcharge dissipates and you are back to your old, underpowered battery. Two cells may even be toast (8V/8.8V), which would certainly explain the dead battery after it sat for a few days.

Anyway... likely bottom line is the battery is on its last legs. Take it to an AutoZone, O'Reilly's, Advance Auto or Pep Boys - they'll be happy to check it out for you. If it's OK, they're happy to send you on your way without buying anything, but if it's as we suspect, you'll be buying a new one from 'em.
 

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get yourself a Digital Multi-Meter[DMM]
set it to 20 volts-DC


a normal charged battery will show 12.8volts(sometimes more)
-if its less, it could indicate a bad cell, or discharged battery.


when running the voltage should show 13-14 volts. -this test ensures your charging system is working.

I have had conditions where the car would start fine but things would dim while running. i was showing 12.2 volts off, and 11.5volts and dropping as the car ran. Alt was not charging.

hope this helps.
Mike
 

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I'm having a problem similar to Legioss's. For about a month, when I go start the car in the morning I noticed it turning over slowly and usually starting on the second try. I couple of times it acted as if the battery was almost dead and I stopped trying to start so the battery wouldn't completely die....then one last try and it would start. Very strange I thought. Well, this morning I had to run out to Wally World and it did it usual slow turning thing but started. I drove the 10 minutes to the store and was in the store for 10 minutes tops. When I went to leave I couldn't start the car. Tried and tried and eventually I was getting no response when turning the key. Oddly enough, I had purchased the battery at Wally World and they have a 2 year free replacement with their batteries. I brought the battery into the store and they tested it. It had 12volts and 430 of 435 amps.....so they said there was nothing wrong with the battery and that it had a full charge. Annoyed, I put it back in the car....kept trying and trying and I got it to start. I went straight to Pep Boys where they tested the batter in the car. In the car it showed 13 volts and 430 of the 435. So they confirmed that the battery was fine. Still not convinced, I went to a third place and they also verified that the battery was fine. I've stopped and started the car about 8 more times today and it starts like a charm. My lights don't dim or anything. It's just that first start in the morning where the batter acts like it almost dead. I know that the alternator can't bring the battery up to a full charge in a matter of minutes so I'm assuming that my battery was fully charged. What should I check?
 

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a normal charged battery will show 12.8volts(sometimes more)
-if its less, it could indicate a bad cell, or discharged battery.

when running the voltage should show 13-14 volts. -this test ensures your charging system is working.

I have had conditions where the car would start fine but things would dim while running. i was showing 12.2 volts off, and 11.5volts and dropping as the car ran.
Now I'm confused.

My DMM was out of batteries (oh, the irony), so I went to PepBoys. First, it wouldn't test, and said something was drawing power. I made sure all the doors were fully shut, and PepBoys guy unplugged my iPod USB charger (which shouldn't draw anything since the front socket isn't powered when the car is off). Then it DOES test, and he says the battery has failed. I watched the readout the whole time, but I couldn't really see it due to a nasty reflection. THE PB guy didn't know that, so I assume he was telling the truth. On the way home, I picked up a 9v to doublecheck with my DMM just for fun, and also picked up a new Car Battery.

When I doublechecked with my DMM, i get:
off: 12.36v
on: 14.12v

Doesn't that mean the battery is good?
 

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Nope. Battery could read over 12 volts and still be bad, if it cannot hold the voltage under load
I'm still a n00b on the battery subject. So the PB testing does more than just what I do with the DMM?

Thanks
 

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this test confirms your charging system is functioning normally.

proper battery test required a load tester.

-harbour freight ~$20.
I already put the new battery in Monday night, and the problem is gone. I've literally driven by HF 4x since then. I wish I'd known in time to pick up a load tester. Thanks for the info though.
 
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