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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So it started with what I thought was a dead battery. Got AAA to jump me and literally drove one block and it shut off right in the middle of 18th and Cherry St in Philly!!! Had some very pissed off motorists behind me for about 15 minutes until the PD gave me a push around the corner where I'm now waiting for AAA to return and tow me home.

Battery is fine, AAA tested it. It started fine with the jumper attached but won't start again on its own. When I turn the key to ON the lights come on and the seat belt reminder beeps but when I turn the key to START, I hear clicking coming from the glove box, the lights all turn off and I don't hear any cranking from the engine. I can't make out a click from the starter solenoid but I'm not in the quietest place so it might be just too noisy.

EDIT: Tried starting it again and I can hear the starter kick in, the engine gives maybe a quarter turn then the whole thing shuts off. Could still be the starter but I know every little detail helps with the troubleshooting.

I've replaced alternators before and this doesn't seem to be an issue with the charging system or battery. Could it be a bad starter shorting out? Is there a relay somewhere I should be checking? The clicking from the glove box has me worried. All the electrics work with the car just turned to ON but once I try and start it, everything goes dead and I just hear the clicking.

I'm having the E towed to my house. I'll take a stab at fixing it myself if I can figure out a few things to try but I've never had a car do this to me. I'm a grease monkey but newer cars tend to have hidden goblins so I'm throwing myself on the collective charitable knowledge of the EOC in the hopes there may be something I can do without resorting to a mechanic, or worse the dealer (shudder).
 

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I would look at the battery again as it sounds like the symptoms of a bad battery or check the connections and see if you have a dirty one. Ether will make the car die at idle as the alternator looses its output voltage when turning slow and the computer will shut down. When you get it started check the battery voltage and you should be getting 13.8 with a decent change and a little lower if the battery is discharged.
 

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Any chance you could have a corroded battery cable? I had a Civic with this problem (but it was 15 years old) and I had similar issues to what you are describing. Low amperage current flow was fine (lights worked, etc) but when I tried to start, the increased load would heat up the cable and increase the resistance in the wire to the point where it was essentially a big resistor. So after the initial start attempt you would lose lights and everything but an hour later they would all work again.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Just realized I never followed up on this thread. Some others might benefit from my misfortune.

I finally got the E towed home the night it died and left it in the parking lot across the street while I took the wife's CR-V to the nearest Honda dealer to pick up and ELD module. Stopped at AutoZone on the way home and grabbed a new battery just in case.

Before going under the hood, I played around with it a little bit. I was able to get it started after leaving it sit for a few hours, not sure the rest had anything to do with it. Once running, I started slowly turning things on. First the headlights, then the radio, then the AC. Each time I turned something on the engine would hunker way down like it was choking on something and the final straw was the AC. As soon as the compressor kicked in, it just died. Turned everything off and started over again with the same results. I figured either the ELD wasn't doing its job, the battery had some shorted plates (although it likely wouldn't start with an undervolted battery) or the alternator couldn't keep up with the load. I wasn't keen on replacing the alternator so I decided to swap in the new parts I already had.

Using the thread here on the EOC on the ELD replacement I was able to do the swap in just a few minutes. At the same time, I went through all the cables and triple checked their tightness and removed any corrosion I found. I pulled the old battery and installed the new one, buttoned it all up nice and tight, crossed my fingers and turned the key. The E fired right up.

I drove the old battery to AutoZone to get my core deposit back and just for fun, asked them to throw it on the tester. The results? It wasn't performing up to like-new specs (it's five years old, original from the dealer) but it still had sufficient cranking amps and wasn't undervolted. In other words, it was showing its age but still working fine.

So I'm left believing the ELD was the culprit. I'm sure the new battery didn't hurt but all the signs point at the ELD. What's the lesson here? Go buy the $12 ELD from a dealer and stash it in your glove box. It's cheap insurance against getting stuck when an easily replaceable part goes south. You can do the swap without any tools if you have to, right on the side of the road.
 

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2008 Element EX AWD TRP
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The symptoms point to a high resistance (bad) connection somewhere.

Adding low draw loads to the primary circuit with a high resistance in series causes a significant voltage drop across the bad connection and limits the current. It's enough to cause the ECM to act erratically or shut down.
 
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