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Charging System Indicator Light Intermittent

657 Views 16 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  94eg!
I have a 2009 Odyssey EX with 155,000 miles on it. It has the original Alternator. Battery is getting close to 4 years old, with 36,000 miles on it.

About a month ago I was driving the van and the "Charging System Indicator" light came on about a half mile from my destination. So I turned off all the accessories I could (radio, lights, climate Control..) and drove to the restaurant. When I was done eating, I had my friend jump start my van in order to keep as much charge on the battery as possible. When I turned the van on, I heard a different noise coming from the van around the serpentine belt. I figured the noise was coming from my alternator.

I drove the van from the restaurant to the nearest Auto Zone, which was 2-3 miles away. During the drive, the Charging System Indicator turned off. I had Autozone check the alternator and battery, and they said both of them were fine.

I drove home and checked the voltage on the battery. It was around 12.6 when the car was off and 13-14 something when the car was on (I don't remember the exact voltage). For the next week, I would check the voltage before I left and when I got home to make sure the battery was charging. I would check both running and when it was off. Each time I checked it looked fine.

For about a month, the battery charging indicator didn't come on at all. Then one day my wife started the van at work and heard a "noise" coming from the engine. She looked down and the indicator was on. She said the noise went away about 20 seconds later and the indicator had gone off again.

The indicator has been off now for about a week. The issue has only happened twice, both times the van was away from home. I haven't been able to really try to diagnose the issue since I haven't seen it while at home. My wife is the main driver of the van, and she only drives 2 miles to work. I drove it on Friday for probably 15 miles without issue.

I don't want to drive the van too far from home since I don't want to be left stranded. But I want to fix the issue. Should I just replace the alternator and hope that it is the problem? Or are there other things that could cause this issue? I guessing that due to the noise my wife and I both heard, it is not a grounding or cable connection issue.

I'll read here that I should only use a Denso Alternator. Both RockAuto and Summit racing have one in stock (Remanufactured) for about the same price. Is there a preference between one or the other? The advantage of Summit Racing for me is that there is one within driving distance (45 minutes) if for some reason I need to drive there, but I would have it shipped.
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I usually order from Rockauto, but recently I wanted a particular brand they were out of, so I ordered from Summit. No issues either way. You might consider how they do their core returns if you are replacing the alternator.

I would just replace the alternator with a Denso reman, or get it rebuilt at a local shop if you can find one (I have never been able to find one). Check for oil leaking on the alternator, although I don't think that would be an issue on an EX (no L).
 

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Bolt - 2006 Honda Odyssey (EX)
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Most likely just a bad alternator. Replace with a Denso, doesn't really matter which you choose as long as it's new or remanufactured by Denso (the one on RockAuto is and probably Summit as well).

You have the EX, so this is not a concern, but the EX-L model has a spool valve in the front head located right above the alternator. This often leaks after some time and can fry the alternator.
 

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Order the alternator ASAP. My 2012 gave similar warning at the beginning of summer and the part arrived from rockauto fast. Changed it and ran perfect since.

Rockauto has an easy core return. Return shipping through them for mine was only $7. But if you have a summit near you, core return would be free. Both places will have good warranty support, but in person warranty support would definitely be a bonus. Up to you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I did check, and there is no oil on the alternator, at least that I can see from above.

I must say with all of the VCM issues I have seen posted on this site, I am glad I don't have VCM. I had a 2005 EX for 4 years (totaled in 2012) and this 2009 for 10 years and have had very little issues with them. This site has been very helpful with the issues I have had.
 

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I must say with all of the VCM issues I have seen posted on this site, I am glad I don't have VCM. I had a 2005 EX for 4 years (totaled in 2012) and this 2009 for 10 years and have had very little issues with them. This site has been very helpful with the issues I have had.
I would have to agree. The other benefit is that with no VCM you get VTEC, which the VCM counterparts do not have.
 

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I did check, and there is no oil on the alternator, at least that I can see from above.

I must say with all of the VCM issues I have seen posted on this site, I am glad I don't have VCM. I had a 2005 EX for 4 years (totaled in 2012) and this 2009 for 10 years and have had very little issues with them. This site has been very helpful with the issues I have had.
IMHO….I think you have an intermittent short in your battery. This will not show up by any test. Your battery is four years old, don‘t try to get more out of it. I would change the battery first, then the alternator if the problem does not go away. If you change the alternator first, a shorted battery could cause damage to the new alternator.
 

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Charging system indicator will almost always mean "your alternator is dying or is about to die". Your alternator, whether brand new or old units, may only show problem under load so it will pass a typical test at auto stores with flying color. Testing is a joke when it comes to your charging system. Rely on your real data and change out that alternator before you depend on the last drop of power from battery to get home.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I was on RockAuto's website trying to order the alternator and it says the following:
"Most "no Charge" situations are caused by lack of belt tension. Add a belt or belt tensioner to ensure your alternator performs as it should"

Could it be the belt or the tensioner, or is Rockauto just trying to sell me more parts? The belt was replaced at the same time as the timing belt, at around 100,000 miles. The tensioner is original. Looking at the belt itself it looks fine. I didn't see any areas of concern on the belt. I'm not sure how to check the tensioner. I did run the van and watch belt and it looks to be running smooth, for whatever that is worth.

As what do you think of what geotek said about the battery. Could the battery be the issue? I looked back and my first 2 batteries lasted 3.3 and 3.5 years. This battery is older than the 2 batteries before it. So I may be on borrowed time on this battery. Looking at pricing, the same battery I bought 4 years ago is $55 more expensive now that it was 4 years ago. The battery is more expensive than the alternator.

When I started the van today, after sitting overnight, there is almost a whistling sound coming from the area around the alternator. As the van warmed up, the whistling noise got quieter. Not sure if this has anything to do with the issue, but something to note.

The biggest issue for me is that since this is so intermittent, I can't really debug the issue. I can only guess at what the problem is. And when I do make a change, I may not know if the issue is fixed for a few months.
 

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John Clark has said before, the charging light is controlled by the alternator. If the charging light comes on it's an alternator problem.
 

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JC also commented on another thread that the whining sound could be failing diodes inside your alternator.

Anyway @ 155k miles and 4-yr old battery, both of those items are up for replacement so you are not exactly throwing parts at it.
 
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I was on RockAuto's website trying to order the alternator and it says the following:
"Most "no Charge" situations are caused by lack of belt tension. Add a belt or belt tensioner to ensure your alternator performs as it should"
The tensioner would have to be WAY wacked out for this to happen...I would definitely never say "most". I would say "there's an extremely rare chance"
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Just wanted to let everyone know that I installed the new alternator on Sunday with the help of a friend. Since this is an intermittent issue, it will be a while before I know for sure this fixed the issue.

I ended up buying the Alternator from Summit Racing because of timing. My friend offered to help me on Sunday, and RockAuto couldn't get me the alternator in time unless I paid for expediated shipping.. I bought the Denso DNP-210-0750 which is remanufactured.

Thanks everyone for their help.
 

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Jumping back to the belt tension conversation, I would like to add...

Belt tension is typically not an issue with spring-loaded auto tensioners found in these vans (weather hydraulic or friction damped). It is an issue with older hand-tensioned solid position designs. That's because with a solid position design, as the belt wears, the tension becomes less and less until the belt slips (squeals). With spring loaded auto tensioners, the pulleys neutral position will move to compensate for the wear and always maintain the proper tension. Sounds good.....but.....when belt condition is neglected, the result is sudden belt failure instead of a progressive warning squeal.
 
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