Automotive

Weird battery / electric problem

  • Last Updated:
  • Dec 28th, 2019 6:01 am
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 17, 2019
33 posts
3 upvotes

Weird battery / electric problem

Hi,

I have a 16 years old minivan (2003 Honda Odyssey EX-L), 276K kms on it. I have it for past 11 years.

1 month ago it would not start, took it to mechanic and he said replace the battery. So I bought a new battery from Canadian Tire Motomaster one with 4 years warranty and get it installed by mechanic.

Since then weird things have happened:
  • First time the minivan ran for 3 days and then it would not start. I jump start with my brother car's battery. Asked the mechanic and he said you probably forgot the lights on and thats why it would not start.
  • Now I make sure everyday that lights are not on. And still after 3 days it would not start. Again jump start it with my brother car's battery.
  • It happened couple of times. Usually the minivan would run for 3-4 days and then would not start and so jump start again.
  • One time it would not start and there was no car available for jump start. So I attach one side of jumper cable to my battery (one end on + other on frame) while leave the other side of jumper cable not attach to anything . The I try to start and viola it started. So I dont need another car to give it a boost.
  • So now every 3-7 days, the minivan would not start. I would attach one side of jumper cable to my battery as mentioned above and it would start.

What could be the reason? It seems strange.
76 replies
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2011
35227 posts
21212 upvotes
Center of Universe
Bad ground?
Check to make sure the terminals are secured to the battery posts.
Deal Guru
Feb 9, 2006
12141 posts
6696 upvotes
Brampton
Follow the ground cable to body I bet it's badly corroded.

Chrysler Caravan?
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 17, 2019
33 posts
3 upvotes
guys a video would help; I am very illiterate in cars
Deal Guru
Feb 9, 2006
12141 posts
6696 upvotes
Brampton
mrweather wrote: OP says Honda Odyssey.
Thx
Don't know how I missed it.

Usually when I hear electrical problem and van I jump to GM U-Vans but none are Still around so i jump to Caravans.

Anyway OP Take A picture of your battery and terminals And we can tell you what to do
Deal Fanatic
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Jul 26, 2007
5278 posts
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Toronto
Reinstall the battery terminals. When you crimp the both terminals on the battery using the jump cable, it's giving the needed extra force.

- Grab a 10mm rachet, undo negative terminal first, then positive terminal. Make sure you don't short by touching positive terminal on to negative with the rachet.

- Grab a wire brush, clean the terminals well.

- Reinstall positive terminal first and make sure you push down all the way. Do same for negative and be careful not to short by touching the positive terminal. Push it all the way and tighten all down.
Deal Addict
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Nov 15, 2009
1305 posts
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There could be a circuit malfunction causing the battery to be drained. If your handy with multimeter, check current draw at battery by pulling one fuse at a time. A drastic change in current could distinguish which circuit it is.

One of the common problem with Honda Pilot and Odysseys is AC Compressor Clutch Relay going bad causing the battery drain. So hook up a multimeter to battery and check current draw while running and then pull out AC Compressor Clutch Relay and see how drastic the current changes. Maybe your AC system is not working properly activating the AC clutch relay. There are probably several relay that are identical, you could try swapping them to distinguish if indeed the relay is bad.

I think there is a parasitic draw of current causing the battery to go dead.
Deal Expert
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Feb 11, 2007
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There's a good chance your alternator is not charging properly. I believe partsource will test this for you for free (maybe only your battery?).

I would suggest doing some testing with a multimeter but it sounds beyond the OP's comfort/ability. It sounds like OP's mechanic is no good or doesn't have time to bother with him. He should of done a few quick tests to see if it's the battery, the alternator, or parasitic current draw.
Member
Feb 26, 2017
205 posts
88 upvotes
rh1974 wrote: ... then weird things have happened:
  • One time it would not start and there was no car available for jump start. So I attach one side of jumper cable to my battery (one end on + other on frame) while leave the other side of jumper cable not attach to anything . Then I try to start and viola it started. So I dont need another car to give it a boost.
  • So now every 3-7 days, the minivan would not start. I would attach one side of jumper cable to my battery as mentioned above and it would start.
What could be the reason? It seems strange.
Hahaha your car is from the future that it can pull power from thin air. This is a hilarious and weird thing. From now on, you can just cut the jumper cable quite short and leave one end attached to your battery + terminal and the frame. Problem solved.
Deal Addict
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Mar 4, 2007
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Vancouver
rh1974 wrote: guys a video would help; I am very illiterate in cars
Hi,

What good are our suggestions to you if you're not able to carry out any of these suggestions? Don't you think your mechanic would have fixed the problem by now, if you had told them what you're telling us :rolleyes:
Deal Guru
Dec 23, 2003
14919 posts
3313 upvotes
Toronto
You can start by reading my Car Battery FAQ as that would be helpful.

Since the vehicle starts when you attach another wire, that means you have a bad ground as tebore mentioned. This video will help:



Basically you need to do the following:

- trace the battery wires (positive and negative) from the battery to see where they connect to.

- if any of them are rusty (which is likely on a 16 year old vehicle), they will need to be cleaned.

- alternately, you can install a NEW ground (i.e.) black colour wire and connect it to a chassis portion of the vehicle that is not rusted. That will create a circuit and start the vehicle.

- clean the battery terminals and connections as well so that everything is tight, clean and looking good.

- check to see the alternator voltage when the vehicle is running at idle. My thread will mention how to do this.

- check to see when the serpentine belt was last changed. The belt connects to the alternator and gives it enough pull to provide the correct voltage. A worn belt or tensioner can also cause issues. I would not be surprised if the tensioner/belt/idler pulley all need replacement if they have never been done. Worn pulley will cause a squeeking noise and you can see it shake
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Deal Expert
Jan 27, 2006
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hightech wrote: You can start by reading my Car Battery FAQ as that would be helpful.

Since the vehicle starts when you attach another wire, that means you have a bad ground as tebore mentioned. This video will help:



Basically you need to do the following:

- trace the battery wires (positive and negative) from the battery to see where they connect to.

- if any of them are rusty (which is likely on a 16 year old vehicle), they will need to be cleaned.

- alternately, you can install a NEW ground (i.e.) black colour wire and connect it to a chassis portion of the vehicle that is not rusted. That will create a circuit and start the vehicle.

- clean the battery terminals and connections as well so that everything is tight, clean and looking good.

- check to see the alternator voltage when the vehicle is running at idle. My thread will mention how to do this.

- check to see when the serpentine belt was last changed. The belt connects to the alternator and gives it enough pull to provide the correct voltage. A worn belt or tensioner can also cause issues. I would not be surprised if the tensioner/belt/idler pulley all need replacement if they have never been done. Worn pulley will cause a squeeking noise and you can see it shake
Yep.

To add... the mechanic who installed the battery in the first place should have done a visual check during the installation and a more in depth one after the first incident. However, I suspect that the mechanic may not have been knowledgeable enough to do the work as they suggested a battery replacement for what might have been another issue as the OP seems to have the same problem before and after the battery was replaced.
Deal Guru
Dec 23, 2003
14919 posts
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Toronto
craftsman wrote: Yep.

To add... the mechanic who installed the battery in the first place should have done a visual check during the installation and a more in depth one after the first incident. However, I suspect that the mechanic may not have been knowledgeable enough to do the work as they suggested a battery replacement for what might have been another issue as the OP seems to have the same problem before and after the battery was replaced.
This is why it helps to have some basic knowledge of things. I think that if the mechanic did some better testing, he would have found the real problem. I suspect that if that was done it would not have been a typical $40 battery install charge but about 1 hour of labour. Some people would be OK with that and others may think they are getting ripped. Most of the time, the typical "old battery, replace it" mantra works for 80% of the issues.
Car Batteries - FAQ, General Information, Tips & Tricks

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Deal Expert
Jan 27, 2006
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hightech wrote: This is why it helps to have some basic knowledge of things. I think that if the mechanic did some better testing, he would have found the real problem. I suspect that if that was done it would not have been a typical $40 battery install charge but about 1 hour of labour. Some people would be OK with that and others may think they are getting ripped. Most of the time, the typical "old battery, replace it" mantra works for 80% of the issues.
But that may not have been the case in this situation.... The OP went to the mechanic stating the car won't start so the mechanic told them that they need to replace the battery. To me, the OP did what most people without expertise in an area does... rely on someone who is supposed to know and they trust. The mechanic should have done at least some basic troubleshooting before stating 'it's an old battery so you need to change it'! Heck, that's the type of advice you get here on RFD for free from people who haven't even looked at the car nor expect to get paid for their advice. :)

Now it would have been completely different if the OP just brought the car and the new battery to the mechanic and asked them to replace the battery... But in either case, I would expect that the mechanic to have properly installed the battery (ie cleaned the terminals, tightened the various screws and bolts) and started the car to verify that things were running.
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Feb 4, 2015
6415 posts
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Canada, Eh!!
engineered wrote: There's a good chance your alternator is not charging properly. I believe partsource will test this for you for free (maybe only your battery?).

I would suggest doing some testing with a multimeter but it sounds beyond the OP's comfort/ability. It sounds like OP's mechanic is no good or doesn't have time to bother with him. He should of done a few quick tests to see if it's the battery, the alternator, or parasitic current draw.
Part source will do load test... did one in summer. I'm sure if ask they will keep meter connected while vehicle running to check that voltage above 14... to check on alternator
.......
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2020: BOC dropped rates 3 times and MCAP waited and waited to drop its prime rate to include all 3 drops.
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Nov 15, 2009
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Just trying to understand

Let say alternator is defective. Alternator is overcharging or undercharging (voltage regulator inside alternator). If it is overcharging wouldn't it completely destroy the battery. Meaning battery is dead and cannot be revived. Yet the OP says jump starting works. Maybe undercharging. But if it is undercharging would the car start?

If one of the sliding door sensor switch (alarm) is not working that would cause a battery drain.
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MasterMK wrote: Just trying to understand

Let say alternator is defective. Alternator is overcharging or undercharging (voltage regulator inside alternator). If it is overcharging wouldn't it completely destroy the battery. Meaning battery is dead and cannot be revived. Yet the OP says jump starting works. Maybe undercharging. But if it is undercharging would the car start?

If one of the sliding door sensor switch (alarm) is not working that would cause a battery drain.
That's exactly the symptom of under charging.
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Nov 15, 2009
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If alternator is undercharging then wouldn't the van have lights becoming dim or flickering. He should notice it in dome light, instrument cluster light and radio etc. It would probably cause Check Engine light to come on.

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