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2004 Civic -- alternator mounting bolt broke, now car wont run


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JoeFutz
Novice

Aug 7, 2015, 3:36 PM

Post #1 of 17 (1599 views)
2004 Civic -- alternator mounting bolt broke, now car wont run Sign In

2004 Honda Civic (Value Package)
SOHC 102 cu. in.
110,104 mi.

Beginning of the problem: Driving on hwy, heard sound -- like a rock hitting the underside of car; car began having very little power. Limped home. Found that the lower alternator mounting bolt broke and alternator was only being turned sporadically due to belt no longer being tight. No other apparent damage. Replaced broken bolt, adjusted belt tension etc. Found head of bolt wedged in bottom of engine compartment.

Now: Engine starts, battery light comes on immediately; full power at this point. Ck Engine light blinks on and off; when on, it loses almost all power. After about 20 seconds, ck engine light stays on, battery light goes out, temperature gauge goes to cold (turns off), and very little power, as if running on 1 cylinder.

If I turn the engine off and restart it, the same thing happens consistently.

Battery voltage (tested across battery posts):
engine off: 12.8v
engine running: 14.4v

I don't know much about diagnosing this problem, but I am motivated to fix this on my own. That's not quite true. I am willing to fix this when someone tells me how.

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you in advance,

Jackson


(This post was edited by JoeFutz on Aug 7, 2015, 3:41 PM)


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Aug 7, 2015, 5:53 PM

Post #2 of 17 (1584 views)
Re: 2004 Civic -- alternator mounting bolt broke, now car wont run Sign In

Jackson,
Some/most of those that you set the belt tension type are fussy/rusted/stuck to adjust or move at all to service belt unless kept lubed once in a while.


Nothing should just fall off like that so what's the story?
Did something in road actually break this off or recent work left it loose?
OK that you found a bolt and set tension again but if somehow it was just that I can't see why it caused it not to run properly except for low battery voltage for the time it probably wasn't charging at all go too low to run.


There has to be some damage because of this, belt probably no good anymore not the whole issue. Warnings, CEL light blinking all say do NOT drive this car anymore till fixed! It is causing damage now just by not running on all cylinders. Volt test shows alternator itself is working again but there's more to this.


Perhaps no time to wait. Can you post good pics of the area showing what happened?


There almost has to be a reason, wires damaged, yanked on or something more broken for all this all at once.


At least check oil level if something rammed up into the engine compartment and broke things I can't say what else might have happened.


I know you want to do this yourself and who wouldn't but there more and you can't see anything so suggest you get it towed to where you can get help.


More: If there's still some short or wiring when totally off now you might consider removing negative battery cable at post but that also clears computer memory that could be useful info but if it is draining power from damaged wiring that no good either,


T



Discretesignals
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Discretesignals profile image

Aug 7, 2015, 7:11 PM

Post #3 of 17 (1578 views)
Re: 2004 Civic -- alternator mounting bolt broke, now car wont run Sign In

Another suggestion is to scan the engine computer to see what codes it could be storing. Write down the numbers. I just hope it didn't do what I think it did.





Since we volunteer our time and knowledge, we ask for you to please follow up when a problem is resolved.


JoeFutz
Novice

Aug 7, 2015, 7:48 PM

Post #4 of 17 (1573 views)
Re: 2004 Civic -- alternator mounting bolt broke, now car wont run Sign In

Tom,

Thanks for your help.

I totally agree that there is more going on then just the alternator coming loose. I think what happened is the head of the bolt got sent flying by the belt, hit something (causing the aforementioned problems), and then hit metal, making the loud noise that I heard. There has been no recent work at all on the car. I didn't run over anything on the road that might have jumped up and hit the alternator. The battery didn't run down that much. The belt seems fine. I'm not driving the car until it gets fixed. Oil level is good.

I guess a better question is this: What could cause the symptoms that the car is exhibiting? I'm pretty sure that the broken bolt caused it, but what exactly IT is, is the real question. There doesn't appear to be a short.

I have looked for damage to wires, tubes, hoses etc. but I can't find any.

The pictures show the broken bolt and two views of the area of the alternator. The bolt location is under the pulley and can't be seen. It wound up wedged in the circular area to the SE of the pulley.

Jackson








JoeFutz
Novice

Aug 7, 2015, 7:50 PM

Post #5 of 17 (1571 views)
Re: 2004 Civic -- alternator mounting bolt broke, now car wont run Sign In

OK, I'll bite -- what do you think it did?


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Aug 7, 2015, 8:22 PM

Post #6 of 17 (1565 views)
Re: 2004 Civic -- alternator mounting bolt broke, now car wont run Sign In

Oh my. Code if you can.
I don't see much all that wrong. Just how did you get broken stud remaining from the bolt out? Any trauma to do that?


Back or plug to alternator would have wire and should have one larger wire for constant Bat+ power part covered to protect it from shorting. IDK what could happen if that touched while loose without seeing something?


I really and at a loss of what to do next. Perhaps take whole alternator out and look for something?


Lost. This type thing just doesn't happen for no reason,


T



Discretesignals
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Discretesignals profile image

Aug 8, 2015, 5:32 AM

Post #7 of 17 (1555 views)
Re: 2004 Civic -- alternator mounting bolt broke, now car wont run Sign In

It may have damaged the engine controller. If the alternator bolts are loose, which they probably were, the alternator can lose its ground which causes high voltage spikes into the electrical system. These spikes can fry the engine controller.

There is actually a TSB on it. I think it would be important to treat this as a normal drive-ability problem and troubleshoot it first before condeming the engine controller. Seeing what codes, if any, are stored is a start.



Quote

Got a ’01–04 Civic in your shop with any or all of

these symptoms?

• The engine cranks but it won’t start.

• The MIL comes on.

• The immobilizer indicator blinks while the

engine cranks.

• The HDS can’t communicate with the

ECM/PCM.

Check for loose alternator bolts. If these bolts are

loose for any reason such as the alternator was

R&R’ed or an accessory A/C was installed on a DX

model at the dealership, the alternator can

overcharge and fry the ECM/PCM.

If the alternator bolts are loose, tighten them, and

try restarting the engine. If the engine still won’t

start, then check the ECM/PCM connector for

battery voltage and ground. If you’re reading

battery voltage and ground at the connector, then

replace the ECM/PCM. Keep in mind, though, any

ECM/PCM damage that’s caused by loose

alternator bolts from A/C installation or body


repair isn’t covered by warranty.








Since we volunteer our time and knowledge, we ask for you to please follow up when a problem is resolved.


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Aug 8, 2015, 5:49 AM

Post #8 of 17 (1552 views)
Re: 2004 Civic -- alternator mounting bolt broke, now car wont run Sign In

Wow DS! Wasn't thinking of voltage spikes/lack of grounded alt. body as it about never happens.


? What's with the wing nut on what might be the adjustment rod or whatever they use on this? Wing nut as a factory thing other than now ancient air filter covers - I think not and somehow just what fit was used at some point?


Good find DS about it. OP, that's now the likely problem. Get the alternator mounted exactly right so this doesn't just do it again,


T



JoeFutz
Novice

Aug 8, 2015, 8:17 AM

Post #9 of 17 (1545 views)
Re: 2004 Civic -- alternator mounting bolt broke, now car wont run Sign In

I'll try to get my hands on a code reader.

Thanks for your thoughts.


JoeFutz
Novice

Aug 8, 2015, 10:04 AM

Post #10 of 17 (1541 views)
Re: 2004 Civic -- alternator mounting bolt broke, now car wont run Sign In

Tom and DS,


The alternator wasn't loose; the top mounting bolt was still pretty tight, so I don't think that there was a loss of ground, but of course you never know. The wing nut was loose, and yeah, I thought it looked out of place. It is how you apply tension on the alternator belt. I don't know if it is OEM or something that fit when previous work was done.

The broken stud was still in the alternator. I figured I would have to drill a hole in it and use an extractor to get it out. When I started drilling the hole, I noticed the stud move (I didn't even try moving it before) and it came out without any trouble. The head of the bolt was jammed in the circular strut support? or whatever it is. I found it by looking for damage and couldn't believe it was there.

I'll try to get any codes that might be stored.

Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it.

Jackson


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Aug 8, 2015, 12:28 PM

Post #11 of 17 (1535 views)
Re: 2004 Civic -- alternator mounting bolt broke, now car wont run Sign In

You lost ground near 100% chance if only nanoseconds at a time. If belt was able to be loose then the other end connection couldn't be enough with any vibration of it running.


So that part is fixed but finding out now what it harmed is the challenge. DS spelled that out as well as could be and would chase down for those fixes now.


I doubt you would notice a voltage spike but all this trouble over a fastener on alternator could really be like the car was hit by lightening and weakest electrical links will blow,


T



JoeFutz
Novice

Aug 9, 2015, 10:29 AM

Post #12 of 17 (1514 views)
Re: 2004 Civic -- alternator mounting bolt broke, now car wont run Sign In

I have a mobile mechanic coming Tuesday morning. I'll post what he found.


JoeFutz
Novice

Aug 16, 2015, 12:41 PM

Post #13 of 17 (1470 views)
Re: 2004 Civic -- alternator mounting bolt broke, now car wont run Sign In

Well, the mobile mechanic came out and couldn't figure it out. He hooked up his code reader, but couldn't get the vehicle to respond. He tried this and that with no results so maybe you guys are correct.

I made an appointment with my regular mechanic in town for 8/26. I'll have to have the car towed there, but hopefully he can diagnose and fix the problem. I'll keep you posted.


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Aug 16, 2015, 1:42 PM

Post #14 of 17 (1468 views)
Re: 2004 Civic -- alternator mounting bolt broke, now car wont run Sign In

DS spelled this out and what can happen pretty dang well in post #7 - look back.


So - this mobile mechanic actually checked it out and found nothing? Understood that a tech is really so can't have everything mobile but should have had some comments - no spark, no fuel - something?


Bummer it happened. Help the next shop too by telling them what happened might save some diagnostic time,


T



JoeFutz
Novice

Sep 16, 2015, 5:54 PM

Post #15 of 17 (1400 views)
Re: 2004 Civic -- alternator mounting bolt broke, now car wont run Sign In

Tom and DS,

Well DS, it looks like you were right all along!

I told each mechanic what happened, but didn't tell them about it might be the ECM since I didn't want to jump to conclusions before checking on less expensive problems.

My regular mechanic in town couldn't figure it out either "never seen anything like it before", so I had it towed to the local Honda dealer. They have had it for about 2 weeks, and after lots of head scratching and whatnot, today they called and said that the problem is the ECM. I had to prepay for the part before they ordered it ($650) and it will take a week to get here. I'll post a follow-up when I have my baby back.

I have a question though, about preventing this from happening again -- I know that it's rare, but I have the yips about it now.

Would it be worth my while to install a ground strap from the alternator to the engine to prevent any possible future voltage spikes?

Thanks for your help in this. It is amazing to me that DS figured it out sight unseen and 3 mechanics couldn't figure it out at all with the car in their hands, and the Honda certified mechanic took 2 weeks to figure it out.

I applaud you sir!

Jackson

p.s. I don't get email notifications about replies even though I checked that box.


Tom Greenleaf
Ultimate Carjunky / Moderator
Tom Greenleaf profile image

Sep 17, 2015, 1:15 AM

Post #16 of 17 (1388 views)
Re: 2004 Civic -- alternator mounting bolt broke, now car wont run Sign In

#1 -Glad you are all fixed up for now.
Site & auto notifications? Happens to me too so read all unread posts or for you find your post, do what you do with your device to check in on it for a new reply made. FYI - If you click on your user name look lower left for all your posts it should show a date of last anything that happened on the thread. There are quirks in the site's set up that differ to different set ups, devices I can't fix for you on that.


Ground straps! Agree that if this is a problem do what you can to proactively prevent it again. Grounding body to engine blocks and all throughout a vehicles is a huge part of how things work or don't. Power go to something and if no way back items don't work or sustain harm.


Be assertive at checking them all over a vehicle. Any vehicle. Connections of all sorts need looking after, cleaning up if corroded or fixed if broken. I personally go thru more WD-40 by brand loyalty, and spray greases usually white lithium or use a flux brush with silicone grease from a cup or cap all over things that would be trouble if not.


Battery cables, both ends of each and the hold-down parts as well. Locks, hinges latches everywhere. When you pass around 5-7 years or so stupid really annoying things happen like bust a cable that opens hood.


Belts and accessory parts, parts you know you might be at later all over and under a vehicle. It pays!


The reverse is DON'T go cleaning more than wiping down stuff just for looks. Folks will power wash stuff (engine areas) of what was harmless dirt and normal greasiness and cause tons of troubles.


Good luck that this fix stays fixed, Tom


JoeFutz
Novice

Sep 17, 2015, 11:02 AM

Post #17 of 17 (1375 views)
Re: 2004 Civic -- alternator mounting bolt broke, now car wont run Sign In

Tom,

Well, its not fixed yet, the ECM has been ordered, but I'm still without a car for another week at least. It's been a month and a half since the alternator bolt broke! I'll be real happy when I'm riding in my Civic again instead of borrowing the neighbor's car on weekends.

I'm definitely going to add a ground strap to the alternator, and check other connections as you mentioned.

Thanks for your help.






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