Honda Element, is it my starter?

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5 years 9 months ago #67376 by gStitch
Honda Element, is it my starter? was created by gStitch
Hi All,

I actually found this site by searching for a different issue on my Element and stumbling across ETCG's video on Element suspension noises. Have been lurking for a while.

Anyway, I have a 2006 Element EX AT/AWD (162K miles) that is now experiencing some issues starting, which I believe is tied to the starter. Given how expensive this part is, I would like to get some sort of confirmation that this is the likely culprit.

SYMPTOMS: Sluggish start, sometimes the engine fails to turn over. Trying several times will often allow the vehicle to start.

DIAGNOSTICS: I have tested the battery resting voltage (12.5), and the running voltage with full electrical load (13.4). Tested for voltage drop across negative terminal (0.00). Observed dash lights during sluggish or failed start attempts and noticed that the dash lights do not dim or extinguish in a manner consistent with inadequate voltage. In my experience with previous failures, a bad battery or bad connection will cause all of the dash lights to dim significantly when the starter is engaged. I also noted that the vehicle is more prone to experience this problem after it has reached operating temperature.

DIAGNOSIS: I suspect that the brushes in the starter are worn to the end of their service life, or that the commutator is damaged. It's possible, but unlikely that a field coil may have opened up. In any case, I think the starter is due for a replacement or a complete rebuild. The major thing that leads me to the starter is the lights not dimming, even when the motor won't turn over.

The starter from Honda is $339 for a remanufactured unit. It requires removal of the intake manifold and throttle body to get to the starter. I don't want to go through all of that if the starter is NOT the likely culprit.

I plan to proceed tomorrow as I cannot have my Element down for very long. Your guidance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

-Matt

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5 years 9 months ago #67378 by ToyotaKarl
Replied by ToyotaKarl on topic Honda Element, is it my starter?
It very possibly is the starter. But just for peace of mind, have your battery load tested. I have seen batteries that had the required voltage but were the cause of such issues. When put under load, it reveals the true condition of the battery.

Most all major parts stores will do it for free anyway... So if the battery passes, then you can be pretty sure it is the starter.

Karl

Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat all day drinking beer.

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5 years 9 months ago #67380 by twiggy02919
Replied by twiggy02919 on topic Honda Element, is it my starter?
Your measured alternator voltage of 13.4V looks borderline to me. I believe the spec is min of 13.5V with a load of 75% of max alt output (about 75A).

If your battery isn't fully charged to run your starter, this could be why.

Automotive engineer specializing in sensors.

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5 years 9 months ago #67382 by gStitch
Replied by gStitch on topic Honda Element, is it my starter?
Thanks for the response.

I forgot to mention that I ran this test with my trailer connected and illuminated as well. That may have been enough draw to pull down the extra 0.1 volts.

I will take the battery and the starter up for testing just to be sure. I need to pull the intake for cleaning anyway, so it's not a complete waste of time. With 162K on the original starter, I think it's done quite well. Especially here in the Florida heat, humidity, and lots of salt air exposure.

I'll know more tomorrow when I disassemble it. I'll update you then.

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5 years 9 months ago #67512 by drthrift035
Replied by drthrift035 on topic Honda Element, is it my starter?
Here is the best and most expensive way to verify your problem. Get the machine in the video below.




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5 years 9 months ago #67534 by pilotvp
Replied by pilotvp on topic Honda Element, is it my starter?
Try removing fuse or relay to fuel pump, and attempt to start the car while voltmeter attached to battery. Make sure voltage doesn't drop to 9 volts if it does...bad battery. Also, Hook up voltmeter from + terminal of Batt following that cable to the starter, and connect the other lead to that. Start engine and read meter to make sure Voltage Drop not more than .5 [url=http://]volts.http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=ry68G0C2Fyc[/url]

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5 years 9 months ago #67571 by gStitch
Replied by gStitch on topic Honda Element, is it my starter?
So, I went ahead and load tested the battery. It tested good, putting out 507 cranking amps. I proceeded to take the vehicle apart and removed the starter. After I got the starter out, I disassembled it for a post-mortem analysis and to be absolutely sure.

-Of the four brushes, only two were extending past the brush retainer.
-The commutator plates were filled with worn brush material.
-The entire housing was full of dust from the worn brushes.

While in there, I went ahead and cleaned the rotary air control and throttle body as best as I could. I found that the rotary control couldn't actually rotate very well due to excessive carbon buildup. I also cleaned the upper manifold.

The vehicle is now starting beautifully.
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The following user(s) said Thank You: drthrift035

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5 years 9 months ago #67573 by wysetech
Replied by wysetech on topic Honda Element, is it my starter?
Good job gStitch!

I'm a mechanic because a badass miracle worker is not an official job title.

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5 years 9 months ago #67574 by drthrift035
Replied by drthrift035 on topic Honda Element, is it my starter?
Great move to take the starter apart. Glad it worked out.

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2 years 11 months ago #165495 by rickster
Replied by rickster on topic Honda Element, is it my starter?
2003 Element with 4 mo. old battery, and have had intermittent issue of starter turning slower than normal, but still starting, to turning too slow ar barely at all then after waiting 30 secs. it would start like normal, no hint that anything was different, then progressing to it wanting to start only in neutral, just a few days of this phenom., and now not starting at all. Starter wants to turn and barely turns for a sec. or two then nothing. Have tested battery, voltage of 12.37, under load at 82%, cleaned terminals and posts thoroughly, checked cable wires at terminals and in good condition. Removed cover from steering column and tested voltage going into ignition switch which was one tenth of a volt less than voltage of battery post to post, starter relay is not buzzing or clicking as I replaced it shortly after buying vehicle about 4 mos. ago. I don't know how to check output voltage to starter from ignition switch. Can you give me guidance on this procedure to either troubleshoot problem at switch before I have to start removing all to check starter. I haven't checked the voltage or resistance at the starter yet as I can't see how to accomplish that unless you know of some trick to do so. Thanks
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