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Thread: Flickering lights while driving?!

  1. #1
    JDM GAME jdmek9's Avatar
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    Flickering lights while driving?!

    I've had my car (98 Civic Hb) for almost 2 1/2 years and I've noticed that in the past year or so, everytime I drive my car (usually at night) my lights start to flicker. At first it didn't bother me but then it became a huge annoyance. I start my trip with the lights just fine and after a couple miles, they start dimming and then getting brighter after a few seconds... It happens everytime I drive at night. I'm not sure if it happens during the day because I can't see the lights but most likely it does. I do have an after-market head unit, a 200 watt amp and a 12 inch subwoofer but remember it only started doing this in the past year and I've had the system in since I bought the car.

    I thought it was my battery and to my surprise it still had a factory Honda battery in it, after like 8 or so years! I put a new battery in two weeks ago and the problem continues...

    I only have one possible solution to this. My alternator, as far as im concerned it has never been changed, but I want to know if there could be another reason as to why this is happening before I buy a new alternator, any ideas or info. will help!

    Thanks in advance

  2. #2
    Senior Member dieneverknowing's Avatar
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    Do your lights actually flicker (like off and on) or just dim? And if it is just dimming, do you notice it happening when you shift?

    If the light is actually cutting off and on then there's some connection issue (loose wire, corrosion, etc)

    If the light is just dimming I'd take it somewhere where they can test your alternator, especially under full load. That way they can see if it's helping to supply enough juice when everything is going.
    "that was so horrible i think you just gave me cancer"

  3. #3
    JDM GAME jdmek9's Avatar
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    Yeah to clear it up, they don't flicker like completely off and then on again rather they dim really low and they brighten way up like a second or so later. As far as im concerned it happens the whole time, braking, shifting, accelerating, cruising, etc... in other words: always!

    If it is the alternator, do they charge to have it checked out and does anyone know a rough estimate of a new alternator?, my dad and I can install it so thats no prob.

    Thanks again

  4. #4
    Senior Member dieneverknowing's Avatar
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    Do you ever notice if they dim or brighten when you hold a steady speed and rpm?

    Most places will check your battery and alternator for free but you usually to take them out. Some places should be able to test your batter and alternator while in the car, but they might not do it for free. Best bet is to call around and see what can be done.

    As far as pricing goes, it depends whether you get new or re manufactured. I'd say expect to start around $150 and up
    "that was so horrible i think you just gave me cancer"

  5. #5
    my 2 cense
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    it is possible that its connected to the stereo system. does it happen with the radio off?

  6. #6
    Senior Member remy's Avatar
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    if u can change an alternator im pretty sure you got to be able how to check if it is bad!!

    all you have to do is check the voltage on the battery while the car is on!!

    places like autozone and the like will check it for free!


  7. #7
    JDM GAME jdmek9's Avatar
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    Yeah alright sounds good, i'll just have to wait till the weekend cuz I live on campus and have to drive home or look around town here...

    I know for a fact that it happens even when I have my stereo system off. I guess I've never paid attention to it while at a steady speed or rpm cuz I don't have a tach. but I don't think it does, the reason being is that when it does happen I usually slow down cuz I don't want my car to shut off while at a high speed.

  8. #8
    my 2 cense
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    Ok then . If you rev it and the lights get brighter and then dim down when it goes to idle i would lean towards the alt. if its totally random then hmm......

  9. #9
    Senior Member remy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mason rocket View Post
    Ok then . If you rev it and the lights get brighter and then dim down when it goes to idle i would lean towards the alt. if its totally random then hmm......
    yes that happens because the alternator is not able to keep the battery voltage at the normal level!!

    a remanufactured alternator should solve the problem!!

  10. #10
    I'm made of meat! Jafro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by remy View Post
    a remanufactured alternator should solve the problem!!
    verb to tha remy.

    I bet your car doesn't do it for a few minutes when you drive on a cold engine. Heat makes electronic parts less efficient. Everything that can wear out in an alternator makes heat when it dies.

    The part that's going bad is the voltage regulator. It controls the amperage and voltage of your car sorta like a floodgate so that as you rev up you don't overload everything, and its job is to charge the battery. Amplifiers wreak havoc on voltage regulators because of the heavy draw of current when the bass hits. In older cars it was a separate part from the alternator (and under $10). Nowadays since it's integrated into it, you have to change a much more expensive part when they go bad.

    In the words of a professional mechanic, "you're supposed to change the battery with the alternator 'cause they'll both last longer."
    Jafro

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  11. #11
    JDM GAME jdmek9's Avatar
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    Alright thats some different and good information, I'm taking everyone's thoughts into consideration this weekend, I'll be taking the car into the shop to figure this out... thanks again.!

  12. #12
    v-card member alpha A-series's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by remy View Post
    yes that happens because the alternator is not able to keep the battery voltage at the normal level!!

    a remanufactured alternator should solve the problem!!
    That's what I did, went the rem. route, though my problems weren't so noticeable. $160 online.

    Here's hoping that mine does in fact have a new regulator b/c the description mentioned the new bearings, etc. but nothing about that

  13. #13
    I'm made of meat! Jafro's Avatar
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    I'm going to beat a dead horse today.

    After you install your alternator, make sure you test it correctly. You should always test across the poles of the battery with a voltmeter both with the car running, and with the car off. The new alternator should be supplying 13.5-14.5 volts with the car running, and 11.5-12.5 with it off. Basically it should produce 2 more volts with the car running or it's not charging right, and you should test it with everything electrical turned off.

    An overcharged electrical system can make the car do stupid things or even damage other electronic parts if it doesn't maintain consistent voltage, and an undercharging alternator will eventually leave you stranded somewhere.

    Re-manufactured alternators are famous for being flaming piles of .... because there's no real way to test them effectively to find out what they're going to do once bolted to an actual engine and exposed to heat. They just follow a procedure of certain parts that they can replace and probe for resistance to make sure they didn't short anything out. Sometimes you have to go through 2 or 3 re-manufactured alternators to get a good one. It's easy to imagine something else is wrong with your car after replacing it because you expect that "new" part to be good. I can't tell you how many I've replaced and had problems with afterwards; but get one with a warranty, save your receipt, and test it with the process above and you should be fine.

    PS: I have re-manufactured alternators on all of my cars right now. I won't pay 3x as much for a brand new one.
    Jafro

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  14. #13
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