Identifying and Fixing Simple Honda Prelude Alternator Issues
Like most vehicles, your Honda Prelude uses an alternator to power the engine. The alternator converts mechanical energy and produces electricity to charge the battery, which runs the engine's electrical functions; this includes the ignition, the electrical accessories and the engine control systems. If the alternator fails, it's either it is not producing enough electricity to power the vehicle's needs, or it is not working at all. The good thing with the alternator is that you don't have to exert much effort to find out that the there's a problem with it. You are given a lot of obvious indicators to warn you about your weakening or troubled Honda Prelude alternator.
Check the alternator warning lights
The most obvious sign is the alternator warning lights. When your vehicle feels that the alternator is not working properly or not producing enough electrical energy, the alternator warning light turns on. However, sometimes the alternator turns not because the alternator itself is weak. It can be because of faulty gauge or malfunctioning light. You can dismiss this issue if you turn on the headlights and the lights don't flicker when you rev up the engine.
Inspect the alternator belt
The alternator light can also turn on when the alternator belt is loose or cracked. Slipping or damaged alternator belts negatively affect the electrical power output of your alternator. If left unattended, the belt becomes worn out, which causes the alternator to overcompensate and end up malfunctioning. One indication of the alternator belt problem is the scent of burning rubber. When the belt is loose, the alignment is wrong causing friction that burns the rubber belt. If the belt is just loose then you can re-tighten it as indicated in your service manual. If it's visibly damaged, then install belt replacements as it is relatively cheaper to replace alternator belts than replacing the alternator itself.
Test the engine
You can also confirm if that there is an alternator problem through the engine by starting your car. If it immediately dies, then you have a bad alternator. Even if it starts, but then fails to continue running once you turned on the headlights, then you need to replace your alternator. Alternatively, you can have an engine that would not start at all and the ignition just makes a clicking sound. This also means then you have a problematic alternator.
Listen for a loud grinding noise
When you start your Honda Prelude, you are suddenly bombarded with an awfully loud grinding sound. This indicates that you have a needle bearing failure. When the needle bearings break from dirt and heat, it prevents the rotor in the alternator from spinning and eventually makes the alternator to stop working.