What 'Check Charge System' Means in a 2012 Honda Odyssey

When the “Check Charge System” light turns on in your Honda Odyssey, consult a mechanic right away. There’s probably an issue with your battery or alternator.
Written by Mary Cahill
Reviewed by Brenna Swanston
Seeing the “Check Charge System” light turn on in your 2012 Honda Odyssey can be nerve-wracking. This warning light is likely signaling a problem with your Odyssey’s battery or alternator. To avoid having your vehicle suddenly lose power while driving, have a mechanic assess the problem right away. 
The electrical system in your 2012 Odyssey works together with the engine to power your vehicle. The alternator under your Odyssey’s hood is responsible for keeping the battery charged while you drive. If the alternator or battery malfunctions, you won’t be able to safely operate your vehicle.  
If you want to know more about how to address an illuminated “Check Charge System” light in your Odyssey, read on! You can also check out our handy
car repair
guide for even more maintenance tips. 

2012 Honda Odyssey check charge system: What does it mean?

Your battery and alternator work together to keep your vehicle’s electrical system charged, and mechanical components like fuses, belts, and wires are crucial to keeping things running smoothly. 
When one or more of these parts gets damaged or stops working properly, this could spell trouble for your charge system. A faulty charge system in your Odyssey will cause the battery to die—and if this happens while you’re on the road, it can create a dangerous situation.  
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Common causes of charging system problems

If you see your charge system warning light turn on, it could be for a few reasons. Let’s go over some of the most common culprits that signal a charging system problem on your 2012 Honda Odyssey. 

Bad alternator

In many cases, the
alternator
is the cause of a malfunctioning charging system. If the alternator stops powering the battery and other electrical components in your Odyssey, it won’t take long for your vehicle to stop running altogether
Aside from an illuminated “Check Charge System” dashboard light, other signs of a bad are dim interior lights or your radio no longer working. Another indication is if you
jumpstart
your Odyssey but it dies again shortly after. 
One way to
test the alternator
is by disconnecting the battery and using a multimeter or voltmeter to measure its power levels. 

Battery problems

A compromised charged system in your Honda Odyssey might not be due to a bad alternator, but rather, a faulty battery. Honda batteries typically last three to five years, so if your Odyssey’s battery is around that age, it may be due for a replacement. 
Don’t replace the battery until you’ve taken a moment to examine the one that’s already in your van (an experienced mechanic can help out with this). The “Check Charge System” light may have been triggered by a loose wiring connection or corrosion near the battery terminals. If this is the case, these problems are easier to correct than buying a whole new battery. 

Drive belt issues

Similarly, a malfunctioning alternator may not necessarily mean you have to replace the entire part. The alternator is powered by a
serpentine belt
, which is susceptible to wear and tear over time.
A loose or broken serpentine belt is quite common in older vehicles, and it could be the reason for a “Check Charge System” dash light. Luckily, replacing one is a pretty straightforward fix. 
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Faulty ECU

Modern vehicles all contain an Electronic Control Unit (ECU), a computer that is programmed to oversee the basic functions of the engine and other systems within your Honda. A malfunctioning ECU sensor or another technical issue within the unit may trigger the “Check Charging System” dash light. 

How to reset the check charging system on a 2012 Honda Odyssey

The “Check Charge System” warning light isn’t the kind of warning light you reset like the Oil Change light. Instead, it involves bringing your van to a mechanic shop to be diagnosed by a professional auto technician. Once the specific culprit is identified and fixed, the “Check Charge System” light should turn off. 
Keep in mind that if you do need to replace the alternator or battery, you may want to have this service done at an independent mechanic shop rather than the Honda dealership. Independent auto shops will be more likely to make the necessary repairs using aftermarket parts instead of the significantly more expensive OEM parts used by the dealership. 

Can I drive with a charging system warning light?

You should view this warning light as a very time-sensitive issue. When your Odyssey is telling you that it’s on the verge of running out of power, take it seriously.
You do not want to test the limits of a failing charging system. Losing power suddenly could lead to you getting into a serious accident or being stranded on the side of the highway. 
When you see the “Check Charge System” light go on, drive your vehicle to the mechanic shop right away. If the shop isn’t close by, you may want to bring along a portable battery charger or jumper cables to help you get there safely. 
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