What “Check Charge System” Means in a Honda

If the “Check Charge System” light comes on in your Honda, you’re likely looking at an issue with the battery, alternator, or another electrical component.
Written by John Davis
Reviewed by Jaya Anandjit
background
If the “Check Charge System” light comes on in your Honda, you should visit the dealership or repair shop as soon as possible. The light indicates there’s a problem with your Honda’s charging system, which could result in a sudden loss of vehicle power. 
Like nearly all vehicles on the road today, Hondas require electrical energy in addition to the power generated by their internal combustion engines. When everything is working normally, your car’s alternator will charge your battery as you drive. But if there’s a problem with any of the charging system components, you could face a loss of power that leaves you stranded. 
Luckily, we’ve put together this handy
car repair
guide to help you identify the potential causes of a “Check Charge System” light in your Honda. 
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Honda check charge system: what does it mean?

A lit “Check Charging System” light in your Honda indicates that there’s an issue with the car’s charging system, which includes the battery, alternator, electronic control unit (ECU), and the various wiring connections and fuses that connect all of these parts. 
While your battery could be the cause, the light doesn’t always mean you need to replace your car battery. You might just need to clean the terminals, replace a dead fuse, or change the drive belt powering the alternator. 
But whatever the ultimate cause of the light, the meaning is the same: if your check charge light is on, your car has a limited amount of battery power, and you could suddenly and unexpectedly lose power unless you fix the problem.

Common causes of check charging system problems

So, what exactly is causing your Honda’s check charging system light to illuminate? Many electrical issues can cause this light to turn on, but here is a list of the most common culprits for Hondas. 

Bad alternator

Car battery problems are often the result of issues with
the alternator
. While the battery is responsible for starting your vehicle, the alternator is the source of your car’s electrical energy while you’re driving
That’s because the alternator takes the mechanical energy from your engine and converts it to the electrical energy necessary to power electrical components—like the radio, lights, and windshield wipers—as well as charge the car battery as you move down the road. 
Because of this, if your alternator goes bad, it’s only a matter of time until your battery runs out of juice.
If your dashboard and interior lights are malfunctioning or dimmer than usual, or your accessory features like the radio aren’t working, your alternator may be to blame. Another common symptom of a bad alternator is when your Honda runs for a short period of time after
a jump start
and then dies again. 
You can
test the alternator
and the charge regulator with a multimeter or voltmeter by disconnecting the battery. 

Battery problems

If your Honda’s alternator is in good shape, you could have a faulty battery. The battery is even more likely to be the cause if it’s more than three to five years old—which is the average lifespan for a Honda car battery. 
But before you rush out and spend the money on a new battery, check to make sure the existing part’s terminals and cables are clean and free of corrosion. Loose cable connections and corrosion can cause the check charging system light to turn on, and these issues are much easier and cheaper to fix than a bad battery. 
If you own a 2013–2016 Honda Accord, you need to keep an especially watchful eye on your battery’s health. These Hondas are subject to a recall for bad battery sensors, which can cause the check charging system light to illuminate. 

Drive belt issues

What if your battery and alternator are both good? Another potential cause of the check charging system light in your Honda is the
serpentine belt
that provides power to the alternator. 
Engine belts are subject to wear and tear—and if it’s worn, loose, frayed, or if the tensioner is bad, it could cause the alternator to malfunction and fail to charge your car’s battery. 

Wires, fuses, and connections

Whenever there’s a problem with an electrical component in your vehicle, it’s always worthwhile to check the fuses and wiring connections to ensure these aren’t the source of your issue. If these parts are to blame, you might notice other electrical malfunctions, such as problems with the taillights. 

Faulty ECU

Lastly, an illuminated check charging system light on your Honda could be due to the electronic control unit (ECU). This is more common on a newer Honda but less common overall than the issues described above. If the ECU is to blame, you might notice a check engine light in addition to the check charging system light.

How to reset the check charging system light on a Honda 

Unlike other warning lights, there’s no quick and easy fix for the “Check Charge System” light. This light indicates a potentially serious problem with your Honda’s charging system, and because of this, you’ll need to take the car to a mechanic for proper diagnosis and repair
You should visit a Honda dealership or trusted independent repair shop to have the entire charging system inspected.

Can I drive with a charging system warning light?

While you might be able to get away with driving with the check charging system light on for a few days, there’s no telling when your Honda might suddenly lose all power. Taking this risk is dangerous, and it could leave you stranded or even lead to a catastrophic accident. 
The smartest thing to do is take your car to the mechanic as soon as you notice the light on your dash. If you absolutely have to drive before you’re able to visit the repair shop—or the mechanic is far away—jumper cables and a portable battery charger can help you arrive safely. 
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