“Check Charging System”: What Does It Mean & How To Fix It?

Is the check charge system warning light on in your car? Receiving the check charging system message is a worry, especially when you don’t fully understand it? Or what the problem is. As a driver, it’s always important to be aware of any warning lights on your dashboard to ensure your car runs smoothly.

So don’t worry! This article will talk about what the charging system warning light in a Honda car means, what cause the problem and how you can fix it.

What does the charging system mean?

The charging system is a feature in the car that supplies the electricity to a vehicle, powering up the starter motor and other electrical accessories such as air conditioners, lights, window defrosters, audio systems, and other gears.

The main components of the charging system are the voltage regulator, battery, and alternator. A vehicle may have difficulty starting if any of its components are damaged. The alternator generates electricity from the battery, while the battery stores power to start the engine.

The voltage regulator regulates the amount of electricity generated to prevent the battery from being overcharged or damaged. An accessory belt drives most engines and can cause too much battery charging.

Why does the “Check charging system” light come on?

Now keeping this in mind, let’s talk about the warning light “Check charging system”. This light will turn on automatically in an electric car when the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) detects that the car’s current is below a threshold. (which is usually around 12.6 V.)

Basically, it means the vehicle is only running on battery power. If this continues, your charging system will fail, and the battery will not be able to be charged again. So it will eventually run out, and you’ll have a dead battery.

However, the icon for this warning is displayed differently based on the model of the car. For example, some vehicles show a battery icon while others might have words such as ALT, CHG, or BATT. So depending on your vehicle, you might have a check charging system or battery light. To find out what warning lights your vehicle has, consult your owner’s guide.

Whatever may be the display for the warning, these are all related to your vehicle’s charging system and indicate something is wrong. Therefore, it is crucial not to ignore any charging system warning light as it could cause your car’s failure to start or stall.

The worst and most problematic thing that can happen to your day and car is a dead battery. If your car’s light goes on, you should try to solve the issue or take it to your mechanic so they can diagnose the cause.

What causes the charging system problem, and how to fix it?

In a Honda car, the charging system warning light will go on when there is an issue with the electrical charging system. Moreover, if the ignition switch turns on or the engines are not running. Here are some possible causes that make the warning light on the battery/check charger system go on:

1. Bad Alternator

Although alternators are generally reliable, you might never need to replace one when it fails. For example, an alternator may fail because of a bad voltage regulator.

How it works:

The voltage regulator controls the amount of electricity sent to the car’s charger when the alternator produces electricity. The car’s 12-volt system means that if the alternator were not in control, it would allow much higher voltage output.

The voltage regulator can fail, and an overvolt condition could cause damage to the battery or other components of the car. The voltage regulator can also limit the voltage, preventing the battery from fully charging or failing to power the rest properly.

If your car is not working at its maximum output and you turn on the headlights, it will cause the alternator to draw more power from the battery. As a result, a dead or undercharged battery can occur.

How to check:

First, lift the hood, and then start the vehicle. Remove the negative cable from the battery when the engine is running. If your car stops, it is most likely that the alternator is damaged.  

At that time, the alternator’s power source is not producing enough power to allow the engine to run by itself.

How to fix:

If the alternator is not working correctly, have it checked by a professional.

Wondering what it will cost? It all depends on the repair required. The cost can be anywhere from $500 to $1,000, including labor. For something as simple as replacing an alternator belt, expect to pay $100-$150 (not including diagnosis)

2. Dead Battery

The most common sign that your charging system has problems is a dead battery. You will first need to identify the problem. An old battery might not hold a charge. A typical automotive battery lasts between two and five years. If yours is less than that, it may be time to replace it.

How to check:

You can check the voltage of the battery (when the engine not running) by using a voltmeter. If the voltage is lower than 10.7 V, your battery is dead.

If you don’t have a voltmeter, Advance Auto Parts and AutoZone can perform a free diagnosis of your charge system/ battery.

How to fix:

Fixing a dead battery is generally very easy; you can recharge, jumpstart or simply replace a new one.

This video will help you know how to jumpstart a car:

3. Worn or Broken Belts

A worn or broken alternator belt can also cause the charging system failure. The voltage output can drop if the alternator is working properly, but the belt isn’t spinning fast enough. This could cause the system not to work.

You may not notice a broken belt while driving your car. But since, newer cars only use one belt to drive all the parts. This can cause overheating, warning lights on the dash, and heavy steering because none of the accessories works.

How to check:

As mentioned, you can see physical damage. And a belt that appears damaged, frayed, cracked, or torn is not good.

Secondly, the first sign of fault will be sound; you can hear a squealing sound from a drive belt that is not adjusted or stretched.

Lastly, most vehicles will automatically turn on a warning light since the belt drive powers the alternator.

How to fix:

The best solution is to replace the belt. In most cases, the replacement cost will be between $100 and-200 as the price of the belt will be between $25 and $80, while labor charges will likely range between $75 to $120.

4. Loose Battery Connections

The loose battery cables, also called clamps or terminals, are the ring that joins the battery and the vehicle—the battery’s main function is to supply the power needed to turn the engine. After that, the alternator will take over and create energy, and the battery is gradually replenished.

But sometimes, loose wiring can also lead to such issues. Therefore in the case of a warning light, you can check if it’s only a case of loose wiring.

How to check:

The most obvious signs of damaged battery cables are the complete inability to begin and indications of power loss while driving. The first sign is common for the starter and the battery, whereas the second could result from a defective alternator.

If you’re experiencing these issues, you should begin your investigation by checking the battery cables, as they are the most straightforward to inspect and don’t require any tools. In addition, the battery is safe to use and won’t cause any shock to you.

Here is a step-by-step guide to check the battery connections:

  • When taking cables out, start with the negative or black, and then take out all positives red. It works in reverse when you install the battery, first black, then red.
  • Pull the cable out and move it to determine if it can be turned around the battery’s terminals.
  • Check for rust signs on the clamps, and check whether there are apparent rips on the cable.
  • Remove the cables and inspect the state of battery connectors and the clamps’ interior.

However, if you’re not familiar with car cables, you can make your mechanic clean all connections and check that the battery clamps are tight and clean. Also, you should thoroughly check the internal alternator connections and their wiring.

In addition, an inspection needs to be done for any fusible links. And if any damage is found, it should be repaired.

How to fix:

After you’ve established that the loose cables are the issue, the best solution is to determine if you can tighten the terminal screws. You can determine the size of the screw by reading the engraving that appears on the screw or using a ruler.

It should be 10mm, 13mm, or 5/16”. If you prefer, a good assortment of wrenches will ensure you be equipped with the appropriate tool to do the job.

Slowly turn the screw to examine if the clamp is securely secured. Do not force it too much as otherwise, the screw could eat away at the groves of the clamp and render the clamp ineffective.

Repeat the procedure with the next clamp, and then turn on the car. If the engine runs normal, that means you’ve resolved the issue.

5. Blown Fuses

Fuses are a part of the electrical circuits in your car to ensure that the components are protected from sudden surges of electrical energy. If the current is overflowing through the circuit, the fuse is blown, interrupting the circuit, stopping the electric current, and leading to car troubles.

How to check:

  • Take the fuse out of its holder. You may need to use a small screwdriver in some cases to remove the fuse holder cap.
  • Next, take a look at the fuse wire. If you notice a crack in the wire or see a dark/ metallic smear within the glass, this means the fuse has been blown and must be replaced.

How to fix:

  • Find the fuse panel in your car. You may need to refer to the owner’s manual; however, you can typically find them underneath your steering wheel.
  • Remove the cover of the fuse panel. Inside you’ll see various colors and numbers that indicate different amperages. A diagram (usually located on one side of the cover) will outline what each fuse does in your car.
  • Find the blown fuse. The inside of the fuse will typically be black, or the filament may be broken. Again, if the room is dark, you may need the aid of a flashlight to complete this easier.
  • Remove the fuse that has been damaged. You can use a range of tools (or bypass the tools and use the hands) to remove the blown fuse, but the crucial thing to remember is to take caution. Fuses break easily, and a damaged fuse can be far more challenging to take out than a functioning one.
  • Replace the fuse that is of the correct amp–make notes of your fuse’s panel and the owner’s manual for this particular one. The wrong amperage of a fuse with could cause serious electrical issues.
  • Maintain a few spare fuse types of different amps in the glovebox. In a jam, you always can take an existing fuse from the less frequently used feature of the same amperage and put it to use for something more urgent; however, this is only an emergency fix.
  • Start the engine to determine whether your work is paying off.
  • If the fuse goes out shortly after replacing it or isn’t working, it could be time to take a trip to your mechanic.

How much will it cost:

The total labor and parts cost can be between $110 to $140. Although most fuses cost between $10 and $20, professional replacements will require additional labor costs.

Can you drive with “Check charging system” light?    

No. It is not safe to do that.

Here’s the reason – if your check charging system/battery light is on and you decide to continue driving, you could be left stranded. Your vehicle could be affected by bad wiring or a failing battery; at the least, you can drive up to 30 minutes.

But it also depends on your car; luxury vehicles with all the electrical devices may run longer than small cars like Honda Civics equipped with small batteries. So it’s best to put your car on the sidelines and make an appointment with your mechanic.

How to reset the “Check charging system” light?

All of the above are causes and indicators of why your car’s check charge system light is flashing. If you don’t possess the expertise to identify the issue, take a step back and seek a professional to conduct a diagnostics test.

Making the necessary checks will enable you to fix the problem and reset your battery charge system light after it is illuminated. Just follow these steps to reset the warning light:

  • Charge the battery: when your “Check charging system” light turns on, the first thing you should do is charge the battery.
  • Then, detach the battery. It is done by disconnecting any negative cables from the battery’s terminal. Wear goggles and gloves while doing this since there could be sparks after disconnecting the cable.
  • Afterwards, wait for at least 30 minutes. This allows the car’s system to restart itself.
  • Then reattach the battery. Connect the negative cable back and the battery’s terminal. Wear safety gloves and glasses while doing this since there might be a spark as you connect the cable.
  • Lastly, start the car, and the charging system light will go off.


It is essential to get your car checked out by an auto technician immediately if the “Check charging system” warning light turns on. The warning light indicates that your car’s charging system may malfunction, and you could end up stranded.

Besides, you can reduce the chance of charging system issues by having it checked regularly and keeping your battery charged.

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