Cars operate on a closed circuit powered by your battery. This is your electrical system, and it is very very important. Like most devices in our lives, cars are relying more and more on technology, and that technology relies on the car’s electrical system.
Your vehicle’s electrical system has three main components that keep it running. They are:
- The Battery- Before your vehicle starts, the battery supplies the power to your car. Once your car does start, the engine provides the power for the electrical system, but the engine needs the battery to start before it can begin doing so. This is why you’re unable to start your car when your battery is dead.
- The Starter- Using power from the battery, the starter is a motor that rotates the flywheel, which begins the movement of the engine’s pistons by turning the crankshaft. This fires up the engine, and the engine then powers up the rest of the vehicle.
- The Alternator- While your engine is generating power, the alternator keeps the battery fully charged by distributing said power to the battery and your vehicle’s general electrical system. The alternator does not constantly produce electricity. Rather, it cycles on and off as the car’s need for electricity rises and falls.
It can be tough to self-diagnose electrical system problems because broken components could be symptoms of larger system problems, or it could just be that the individual component is broken. For example, your window might not be opening because the alternator is not dispensing power to it. Or your window could just be broken. The same logic applies for power steering, your air conditioning system, and countless other car components.
That’s why it’s always a good idea to have your car checked by professionals like the expert mechanics at Jay’s Garage.
Here are some common signs that your electrical system may be malfunctioning:
- Engine Cranking- If your engine won’t start and you hear a clicking noise when trying to fire it up, it usually means that the starter can’t get enough electrical current to engage the flywheel. A grinding noise when attempting to engage the engine generally signifies that the flywheel itself isn’t moving the pistons after it receives electrical current from the starter.
- Dim Headlights- If your headlights seem dim or won’t put out any light, it could indicate low system voltage from a malfunction in the battery like a charging deficiency, resistance in the electrical system, or loose wires. If your lights won’t start when the engine is off, it could also mean that your alternator is not charging your battery as you Like we said earlier though, it may not be an indicator that your electrical system is broken; your headlights might just be broken.
- Smell- If you smell burning plastic, it’s rarely an indication that things are going the way they’re supposed to. In this case, it could be signifying that your alternator is malfunctioning and over-distributing electricity to your vehicle. That excess current can fry your vehicle’s plastic ports which cause the bad smell, damage your car, and are a legitimate health hazard.
Fixing your Electrical System
If you know or suspect that your electrical system is in trouble, you should immediately get your car into Jay’s Garage so we can fix it up for you. We’ll first diagnose your problem and determine whether it’s a malfunction with the overall electrical system or the individual component. Sometimes what may seem like an electrical system issue is actually a problem with your engine or transmission.
If we do determine that the problem is with your electrical system, we then diagnose which of the three parts (the battery, the starter, and the alternator) is causing the problem. Then we fix it in a prompt and professional manner, making sure that the problem is in fact fixed so that you don’t have to take your car to the mechanic again in a couple weeks.