Typically, people see cars as being built up of mechanical parts that are constantly working to generate power and motion. You put gas in the tank, it combusts in the engine, and that’s all you need to get the car going. Well, at a fundamental level, that’s true. But modern vehicles rely on so much more than just moving mechanical car parts.
Aside from everything mentioned above, a car’s electrical system is probably the most essential part of a modern vehicle.
The Electrical System of a Car
Generally speaking, the electrical system is what gets a car engine started in the first place. That system enables combustion to happen inside the engine, while also powering every other system in the car that relies on electricity.
At its core, your vehicle’s electrical system is formed by these three car parts: the battery, the alternator, and the starter. It’s the starter that gets the engine started – well, that’s a no-brainer. Once you get the engine running, the alternator keeps your car battery charged. Then, the battery supplies power to all your car’s electrical parts like your headlights, car horn, and other accessories.
Just like the mechanical car parts, the electrical system can face problems from time to time.
What Could Go Wrong with Your Car’s Electrical System?
Here are a few things that could go wrong when it comes to your car’s electrical system.
One of the most common problems that could possibly occur with your car’s electrical system is a weak or dead battery. All car batteries have a certain lifespan, so you will inevitably need to replace yours at some point.
The challenge with car batteries is that there’s usually no clear indicator that it’s about to stop working. Instead, you might notice signs like your car having trouble starting when you turn the ignition. Whenever you notice something like this happening, you should check when that battery was purchased. If it’s already been a while since you got it, it might be a good idea to consider replacing it preemptively. You wouldn’t want to be stuck at work or the mall because your car won’t start!
Sometimes, the alternator may be the source of the problem. Again, the alternator’s job is to recharge your battery while your car engine is running. If it fails to do that properly, your car’s electrical accessories will continue to use up your battery’s power until it’s completely drained.
When it comes to problems with the alternator, there are a few symptoms you can look out for. For example, you might see that your dashboard lights start to flicker while you’re on the road. If this starts to happen, you should bring your car to your preferred workshop to get inspected.
Any electrical system, be it in your car or even your home, depends on fuses. Automotive fuses serve the purpose of protecting your car’s wiring and electrical accessories. The problem here is that if any of those fuses blow, the power supply that’s supposed to go through it gets cut off.
Somewhere in your car is a fuse box, where all the different fuses are located together. If a particular electrical part doesn’t work, you can track down its fuse by referring to the diagram inside the car or in the car owner’s manual.
Problematic Spark Plugs
Another common electrical problem are the spark plugs. Their job is to ignite the fuel and air mixture inside your engine’s combustion chambers. Sometimes though, those spark plugs don’t work correctly. Thankfully, problematic spark plugs are relatively easy to figure out and resolve. Most times, all you have to do is replace the spark plugs in question.
There will be signs if it’s a problematic spark plug. You may notice the engine misfiring or your car not accelerating as it should. While it’s easy to believe that spark plugs are more of a mechanical issue, it’s actually a part of the electrical system.
Just as you have nerves running through your body, your car has wires running all through it as well. When electrical car parts stop working properly, and all other problems have been ruled out, you may have a wiring issue on your hands. Sometimes, wiring connections might be loose or even cut off accidentally. Other times, a short circuit may have caused specific wires to burn.
Whatever the case may be, if your car’s wiring is faulty, none of the power will be able to get to where it’s needed; be it to your lights, radio, or car horn.
For an issue like this, it may be best to let a qualified mechanic have a good look at your car.
Lightbulbs, Car Horn, and Others
Now that we’ve covered the major electrical parts and their problems, let’s look at other minor car part issues.
From time to time, you may experience light bulbs that get blown out. When it comes to your indicator lights, it’s easier to know when they need to be replaced. They’ll start doing what’s called ‘hyper-flashing’, or basically, it’ll just begin to blink really fast. That’s a ‘signal’ to you that you need to replace your indicator light bulbs. For the others, you’ll have to inspect them manually by walking around your car while someone in the driver’s seat presses on the brake. Light bulbs are usually not that expensive to replace.
If you’re an active user of your car horn, this is something you’ll want to pay attention to as well. At its worst, the car horn might stop working. Or, more annoyingly, the sound of the horn will be distorted instead of providing you with its typical full-bodied sound. This distortion could be a sign that the horn is damaged, or perhaps one of its wires might be loose. Just as with the light bulbs, resolving a car horn issue is relatively cheaper and quicker to do.
The Importance of Your Car’s Electrical System
When it comes to your vehicle, there should be no debate about which is more critical between mechanical and electrical car parts. The simple truth is that both are interdependent. If one side fails, the entire vehicle will be rendered useless. So, be sure to pay attention to your car’s electrical issues just as much as you take care of the mechanical aspects!