Every automotive electrical system consists of a battery, an alternator, a starter, and connecting wires. Depending on which component is faulty and whether the consumers are able to isolate basic problems with little amount of knowledge relating to how these parts work, the nature of an electrical malfunction differs slightly. You don’t need to visit your local auto mechanic if you learn about these four parts.
In order to store electrical current, a car battery contains a series of lead plates and some sulfuric acid that reacts with those plates. The battery is unable to supply the electrical current that the starter needs in order to get the engine working, if it loses its charge. When the ignition switch is engaged, the automobile will fail to respond. The most common causes of a dead battery include old age, a faulty alternator, a drain on the system such as a light that has been left on, and loose or corroded connections.
The first thing you need to take is to pop the hood and make sure the connecting wires are fastened securely to the battery and are free of corrosion, if you think that you might have a dead battery. To check the charge in the battery you can use a voltmeter. To do this, place the voltmeter leads on battery’s positive and negative leads. The voltmeter should register a charge between 10 and 12 volts. You will be able to detect the source of your problem, if anything shows less than that. An old battery can simply be replaced.
A dead battery that is relatively new may be a sign that the problem exits somewhere else in the electrical system. At this point, you will think that maybe the light or accessory was left on or plugged in while the vehicle is not in use. In these types of situations, you can correct the problem by jump starting the vehicle, if your battery has been drained by the accessory or light.
When you have stopped the car and then if you notice that your vehicle stalls or experiences dimming lights, then you may have a failing alternator. The alternator is used to convert the mechanical energy of a running engine into electrical energy that is used to recharge the battery. A battery will gradually lose its charge if the alternator does not work properly. If the vehicle will start, you can assess the health of the alternator by checking the charge in the battery. If the voltmeter reads between 12 and 14 volts then the alternator is probably working fine.
Another electrical problem that can be handled by the average consumer is a brown fuse. Electrical problems with a single set of lights or an accessory like the car stereo are the sings of a bad fuse. You can easily isolate the bad fuse and replace it with a new fuse of equal amperage, using your vehicle’s manual. If the problem persists, then you are likely to have a much larger malfunction that requires the expert knowledge and skills of an auto electrician.
Electrical problems that are more complex than those outlined here are usually left for the technician to assess and repair. It’s better not to take attempt to jump start a vehicle that is suffering from a complex electrical malfunction can cause more damage to the vehicle and can lead to expensive repair bills. If you are unable to determine the source of the problem or you are uncomfortable making simple repairs, then the best option is to make a visit to your local auto mechanic.