Diagnosing Car Electrical Problems
February 13, 2011
Even though cars are run on gasoline, there are still a wide variety of electrical systems needed in order for a car to start and run properly. A kink in one of these systems will stop you in your tracks. You can't go very far with a dead battery, but in the world of electrical problems, a dead battery is about the least of your problems. There are at least 4 separate electrical systems required just to be able to start your car. If any one of them fails, you won't be going far. This article aims at helping you to identify the different electrical systems in your car and some tips to identify which one is failing and giving you problems.
Let's start at the beginning. When you put the key in the ignition and turn the key, the ignition switch sends a signal to the solenoid and the solenoid closes the circuit that sits between the battery and the starter, which causes a large amount of voltage to flow out from the battery and to the starter to turn your engine over and start the car. After that happens, the alternator takes over the powering of most of the electrical systems and also begins to quickly recharge the battery for the next time you'll need to turn on the car. Your coil and spark plugs give the spark for combustion to light the fuel air mixture that's in the combustion chamber to run the car as far as it needs to go. If any of these systems becomes faulty or breaks, you'll have some big problems on your hands.
So here are a few tips for finding out which electrical problem you might be having. If your car is completely unresponsive when you turn the key, but your headlights still work, then you most likely have either a bad starter or solenoid. The battery still has power because your headlights still function, but the power can't get to the engine to turn it over because of a bad starter or solenoid. If the car is unresponsive when you turn the key and the headlights don't come on, then you might have a loose connection on the cables that attach to your battery, or you may have enough corrosion that power can't flow from your battery.
If your car responds when you turn the key but you don't have enough power to turn on the car, then you most likely have a bad battery. This isn't necessarily indicative of a completely bad battery, because at times, if you let a car sit idle for a period of longer than a week, the battery will start to lose voltage. This doesn't mean that the battery is bad and it should run just fine once you jump start your car and recharge the battery. If you haven't let your car sit idle, and have noticed that it's becoming increasingly difficult to start your car, then you'll probably need a new battery. Batteries wear out every few years and won't hold a good charge anymore. If you haven't bought a new battery in a few years and you're having trouble starting your vehicle, you most likely will just need to buy a new battery. I hope this helps.
Ben Mester is an article writer who loves to write about automotive tips, natural health, and home improvement. I hope you found these tips helpful for your electrical problems.
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