Electrical problems in your car could be caused by many factors that typically include voltage, resistance, and continuity. They may affect the battery, starter, or alternator. Here are a few common electrical problems and how to diagnose them.
Your car battery feeds all the electrical components of your car. If it's not working, nothing else will. If you have an electrical problem, this is the first place to check. Typically, a battery should last about 5 years. Have it checked every 4 years and replace it if need be. In the meantime, check your battery for corroded terminals: Corroded terminals hinder power from flowing through the battery. Clean with terminal cleaner and brush.
Lights are Not Working
When your brake lights or headlights are not working, the first thing to check is whether the bulbs are faulty. If faulty, replace them. If the bulb is okay, then check the fuses in the fuse component under the hood. If they are burnt, replace them.
A blown fuse could be the result of a bigger problem such as a short circuit. Monitor the situation to ensure the problem is not recurrent.
Hard to Start
This is by far the most common car electrical problem. When your car has difficulty starting, the problem could be the starter, the battery, or the alternator.
First, check the battery to ensure power is coming in. If the lights (such as the door lights or dashboard lights) are okay, then the battery is fine. If you hear a clicking sound when you turn on the ignition, the problem is most likely the starter or the alternator. A grinding sound could also indicate a problem with the starter or with the flywheel ring gear. The problem could also be due to a fuel injection problem. To solve this problem, have the fuel injection and throttle body cleaned.
If dashboard lights or headlights are dim when you are driving at low speed or when idling, you could be having low voltage, a poorly charged battery, or an alternator problem. Check the alternator belt, as this can cause low voltage when faulty.
Smell of Burning Plastic
This is a sign that the system is drawing more power than needed, causing the plastic insulation to burn. This is a potentially dangerous situation. Call your auto repair technician as soon as possible.
To diagnose your car's electrical problems, start by ruling out battery problems. Next, replace faulty bulbs and fuses. For more complex problems, consult your auto services mechanic or a company like Powers Transmission Centers for repair.