How to Recognize Car Electrical System Problems

Trust your car electrical problems to the auto repair professionals at Geller's Automotive in Byram, NJ.

Today’s vehicles are so sophisticated electronically that often times car owners don’t realize there’s a problem until the car won’t start. This is never truer than when it comes to car electrical system problems. You turn the key in the ignition, put your car in drive and away you go. Then, one day your vehicle won’t start because of electrical system problems. Or worse, your vehicle breaks down while you’re on a trip. These inconveniences could have been avoided with a little preventive maintenance. Yes, just like every other system in your vehicle, the electrical system requires regular maintenance. Read on to learn more about your auto electrical system and what you can do to minimize the potential for problems.

The Main Parts of Your Auto Electrical System

It’s always a good idea to know how the different vehicle systems work. Your car’s electrical system does more than start your vehicle. It powers everything from the windows, interior lights and locks to the heating/air conditioning system and radio. Here are the main components that make everything work:

  • Car Battery – Your car battery is the first in line to the electrical system. It creates the electrical current required to start the car engine. When you have a weak or dead battery, it is unable to provide the proper amount of electrical current to turn on the car.
  • Starter – The battery provides the current to the starter which turns the engine on. When you turn the key in the ignition, the starter drive spins the crankshaft so there is a flow of air into the engine and the combustion process can begin. When the start isn’t working, the engine won’t turn over.
  • Alternator – Once the engine is running, the alternator supplies all the power for the car’s electrical systems. It’s also responsible for keeping the battery properly charged.

By Following These Maintenance Tips, You Can Avoid Car Electrical System Problems

Regular maintenance is the key to a properly operating electrical system. Follow these tips:

  1. Inspect and Clean the Battery and Battery Cables: In a short amount of time, corrosion will build up on the posts and cables of your car’s battery. By inspecting the battery once a month, you can look for (it’s the flaky white stuff on the battery posts) and clean off the corrosion. They make special fluids designed to remove the corrosion or you can use a mixture of baking soda and water. The steps are really quite simple (if you don’t want to go through the hassle of doing this yourself, we can do it for you):
    • Remove both the terminals for the battery, starting with the negative terminal first.
    • Clean the posts and terminals using the selected fluid and a wire brush.
    • Rinse the posts and terminals with water.
    • Re-connect the battery terminals, this time starting with the positive terminal first.
  2. Inspect the Drive Belt: While you are taking a look at the battery, you will want to inspect the drive belt to see if it shows signs of any cracks, dryness and/or glazing. You should also check the belt’s tension. If you’re not sure where the drive belt is or you don’t know how much tension it should have, don’t worry. Every time you bring your vehicle to Geller’s Automotive, we perform a courtesy inspection of the belts and hoses to make sure they are in good shape. We will let you know when the drive belt needs to be replaced.
  3. Replace the Car Battery Before It Fails: Car batteries will last anywhere from 3 to 5 years, depending on the load. If a battery is going to fail, it will typically happen in the heat of summer or the cold of winter. Both seasons place an extra burden on an older battery. If you have an older battery in your vehicle, it’s a good idea to have it replaced before it won’t start your car, truck or van. We can test it for you the next time you bring your vehicle in for service.

How to Know if you Need Car Electrical System Repair?

You will most likely need a new battery or car electrical system repair if you experience any of the following:

  1. Your vehicle doesn’t start or you have difficulty cranking the engine.
  2. The dashboard and/or interior lights won’t like up properly.
  3. You notice your headlights or brake lights dimming when driving slowly or your vehicle is idling.
  4. Your car’s air conditioner or heater doesn’t blow any air at all when turned on.
  5. You smell burning plastic or electrical insulation. Call us right away if you notice a burnt smell from the electrical system.

Trust Your Electrical System Repairs to Geller’s Automotive in Byram, New Jersey

Not only can we help you properly maintain your vehicle’s electrical system, but we can complete car electrical system repairs. Click here to schedule an appointment with Geller’s Automotive to have your vehicle’s electrical system components inspected now.

photo credit: AndyArmstrong Battery via photopin (license)