Electrical problems are less common in today’s cars than other kinds of problems but they are also more difficult to diagnose than most mechanical problems.
This is one area where you should rely on the expertise of your chosen repair shop to determine the problem and recommend the best solution to fix it. The complicated nature of electrical issues generally requires the use of specialized diagnostic equipment to identify the root cause of the problem. This equipment can access the data your vehicle’s computer stores about how the different components are operating. This data can then be used to pin down the exact problem so that the technician can make the required repairs. Unlike brakes that squeak or an engine that rattles, electrical problems don’t always announce themselves in a way that is easy to understand. The electrical system is compromised of several components including the battery, battery cables, alternator, starter, and computer system. Problems with any of these components can cause problems with the vehicle’s operation. To help ensure you know what to look for, here are some of the common signs there is something amiss with your car’s electrical system.
1. Car Won’t Start This is the most likely electrical problem you will experience in your car. If the car won’t start, there is a good chance you have a problem with the battery, the alternator, or the starter. If you turn the key and nothing happens, check to see if the interior lights came on when you opened the door. If the lights aren’t working and the car won’t start, the problem is likely a dead battery. If the lights are on but nothing happens when you turn the key, the problem is likely your alternator. If you hear a clicking sound when you turn the key, the problem is likely the starter. All of these problems require a visit to the auto repair shop for final diagnosis and repair.
2. Visible Damage or Leakage from the Battery Inspect the battery from time to time to look for corrosion stains or buildup around the terminal. Both can be signs that the battery is leaking, experiencing a problem, or nearing the end of its life. Be careful if you notice any signs of damage or leakage as the contents of the battery are corrosive and they will damage bare skin.
3. The Lights Work, But They Dim While Driving If you notice that the dashboard lights or the headlights seem to dim when you are driving at low speeds or when the car is idling, there may be a problem with the battery, the alternator, or the voltage regulator. If the battery is on its last legs it may be charging slower or have trouble holding a charge which can result in dimming headlights under certain conditions. Problems with the alternator or voltage regulator can also cause the lights to be dimmer under some circumstances.
4. The Car Runs Fine But the Brake Lights Don’t Work If you have replaced the bulbs in both brake lights to no avail, the problem may not be the bulbs at all, it may be a fuse. If some specific part of the vehicle like the brake lights or the radio isn’t working, check to make sure you don’t need to replace a fuse.