If you don’t know much about what is going on under the hood, you might think that your vehicle’s electrical system is a mess of wires and cables. In reality, those wires make up a small part of a bigger system that creates a circuit to deliver electricity to the places your car, truck, or SUV needs it.
A vehicle electrical system consists of 5 main parts:
- Fuse Box
The battery stores the power needed to start your vehicle. This energy also fuels things like the radio, clock, and car alarm when the engine is not running.
The alternator creates the electricity to maintain the stored power create by the battery. This helps to run electrical devices like the ignition and engine controls. The alternator is powered by a belt connected to the engine.
The starter is the most crucial component in your car’s electrical system. Though it is only used a few times during a typical day, the starter requires the most power out of the whole electrical system. The starter utilizes the flywheel to turn the engine’s crankshaft. This action starts the combustion process.
Once combustion begins, compression is created in the cylinders. This process sends voltage from the battery to the starter, and the voltage is administered to the starter by the solenoid (or relay). An ignition switch controls the starter solenoid, and the solenoid activates the starter motor. The starter motor cranks the engine until it catches and the car starts.
5. Fuse Box
Every electrical component in your vehicle is connected to the fuse box by wires or wiring harnesses. Inside the fuse box there are many fuses that protect your car from short circuits or power overloads that could potentially cause damage or even start a fire. A temporary power overload can cause a fuse to blow, and then when that happens, it needs to be replaced.
Common Electrical Problems
- Dead battery
- Battery won’t hold a charge
- Alternator is damaged
- Starter or solenoid is bad
- Loose battery cables
- Loose wires or damaged electrical fuse
- Cracked alternator belt
- Damaged ignition system parts
- Loose spark plugs
If you suspect something may be wrong with your vehicles electrical system, let us know! Our trained mechanics will be happy to diagnose and fix the problem and get you back on the road.