Common Auto Electrical Problems

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Common Auto Electrical Problems

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.


When there is a problem with the electrical system, it means you need to have the issue diagnosed and repaired before traveling. For this reason, Eric’s Car Care experts will share some of the most common electrical problems with new cars, as well as what you can do about them. 


Dead or Faulty Battery

The battery is often the root cause of complete electrical failure. An easy test of this is to flicker your headlights and see how bright they are if they turn on at all. A dead battery could mean you need a jump, or that it needs replacement altogether. A dead battery could also indicate that your car may have been pre-used! On the other hand, the battery may not be dead but rather there is simply no power in the battery at all- you’ll know the difference based on whether your lights are dim or simply don’t turn on at all, and you’re left with a pitiful little click and nothing else.


Damaged Alternator or Alternator Belt

The alternator functions charge the battery when the car is running. It also helps to distribute power from the engine to the headlights and radio. If you notice that the lights on your dashboard flicker or dim while you’re driving, it could be a sign that your alternator isn’t recharging the battery. This issue could be related to a faulty or damaged alternator, or it could also be a problem with the alternator belt.


Blown Fuse

If a specific electrical system stops working, such as the power locks, or turn signals, etc., you will want to check out the fuse box. All electrical systems in a vehicle are routed back to a fuse that sends the proper amount of electricity to the system. If a fuse blows, the system that sends power will stop working. This is a common issue and if this ends up being the culprit it is a very simple and inexpensive fix for most cars and trucks. 


Bad Spark Plugs or Wires

Spark plugs create a minute explosion that powers the pistons up and down. They require a tiny electrical charge in order to do so. But, should the plugs or wires they are connected to become corroded and the connection bad, then the engine will not be able to properly operate. Signs of bad spark plugs include a rough idle, decreased fuel efficiency or the vehicle engine cranking but not starting.


Electrical Short

An electrical short in your car can lead to many different issues. This includes your battery draining and leaving you with no power to continue your trip. Electrical shorts are one of the hardest electrical problems to diagnose. It will first be necessary to find the specific circuit that contains the short. Luckily, fixing the short once you have found the right circuit usually isn’t that difficult. It often only requires replacing part of the wire where the short is located.

To troubleshoot your vehicle’s electrical system, our experts here at Eric’s Car Care use specialized diagnostic equipment to access your vehicle’s data and pinpoint the cause of any electrical problems. Our electrical system service includes a thorough visual inspection of battery and case condition, a thorough check to ensure your battery can still deliver adequate power and replace it if necessary, electrical cable connections are examined and adjusted, and engine diagnostics may be necessary to troubleshoot sophisticated systems or complex electrical problems.

Written by Eric's Car Care