While electric vehicles are stealing the headlines these days, many drivers don’t realize how important electrical systems are in an average internal combustion vehicle. These systems play a huge role in most vehicles on the road today, from starting and running the vehicle itself to powering all the electronic components like the radio and the air conditioner. Just because you drive a 2018 Ford F-150 instead of a Tesla or a Polestar, doesn’t mean your vehicle’s electrical systems aren’t critical, and even the most advanced vehicles can get a visit from electrical gremlins from time to time.
From difficulties starting and running to dimming and flickering dashboard lights, sometimes it is a real challenge to pinpoint an electrical problem and get it fixed right the first time. Fortunately, NAPA Auto Care is your go-to auto electrical repair shop. We can help you get to the source of your electrical issues and provide best-in-class automotive electrical service so you can get back on the road.
What Are the Electrical Systems in a Vehicle?
Today’s internal combustion engines have electrical systems that use three main components:
- The Battery – Supplies electrical currents to the ignition, fuel system and starter prior to the engine start
- The Starter – Uses the battery to power a flywheel that engages the crankshaft to operate pistons in the engine
- The Alternator – Once the engine is running, it takes over to provide continuous charge
Diagnosing Vehicle Electrical Problems
One of the most obvious signs that your vehicle’s electrical system needs repair is difficulty starting. If your car is struggling to start, it clicks when you turn the key or it starts and then promptly dies, your electrical issues are likely related to a failing battery or battery cables. Other battery-related issues include dim or flickering headlights or dashboard lights or the engine not starting when the dashboard is fully illuminated.
Along with an engine that won’t start, you can possibly identify a bad starter by sound: grinding, whirring or clinking under the hood when trying to start your vehicle. If your vehicle stalls out or dies frequently, you need to jump-start it repeatedly or the battery light is illuminated on your dashboard, you may have a bad alternator.
Frustratingly, you may experience a lot of the same issues if your battery, alternator or starter are bad—that’s part of why diagnosing electrical issues is so tricky. Spotting electrical issues and performing electrical repairs is sometimes overwhelming to the average driver, but the ASE-certified technicians at your local NAPA Auto Care are trained to pinpoint issues and perform precise, comprehensive automotive electrical repairs.
Auto Electrical Repair at NAPA Auto Care
When you take your vehicle into a NAPA Auto Care for an electrical system repair, the entire starting and charging system is inspected and tested. Vehicle batteries have a life of approximately four years, and the electronics in modern vehicles require a large draw from a battery. The NAPA technician will perform a battery load test, and most likely recommend better batteries with higher amperages. The battery cables and battery terminals will also get tested to ensure they are not causing your auto electronics issues.
Using a multimeter, the technician will check the alternator voltage output while starting your car to ensure it is working correctly. If it is not up to par, then it will get replaced. Additionally, the technician will check the alternator belt, as well as the starter pinion teeth for signs of wear. If the alternator belt is worn or cracked or the teeth of the starter pinion are worn down, they will also get replaced.
A clicking sound while starting could also mean a bad starter solenoid, but you should know that a bad switch may also exhibit the same symptoms as a failing starter. If you drive an automatic transmission vehicle, make sure to ask the NAPA technician to inspect the neutral safety switch. If you drive a manual vehicle, the clutch pedal switch needs checked.
If you’re dealing with automotive electronics issues, take your vehicle by your local NAPA Auto Care for a thorough electrical systems diagnosis. Before you arrive, use our convenient Repair Estimator Tool so you can budget wisely for your auto repair.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.
More than 90 years ago, the National Automotive Parts Association ("NAPA") was created to meet America’s growing need for an effective auto parts distribution system. Today, 91% of do-it-yourself customers recognize the NAPA brand name. We have over 6,000 NAPA Auto Parts Stores nationwide serving all 50 states with a unique inventory control system that helps you find the exact part that you need.