Car Electrical Systems

April 29, 2016

The Electrical System of your Vehicle

  Maintaining your vehicle is important, as this will help keep it reliable. You will also want to notice if the vehicle is starting to act out of the norm. The vehicle’s electrical system consists of the battery, starter, and alternator. The battery provides the power to the starter. Then the alternator gives the battery energy it needs to power the vehicle. If one of the parts is not working properly, your vehicle will not start or may not run correctly.   The battery supplies a small amount of power to the starter motor. The starter then rotates and turns the crankshaft to begin the movement of the pistons in the engine. This process is what ensures the starter works. Sometimes it is difficult to determine when a starter will fail, so regular inspections help keep it working efficiently.   When the vehicle starts, the battery is the part that provides the vehicle’s electrical current. This electrical current includes the power to the ignition and fuel systems, which are responsible for creating the combustion necessary for the engine to function properly and efficiently. As you turn the key, the battery provides power to the starter that turns, and then the alternator gives the battery the energy needed to power the lights, wipers, and other accessories. If the battery is doing this on a regular basis, it may need to be recharged or replaced.   When the engine is running, the alternator helps to keep the battery charged. While you can start a vehicle with a faulty alternator, it will not be able to run for any extended period of time. If the alternator for your vehicle needs replacing, you may notice the electrical system performing oddly or erratically. The battery may even start to discharge, which will result in poor starts, or sometimes not starting at all. If you notice an issue with how the vehicle starts, schedule an appointment so we can inspect the vehicle for you.
January 29, 2015

Reasons the Heater May Not be Working

When driving, you will want the vehicle to be as safe as possible. You will also want to have the added comfort that the heating system can provide your vehicle. The heating system is important because it can also help to make sure that your vehicle is operating efficiently or effectively. If the heater is not working, not only would the inside of your vehicle feel like an ice box, but a broken heater can prevent your defroster from blowing warm air to your windshield. The defroster is important because it helps to eliminate ice and fog, which can pose a hazard while driving. Not having a working heater in your vehicle could even become a dire situation, if you end up stranded. Make sure to bring your vehicle in and we can inspect it for you. Why the Heater may Break Down When the heater stops operating, it could be caused from a variety of reasons. If you are not sure what the specific reason could be, make sure to bring the vehicle in and we can inspect it. Try to make not of any odd noises, smells, or anything else out of the norm. Also notice if the vehicle handles differently when the heater no longer is working. One reason for a poor heater could be low antifreeze or water level in the radiator. This could be caused from a leak in the cooling system. Also, a bad thermostat that is not allowing the engine to warm up properly may cause a heater that does not function. The blower fan should also be inspected to ensure it is working properly. Coolant that contains rust particles may become contaminated and might be blocking the heating core. This will reduce the circulating air in the cabin of the vehicle. Short Term Fixes for the Vehicle Topping it off may help in the short term, but it is an indication of a deeper problem and should be checked out. You should not have to add anything at all if everything is working well. It can damage the motor if there is low heat from too little coolant. If there is a leak, it could be as simple as a loose hose clamp, or a major problem like a leaking engine cylinder head gasket. This can cause serious damage to the engine and a costly repair bill if it is ignored. Remember to go to Regular Maintenances Several components make up the heating system of your vehicle. A heating system works when the vehicle receives heat from the engine’s coolant system. Once the engine reaches its operating temperature that is controlled by the thermostat, it heats up the coolant and water mixture. It will then pass it through hoses and valves and into the heating core. This can resemble a miniature radiator. A blower fan then pushes the warm air from the heating core through the cabin filter and into the vehicle. Maintaining your vehicle’s cooling system helps prevent a heater failure. Checking hoses, belts, and keeping the coolant clean and filled are simple basic maintenance that will help keep it working.
October 23, 2014

The Alternator and Your Vehicle

The electrical charging system in your vehicle is generally made up of three major components: the battery, voltage regulator, and alternator. The battery and alternator will work together to generate power for the electrical components of a vehicle. Alternators are generally found near the front of the engine. They are driven by the crankshaft, which converts the up and down motion of the pistons into a circular movement. When this movement turns the components of the alternator it produces power through electromagnetism. History of the Alternator An alternator gets its name from the term alternating current. Thomas Edison is known for inventing the first light bulb and many other electrical mechanisms. It was actually Nikola Tesla who developed the first alternating current induction motor in the late 1800s. While Edison was out to promote direct current or DC power, it was Tesla who proved that this power was superior. It can produce higher voltage much more efficiently and that is very helpful to run the electrical system of the vehicle. Alternator Components to Inspect Alternators are usually small and lightweight. Most alternators found in passenger cars and small trucks are constructed using an aluminum outer housing since lightweight metal does not magnetize. Aluminum also dissipates the tremendous heat generated by producing the electrical power. If you look closely at an alternator, you will also see vents on the front and back also for relieving heat. A pulley is attached to the rotor shaft on the front of the alternator. When the engine is running, the crankshaft turns the drive belt, which spins the pulley to turn the rotor shaft. The alternator transfers this mechanical energy from the engine into electrical power for the vehicle. Knowing when there is an Issue with the Alternator If your alternator is not functioning, the electrical components of your vehicle will quickly drain your battery. Since automobiles cannot properly function without the electrical system, this can be a big issue. Alternators have moving parts, get dirty, and are subject to stress from the drastic temperature changes. All of these causes can make the internal parts gradually wear out. The most common is bearing failure. The needle bearings allow the rotor to spin freely to produce electricity. When these fail, the alternator will not work efficiently and can completely seize up. This failure will normally cause a loud grinding noise. If you suspect this problem, quickly consult one of our mechanics to prevent a breakdown. Older vehicles with generators tend to require much more maintenance than newer models, but there’s no standard rule for how long an alternator will last. Generally, alternators are less expensive to replace than many other parts of the vehicle. If there are any issues you notice, make sure to bring the vehicle at the first sign of them. Any odd noises or odd smells you notice will mean at least one part will need maintenance done to it. By bringing the vehicle in, you can prevent the problem becoming worse and more costly.
September 23, 2013

6 signs the Battery may need attention

The battery is an important part for your vehicle. It is what provides power to your vehicle. Without a battery, the vehicle cannot even start. There can be several warning signs that the battery is starting to wear down. Sometimes a recharge will be needed, while other times a new battery will be required. If you notice any issues, it is best to bring your vehicle in and we can test the charge on the battery. To help preserve the life of the battery as long as possible, always check it regularly to make sure it is clean from any corrosion or debris that may have built up. The vehicle may start slowly This is one of the easiest signs to notice. When you attempt to start your vehicle, the cranking of the engine may be slow and sluggish. It may even take longer than normal to start the vehicle. While there are several reasons why a vehicle may start slowly, it is best to bring it in so it can be diagnosed correctly, and the issue can be resolved. The Check Engine Light comes on The check engine light will illuminate as the battery power becomes weaker. Some system indicator lights could mean there is an issue with the battery, engine, or even a loose gas cap. If the lights starts flashing, bring your vehicle in as soon as possible so the issue can be fixed. Low battery fluid The battery typically has a part of the casing that is translucent. This way, you can always keep an eye on the battery’s fluid level. You can also inspect it by removing the red and black caps on it if they are not sealed. There is however a majority of modern car batters that permanently seal these parts. If the fluid level is below the lead plates inside the battery, it is time to have the battery tested. If the fluid level drops, it is typically caused by an overcharge of the battery. The battery case swells Noticing a swelling or bloating battery case, it is an indication the battery has gone bad. This can be caused from excessive heat that causes the battery case to swell. It will start to decrease the life of your battery, and over time, the battery will go dead. An odd smell If the battery is starting to have issues, you may notice a sulfur odor from around the battery. This is caused from the battery leaking. If the battery leaks, it could also cause corrosion around the posts where the cable connections are. If you notice the posts have a build up of debris, make sure to clean it off so the battery can have the best connection possible. The age of the battery The life of the battery can range from three to five years, depending on the battery. Other factors that play a part in how long the battery lasts are driving habits, weather, and the amount of frequent short trips. These factors can drastically shorten the actual life of your vehicle’s battery.
September 16, 2013

4 Symptoms of your vehicle’s Battery going dead

The battery is important for your vehicle because it supplies the power to it. Without the battery, your vehicle will not even start. Also, the engine will not even turn over. Having a regular maintenance check can be beneficial to determine when the battery may need to be replaced. There are some signs you might notice if your battery is starting to lose power. If these happen, bring your vehicle in so we can inspect it for you. Sometimes your battery will just need to be charged. Other times the battery may need to be replaced, because with time and age, the battery has worn out. The Battery Light illuminates The most obvious sign that your battery may be encountering issues is if the battery light illuminates on your dashboard. Most vehicles have a light on the dashboard that will turn on as the battery is becoming faulty or going bad. As the battery nears the end of power it has, the dashboard light will be on constantly, or even be flashing. The battery warning light does not always indicate a battery that is dying. It does however appear when there is a problem with the battery. When this turns on, you should bring your vehicle in as soon as possible so we can inspect the vehicle as well as the battery. Issues with the electrical parts of your vehicle Another way you can notice if there might be an issue with the battery is by observing the electrical system of your vehicle. This includes the headlights, radio, fuel injection system, and the heating or air conditioning system. When the battery starts to go dead, all of these things will lessen in function when the vehicle is running. The more electrical items that are running the harder it will be to start your vehicle. It will also be hard to keep your vehicle running, as it may start to stall out. If you notice the headlights starting to become weaker, chances are the battery may be starting to drain. Your vehicle does not start If your vehicle does not start, or even has trouble starting, this may be related to the battery starting to go bad. When you turn the ignition to start the vehicle, you may hear a noise that sound like clicking or ticking. This can be a strong indication that the battery has been drained. By bringing in your vehicle, we can inspect it over. Sometimes it will need a charge rather than being replaced. After testing the battery and knowing the condition of it, we can alert you to what your options are. The life span of the battery On average, most batteries last from two to five years. If you have had the same battery for more than five years, and your vehicle is starting to lose power, it is more than likely the battery. If your vehicle has been sitting for a long length of time, the battery may have worn out naturally. Not starting the engine can decrease the life span of the battery greatly. One way to know for sure is to have the battery tested to see if it is still viable.