Empowerment: Diagnosing Electrical Issues In Your Vehicle


Being met with a dead click when the key is turned, it can throw a wrench into a busy schedule.  By using the following suggestions you can quickly deduce where the power issue is so you can make it easier and more timely fix.

Begin with the Battery

The battery is the first component in your engine's electrical system.  It sends the initial charge to start the engine, and then the alternator keeps it going.  Use these steps to find out if the battery is the culprit:

  • Jump your car as you normally would. Once the car is running, remove the cables carefully. 
  • Wait.  If your car dies after idling for awhile, the fault does not lie with the battery.
  • If the car continues to run like it normally would, the problem is the battery.  Although this is an easy fix, make sure to practice car battery safety when replacing it.

On to the Alternator

The alternator is your vehicle's built-in battery re-charger.  As the pistons fire, your alternator runs current back into the battery in order to keep the engine firing.  If your engine died while idling, it's because the alternator is not running power back into the battery.  There are many different components to the alternator.  You might be able to isolate the alternator issue using this checklist:

  • The wiring around the alternator may have become corroded over time.  If the cables look cracked or frayed, they might be the only issue.
  • Turn on the lights while the engine is running, and watch them for awhile.  If they dim slowly, it shows that there isn't enough power. 
  • If they get brighter as the engine runs, this shows that excessive power is reaching them. This may be an issue with the regulator or a short in the alternator itself. 

Break out the Voltmeter

If the above tests prove inconclusive, a voltmeter never lies.  Connect the leads from the voltmeter to your battery, and take a reading when the engine is both off and on.  A healthy battery should read 12.6 volts when the engine isn't running, and 14 - 15 volts when the engine is running.  If the voltage is significantly lower than 12.6 volts when the engine is off, the battery is low.  If it reads below 13.5 volts when the engine is on, the alternator isn't providing enough charge back to the battery.

For more information, contact a company like White Pass Garage.


6 August 2015

Keep Your Vehicle Safe

Hello. My name’s Samuel Jacobs. I retired from my job as an auto mechanic last year. During my years as a mechanic, I had the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life. Some have remained friends to this day. When I was working, there is one thing that I came across at least weekly. That is how uneducated people are when it comes to their vehicle’s tires. Properly cared for tires are crucial to the safety of your vehicle. Without them, your car isn’t going anywhere. If they give out on you while you are driving, there is the potential for serious injury. I’m going to share some tire safety information here. Things like the importance of correct inflation, how to check the tread, when to replace tires, tire rotation, and what to do in case of a blow-out. I hope you find this information to be helpful.