Signs Your Vehicle Needs Electrical Systems Repair in Ann Arbor
Your car’s electrical system is somewhat like your nervous system. It holds everything else together and makes all the pieces work – as a whole. At Louie and John’s Complete Auto Service, our certified technicians can help determine if your vehicle needs electrical systems repair in Ann Arbor. Consider how complex a car is:
- The engine: what’s under the hood won’t take you where you need to go unless the electrical system tells the starter to start, ignites the internal combustion, makes the oil pump move oil to lubricate the engine, and the water pump moves water to cool the engine.
- Your anti-lock brakes keep you from skidding, but only when ABS sensors monitor the speed.
- The air conditioning and the heater work when the electrical system sends the signal.
- The lights, door locks, and windows all work the same way: it’s the electrical system that makes them work.
- Even the seats in most vehicles these days need electricity to adjust for your comfort and safety.
The central theme here is that all parts work best when the network is stable. A less stable environment is a car that’s always in motion; moving through rain, traveling on salted roads or through ocean spray, covered with dirt, and exposed to bad weather or high humidity often compromises your electrical system.
What can you do when things don’t work the way they should? First, you need to find out what is causing your problem. It could be:
Fuses protect all the pieces of your vehicle’s electrical system. The fuse box protects the high voltage produced by the battery and the alternator and contains many different sizes of fuses.
Can you find your fuse box? Many cars have two: one in the engine compartment and one near the steering wheel. Check your owner’s manual to locate them.
If a fuse must be replaced more than once in a short amount of time, you probably have an electrical problem in that part of the car’s system, and you should have your vehicle checked to prevent damage.
The experts at Louie and John’s Auto Repair are no strangers to electrical systems. We know fuses, and the quickest way to get your car roadworthy is to bring it to us.
A Dead or Weak Battery
Batteries are not meant to last for the life of your vehicle but may last three to six years, depending on use and environment.
Because the battery provides a fast, vital spark to start your engine, the last thing you want to do is shorten its life. Charging your phone with the car turned off is a bad idea, and vibrations can also cause damage.
Bad Battery Cables
Your cables move electricity from the battery to the rest of the electrical system. They can wear out after years of use, and corrosion can cause cracks. If the cable is damaged, the electrical charge will not get it where it needs to go. No juice, no start.
Bad Spark Plug Wires
These cables move electricity from the battery to the spark plugs in the engine itself. If they are worn or broken, you’re again in a “no juice, no start” state. And while you’re checking the wires, check to make sure the spark plugs themselves aren’t loose.
Your alternator charges your battery with direct energy, but the process is complex. Several things can cause your alternator to deteriorate: computer problems, faulty wiring, and bad fuses are just a few. Regardless of what causes the alternator to fail, it’s a sinking feeling that you’re about to get stuck. Is your warning light lit?
Cut or worn wires in your car’s wiring harness will keep electricity from getting where it needs to go. Poor installation or chafing caused by vibrations while you drive can harm wires, but visits from squirrels or mice can also destroy them. Of all the things little critters can do to ruin your day, chewing through wires is one of the worst.
If you’re lucky, a short circuit can blow a fuse. If you’re not lucky, it can cause anything from a no-start to a fire.
Engine Control Unit (ECU)
The ECU is the brain of the whole network and the computer that runs your car. Power overloads can damage them from the alternator, short circuits, and corrosion of the connectors. Sometimes they give out due to normal wear and tear, but at times the diagnosis is more involved.
Your car has many sensors that give information to the ECU. Like any other part, sensors can become worn over time and the harsh environment caused by routine driving. You can replace them, but figuring out which sensor is dead takes knowledge and the right equipment. Do you know about the “Check Engine” light? One typical cause is sensor malfunction.
These are just some of the causes of electrical problems. So how do you know your electrical system is compromised? For starters, look for these symptoms:
You turn the key, and nothing happens.
It’s dead in the water.
You smell burning plastic or electrical insulation.
Remember, the nose knows. If you smell burning, stop – don’t drive. A short circuit caused by overloading with more power than it can handle can result in a severe car electrical problem since it can cause your vehicle to burn and even explode!
All your lights are dim.
The battery is not charging, or maybe some of the wires are broken.
Please keep it clean!
Check your battery and terminals for corrosion and keep them clean. Ensure the wires are not covered with oil, grease, or dirt, and check for cracks in the insulation.
Realize that your battery won’t last forever.
Your battery lasts 3-7 years; if it’s not sealed, fill it with distilled water.
When not in operation, don’t leave any lights on – not just your headlights.
How about the light over your head? Is the switch set correctly? Did you send your kid out to the car to retrieve your purse? You might want to glance out the door and make sure the overhead light is off.
Do you use a key fob to open or start your car?
If nothing’s happening when pressing the button, perhaps changing the fob battery would help.
Does Your Vehicle Need Electrical Systems Repair in Ann Arbor?
By knowing a few prevention strategies, you can keep your car healthy. You can’t always predict when things will happen, but you can keep the vehicle running as smoothly as possible.
Awareness of some of the signs of a failing electrical system is a starting point. Knowing where to take your car when there are problems is the next step.