Beyond the battery, we tend to think of our cars as very mechanical things. Gas in, engine fires up, and we’re off to work, run errands, or travel to visit family.
But have you ever really considered just how reliant upon a working electrical system your vehicle is?
Our vehicles have intricate electrical systems, and this is especially true for modern cars and trucks. Just a handful of the features powered by the electrical system in a vehicle most likely include:
• Brake lights
• Cabin lights
• The stereo
• Power windows
• Sensors (e.g., for tire pressure)
• The car starter
• Malfunction of any electronic component
When the electrical system in your vehicle malfunctions, the problems are usually so prominent that you notice right away. The lights won’t turn on or seem dim, the stereo doesn’t work, or power windows fail to operate. In some cases, the car itself may have difficulty starting or won’t start at all. Some electrical problems are more subtle than others, but keep an eye out for the following warning signs so you can get ahead of them:
#1 – Burning Smells
One of the most common warning signs of an electrical problem in your vehicle is a burning smell. Specifically, a “plastic-y” or rubbery burning or melting smell. A burning smell is usually caused when a wire or electrical component in your vehicle has shorted out. This causes the wire to draw more current than it should, which heats it up and begins to melt the plastic insulation around it.
If you smell anything along these lines or even worse, if you see smoke, you almost certainly need to have your vehicle serviced immediately. The problem could be minor—and in many cases it is—but anything burning in your vehicle could quickly become a potentially dangerous issue.
#2 – Dim Lights
Dim lights anywhere on or in your vehicle can indicate battery or electrical system problems. If it’s a single light that’s giving you trouble, it’s probably just a bulb—but if replacing the bulb with a new one doesn’t resolve the issue, wiring or components could be malfunctioning.
#3 – Stereo System or Other Electronics Not Working
The stereo or the variety of other electronics found in newer vehicles like GPS systems or even small televisions are great conveniences, but they draw more power and thus put more demand on your vehicle’s electrical system. If one or more of these components are malfunctioning or not working at all, there’s a good chance that wiring or other components may have failed, although in many cases the problem can be as simple as a blown fuse.
#4 – Corrosion on the Battery Cables or Terminals
Corrosion on the battery terminals or cables looks like a white or blueish buildup. If the corrosion is minor, you might try to remove it yourself with a chemical cleaning solution. However for the best results, we recommend BG’s battery services. The battery, terminals, and cables will not only be cleaned, but sealed to extend the life of your battery.
#5 –The Engine Won’t “Turn Over”
This is, of course, the most problematic of all electrical issues. Generally when the engine won’t crank or turn over, or if it takes longer than usual to do so, the problem can be narrowed down to the battery or starter. Many drivers worry that difficulty starting up could have to do with the engine itself and are relieved to learn that a completely unrelated electrical component could be causing the issue.
Keep an eye out for these common warning signs of car electrical problems and you’ll avoid having your daily commute interrupted. In many cases electrical problems are simple and comparatively affordable to fix.
Think you have an electrical problem? Visit your local repair shop offering BG Products.