One of the car problems that offer a challenge to vehicle owners is the electrical system. Even though the electrical systems of today’s vehicles are more intricate and require the use of a higher level of technology for a car repair, they are basically the same design as 30 years ago. Many car problems associated with day-to-day drivability are caused by variations in voltage. This is due to the use of computerized controls in which even the smallest of change in voltage can alter the controls, resulting in a car repair. Most car problems start from poor electrical connections due to loose connections and buildup of corrosion, especially at the battery posts.
A complete and thorough test involves much more than sticking a voltmeter on the battery. The average car repair “do-it-yourselfer” does not have the appropriate test equipment. To accurately diagnose an issue, you should have an inspection performed by an auto electrical technician who knows your specific make and model.
Follow these tips and you’re on your way to extending the life of the electrical system:
Tip #1: Keep your battery and its connections clean to avoid clogged cover vents and overtaxing your starter. This will also allow for proper ventilation of dangerous, explosive gases from your battery.
Tip #2: When replacing your battery, always buy one of the same or higher CCA rating (cold cranking amps) as the original and make sure it’s the same or compatible “group size” to fit your battery tray and cable connections.
Tip #3: Due to the varying nature of electrical systems, check the voltage running system before jump-starting your car using another one that is running. For example, a 14.5 volt running system can seriously damage a 12.6 volt system due to the over voltage. If possible, jump start only from the other battery voltage itself.
Tip #4: Start your car with the major electrical units turned off – A/C, stereo, etc., to ease the load on your battery and starter.
Tip #5: Have the electrical system completely checked and tested at least every two years or whenever you have it serviced for any type of drivability problem.