There is nothing worse than sliding the key i to the ignition and finding that your car will not start. Usually when this happens, there were some warning signs along the way. Maybe you missed them or maybe you didn’t want to think about it. You should always pay attention to those signs.
If you are having trouble starting your car, it could very well be a problem with the battery or the alternator. It is important to know what is wrong so that you can take the steps necessary to fix it.
What is the charging system in my vehicle?
All vehicles have a charging system. This system is responsible for keeping a charge in the battery and providing electricity for the radio, lights and other features your car may have. There are four parts to a charging system in today’s cars. The system is comprised of a battery, an alternator, wires and an Electronic Control Unit (ECU). Each part is responsible for certain functions and together they keep your car running.
The alternator is responsible for creating electrical power. This power is used to run accessories and charge the battery. It turns the mechanical energy that comes from the engine’s crankshaft into electrical energy.
Electronic Control Unit
The Electronic Control Unit, also known as the regulator in older model cars, is responsible for controlling the alternator’s output. Its purpose is to sense when the battery needs charging or when there is a need for electricity.
This is where the electric power is converted and run through. The job of the battery is to start the engine of your vehicle. The battery is also responsible for getting power to the accessories even if the engine is not running.
What are some warning signs that my charging system is struggling?
One of the first signs that you will see if your system is struggling will most likely be the warning light on your dashboard. Most newer cars have his type of system. If you see that light come on, it means you need to check it out. This warning light may be called “Alt”, “Bat”, or “Gen”. If this light comes on while you are driving and the engine is running, it means there is a problem with the charging system.
What are some reasons why my charging system is failing?
There could be a few reasons why your charging system is failing. It is important to know what is wrong so that you can fix it.
If your alternator is weak or low, you will need to have it replaced. You can test the strength of your alternator by using a voltmeter. If the reading is low, your mechanic will replace it. This is a common cause of charging system failure, so it makes sense to check the alternator right away.
If your battery is low, your car can experience problems and you will see that warning light come on. You can use a voltmeter to test your battery’s strength. If it is low, you need to replace the battery. Using the best battery tender to recharge it is the best way to maintain your battery.
Drive Belt Problems
The drive belt in a car’s charging system help the alternator. If the belt is worn or failing, then the alternator cannot function properly. This is another reason why your system might fail. If your light comes on, it could be a bad drive belt and your mechanic will need to replace it for you.
Corroded wires and connections can definitely be a reason that your car’s charging system is failing. You will need to clean your connections and battery clamps. You should also inspect all the wiring to be sure you do not have any loose or frayed wires.
As with any electronics, it is possible that your car’s computer system is somehow failing. Your mechanic will need to run diagnostics to check this and to make sure there are no other possible reasons why your system is failing.
Points to Remember
Your car relies on its electric system to generate the power it needs to run the engine, as well as run the accessories that go along with a car. This includes exterior lights, interior lights, the dashboard lights, the radio and phone chargers.
Your car’s charging system is made up of four different parts; a battery, an alternator, wires and an Electronic Control Unit (ECU). Each part is responsible for certain functions and together they keep your car running. If any of these parts start to breakdown, it will affect the whole system.
If you notice that it is hard to start your car or if the lights dim, it is time to check your system. You will even see the warning light on your dashboard light up. It is crucial that you have your car’s system checked right away.
A car’s charging system can fail due to several reasons, so it is important to narrow it down. It is possible that you are having trouble with your alternator. A test with a voltmeter can tell you if it needs to be replaced. Similarly, a voltmeter can also check your battery to see if it is in need of replacing.
It is also possible that your car may have a failing drive belt. This would impede the work of the alternator. Your car may also have corrosion on the wires and connections. This would prohibit the energy to flow properly.
And it is possible that your car’s computer system is faulty. This needs to be determined by a mechanic so that other issues can be ruled out.
Nobody likes to be stranded. If you notice that your car’s charging system is starting to failing and you do not take steps to correct it, you will probably find yourself stranded someday. You should never ignore warning signs when they pop up on your dashboard. Regular maintenance can go a long way towards making sure everything is running smoothly under the hood.