Car on roadThere’s more to a vehicle’s electrical system than you might realise - many people think that the majority of electric parts are situated in the console of the car, such as for the heating system and the stereo.

But actually, there are many more components under the bonnet that you might not be aware of, which can cause issues with your car starting or functioning properly. Being aware of these common electrical problems will help you when it comes to resolving such issues if and when they occur.

Alternator problems
You might have experienced difficulty in getting the car started on a particularly cold morning, which can be frustrating and time-consuming. In such cases, it’s often necessary to switch the car on to turn on the windscreen heater and wait for the car to warm up. However, if the cold weather has made its way into the car battery, you may not be able to switch the car on at all. Many car battery issues occur in the colder months, such as the car struggling to find the spark to switch on.

Just as with any other battery, if your car battery doesn’t get the power it needs to switch on, it will stop working, whether it’s due to age or because it’s not been charged. This can be a problem with the alternator which charges the battery. The simplest method of spotting alternator issues is that your car will start to lose power while you’re driving, and the engine will feel sluggish.

Light issues
There may also be indications of electrical issues inside of the car, such as lights coming on on the dashboard like speed sensors or brake lights. Different makes and models will have different bulbs, but they all function in the same way whether it’s a traditional bulb style or a modern LED light.

LEDs tend to last longer but traditional lights can be just as effective and bright - however, in either case, you need to be watchful of dimming lights or when a bulb has blown as it can be confusing for other drivers and may make your vehicle harder to see clearly. Make sure that you change faulty bulbs as soon as you spot an issue to avoid accidents, and test your lights regularly which you can do by parking against a flat surface such as a wall or garage door to see if your lights are working properly.

Worn out spark plugs
The alternator and lights are some of the most common problems when it comes to electrical faults in vehicles, but the spark plugs can also be a good place to check if you haven’t found the cause of the fault elsewhere. Spark plugs can become worn down over time, as they’re used to ignite the fuel inside the engine - if the car is taking longer to start than it normally does, then the spark plugs might be at fault and need to be replaced.

Faulty solenoids
Solenoids can be a cause of electrical issues in cars, as they play an important role in your car starting and also different elements such as automatic door locks. When you start the engine of your vehicle, the solenoid receives a huge dose of power from a mix of the ignition and the battery.

The solenoid distributes the power it receives to the starter motor and other elements of the car. But just as with faults with the alternator, solenoid problems can be connected to the car battery so this should be something to check if you’re finding that your car isn’t working properly.

Final thoughts
Electrical problems in cars can be the cause of many issues with your car starting or running properly. So, having a good foundation of knowledge as to where to look when issues arise can help you narrow down your search when fixing these problems.

Often, it can be worthwhile having your car checked out by a mechanic to ensure there aren’t any larger underlying issues with your vehicle. But making sure the battery is charged, the alternator works and that the spark plugs and solenoids are in good condition can reduce the risk of electrical faults from developing.

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