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What are the Most Common Automotive Electrical Problems?

Bad spark plugs are one of the most common automotive electrical problems.
Problems with an alternator can drain a car's battery.
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  • Written By: Phil Shepley
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 23 April 2014
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Many malfunctions that occur in vehicles can be diagnosed as automotive electrical problems. The source of these problems is usually related to the electricity that is being generated by the battery or alternator. Each of these car problems can typically be separated into one of several categories.

Since the battery is the source of electricity for a vehicle, it is no surprise that it is commonly a cause for many automotive electrical problems. Usually the issue is a dead battery, caused when the battery can no longer hold a charge. Sometimes a faulty component of the vehicle can cause a dead battery. Other times it can be a result of leaving a component like the headlights or stereo on for an extended period of time. This problem can usually be remedied rather easily with either a jump-start or a battery recharge. A car battery can also become damaged or simply too old and in need of a replacement.

Another source of a common automotive electrical problem is the vehicle's alternator. While an automobile is running, the alternator is recharging the battery. Once the alternator breaks, the battery is quickly drained and the vehicle loses power. Sometimes the alternator belt can also wear out or become cracked, leading to a similar malfunction where the battery easily becomes discharged.

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Sometimes the source of an electrical problem in a vehicle can be a broken electrical wire or a blown fuse. All of the electrical components of a vehicle are attached to one another through the wires of the electrical system. There are also many vehicle fuses in this wiring, which protect sensitive automobile components from power surges. This is very convenient since it is much less costly to replace a fuse than an expensive auto part.

Some of the most important electrical components are the spark plugs and spark plug wires. When these go bad ,the engine will no longer properly work. This problem can usually be detected when the car runs rough in idle, accelerates poorly, stalls, or is getting bad gas mileage. Bad spark plugs and wires can usually be remedied easily with a tune-up.

Another automotive electrical component that can cause car problems when it goes bad in a solenoid. These magnetic coils are used to distribute power to the starter and to provide the power to open automatic door locks. A bad solenoid can easily be confused with a bad starter or a dead battery, since any of these can cause the engine to not be able to turn over when starting the car.

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anon262451
Post 1

My dash instrument gauges have stopped working but when I press the trip odometer and hold it they will work while I press it. It is also shifting hard now and I have no overdrive. Anyone got any solutions or ideas that would be helpful? I would appreciate that. --Mike

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