The electrical components in your vehicle must be functioning to start the engine. That begins with the battery, and secondly the alternator must be functioning to generate electricity to power your vehicles battery:
Understanding the battery function
You may think it's your engine that powers your car, but it's not. Your battery uses lead acid to power the starter motor, which in turn starts your vehicle. If you ever find that your car won't start, it's often not an engine fault, but a battery fault. The voltage in a vehicles battery must be over 12 volts. They are comprised of six cells, each generating around 2.1 volts, for a total of 12.6 volts. Anything under that amount, you have a problem.
Checking battery voltage levels
To check your vehicles battery power, you need a voltmeter. All voltmeters have positive and negative leads. The positive terminal for your battery is indicated by the plus symbol and red wiring. The negative terminal is indicated by the minus symbol and black wiring. By attaching the positive and negative terminals to your voltmeter, you will get a reading indicating the battery charge. When fully charged, your reading will be 12.66 volts. Anything lower, you have a problem.
The most likely cause is the alternator
The alternator takes its name from the AC (alternating current) term. When things go wrong with the alternator, you experience dimming lights, the radio shutting down, and even your cigarette lighter won't have enough power to recharge your phone.
When the alternator goes, you have no option but to call the expertise of an auto electric repairs service. Preferably, before it packs in on you because otherwise you will find yourself stranded by the side of the road, calling for a tow.
Alternator repairs to power to your battery
When the electricals fail, it might not require a costly new alternator. Just as the battery comprises six cells to generate 12.66 volts, the alternator has various terminals to keep power going to the battery.
- S terminal
- IG terminal
- L terminal
- B terminal
- F terminal
A new alternator is the most expensive repair. However, with fine-tuning and diagnostic services to identify the terminal breakage, repairs can be as simple as fixing the L terminal and getting your headlights back working as they should.
The electrical components in your vehicle are far more powerful than the engine itself. The engine relies on the car battery to power the starter motor, and then the alternator to continually generate enough alternating current to keep the battery fully charged and operational.