Free Shipping on all orders! No Core charge!

R & Y Alternators and Starters - Call now: 1-800-844-1931

Caring for Your Car’s Electrical Systems

April 03, 2019 3 min read

When your car’s electrical system is faulty, you’re on the road to nowhere – literally. Without a functional electrical system, your car won’t start.


You’ll know something is wrong with your car’s electrical system if:

  • Your car won’t start.
  • The dashboard display lights are dim, as are the interior lights.
  • The headlights are dim, especially when idling or driving at low speeds.
  • The ALT or battery light on your dashboard display comes on.


The electrical system in a car is made up of three parts: the starter, alternator, and battery. Each has a different function:

  • Starter – takes current from the battery to rotate the flywheel using the pinion gear, thereby starting the car.
  • Alternator – charges the car’s battery.
  • Battery – provides electrical current to make the ignition work.


That being said, it’s clearly evident that you need to protect your car’s electrical system.


Here are some ideas for caring for your car’s electrical systems


  1. Check your battery regularly


Look for loose connections and tighten them. Clean dirty terminals and eliminate corrosion. People in coastal areas or humid climates have more problems with corrosion. Those living in areas such as Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Miami, Florida need to take extra precautions. Remove corrosion with a corrosion removal fluid that you can buy at any auto parts store. Alternatively, use a mixture of baking soda and water.


Disconnect the wires from the battery terminal before cleaning. Otherwise, you’ll miss a few spots. Rinse the cables and connectors with water when you’re finished cleaning. Reconnect the battery cables. Always connect the positive terminal first.


Exposed wires in the electrical cables are a warning sign of problems to come. Purchase replacement cables and install them. If you’re not sure what you’re doing, ask a mechanic or technician at a battery center for help.


  1. Protect electrical systems from exposure to water


Water can damage any electrical system. The same applies to the car. The two most vulnerable parts of your car’s electrical system are the alternator and the starter. The starter is generally only accessible from underneath the car. That means it is easily exposed to water on the road as it splashes upward. The alternator is attached to the side of the engine and is often underneath other components.


Your car comes with protective covers to prevent water from splashing into the engine. Make sure none of these covers are cracked or missing. Avoid driving in flooded areas where the water is at a level that will touch the underside of your engine as you pass through it. After the severe hurricanes and storms that the area is prone to, many Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Miami, Florida residents have learned this the hard way.


  1. Learn the signs and symptoms of problems


Be aware of the things your car could be doing to try and tell you there’s something wrong with the electrical system. These can be anything from having trouble starting to making strange sounds to increasingly dimmer lights. When the ALT or battery light illuminates on the dashboard display, do something about it immediately.


Not acting immediately on an electrical system problem only makes it worse as time passes. Instead of spending a little money fixing a small problem, you’ll wind up spending big bucks on a more complex problem.