Preventing Electrical Problems in Motor Vehicles: Tips for Proper Maintenance
Without proper measures, there can be electrical issues regardless of the vehicle. It’ll then show signs of irregularity and cause you trouble. But this can be avoided with some basic efforts and time investment. So, let’s talk about some tips for maintaining your vehicle, especially the electrical system.
Inspect And Fix Battery And Cable Related Issues
Overtime corrosion builds on the terminals and cables of your battery. Here, you should check the battery terminals and cables at least once a month. If there’s any corrosion, just clean it using a mixture of baking soda and water.
Here, first, disconnect the terminals of your battery. Take the mixture and a metal bristle brush. Clean the posts and cables by brushing them with the mixture. When they’re clean, rinse them with water and dry them with a cloth. Then, just reconnect the terminals to finish.
After the end of each drive, be sure to turn off the electrical components in your car. For example, the lights, AC, heater, or radio. This way, you’ll be able to reduce the extra load on your car battery.
Also, after 3-5 years, it’s a good idea to refurbish or replace the battery. Or else, it won’t be able to power the electrical systems in your car properly.
Inspect And Fix Alternator Related Issues
The alternator produces and distributes electricity throughout your car. Over time the alternator can get dirty and overheat. You can also fix this issue by cleaning the alternator. Here, just follow the process below:
Step 1: The alternator has to be detached from the car for cleaning. Here, first, disconnect the negative terminal of the battery. Loosen and remove the belt tensioner and serpentine belt. Detatch the connectors then loosen and remove the alternator.
Step 2: Choose a cleaner. Here, we recommend using a water-based degreaser and demineralized hot water to form a mixture. Make sure it’s a 50:50 ratio.
Step 3: Spray the mixture on the alternator and let it soak for a while. The dirt will become soft and start to come out. Clean it with a brush to remove the dirt properly. Especially, focusing on the terminal connections.
Step 4: Lastly, rinse the alternator with some water and let it dry.
Although, after 15,0000 miles or seven years, the alternator should be replaced. Just check your alternator with a multimeter.
Here, get the black probe attached to the negative terminal. Touch the red probe to the alternator case. Raise the rpm of the vehicle to about 1500. A proper alternator should then show a value of about -.05 to -.06 volts. Anything more or less isn’t acceptable.
If it’s malfunctioning, replace the alternator with a new one. Also, check if the alternator belt is loose. If it is, simply tighten it. But if the belt is damaged, it has to be replaced.
The starter cranks the engine in your car. There are a few things you’ll have to check here. Firstly, keep the starter connectors clean. If it’s dirty, the current flowing through the starter relay will be limited. Here, you can use petroleum-based cleaners.
Make sure that the starter motor mounting bolts are tightened. If they aren’t tightened, the flywheel and starter won’t engage properly with each other.
Next, make sure that the starter solenoid is clean. If it’s dirty, the same cleaner can be used here. But if the starter solenoid is damaged, you’ll have to replace it. Also, replace it if it’s aged more than 15 years or 30,000 actuation
Lastly, make sure that the flywheel and pinion gear teeth are in good condition. If the teeth are worn out or cracked, the associated part has to be replaced. For example, if the teeth of the pinion gear are cracked, the gear has to be replaced.
Fix Spark Plug-Related Issues
If the spark plug gets loose or wears out, it’ll cause electrical problems. Bad spark plug wires may also interfere with the current flowing through the engine. Inadequate torque and debris are common reasons for the spark plugs to come loose.
If they’re loose, just tightening them should fix the issue. Hold the spark plugs with a plug wrench and tighten them according to the recommended torque. It should be mentioned in the owner’s manual.
However, after 80000-100000 miles, the spark plugs get worn out. In that case, you’ll have to replace them. Even before that, you should inspect for damage and replace it if necessary.
Replacing the spark plugs is fairly easy. First, remove the spark plug wire and the coil. Then, use a plug wrench to remove the old spark plug and reinstall a new one. Again, the recommended torque should be followed. Finally, reattach the coil and the wire.
Wiring And Fuse Box Issues
There could be any loose wires in your electrical system. You can try to locate it by tracing the component that’s malfunctioning because of it.
One or multiple of the fuses in your fuse box can also be blown out. In that case, locate the fuse that’s burned out and replace it with e new one.
Lastly, fix any short circuit that might have occurred. A common sign of this problem is a burnt plastic-like smell while driving.
Vehicle Stereo Electrical Problem Troubleshooting
The vehicle’s sound system can also be compromised if there’s an electrical problem. It happens mainly due to a blown fuse. The AMP turn-on signal wires in 12V stereo speakers might also be faulty (especially in Bose, JBL, and Infinity).
Some speakers have an amplifier protection mode. If the alternator is producing too much voltage, it’ll immediately stop the stereo to protect it. It can also happen because of a shortage in the system.
All these factors need to be addressed to keep the sound system working properly. Here, you should follow a guide to fix your vehicle’s sound system electrical problems.
Hope the maintenance tips we’ve provided will surely help you out. Still, here’s one last tip for you. Have the whole electrical system diagnosed by a professional every two years while scheduling a car service. Thanks for reading the whole article.