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  • Writer's pictureTony Begley

Your Car's Electrical System: A Guide to Starters, Alternators, and Batteries

Updated: Feb 23

Car and Truck Batteries


All About Car Batteries


At all Begley Auto Repair facilities along Manatee Avenue in Bradenton, Florida, we can help you choose the right car battery for your vehicle and lifestyle. Our staff will safely and professionally install your battery and get you back on the road.


Begley Auto Repair mechanic replacing a car battery

Car Battery Testing and Replacement


Even if you have the most meticulously maintained vehicle on the road, without a well maintained battery, your vehicle may not start or even allow you access to the vehicle. From power door locks to auto start systems, today's vehicles rely on correct voltage and clean connections to allow today's technology dependent to perform and take you to your destination.


Your car's electrical system powers everything from the ignition and fuel systems to accessories such as your radio, headlights, and wipers. The electrical system is, in turn, powered by the engine.


The following is a brief overview of the electrical system that makes transportation possible:


Battery


When your car's engine is off the battery provides the required power to the rest of the system, as well as during start-up (cranking). It also supplements the power from the charging system during periods of high demand. Composed of a series of lead plates submerged in a 35% sulfuric acid/65% water solution, your 12-volt battery houses a chemical reaction that releases electrons through conductors, producing electricity, which is then channeled into your vehicle's electrical system.


Charging System


The charging system is the life force of your vehicle's electrical system. It consists of 3 main components: the belt-driven alternator, various electrical circuits, and a voltage regulator. The alternator supplies power to the electrical system and recharges the battery after your car has started. Just like it sounds, the voltage regulator controls the voltage, keeping it within the operating range of the electrical system.


Starting System


This system consumes more electrical power than any other component in your car. The starting system consists of 3 components which all work together: the ignition switch, the starter relay (or solenoid), and the starter motor. The ignition switch controls the starter solenoid, which activates the starter motor. The starter motor then turns the engine until your car starts.


Here's How It Works:


Turning the ignition causes a small amount of current to pass through the starter relay, causing stronger current to flow through the battery cables and into the starter motor. The starter motor cranks the engine, forcing the piston to create enough suction that draws a fuel and air mixture into the cylinder. The ignition system creates a spark that ignites the mixture and your engine starts.


More About Starters and Alternators


If your car tries to start but can't quite get the job done, it could possibly be the starter seeing some trouble. There are generally only a few things that can lead to a starter motor misbehaving:


A new starter motor ready to be installed in a customer vehicle

Weak Battery


A weak or undercharged battery cannot provide the starter with enough electricity to turn the engine over. Your car may make a rapid clicking noise or just never quite get started.


Bad Wiring


In order to take the charge from the battery basic wiring is required. More than anything else, time and heat can take the worst toll on basic electrical components. A simple process of replacing some wiring can be all that's required, or complete component replacement.


There are also a few mechanical issues that can arise with a starter motor that could cause it to fail. The flywheel, for example, is made up of interlocking "teeth" which move the crankshaft and pistons. Over time the flywheel can degrade and cause the starter to cease functioning.


The process of troubleshooting a starter motor and solenoid combo can quickly become a tiresome task. Let us take away the stress of figuring out the problem and provide you a quality service to solve it. Our technicians are experts at discovering the issue and finding the best long-term solution. Plus, we provide towing to the shop for service. So, if you can't get your vehicle fired up, give us a ring and we'll get you back on the road.


Staying in Charge: Maintaining Your Alternator


If you've noticed your car acting up lately, or it's time for one of your regularly scheduled maintenance services, bring your car to any of our Begley Auto Repair Service Centers. Do you hear strange sounds like knocking or grinding? Have you begun to notice fluids leaking from underneath your car? Is it time for your inspection or tune-up?


A new alternator ready to be installed at Begley Auto Repair of Bradenton

A bad alternator can also be the cause of your dead battery. If you're having to constantly jump your battery, or if you just replaced it with a new battery that still doesn't seem to hold a charge, there's a good chance that the real problem is with your alternator.


While you're driving your car the alternator provides electricity to various components like your dashboard lights or your air conditioner. Any extra power it creates gets stored in the car's battery for later use. If your alternator isn't charging your battery then the next time you go to start your car you have to deal with the frustration of a dead battery.


This is often misdiagnosed as a bad battery - especially if it's an older battery - but you can save time and a further hassle by having your car serviced correctly by our trained mechanics. Bring your car or truck to one of our auto repair shops for alternator replacement that you can trust.


We've long been the choice for starter and alternator replacements, so whatever you need, come see us at Begley Auto Repair today!

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