The electrical system in your automobile is a complex series of wires, relays and computer chips. In fact, it can be so complex, that a minor wiring problem can cause major headaches and a lot of money to have repaired. For this reason, it is very important to maintain the electrical system in your car or truck. Here’s how to minimize your chances of dealing with major automotive electrical problems.
- When you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having a dead battery in your car, never have it jumped by another “running” car. Due to the fact that not all manufacturers use the same voltages for operating their cars, you could damage your electrical system if the car that is jumping yours is running and it has a larger operating voltage (e.g. GM at 14.5 volts and BMW at 12.6 volts). Jump the battery with the other car off. This way, only the battery power is jumping your car, which has a much lower chance of damaging any of your auto’s electrical components.
- Always keep your battery and its terminals clean. If dirt and grease build up on your battery, it could cover the vents that allow the gases to escape. And these gases are explosive!
- When replacing your car or truck’s battery, make sure the replacement has the same cold cranking amps or higher. Plus, make sure it is the same group size. A battery’s group size indicates the size of the battery tray and the terminal poles.
- You can extend the life of your battery, starter and your vehicle’s electrical system by turning off all of the electrical components before starting it up. This includes the radio, the AC or heat, the interior lights and so on. Also, avoid plugging in any cell phones, mp3 players or anything else that draws on the battery until after the car is started.
- Make it a habit to have your vehicle’s electrical system inspected every two years. It is better to find out about a problem early, before it turns into a nightmare.
While these steps are simple and somewhat common sense, not many drivers actually adhere to them. You can greatly increase the life of your vehicle and decrease potential problems if you just take the time to add these steps to your regular vehicle maintenance routine.