Way back in the middle of the 20th century, typically around 1% of the value of a car stemmed from the electrics. Basically, electric radios and lights were as much as you could expect in a standard car. These days though, around 30% of a cars value comes from electric components, some of which are crucial to keeping a car running. They often control a vast range of other functionality too. Air con, engine control units (up to 40 in some commercial cars!), air bags and much more, all rely on electricity.
Unfortunately, despite the rapid developments we’ve seen in auto electrics, they can be unreliable at times. And, when they go wrong, they can quickly cause chaos. So…what are some of the signs you can look for, to check if one of your electrical systems might be failing?
Check engine light
A simple one, but vital to pay attention to. If that check engine light is on, then something is wrong. But, what? Well, it’s actually possible to find out using something called an OBD code. There are hundreds of these codes that provide information on vehicle faults. The catch? You’ll need a scanner to interpret them. Luckily there are apps available for your phone that can assist you here, to find out exactly what the issue is.
Take notice of your lighting
It’s always important to know your car and how it “normally works”. That way, if something changes, you’re going to spot it straight away. Lights are a great example of this, whether we’re talking headlights, indicators, brake lights or even your internal lighting. The main thing to note, is that if these look dimmer than usual, or even much brighter, you could have a problem and may need them checked out.
The nose test
When you’re driving, always be aware of what’s around you. We’re not just talking about what’s on the road though. If you’re picking up a strange smell when in the car, often a bit like burning, it could be that the electrical systems are overheating. If your car doesn’t pass the smell test, this is a sign you should get your car checked out by a local provider, such as the team at Auto Electrician Sheffield. Without a thorough check up, you could end up with melted wires, or much worse.
How’s the car starting
Does your car click when you try and turn on the engine? Or maybe it seems sluggish starting, like it’s a cold wintery day, despite you being in the height of Summer. These could be signs of an electrical issue related to your battery or alternator. Also, make sure you keep an eye out if your car seems to stall for no reason. This is also a telltale sign it needs to be looked at.
A blown fuse
Blown fuses could mean any number of things stop working, from your radio, to the entire car. Taking a look in the car fusebox (if you feel confident), should shed some light on whether a fuse has blown, and most mechanics should be able to help solve small problems. However, if it keeps happening, it could be time for a specialist car electrician to get involved to run a full diagnostic.
To round off
Well, there you have it. 5 signs that any driver can look for, to identify an electrical issue in a modern-day car, before you run into major problems. Our main tip is to stay vigilant and be aware of any changes you notice, no matter how small. And of course, if in doubt, get the help of a professional to isolate and repair the issue, just like you would do with electrical faults in your own home.