Your vehicle’s electrical system is comprised of a battery, a starter, and an alternator, all of which must be functioning properly in order for your car to start running and stay running consistently. The battery supplies the initial current your car needs start the fuel pump, force gas into the combustion chamber, and engage the starter motor. Once the car is running, the starter then drives the internal mechanisms that move the engine’s pistons, while the alternator converts some of the resulting power back into electricity to recharge the battery.
If any one of these components is malfunctioning, you may begin experiencing one or more of the following symptoms that you should have checked by a qualified mechanic as soon as possible.
- Your engine cranks over slowly or with great difficulty
If your car struggles to start, a failing battery may be to blame. A battery’s normal life span is 3 to 5 years, so if your batter is nearing the 3-year mark, test this first.
- One or more dash lights stay on
A problem with your battery may cause the “Check Engine” light to stay illuminated, while a failing alternator often causes the “Battery” icon to appear, sometimes accompanied by “ALT” or “GEN” for “alternator” or “generator.”
- Your headlights or dash lights flicker
If your headlights dim or your instrument panel flickers when you start your car, it’s often because there is insufficient power to distribute to both the engine and the accessories. “Non-essential” functions, such as your lights and radio, are often the first to have their power diverted.
- Your car makes multiple clicking sounds when you turn the key
The single click you hear when you start your engine is the sound of the solenoid engaging. If your car does not start, but clicks multiple times when you turn the key, the solenoid is rapidly engaging, then disengaging. Sometimes this is a problem with the solenoid itself, but other times, a failing battery is to blame.
- There is a foul odor or corrosion near the battery
Both a “rotten egg” smell and corrosion on the battery can be indicators of an leak. If you find you are leaking battery acid, have the battery replaced immediately.
Your car’s electrical system is an essential part of its operation, so if you experience any one of these symptoms, don’t wait! Schedule an appointment with your auto mechanic, or
Call Central Automotive at (617) 361-3100.
Our experienced technicians can handle all types of common electrical problems.