Common Electrical Malfunctions In Cars

Each car contains a surprisingly large number of electrical parts. Obvious electrical items include things such as the lights, stereo and so forth however, amongst all the electrical wiring within any vehicle, there are three key electrical components that without which, the car will not function; this includes the battery, the starter, and the alternator.

These components all work together as a system to keep your vehicle running. The alternator is an electrical generator which converts mechanical energy into electrical energy providing the car with the bulk of its electricity and allowing the battery to recharge. The battery in turn stores energy, this is used to provide power to the starter and to other components which may be used when the engine has been switched off, such as automatic lights or the radio. Without electrical power, the engine will not start and any type of problem in one of these 3 components will result in a problem with the car system.

Common Electrical Malfunctions In Cars

Why Won’t My Car Start?

There are many potential reasons as to why your car may not start, it could be due to an electrical fault such as a blown fuse or a loose electrical connection, or another mechanical issue; however, in many cases it is an electrical fault that involves the battery.

Indications of an electrical fault include the following:

  • The engine will not start
  • The engine sputters when trying to start
  • Any of the lights appear to be dimmer or are not working well
  • A smell of melting plastic

Car Battery

Each car battery has an approximate lifespan of its own, this can vary depending on a number of factors – prolonged exposure to low temperatures, the use of electrical appliances while the engine is switched off - Bluetooth calls, radio and lights etc. - can all drain the battery and shorten its life. Other factors such as a corroded or dirty battery terminal can add to the problem, in some cases it may be mere general wear and tear.

A typical sign of a dead battery is when the car will not start, or sputters when trying to start - it may be possible to use the lights and other accessories although the engine itself will not start.

The Alternator

A damaged or malfunctioning alternator will prevent the battery from recharging, in many cases when the car begins to lose electrical function, it is often due to a problem with the alternator.

The Starter

If the starter motor is faulty, it is likely that the engine won’t switch on. One of the main causes of failure to the starter motor is a corroded or loose electrical connection.

Loose Cables & Poor Connections

Severe vibrations and general wear and tear can cause loose contacts within the vehicle, causing issues with sensors, wipers, lights and other electrical features within the vehicles. Regular servicing should help to ensure that this type of issue is identified and repaired quickly – during a service connectors, contacts and other components may be cleaned or replaced to help eliminate electrical faults.


It can be difficult to accurately diagnose an electrical fault without specialist equipment which is usually required to be able to pinpoint the exact location.

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We offer a wide range of comprehensive services to help keep your vehicle up and running on the road, including electrical diagnostics and repairs. For more information on our services, or to book your car in for a service or an MOT, get in touch today.