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Your Vehicle’s Electrical System

Your vehicle and its electrical system have special needs and precautions. Two of the more common components that need maintenance are:

The battery — the heart of the electrical system. Its condition determines if you are going to be able to get to where you want to go. After all, if it won’t start, you’re stuck.

Jump-starting a dead battery is always an option. However, jump-starting today’s vehicles can be detrimental to the electrical system, especially if the jumper cables were mistakenly hooked up backwards.

The alternator creates electricity for the vehicle’s needs, as well as maintains the battery as you drive. The battery “tells” the alternator how much electricity to make.

There is a misconception that the alternator will “recharge” a dead battery … wrong! It will charge it to a point, but will not recharge it. That needs to be done slowly and safely with a battery charger.

Let’s take the case of a weak battery: The engine is just going rrrr…rrrrr… rrrrr…vroom!

“Whew! It started! I’m off the hook!” Yes the car started, but what you probably didn’t know is that your weak battery just now “told” the alternator to put out as much electricity as possible. This can cause a myriad of problems to your vehicles’ electrical system, such as a spike in the voltage. Does your personal computer at home have a surge protector or similar? I’ll bet it does … after all, you wouldn’t want a power surge to wipe out all the data on your hard drive, would you?

A voltage spike such as this can destroy the circuits in any of the computers in the car. This can literally cost into the thousands of dollars to repair and/or replace the computer(s). Sounds bleak doesn’t it? No, we’ll make it easy for you!

How can this be prevented? Maintain your battery, or have it professionally serviced at regular intervals, such as during oil changes. Have it checked at the first sign of slow cranking.

You can save yourself a lot of grief (and money) by having it replaced when it’s getting weak. Don’t wait until the last minute. These recommendations are based on the assumption that the rest of the electrical system is in good condition. Battery cables, wiring, alternator and its belt are all other items that need to be checked along with the battery.