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A Look at How Your Car's Electrical System Works

Last updated 3 years ago

Gasoline is important, but it isn’t the only thing that gets your vehicle going. Your car also depends on a properly working electrical system to power everything from the radio and headlights to the fuel pump and on-board diagnostic computer. And while your car’s electrical system operates on a small fraction of the power of a household circuit, the slightest problem within the electrical system can put you at an automotive repair shop looking for answers. For starters, here’s a look at how your car’s electrical system works and problematic symptoms to watch for.

Primary Components

Four main parts make up your car’s electrical system, and they must work together effectively in order for your car to perform correctly. These main components include the battery, alternator, starter motor, and wiring. The battery provides electricity needed to start the engine. The starter motor converts electrical energy into mechanical energy used to start your engine. After starting the engine, the alternator takes over and generates power for the electrical system and recharges the battery.

Polarity and Short Circuits

Electricity flows from the battery in one direction only, and some components will only work if the flow is in the correct direction. This acceptance of a one-way electricity flow is called polarity. On most cars, the negative battery terminal is grounded and the positive terminal supplies the electrical system with power. If this current becomes dangerously high, ancillary circuits have fuses to prevent an electrical fire. If any of your electrical components stop working, check the fuse box or bring your car in for automotive repair.  

If you’re having trouble with your vehicle’s electrical system and need a professional opinion, the technicians here at Dekalb Tire are here to help. In addition to our brake repair and wheel alignment services, we also provide quality electrical system repairs. If you have any questions or would like to speak with one of our automotive repair technicians, call us at (404) 252-9895. You can also visit one of our locations around Atlanta, including Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, and Buckhead. 


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