The starting and charging system allow a vehicle to be a self-contained power plant. In the early days, a driver had to crank over the engine by hand. Now, some drivers are able to start the vehicle remotely, allowing the A/C or heater to make the vehicle comfortable before the driver sits in the seat! The system consists of a battery, alternator and starter. It also uses many switches, relays and a regulator. If you believe your vehicle needs starter and alternator repair in Austin, TX, give us a call today at (512) 326-3474. At Leonard’s Garage, we can get your car up and running before you know it!
The starting and charging system works as a team to ensure you can just turn the key and go. Most all of the components in the system are electrical and the system is often referred to as the “electrical system”. The key to keeping the system healthy and not getting the dreaded “click” when you turn the key is synergy. All the parts have to be in good working order or none will work.
The battery on modern vehicles is usually a 12 volt acid/lead cell with an average life of 3-5 years. The battery is usually maintenance-free, but there are several housekeeping items that will need to be performed on a battery.
First, a car owner needs to realize that on modern computer controlled vehicles, voltage is extremely important. Even the smallest voltage changes can cause damage to the computer components. Clean battery terminals are a must. Corrosion between the battery and the cables can cause multiple problems and must be cleaned away properly to ensure a good connection.
Anytime the cables are disconnected, a constant source of voltage must be applied to the system in the form of a secondary voltage source. Failure to provide a quality voltage source going to the computer can and will damage the computer.
Second, the charging system or alternator must provide the correct amperage and voltage. If the charging system is under-performing, the battery will not receive the proper charge and will eventually malfunction. An owner should have a simple battery/charging system test at each oil change.
A battery will usually work fine until total failure. A battery test will let you know when it’s time to replace the battery before complete failure. This is a safety issue since battery failure at the wrong place or time can be hazardous to a person’s health! Be sure your oil change provider is performing this important test. This test should be performed free of charge.
A charging system test (different from a battery test) will determine if the alternator is charging properly. Since the two work together, often one component gets weak and damages the other.
For instance, if the battery is weak, the alternator must work harder to charge it and causes the alternator to wear itself out. If the alternator is weak, the battery will never get fully charged. Either condition will damage both parts and require replacement of both. It is best to have the components regularly tested to identify a malfunction beforehand.
Finally, the battery should be examined for acid leaks. Acid leaks drain the battery and damage wiring and metal in the area of the battery. Many vehicles have large wiring harnesses running under or beside the battery. Acid leaks can cause damage to the wiring which can cost thousands of dollars to replace. A battery with an acid leak should be replaced immediately and the area should be thoroughly cleaned.
The starter is an electric motor mounted to the engine and is energized by the battery. There is no maintenance needed for the starter, but one consideration that must be remembered is cold cranking amps. This is a function of the battery and the battery must be rated for the proper cold cranking amps for the starter. A low cost battery can have only half the cold cranking amps needed for proper operation of the starter.
Some warning signs of starting or charging system problems are the same for all of the parts and include; a grinding noise when turning the key, clicking noise when the key is turned, or no response at all. When one of these symptoms occurs, the car should be serviced. A grinding noise when starting can be cause by the drive on the starter engaging improperly into the flywheel. Left in this condition, the flywheel can be damaged and require expensive repair.
Trust Leonard’s Garage when you need starter and alternator repair in Austin, TX today! Call (512) 326-3474!