Let’s face it: you can have the most meticulously maintained vehicle on the road, but it won’t start without the right battery – properly installed and appropriately fitted – for your driving needs. From ignition to door locks, your car battery allows you to get from point “A” to point “B.”
The following is a brief overview of the electrical system that makes transportation possible:
- BatteryComposed of a series of lead plates submerged in a 35% sulfuric acid/65% water solution, your 12-volt battery houses a chemical reaction that releases electrons through conductors, producing electricity which is then channeled into your vehicle’s electrical system. The battery supplies electricity to all of the electrical system components, including the essential power required to start your vehicle. In periods of high demand, the battery also supplements power from the charging system.
- Charging System The charging system is the life force of your vehicle’s electrical system, consisting of three main mechanisms: the alternator, various circuits, and the voltage regulator. The alternator:
- Provides power to the electrical system, and
- Recharges the battery when the car is running.
The circuits act as conduits for electrical power. The voltage regulator controls the voltage passed through the circuits. Remember, all of these components require consistent attention and maintenance. It’s not just your battery that needs to be replaced; if any components fail, your power source is reduced to a lifeless, twenty pound paper weight.
- Starting System It may seem obvious that the starting system turns your vehicle’s engine on, but did you know that this process consumes more electrical power than anything else your car does? The starting system consists of three components working one after another. These components include: the ignition switch, the starter relay (or solenoid), and the starter motor.
Here’s how it works: Turning the ignition causes a small amount of current to pass through the starter relay, causing a stronger current to flow through the battery cables and into the starter motor. The starter motor cranks the engine, forcing the piston to create enough suction that draws a fuel and air mixture into the cylinder. The ignition system creates a spark that ignites the mixture and your engine starts.
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