Common Car Electrical Problems and How to Find Them

Electrical problems are some of the most common problems you can experience with your car. In fact, a lot of insurance claims are for replacements or repairs of electrical parts. Experiencing an electrical problem can be extremely frustrating, not to mention inconvenient. It’s particularly annoying when you have no idea what’s wrong. There are a number of common problems you can watch out for. Once you have identified the problem it’s usually best to have it fixed professionally. It can be dangerous to mess around with electrics yourself.

Blown Fuse

A blown fuse isn’t a particularly hard problem to fix. If one light or accessory in your car stops working, it’s more than likely that it’s a blown fuse. A blown fuse is one of the few electrical problems that is simple for you to fix yourself. Your owner’s manual will tell you where to find the fuse panel and the location of the fuse you need to change. Use a fuse puller to remove the fuse slowly and carefully. Check to see if the wire in the middle of the fuse is broken. If it is, you need to replace the fuse. Make sure the replacement is the same amp rating – they are usually color coded. If the fuse blows again, there is another problem that is causing it.

Dead Battery

A dead battery is quite common, and they can fail with no warning, especially if they are two or more years old. Check your battery terminals to make sure they are tightened and clean from corrosion if you are unable to start your car. If they are fine, move onto checking the battery with your voltmeter. Touch the probes to the battery’s plus and minus signs with the engine and ignition off. The voltmeter should be between 10 and 12 volts for a healthy battery. To check the terminals further, measure the voltage at the terminal clamps. Then measure with the negative probe on the metal that the ground wire leads to. They should all be the same. If there are any problems, one of the services an auto electrician provides is battery replacement.


Problems with your alternator can cause dimming headlights, stalling at lights or a battery that won’t keep charge. Test the alternator with a voltmeter, with the engine running. It should read between 12.8 and 14.7. If it is too low, measure the voltage at the alternator output terminals. Low voltage here indicates you probably need to replace your alternator.

Faulty Switch

Faulty switches are seemingly simple but very annoying problems. Test the faulty switch in different positions. This will indicate whether it works at all and test for loose connections. Sometimes switches have built-in circuit breakers, and you need to check the manual for how to reset it.

Often broken electrical parts need to be replaced or repaired by an auto electrician. Although you can diagnose the problem yourself, it isn’t always something you will be able to fix.

1849006047_89888f8f33_zBill McChesney

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