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Starting and Charging System | Starting and Charging System Components | Video

Starting & Charging System Components

  • Alternator: The alternator generates electricity to run all the vehicle systems such as the starter motor, ignition or spark plug system, fuel pump, radiator fan, heating/ventilation system, lighting, wipers, power windows and entertainment systems. Alternators normally give little warning before failing, and the first sign of failure is normally a red Battery light on the dash to show that the battery is not being charged.

  • Battery: Vehicle Batteries contain multiple lead cells in a bath of acid. Over time, batteries will deteriorate, and should be checked regularly to ensure that they have sufficient power to start the vehicle. Corrosion around the battery terminals can also cause a vehicle to not start, and corrosion should be cleaned and treated when it is found.

  • Ignition Switch: Power from the battery flows through the ignition switch to activate the starter motor and turn on the vehicle electronics. Ignition switches can become worn over time, and the terminals inside can overheat, causing poor electrical contacts.

  • Park/Neutral Safety Switch: Vehicles with an automatic transmission use a Park Neutral Safety Switch that prevents power going to the starter if the transmission is not in park or neutral. Cars with a manual transmission use a similar device called a clutch safety switch. If the park neutral safety switch is set in the wrong position, or the internal contact fails, it can cause the vehicle to not start.

  • Starter Motor: The starter motor draws power from the battery to turn the engine over in order for it to start. The starter normally has a heavy gauge wire connected to it direct from the battery, then a solenoid switch which connects the battery power to the starter motor when the ignition key is turned. The gear on the starter moves forward as the motor spins so that it engages with the engines flywheels. When the starter is turned off, the gear retracts so that it is no longer in contact with the turning engine. Starter motors can fail as a result of normal wear on the electric motor inside, or because of a failed solenoid switch.

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