When fall approaches and cold mornings begin, it is a good time to have your vehicle’s charging and starting system inspected and tested. The battery is the heart of the system, supplying power to start the engine and the current to operate the accessories when the vehicle is not running, and it protects the Power Train Control Module (the vehicle’s computer) from high-voltage surges. The alternator keeps the battery charged while the engine is running. The starter uses power from the battery to crank the engine to start the vehicle. All the cables and connections between these components have to be kept clean and free of corrosion.
A change in temperature can emphasize a weak starting and charging system. If the battery tests bad or marginal we recommend replacing it. A battery that is not holding a full charge can still start a vehicle until it is completely dead.
The alternator is designed to keep the battery charged. If the battery is starting to weaken by not holding the charge anymore, the alternator will work overtime trying to keep that battery charged. This can over work the alternator and cause it to fail prematurely.
The starter requires enough current to start cranking an engine at rest. A starter that is failing may have trouble spinning very fast and cause an extra heavy current draw. Regular inspection and testing of the starting and charging system, will keep your vehicle reliable.
Karen Johnston, AUTO REPAIR INSIDER
All About Automotive
139 NW 2nd Street
Gresham, OR 97030
Steve and Karen Johnston are owners of All About Automotive, providing auto repair and auto maintenance in Historic Downtown Gresham. If you have questions or comments, call them at 503-465-2926 or email them at [email protected].