The electrics in cars started as the storage battery, ignition and the lighting there are now many more functions available. The electrical systems in cars are becoming more advanced all the time so making your (the drivers) life easier, but also meaning that it's easier for something to go wrong some where in the system. Due to there being so many things that can go wrong with your cars electrics knowing how to diagnose the problems is important because you can then start looking for a solution. This proves very handy when looking for a second hand vehicle as you can spot the problems and ask for them to be fixed before you purchase the car.
Here are some things you can look for to be sure the electrics are working correctly in a second hand vehicle:
- Switch on all the lights in the vehicle and look for any that do not light up even along the dash, if there is one or more that are not lit then it could be a fuse that is blown. You can check if that is definitely the case by first finding the fuse box (either in the glove box compartment, or in the engine with fuse diagrams) they should be metal and transparent plugs. There will be a wire running through the transparent part of the fuse you will be able to tell if the fuse is blown as the wire will look slightly burnt, although if there is no discolouration or charred look then this is not the problem. Simply ask when the fuses and such were last changed, although it could just be the bulb has burnt out. Another problem could be corroded contacts which would need replacing if this is the case, so just ask the seller if they will fix it for you.
- When the car is switched on with the head lights lit if when not moving the lights start to dim down then there could be a problem with the alternator. This means that the power for the car would come from the battery and eventually wear the power out and when it has ran out the battery won't have enough charge to start your car. If this is the case then the alternator would need to be changed adding more cost to the vehicle when the battery finally runs out.
If you are viewing a car that you suspect the electrical system is faulty check on the service history when the car battery was last changed, for safety they should be changed around every four years if it hasn't been ask if they will fit a new one for you. Its advised that if you do purchase the car you take it to a garage to check the alternator and other electrical parts to make sure they are all working correctly, this will in turn save you a lot of hassle in the future of the vehicles life.