The automotive electrical system in my opinion is the most important support system of a modern day car or truck.
When you master diagnosis and repair of it, you can use these skills in countless other areas of the automobile.
Imagine a vehicle without an electrical system. The gasoline engine wouldn’t run. Electricity provides the needed spark for combustion plus the power needed for cranking.
Near the bottom of this page are some exciting articles that review principles, component operation, circuit design and testing procedures.
Learning this stuff is absolutely necessary to successfully diagnose complex car electrical systems efficiently. There are free and inexpensive resources on this page to help you accomplish this.
The rest of this page is an overview of what you’ll find in this car electrical repair module. Don’t have time to soak up this much knowledge right now? Bookmark or share this page and come back later.
Review Helpful Automotive Electrical Information
The automotive systems video to follow this article dives into using professional automotive wiring diagrams. It provides no charge training as a courtesy to site visitors. Yes it’s fun to watch, but you do learn the essential basics of automotive electronic diagnosis.
Things like current flow, voltage drops and common symbols are covered well. It is a good place to start if you’re not a fan of reading. Why should you try to put yourself on the cutting edge?
The recent advances unleashed on the automobile electronics field have allowed the efficiency of the vehicle to increase greatly. At the same time these advancements have increased longevity and reliability.
It’s new technology that allows for greater fuel economy demanded by both the federal government C.A.F.E. (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) ratings and keep the car buying public happy. The amazing part is, these mileage improvements came at the same time as horsepower and torque increases.
It’s not easy to pull off these gains at the same time. Both professional technicians and do-it-yourself auto mechanics need to be able to diagnose both electrical and electronic systems. Some Diy car mechanics become confused about the different meaning of these terms.
Automotive Electrical or Electronics
Although these two terms remain similar in spelling they become miles apart in what they represent. Electrical automotive systems refer to the wiring harnesses and connectors.
The electrical car parts include starter motors and alternators, vehicle lighting, relay’s and switches just to name a few.
On the other hand, automotive electronics references computer control modules and other black box type items that control engine operation.
They’re critical vehicle systems like fuel injection or driver requirements like instrument panel cluster assemblies. Nevertheless, a good understanding of electrical principles is important to properly diagnose any systems monitored, controlled, or operated by electricity.
What You’ll Find in this Electrical Section
I enjoy reading books on this subject. Even classic text books for electronics enthusiasts provides a strong foundation for those wishing to master car repair. However hold off buying anything until you finish this page.
This article leads you to more free articles that will support your understanding of the different automobile electrical systems that you’ll run into during auto repair and diagnosis.
This can be a tough to learn subject that might not be right for everybody. However, with a full understanding of principles and operation, diagnosis will be easier and faster.
I will put together articles below that cover the basics first and work their way up to more complex principles. The first article explains the basic principles of electricity.
I then get into using ohms law to determine voltage, current, resistance, and voltage drop. These measurements are often used during diagnosis, or when following car wiring diagrams to solve problems.
Electrical System Found on Cars and Trucks
When we work on cars built in the last 30 years we find common principles in play, cars from the 60s could only dream of.
I’ll cover other items related to auto electrical systems including basic types of circuits and their use in the modern day automobile. Another extremely interesting principle I talk about below is electromagnetism.
The car relies heavily on the use of magnetism. Wheel speed sensors, cam sensors, crankshafts sensors, and many other engine performance related components use magnetism principles. So let’s get started and dig into some in-depth articles and a few helpful videos.
Automotive Electrical Diagnosis using PDF Repair Manuals
Automotive Information Articles
This is a good place to start. Understanding the facts about voltage, Amps, and resistance helps mechanics diagnose and repair complex systems. Here I explain the definitions of these auto electrical terms.
Did you ever see all of the settings on a digital meter and wonder what they all do? This page takes the confusion out of using a digital meter.
Open your mind to fixing components instead of buying replacement parts. You can’t always fix them. Take a look at my page about repairing car electronics.
Automotive electrical problems can only be caused by 3 root failures. As complex as these systems can be the solutions are always traced back to these electrical circuit malfunctions.
Have you ever started diagnosing a car problem and thought to yourself, I bet it’s a bad relay? Stop wondering and start testing with these 3 quick ways of testing automotive relays.
Understanding how current flow and resistors work together in power distribution helps you think like a mechanic when your staring at wiring diagrams. This next article discusses four types of resistors.
Automotive Electrical Video Training
If you prefer to learn from video this next link is for you. This is a five minute video that shows you the method I use for diagnosis and how to use and find automotive wiring diagrams.
Yet another popular short video I put together about finding shorts that blow fuses. These can be hard to find without following a plan. This video shows you how to stop wasting fuses and quickly find electrical shorts.
Replacing car parts that test good remains a big problem for auto mechanics. However, if you do your own electrical repairs you can solve this problem with one inexpensive tool. Learn about testing with a automotive multi-meter.
When do it yourself car mechanics tackle problems on their own vehicle it often starts with a blown fuse. So, this next article covers circuit breakers, fuses and other types of circuit protection.
Learn about automobile wiring. See what kinds you will run into when diagnosing open or shorted wiring harnesses. This next article is all about the sizes, shapes and types of automotive wiring.
I know that magnetism can be a dry subject. However, your car will not start or run without it. Learn about magnetic crank sensors and automotive electrical magnetism. Here is a link to an article on my online auto repair blog (opens new window) about theories and the math formula that can be used in diagnosis.
This article talks about how to use ohms law to fix common car problems. Starting and charging is what gets you out of the driveway and back again! Learn how your car battery works together with starter motors and alternators. The homepage provides more Diy car repair advice.