Automotive Batteries

The most well maintained vehicle on the road won’t start without the right battery. From ignition to door locks and power windows, your vehicle’s battery is a crucial electrical component that allows you to get from point A to point B. The ASE certified technicians at Coastal Tire and Auto Service in Boca Raton know that the proper installation of the battery is just as important as using the correct battery for your vehicle. Your automotive electrical system is 12-volt (12V), direct current (DC) which is very different to the 110-volt (110V) alternating current (AC) that powers your home. Here is a brief overview of your car’s electrical system:

1. Battery

An automotive battery is composed of a series of lead plates submerged in a 35% sulfuric acid/65% water solution.  The outer shell or case of the battery houses a chemical reaction that releases electrons through conductors, producing electricity. The electricity is channeled into your vehicle’s electrical system via a series of wires, relays and fused circuits. When your car’s engine is off, the battery supplies electricity to all of the electrical system components, including the essential power required to start your vehicle. In periods of high demand, the battery also supplements power from the charging system.


2. Charging System

The charging system is life force of your vehicle’s electrical system, consisting of three main mechanisms: the alternator, various circuits, and the voltage regulator. In the event of a malfuction, such as a power surge or electrical overload, the electrical system which is protected by fuses and relays.

Fuses prevent electrical overload by limiting the amount of electrical power to a system such as the instrument or gauge cluster or a single component such as the horn.  Relays are used where it is necessary to control a circuit by a low-power signal (with complete electrical isolation between control and controlled circuits), or where several circuits must be controlled by one signal.
The alternator has two roles. It: 1.) provides power to the electrical system, and 2.) recharges the battery while the engine is running. The various circuits are conduits for electrical power, and the voltage regulator controls the amount of voltage that is passed through these circuits. All of these components require consistent attention and maintenance. It’s not just your battery that needs to be replaced every so often; if one of these charging system components should fail, your vehicle will not operate properly or it may not operate at all.


3. Starting System

It may seem obvious that the starting system turns your vehicle’s engine on, but did you know that this process consumes much more electrical power than anything else your car does? That’s because the starting system consists of three components working one after another. Here’s how it works: there’s the ignition switch, the starter relay (or solenoid), and the starter motor. Turning the key causes a small amount of current to pass through the starter relay, allowing a stronger current to flow through the battery cables and into the starter motor. The starter motor cranks the engine, forcing the piston to create enough suction that draws a fuel and air mixture into the cylinder. The ignition system creates a spark that ignites the mixture, and combustion is born.