Every year vehicles are equipped with more and more safety, luxury, and convenience features, and most of them rely on electricity from the battery and charging system. The ignition switch is your gateway to electric power, and once engaged a myriad of switches are at your disposal for entertainment, navigation, windshield wipers, lights, door locks, windows, climate control operation and much more. Many systems are electronically controlled by computer.


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Although they are small, the most important parts in the electrical system may be the fuses, circuit breakers, and relays that protect the system from damage. Fuses are sacrificial parts that are designed to melt and interrupt the circuit if there is excessive current flow that could otherwise overheat and cause damage to the circuit, even cause a fire. Circuit breakers perform the same function, but have the ability to reset and restore current flow. Relays allow high amperage circuits to be controlled by low amperage circuits. This protects components like computers from damage that could be caused by high current.

While some electrical components are convenience features, systems like wipers and lights are necessary for safe vehicle operation, and who would want to drive on a frigid day without a working heater! Each of these systems relies on the proper flow of electric power, so the windshield is properly cleared, you can see where you’re going on a dark highway, and the blower fan spreads heat throughout the cabin on a cold winter’s day. Although each of these systems has a different function, they are all basically the same in that each has a load in the form of a motor or bulb, a switch, and 12-volt power supply.

Although motors, bulbs, and switches are the stars of the electrical system, they are nothing without supporting players like wires and connectors that complete the circuits, and these parts can cause major problems. Corrosion in wires and connectors can cause excessive resistance, which reduces voltage to the load and results in a dim bulb or slow/non-working motor. Broken wires can cause an open and complete circuit failure. Worn wire insulation can cause a short to power, which can result in a load getting power when it’s not wanted, such as a bulb staying on, or a short to ground, which can overload the circuit.

Guides & Articles

  • Replacement Electrical Parts
    All About Window Regulators & Motors
    A window regulator is the mechanical assembly behind a door panel that is responsible for moving a glass window up or down along a guided track. Basic window regulators which have been around since enclosed automobiles were first introduced 100 years ago are operated by a hand crank, and power window regulators use an electric motor to do the work of moving the glass along its path. In this article, we'll discuss the basic designs of window regulators and how they work.
  • Wiper Blades
    The Importance of Winter Wiper Blades
    Snow, ice, freezing rain, and frigid temperatures make winter driving treacherous; nevertheless you're prepared, right? Your all-season radials have plenty of tread, the antifreeze is good to -32°F, and the ice scraper is in the car, ready to go. You even remembered to pack a blanket and cell phone charger in case you get stuck. But what about your wiper blades? If they're the same ones that baked on your windshield all summer then you could be in for problems. How do you know if your wiper blades are any good? And if they're not should you replace them with the same kind for winter driving? Read on to find out.
  • Replacement Electrical Parts
    How to Check and Replace Fuses
    Fuses are designed to stop excess current flow that can overheat circuits, damage equipment, or even cause a fire. To account for normal electrical spikes and surges, vehicle designers typically specify fuses with amp ratings of double the current flow a circuit will see under normal conditions. In automotive applications, there are push in/pull out blade fuses which resemble teeth, and there are cylindrically-shaped fuses which snap in place at both ends.
  • Ignition Parts
    Auto Parts: Dealer vs. Aftermarket
    The question of whether to buy parts from an automotive dealer vs. ones from aftermarket manufacturers is as age-old as the automobile itself. Below, we'll take a look at things worth considering to help you make a better choice if you're facing that same question. Automobile manufacturers and dealerships always advertise the fact that their parts are "genuine" because they were made by the exact same production facility that made the parts installed on the assembly line.

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2.3 of 5
Poor Quality
Didn't fit the nut.
GPosted by Gordon (Nicholasville, KY) /
1967 Chevy Chevelle
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