Understanding Electrical: Batteries, Spark Plugs, Alternators and Starters

Modern automobiles are technological marvels, and most new vehicles will run reliably for many years, provided they receive routine maintenance. With all of the new technology in cars today, there are many more wires – and more sophisticated systems – included in a vehicle. It is easy to take these complex electrical parts of your vehicle for granted, at least until something goes wrong.

However, at the base, your vehicle’s electrical system relies on four major components – the battery, spark plugs, your alternator and the starter.


The battery in your car stores electricity that can be used to start the engine. Once the engine is running, the alternator recharges the battery to keep it fully charged. Automotive batteries may last up to five years under ideal conditions, but discharging the battery (allowing it to fully drain), taking many short trips, and extreme hot or cold weather conditions can all shorten the useful life of a battery. A qualified mechanic can test your car battery to see if it is still in good condition or replace your worn-out battery with a brand-new one.

Alternator in an EngineAlternator

An alternator is an electrical generator that is powered by a belt connected to the engine. As the engine runs, a shaft inside of the alternator is spun. The internal electrical components of the alternator generate an electric charge which, in turn, recharges the battery. Alternators will typically last for many years, but can fail suddenly and without warning. The most common sign of an alternator problem is that your battery ends up fully discharged battery or your vehicle’s battery indicator light in the dash comes on and indicates a low voltage problem.


The starter uses an electric motor to turn the engine over and start it. When the key is turned to the start position of your ignition, a solenoid inside sends electricity from the battery to the starter. Starters usually work reliably for many years, but signs of a starter problem include the engine turning over slowly, hesitation before the engine starts turning over, or needing to turn the key repeatedly before the starter engages. These can also be symptoms of other engine problems, so be sure to have the AV Bumper to Bumper team take a look before you find your vehicle completely unable to start.

Spark Plugs

Last, spark plugs – as the name implies – create a spark in the engine to ignite the fuel and air mixture. The electricity that flows through the spark plugs is delivered by the ignition system. While the concept of a spark plug is simple, they are required for your car to function reliably under extreme conditions.  Spark plugs will generally need to be replaced every few years, depending on mileage and the condition of the engine. Our automotive repair shop can inspect your spark plugs and replace them when needed.

AV Bumper to Bumper offers a full range of auto repair services, and we can diagnose and repair any issues you’re having with your vehicle’s electrical systems as well as a range of other common car and truck problems. Contact us today at 661-949-1999 to schedule an appointment for your car and experience quality work at a fair price.

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