Electrical issues are more common than the average driver would suspect. From simple sensor malfunctions to completely fried ECU chips, the number of electrical issues that can develop in a vehicle are both numerous and complex.The largest issue with these problems is that multiple issues can exist at the same time. This requires a meticulous testing of components to diagnose the cause of a problem.
To better understand these issues, let’s examine a brief list of electrical issues that commonly develop in cars:
ABS Sensor Malfunctions – The sensors used to “read” signs such as wheel slippage and braking efficiency can become faulty due to physical damage, wear or simply defects in the sensors themselves. These will generally manifest as Check Engine Light issues.
Malfunctioning Transmission Components – Depending on type of transmission your vehicle has, different problems can develop due to electrical issues with the transmission. The speed sensor may become faulty, which in turn gives erroneous instrument readings and allows for the transmission to shift improperly. If the temperature sensor fails, then your transmission may cook itself.
Faulty Wiring – While a more general issue, wires can short out due to improper loads, wear or imperfections that naturally exist in the wires. The problem with these issues is that they can act like malfunctioning components, which in turn can mean that your costly $2,500 ECU may be acting funny simply because a small $2 wire has shorted.
Dead Relays – Relays are used as substitutes for high-amperage wiring throughout your car. They act as bridges between the light-duty switches in your car and the heavy-duty instruments within it. When relays burn out, they can cause numerous and hard-to-find electrical issues.
Malfunctioning Alternators – Alternators are another component that undergoes significant force and wear. They will eventually fail, but this can be problematic because their job is to charge your car’s electrical system. When they fail, this can lead to issues like dead batteries and Check Engine Lights.
Failing ECUs – The ECU acts like the brain of the modern vehicle. It takes the input from countless sensors and adjusts how the car runs to reach its peak efficiency while maintaining the operation of important systems. Faulty ECUs are both the hardest electrical issues to diagnose and the most costly to repair.