Think of your car's electric system as blood for your car. It goes all throughout your vehicle, carrying power to every different system that requires it. If it fails in one area, then every other part is affected as well.
But identifying a failing electrical system is not always easy. Whereas a sputtering engine and black smoke spilling out of your exhaust is a sign that your engine might be having issues, the markers for electrical failure are harder to identify. Below are a few things to look for, but if you're ever unsure, be sure to take your car to a mechanic who can run proper diagnostics to check.
1. Dim or Flickering Lights
It should come as no surprise that your headlights, cabin lights, and dashboard lights are all run off your car's electrical system. One of the first signs of a malfunction is dimmer lights, or in some cases, lights blinking on and off. Check the battery first; sometimes the cables could have simply wiggled off. Loose wires could also be the culprit, or the alternator could be going out. While you could diagnose this yourself with a voltmeter, it's always recommended to have a professional mechanic look at it too.
2. Delayed Start
While the engine powers the car, the initial spark needed to get the car moving comes from the electrical system; if it's weak, your car will take longer than normal to fire. If it fails to start at all, it's most likely a dead battery, but the starter could also be the issue. Listen for the sounds your car is making as well. A steady clicking sound could indicate a dead battery, but a metallic cranking sound is usually indicative of a broken flywheel ring.
3. Broken Fuses
Just like in your house, your car's fusebox prevents the main electrical components from overloading and blowing, potentially exploding or even causing a fire. Some blown fuses cause little to no trouble at all, while others can be signs that there is a major malfunction in your system, especially if they blow again after they're replaced. Either way, it's a good idea to get them checked out or even replaced as soon as you notice them. Most auto shops will check them as part of their regular mechanic services, but be sure to mention it to them if you notice a pattern developing over time.
Visit a mechanic shop, like Professional Marine, to get help with your car.