Starting, Charging & Batteries
Your vehicle’s starting and charging system is involved in regulating multiple electrical processes to start your vehicle's engine and keep it running. The starting system consists of the battery, a starter motor, and a starter solenoid responsible for starting the engine, while the charging system consists of an alternator and voltage regulator. The charging system is responsible for routing energy throughout the entire electrical process while sustaining the battery’s charge. The battery supplies the electric power necessary to start the vehicle. This process starts when you turn the ignition. Then, the starting system sends power from the battery to the starter solenoid to the starter motor, which turns the engine in order to begin the internal combustion process. The alternator powers the other electrical components in your vehicle while the regulator controls the voltage supplied to each component. The regulator also ensures that the alternator maintains the battery’s charge so that the entire cycle can continue.
An alternator is part of a vehicle’s charging system, and is an essential component in keeping a vehicle operable. The alternator works with the battery and voltage regulator to keep electrical components running. Usually located near the front of a vehicle’s engine, an alternator can be identified by its aluminum body, vents, and an internal or external cooling fan. Depending on the vehicle, the alternator pulley is driven by either a serpentine belt or v-belt. This mechanical energy is then converted into electrical energy as internal parts operate to create a magnetic field used to produce the alternating current output. The alternator can reach high temperatures fast, so an operative cooling fan is important. Although the battery can keep the vehicle running for a little while, it will not be able to keep it running for an extended period of time if the alternator malfunctions. In fact, the alternator serves as the charger for the battery as well. Because a bad alternator will eventually render the vehicle inoperable, it is imperative that a driver have this component repaired or replaced as soon as possible.
The starter is a motor that, when supplied with electricity from a vehicle’s battery, will engage the flywheel ring gear and crank the engine. When a driver turns the key to start the engine, the battery sends a small supply of electricity to the starter solenoid. In turn, the starter powers the motor which sends a gear to mesh with the ring gear on a vehicle’s flywheel. . No matter the type, each starter ultimately plays an essential role in powering a vehicle.
Car batteries are fundamental parts of both the charging and starting systems. Within the starting system, the role of the battery is to send a current of electricity to the starter so that the vehicle is able to start and run. In addition, the battery is responsible for supplying electricity to other electrical components, such as the radio and the internal and external lights when the demand exceeds the supply of the alternator or when the vehicle is off. Most vehicles use one battery, but vehicles with diesel engines, electric vehicles, or vehicles that run a 24-volt system may require two or more batteries to power their engines and electric systems.