Common Electrical Faults in Cars

As cars become more and more like computers with wheels, electrical faults are a growing concern among vehicle owners. The biggest worry is that, quite often, one fault leads to another and before you know it, your inability to wind down your window has grown into something much worse, such as no central locking or even a total brake failure.

If an electrical gremlin is plaguing your car, then you might find fixing it is quite a costly endeavour. Why not let Scrap Car Comparison help you out, and by speaking to one of our advisors we can guarantee you the very best price for your car, no matter what condition it’s in. With our nationwide network of scrap and salvage specialists waiting in the wings to buy your car, why not get started today and put all your troubles behind you?

An electrician works on wiring inside a car door

Common Electrical Faults in Cars

While you might generally think that most, if not all, faults are found within the touching distance of your driver’s seat, you can think again. We know that many people take their cars for granted, but did you know there are a host of elements to do with your car’s motherboard that could mean you won’t even get off your driveway if they go wrong?

Batteries and Alternators

It’s not just you that feels the cold in winter, and those lower temperatures can really play havoc on the inner workings of your car as well. Batteries are particularly vulnerable, especially tired ones in newer vehicles. If the cold has made its way into the battery, chances are you won’t even be able to get the car started at all, or you could be looking at an alternator issue.

Alternators recharge batteries so you don’t have to regularly replace them like your bog standard AA Duracells, so if your alternator isn’t working correctly, it doesn’t matter how many replacement batteries you go through – none will last. Most drivers just assume their battery is faltering, but if it has been caused by an alternator, you’ll need to get this fixed before things will get better.

Luckily, noticing an alternator problem is relatively simple to diagnose. As mentioned above, the alternator charges the battery as you drive along, so if you notice your car losing power, or your lights and dashboard instruments beginning to dim, you’ll need to fix your alternator sooner rather than later.


One of the easiest electric faults to diagnose is if one of your lights fails. We’ve already covered lights dimming, but if one has blown, the dangers increase exponentially. If you only have one headlight illuminated, oncoming drivers might actually assume that your car is actually a motorbike. This gets even more dangerous if it’s the light closest to the centre of the road that has expired, increasing the chances of a head-on collision due to mistaken identity.

Not only could other road users mistake you for something much smaller, but you’re not going to be seeing as much as you should with two working lights. You could easily find yourself drifting over the central lines, or onto the verge. It’s also illegal to only drive with one working headlight, so it’s really not worth it. For the cost of a new bulb you could avoid a fine or points on your licence and prevent potential trips to the hospital for you and other road users.

Red Car headlight with condensation on the bonnet

Spark Plugs

Every time you drive your car you are slowly wearing down the spark plugs – the little components that your car can’t start without – and if your car is taking longer than usual to start, it could be that they have worn down to the point where you now need to replace them.


This might be a new one for you, but solenoids – otherwise known as Starter Relays – are hugely important when it comes to starting your car. They also play a key role in powering elements such as your central locking system or automatic windows. Solenoids receive a large surge of power when you start the engine, coming from both the battery and the ignition. The solenoid then distributes all of this power to the starter motor and relevant areas – giving you the ability to lock your car’s doors at the click of a button.

How to find electrical faults in cars

As we’ve alluded to earlier in this article, you can often tell that there are electric gremlins creeping into your car by noticing a dip in performance as you drive along, as if your car is being drained of power the longer it runs. The same goes for your lights, both external and internal (such as your dashboard instruments). If these start to dim, chances are there’s something not quite right with your electrics.

Does car insurance cover electrical car faults

Generally insurance policies do not cover mechanical or electric faults, or general wear and tear. Insurance policies are in place to cover you in the event of accidental damages, or fire and theft. As nothing is indestructible, it’s to be expected that sooner or later the mechanical and electric elements of your car will simply begin to wear out. Your car’s warranty will cover you for a certain amount of time, but if this has run out, any failures will need to be covered by yourself.

Are electrical faults in a car dangerous?

If not discovered early enough, then electrical faults can be incredibly dangerous. We’ve mentioned the dangers of only having one working light or a lack of power already, but major electrical failure could result in a total loss of control. For example, a growing number of cars – particularly electric and hybrid vehicles – now feature ‘brake-by-wire’ systems, meaning your brake pedal works on electrical signals rather than the traditional mechanical systems of old.  If your electrics do completely cut out, then there goes any control over the brakes of your car – and we don’t need to tell you how dangerous that can be.

Keeping an eye on how your car acts, particularly with regards to the electrics, is an important part of motoring and ensures that you, and everyone else on the road with you, is kept safe.

Get the best price with Scrap Car Comparison

If electrical issues have been plaguing you for a while and you just can’t get rid of them, then it may simply be time to retire your car as a whole. You might be thinking that you won’t be getting much for a car with so many issues, but here at Scrap Car Comparison we can guarantee you the very best price for your car. No matter its condition, we’ll scour our unrivalled network of scrap and salvage specialists, and before you know it, your troubles will be gone and replaced by a chunk of cash directly into your bank account.

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