Vehicle Electrical Systems

Summer heat can be just as damaging as winter’s cold temperatures to a vehicle’s electrical system. Conducting some simple checks and maintenance steps will help fend off future problems and ensure that the electrical system functions properly and...


This should be limited to wiping components down or wire-brushing terminals on the alternator and battery connections. These components may not react favorably to pressure washing.

Water can be used to remove salt or dirt from the starter. Use the lowest pressure possible to get the job done, as this prevents moisture from becoming trapped in areas of the vehicle from which it can’t drain or evaporate.

A soft brush or rag combined with low-pressure water is the best choice. We’re removing salt and dirt here - not graffiti from concrete.

Once the terminals are clean, dry and verified to be corrosion-free, a high-quality corrosion-inhibiting grease should be applied. Remember to apply the grease after tightening any terminals you may have removed. Corrosion-inhibiting grease is often a dielectric, so you don’t want it getting between the terminals.

SYSTEMATIC APPROACH

Problems with a vehicle’s electrical system are often misdiagnosed as a starter or alternator problem. A significant number of products returned to Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America under warranty and deemed “defective” by the customer are found to be “NTF” (No Trouble Found).

When experiencing trouble with the electrical system, it is best to take a systematic approach to troubleshooting the problem: batteries first, wiring and connections next, and finally the starter or alternator. Keep in mind that it is not always an electrical component that is the problem. Vehicle wiring needs to be checked as well.

Proper diagnosis consists of three basic questions:

  • What are the symptoms? Basic observations seen, heard, felt or smelled.
  • What has caused the symptoms? Using proper diagnostic tools will help identify the cause of the electrical system problem or failure.
  • How is the problem fixed? This step involves part repair, replacement or adjustment.

Eric Karr is an account manager and Danny Ritter is a technical support manager for Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America – Heavy Duty Division. Based in Mason, OH, Mitsubishi Electric Automotive America, a U.S. subsidiary of Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, is a leading manufacturer and supplier of customized powertrain, body and chassis products and in-vehicle entertainment and navigation systems.

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