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Your car's electrical system powers everything from the ignition and fuel systems to accessories such as your radio, headlights and wipers. The electrical system is, in turn, powered by the engine. Here are the three key components of the electrical system:
- When your car's engine is off, the battery provides the required power to the rest of the system, as well as during start-up (cranking). It also supplements the power from the charging system during periods of high demand.
- This is the heart of the electrical system. It consists of three main components: the belt-driven alternator, various electrical circuits, and a voltage regulator. The alternator supplies power to the electrical system and recharges the battery after your car has started. Just like it sounds, the voltage regulator controls the voltage, keeping it within the operating range of the electrical system.
- This system consumes more electrical power than any other in your car. The starting system consists of three components which work in tandem: the ignition switch, the starter relay or solenoid, and the starter motor. The ignition switch controls the starter solenoid, which activates the starter motor. The starter motor then turns the engine until your car starts.