The type of car you drive – whether it’s a modern car or an old one – will help determine whose services you will require more, a mechanic or an auto electrician. As would be expected, the more electronic devices, electrical car parts, and computerised systems your vehicle has, the more attention it needs from an auto electrical specialist.
Do modern vehicles need auto electricians more than mechanics?
As vehicles of today adopt more sophisticated technologies and complex engineering mechanisms, they also rely more on electrical systems. This fact underscores the importance of auto electricians in the industry. However, this does not mean that mechanics are about to become obsolete – far from it!
Besides, the debate about which is more powerful, durable, or reliable – modern cars or old automobiles – is not about to end in the foreseeable future. Also, nothing will stop carmakers from rolling out one modern car after another and enthusiasts from collecting prized classics. In short, we will need both mechanics and auto electricians in maintaining our vehicles.
So, wherever your daily driver belongs in the automotive age spectrum, you must know whom to call when a symptom shows up. The truth is that you will need both professionals regardless of your car's model year and technologies because all vehicles have mechanical and electrical systems. To what extent you'll need either a mechanic or auto electrician, that's where your needs will vary.
When do you need to bring your car to a mechanic?
Since electrical circuits and auto electrical parts are intertwined in these systems, your trusty mechanic would also know about electronics generally. They can handle most ignition and starting issues like a bad battery or an engine that won’t crank properly. However, they may recommend you to an automotive electrician if the problem entails more complex electrical issues.
What are the common symptoms of electrical problems in cars? Which ones require the skills of an auto electrician?
As already mentioned, most battery and ignition problems can be fixed by a mechanic. Complicated electrical issues involving the ECM or PCM, electrical wirings, computer-based systems, and air conditioning, however, will require the specialised skillset of electricians. They will also have the proper tools to conduct the necessary diagnostics and repairs.
It would be best to take your car to an auto electrician in the following circumstances:
- A mechanic has recommended it – once your mechanic tells you to take your car to an electrician, that’s one way of saying that the problem is beyond his or her competency. Waste no more time – and money – and head on to the nearest auto electrician in your area.
- Lights are malfunctioning – it could be your brake lights, turn signals, or headlights, and especially if DIY fixes failed to work, you should get your car booked for an appointment. The problem may not merely be busted bulbs – which you can easily replace yourself – they could be corroded electrical car parts, a worn alternator belt, or faulty wirings.
- Fuses blow repeatedly – fuses take the blow and protect the system from occasional overcurrent – that’s what they are there for. You only need to replace them, and you'd be okay, but. If you find yourself replacing fuses all too often, you should be concerned. It may indicate a serious electrical fault, in which case, you should head on to an electrical specialist right away.
- Burnt plastic smell while driving or cranking your car – if you notice this symptom, stop your vehicle immediately. Call for roadside assistance or towing services. A burnt plastic smell strongly hints at electrical faults.
- Immobiliser-related symptoms – if you notice locking, unlocking, or starting glitches, it could be a problem with the immobiliser, its wirings, or the engine control module (ECM). Physical damage to the ECM hardware, however, almost always requires a replacement of the part. At any rate, it needs to be seen by an auto electrician nearest you or at the dealership.
- Alarm system goes off randomly or doesn’t sound at all – this could indicate a sensor or signal problem or faulty installation, all within the expertise of an auto electrician.
- Other malfunctioning electronic and electrical car parts – for brevity, we’re using this catch-all description, which includes the car air-conditioning or climate control, power seats, mirrors, and windows, warning systems, cameras and sensors, keyless entry, stereo, and electric mirrors. It covers practically all safety systems, creature comforts, even seatbelt tensioners, navigational devices, and many more.
- Installation of aftermarket devices – auto electricians don’t only troubleshoot car issues, they should also be your go-to people when you need alarm systems, cameras, and sensors fitted. You need their expertise to ensure that these devices communicate properly with your car’s PCM and work as intended.
Which way do you go – mechanic vs auto electrician?
The truth is that the line separating the responsibilities and expertise of mechanics and auto electricians can be fuzzy many times. Even the engine bay is not the exclusive kingdom of a mechanic. The alternator, fuel injection system, and car starter motor are only a few of the electrical car parts inside the engine bay that may require the skills of an electrician.
And here’s a trivia for you: Did you know that a car’s wiring harness consists of over 1,500 cables with an aggregate length of at least 1.5km? Yep, it makes up for a very complex electrical system, which all the more underscores the role of an auto electrician.
So whenever you’re on the fence about where to take your car – to the mechanic or auto electrician – don’t stress so much because you’re not alone and, as you have seen, it’s not that simple.
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By Jeannette Salanga (JMSL)