According to the National Fire Protection Association, 23% of all car fires that occurred between 2013 and 2017 were caused by electrical failure or malfunction, with electrical wires and cable insulation being the leading item first ignited in about 31% of all car fires during this same period. Hiring a good auto electrical repair service near you to fix your vehicle's faulty electrical system not only ensures that your car functions optimally, but also saves you from serious financial loss and potentially fatal injuries. In 2018, vehicle fires were the second highest cause of fire-related deaths and they resulted in over 500 fatalities, 1500 injuries, and approximately $1.9 billion in direct property damage for that year alone.
Considering the high financial and physical costs associated with either ignoring or improperly fixing your car's electrical system, you should always make sure that these types of matters are handled by qualified professionals that have the necessary training, equipment, and skills. As such, to find a good auto electrical repair service near you that fits these criteria, you should ask the questions listed below:
Are You Licensed, Registered, or Certified?
In several states, including Massachusetts, New York, and California, automotive repair shops are required to obtain a license or register with the appropriate government body. As such, it is important to find out the licensing requirements for your locality when you intend to hire an automotive electrician. You can do this by contacting your state's consumer protection agency. Before hiring anyone, make sure that the prospective automotive electrician meets those requirements.
Additionally, while there are no mandatory certification requirements for automotive electricians, it is always a great idea to hire a certified automotive electrician. Certifications serve as proof of the automotive electrician's level of experience and expertise, as they are only typically issued to individuals that have accumulated relevant experience and passed certain tests and examinations. Automotive electricians may obtain certifications from organizations like the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). Note that you should always request and authenticate proof of this certification before hiring any automotive electrician near you.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire Auto Electrical Repair Services?
Similar to other types of car repairs, the cost of auto electrical repairs varies depending on your location, the type and age of the car, the exact repair to be done, and the reputation of the automotive electrician doing the repair. Nonetheless, the average hourly rate of an automotive electrician ranges from $17 to $23. Note that this fee does not include the cost of any materials that may be required for your car's electrical system repairs. Some average cost estimates for auto electrical repair services include:
- Auto electrical system diagnosis: $87-$111
- Car battery replacement: $220-$270
- Car battery cable replacement: $125-$400
- Alternator replacement: $290-$680
- Fuse replacement: $110-$140
- Starter replacement: $290-$995
You may be able to save costs on auto electrical repairs by shopping around for different automotive electricians near you and comparing their price quotes. However, you should not be guided by price alone. The quality of the materials and workmanship should be a higher priority. An unreasonably low price may mean that the automotive electrician intends to cut corners or increase the price once the electrical job begins. To avoid this, ensure that you get a firm quote, and not just an estimate, that clearly states what exactly will be included in the price of the repair job.
You can also save money on auto electrical repair costs by buying the parts that need to be replaced yourself. Parts are usually available online at very competitive prices. Compare these prices against a dealer's parts department or a local parts store, then get the necessary parts from the source that is closest to your budget.
What Are the Common Auto Electrical Repair Services Expenses?
When hiring an automotive electrician, you may incur certain additional expenses. These expenses may either be included in the total cost of the repair or the automotive electrician may bill them to you separately. Such possible expenses include:
- Towing expenses: Car electrical problems can prevent a car from being able to start or move. As such, you may need to have your vehicle towed to the repair shop when you hire an automotive electrician near you. For this, you can expect to pay between $1 - $7 per mile.
- Trip charges: You may decide to have the automotive electrician come to you rather than towing your car to the shop. In such cases, you may have to pay a convenience fee of anywhere between $1 - $5 per mile traveled by the automotive electrician.
- Parts replacement costs: Depending on the problem with your car's electrical system, you may have to replace certain parts like the battery, alternator, or fuses. In situations like this, you will have to cover the cost of purchasing these parts. The cost of doing this is influenced by the type of part that has to be replaced as well as the make and model of your car. Note that if the required parts are unavailable in your locality, you may have to pay an additional fee to have them shipped to you.
Who Will Do the Work?
Asking who will do the work is one of the most important questions you need to ask when taking your car to an auto electrical repair shop near you. This is because there is a big possibility that the person you speak to might not be the one to perform the car electrical repairs. Most reputable automotive electricians have different technicians for different types of jobs. As such, you need to ensure that you discuss with the automotive electrician beforehand about who is going to be handling your work. On finding this out, you should ask for, and verify, the qualifications and experience level of the person that will be doing the work. A certification from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) can serve as proof of the automotive electrician's expertise.
Although automotive electricians are generally expected to have a high school diploma, some employers may also require them to complete programs in postsecondary education institutions like vocational schools. Some automotive electricians may also obtain associate degrees in automotive electronics or certifications from vocational schools. Such degree programs typically cover subjects like math, chemistry, physics, and electronics. Regardless of the level of education received by these individuals, becoming a skilled automotive electrician generally requires hands-on training under more experienced automotive electricians. However, automotive electricians with postsecondary education typically require less of this hands-on training.
To increase their employment and career advancement opportunities, automotive electricians may also obtain certification from reputable automotive repair-related organizations like the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). This certification serves as proof of expertise and can only be obtained after acquiring relevant work experience and passing certain organization-administered tests and exams.
Will You Provide References?
Asking prospective automotive electricians for references on their past clients helps ensure that you do not end up hiring an incompetent automotive electrician and paying for terrible auto electrical services. A credible and professional automotive electrician will always be ready and willing to provide you with these references. On getting these references, make sure that you get in touch with them and ask about the automotive electrician's experience, reliability, quality of work, and other similar questions. With this information, you will get an idea as to whether or not your intended auto electrician can competently tackle your car's electrical issues.
In addition to requesting and contacting these references, it is also advisable to check third-party websites like Yelp, Google Review, and Better Business Bureau for unbiased reviews on the automotive electrician's services.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The major parts of a modern vehicle auto electrical system are all inherently interconnected, and if one part fails, it typically affects the others. Therefore, proper maintenance of these parts is vital to the continuous operation of a vehicle. Some of these major components include the following:
- Starter motor
- Voltage Regulator
- Connectors and Wires
- Fuse Panel
The main components of an electrical system of an automobile are:
- The battery: A vehicle's battery is responsible for providing the necessary electrical currents used to power the ignition, starter, and fuel systems. As such, if a car's battery is weak or dead, the car will not start.
- The Starter: The starter is the component in a vehicle that is directly responsible for starting the engine. While the battery provides the needed power, it cannot start the engine on its own. Instead, it depends on the starter to rotate the flywheel, which activates the crankshaft and kicks off the engine's pistons. Therefore, even with a properly functioning battery, the vehicle would be unable to start if the starter is not working.
- The Alternator: This is the part of an automobile that charges the battery to keep the vehicle running.
Some car mechanics can also fix auto electrical problems. However, considering how complex auto electrical problems can be, it is always better to hire an automotive electrician who is specifically trained and skilled in fixing auto electrical problems.
A vehicle is a maze of fuses, relays, wires, and other vital electrical parts. If there is an issue with any of these components, it could lead to a poorly operating or non-driving vehicle. Below are some of the most common auto electrical problems. If you experience any of these issues, ensure you contact an auto electrician near you right away.
- Dead battery: This is the most obvious and common electrical problem in vehicles. You will generally notice that your vehicle's battery is dead when the engine refuses to turn over when you turn the key. However, you may still be able to use the lights and other accessories. This issue can typically be resolved with a jump start. However, if the battery cannot hold the charge, it may need to be replaced.
- Loose or broken wiring: For an electrical current to be conducted, it requires a closed circuit. This circuit is provided by the car's wiring system and it also connects the various electrical systems in your car. If an important wire breaks, melts, comes loose, or wears out, you would most likely have a problem using the vehicle's electrical components or even starting the car.
- Bad alternator: A malfunctioning or damaged alternator could prevent a car's battery from recharging. A bad alternator may also cause your car to lose electrical function as you drive, which can result in problems like dim headlights.
- Blown electrical fuses: Fuses in a vehicle are a safety feature created to protect the car's electrical components from severe damage that is usually caused by overloads and surges. When a fuse blows, it can prevent an electrical component in your car from functioning properly.
- Fatigued solenoid or starter: The solenoid in a vehicle is a coil of wire that goes around two magnets and administers voltage that is higher than normal from the car battery to the starter motor. If this component or the starter is not working properly, it will not give a sufficient charge to start the vehicle. As such, you will typically hear a loud click when you try to start the car.
- Failed spark plugs: Dirty or loose plugs can affect the operation of a vehicle. Common signs that your car may be having spark plug trouble are rough idling or lurching.
Some of the signs that indicate that your vehicle's electrical system needs servicing include:
- A loud clicking noise when you attempt to start the car may mean a bad or discharged battery or a faulty starter.
- An odd whining or growling noise may be indicative of a problem with the alternator belt.
- Flickering or dimming headlights may indicate that the voltage regulator is having issues.
- A grinding noise while cranking the vehicle could be pointing to a bad flywheel ring gear or a faulty starter
- A malfunction in a car's electric items like the lights, stereo, and air conditioner may mean a blown fuse.
- Hotwires or a burning rubber smell may indicate a problem with the alternator or a short circuit.
If you notice any of the above signs in your vehicle, you should take it to an automotive electrician as soon as possible. Failure to do so may lead to additional car problems and could even cause a fire in the electrical system.
Fixing electrical problems in cars is complex and requires skill and experience. Therefore, they can be expensive. For example, simply diagnosing a car's electrical system generally costs between $88 and $111. Other auto electrical repairs like battery replacement, fuse replacement, and so on can cost anything from $110 to $995.
The duties and responsibilities of an auto electrician range from diagnosing problems with car electrical systems to repairing damaged electrical parts. As such, an auto electrician must have a broad knowledge of modern automotive electrical systems and should be able to solve complex auto electrical problems. Some of the other job responsibilities of an auto electrician include:
- Troubleshooting and installing immobilizer and alarm systems
- Servicing electrical automotive parts
- Repairing and maintaining the electrical equipment for agricultural machinery
- Processing paperwork and completing job reports
- Installing and repairing electrical wiring