Why a Faulty Ignition Relay Could Strand Your Car

A typical car contains a large number of electronic relays that are designed to regulate the flow of electricity. They are, in effect, master switches that isolate power when it's not required and let it flow to the particular device as and when needed. One of these relays is very important and is linked to the ignition system. What could happen should this relay develop a fault, and how do you know when this happens? Read below to be able to recognize how.

How a Relay Works

The ignition system requires a great deal of energy in order to function. This power is provided by the vehicle's high-energy wiring system, which is separate from the system that provides power to bulbs and simpler devices. This is why designers added a relay to the system, which will only switch on when needed. So, when you turn the key in the ignition switch, this will activate the relay, which will, in turn, open to allow power to the ignition coil and fuel pump.

Locate the Relay

The relay is a very small device, no bigger than a matchbox. It is usually found next to the fuse box, either under the bonnet or towards the front of the passenger compartment. The relay does not often fail, but you will certainly notice some symptoms if it does so.

Lost Power

If the ignition relay suddenly quits, you may lose all power to the engine. After all, the system will default to its original state, which means it will shut off power to the fuel pump and ignition system. As a result, the engine will immediately stall.

Failure to Start

Also, the vehicle will not start without a functioning ignition relay. You may be able to crank over the engine, as the starter motor will still be operational, but the motor will start as neither the fuel system nor the ignition coil is receiving any power.

A Dead Battery

Don't be surprised if you get a dead battery associated with a faulty ignition relay. If the relay has a short, it may continue to feed power to the ignition and fuel system even if the key is removed. As a result, these devices will draw current even though they may not operate, eventually leading to a dead battery.

Where to Get Help

So, if you suspect issues with your electrical system or ignition relay, it's time to call an auto electrics shop.