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Maintaining Your High Performance Electrical System

Aug 19, 2008
On any automobile, the condition of the electrical system goes a long way towards keeping your performance at the most advantageous level. This system is called upon to do a lot when it comes to keeping your ride running. In an older motor vehicle, the electrical system has to keep energy flowing to the ignition and spark plugs, as well as run all of the cars accessories. In a modern car, extra strain is added by the fact that the cars computer needs a stable stream of power, not to mention the demands of a massive amount of sensors.

When racing, the cars engine is under maximum load for a fairly considerable length of time. This means that if the electrical system is not in the very best shape, you could be looking at power loss, hesitation, and strange behavior at the worst possible time. No one wants to pull out to pass someone only to have a cylinder misfire, or experience the agony of the ignition shutting off halfway down a quarter-mile run. How can you avoid these types of problems dudes?

The first thing to do is make sure your alternator is up to the job of generating the power you require while racing. The alternator runs off a belt from the engine and it is intended to put out enough power to not only charge the battery but also keep the motor running. If you have added on a more powerful ignition, or a new stand-alone engine management system, then your stock alternator might not be able to keep up with the electrical demands your car is making. Upgrading to a larger alternator will give your car more amps to divide amongst the various electrical components that are needed while running at full throttle.

The next item you should check? Your connection points. Increased electrical demands means more heat being created at each junction where wires connect to each other, to the battery, or to the chassis. Over time this heat can damage connections or burn them out, leaving them blackened or scored. This heat degrades the ability of a connection to properly transmit the power your engine needs. Not only that, but solenoids can also be burned out completely by this extreme electrical heat. If you notice that certain connections are consistently being affected, then you can try to upgrade them to a gauge of wire with a greater capacity. You might also want to consider evaluating your wiring as a whole to see why certain points are falling victim to more heat than others.

A further way to reduce the strain on your electrical system while racing is to remove accessories that you don't really need. Stereo system, air conditioner, power windows and door locks? These extras are not going to help you make horsepower out on the track, and their use while racing is just going to put stress on your alternator. Ripping them out or shutting them down while you are racing will help keep the electrical system cool and probably pick you up a few seconds over the course of the race.
About the Author
Justina Mathews writes issues that currently affect the performance car enthusiast. She also writes about issues that affect the street tuner industry, as well as import scene lifestyle. She's a staff writer for high performance electrical systems .
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