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Automobile Electrical Fundamentals

Prepared By: 110250102042

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© 2008 Pearson Education, Inc.
Pearson Prentice Hall - Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
OBJECTIVES:
• Prepare for ASE Electrical/Electronic Systems
(A6) certification test content area “A” (General
Electrical/Electronic System Diagnosis).
• Define electricity.
• Explain the units of electrical measurement.
• Discuss the relationship among volts,
amperes, and ohms.
• Explain how magnetism is used in automotive
applications.

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© 2008 Pearson Education, Inc.
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KEY TERMS:
ammeter • amperes • atom • bound electrons

concentric rings • conductors • conventional theory •


coulomb • current

electrical potential • electricity • electrochemistry •


electrons • electron theory • elements • electromotive
force (EMF)

free electrons • insulators • ion

neutral charge • neutrons • nucleus

ohmmeter • ohms
Continued
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© 2008 Pearson Education, Inc.
Pearson Prentice Hall - Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
KEY TERMS:
peltier effect • photoelectricity • piezoelectricity •
positive temperature coefficient (PTC) • potentiometer •
protons

resistance • resistors • rheostat

semiconductors • shells • static electricity

thermocouple • thermoelectricity

valence shell • volt • voltmeter

watt

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© 2008 Pearson Education, Inc.
Pearson Prentice Hall - Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
The electrical system is one of the most important
systems in a vehicle today.

Every year, more and more components and


systems use electricity.

Technicians who really know and understand


automotive electrical and electronic systems
will be in great demand.

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ELECTRICITY
Our universe is composed of matter, anything that has mass and
occupies space. All matter is made from slightly over 100
individual components called elements.

The smallest particle that an element can be broken into and still
retain the properties of that element is known as an atom.

Figure 31–1 In an atom (left),


electrons orbit protons in the
nucleus just as planets orbit
the sun in our solar system
(right).

Continued
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Electricity is the movement of electrons from one atom to another.

The dense center of each atom is called the nucleus. The nucleus
contains protons, which have positive charge, and neutrons,
electrically neutral (no charge).

Electrons surround the nucleus in orbits. Each atom contains an


equal number of electrons and protons.

Because the number of negative-charged electrons is balanced with


the same number of positive-charged protons, an atom has a neutral
charge (no charge).

NOTE: As an example of relative sizes of parts of an atom, consider that


if an atom were magnified so that the nucleus were the size of the period at
the end of this sentence, the whole atom would be bigger than a house.
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Positive and Negative Charges Parts of the atom have different
charges. Orbiting electrons are negatively charged, protons
positively charged. Positive charges are indicated by the “plus” sign
(+), and negative charges by the “minus” sign ().

These same + and  signs are


used to identify parts of an
electrical circuit.

Neutrons have no charge at all.


They are neutral.

Figure 31–2 The nucleus of an atom has


a positive () charge and the surrounding
electrons have a negative () charge.
Continued
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In a normal, or balanced, atom, the number of negative particles
equals the number of positive particles. The number of neutrons
varies according to the type of atom.

Figure 31–3
This figure shows a balanced atom.

Continued
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An ordinary magnet has two ends, or poles. One end is the south
pole, and the other the north pole.

If the opposite poles of the magnets are brought close to each other,
south to north, the magnets will snap together because unlike poles
attract each other.

If two magnets are brought close to each other with like poles
together (south to south or north to north), the magnets will push
each other apart. This is because like poles repel each other.

Figure 31–4 Unlike charges attract and like charges repel.


Continued
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Positive and negative charges within an atom are like north and
south poles of a magnet. Charges that are alike will repel each other,
which is why the negative electrons continue to orbit around the
positive protons. They are attracted and held by the opposite charge
of the protons. The electrons keep moving in orbit because they
repel each other.

When an atom loses electrons, it becomes unbalanced. It will have


more protons than electrons and will have a positive charge. If it
gains more electrons than protons, it will be negatively charged.

When an atom is not balanced, it becomes a charged particle called


an ion. Ions try to regain balance of equal protons and electrons by
exchanging electrons with neighboring atoms. See Figure 31–5.

This is the flow of electric current or electricity.


Continued
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Figure 31–5 An unbalanced, positively charged atom (ion) will attract electrons from neighboring
atoms.

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Electron Shells Orbit around the nucleus in definite paths. These
paths form shells, like concentric rings, around the nucleus. Only a
specific number of electrons can orbit within each shell.
If there are too many electrons
for the first and closest shell to
the nucleus, others will orbit
in additional shells until all
electrons have an orbit within
a shell. There can be as many
as seven shells around a single
nucleus.
Figure 31–6
The hydrogen atom is the simplest atom, with
only one proton, one neutron, and one electron.
More complex elements contain higher numbers
of protons, neutrons, and electrons.

Continued
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Free and Bound Electrons The outermost electron shell or ring,
called the valence shell, is the most important to our study of
electricity.

The number of electrons in this shell determines the valence of the


atom and indicates its capacity to combine with other atoms.

If the valence ring of an atom has three or fewer electrons in it, the
ring has room for more. The electrons are held very loosely, and it is
easy for a drifting electron to join the ring and push another electron
away. These loosely held electrons are called free electrons.

When a valence ring has five or more electrons, it is fairly full. The
electrons are held tightly, and it is hard for a drifting electron to
push its way into the ring. These tightly held electrons are called
bound electrons. See Figures 31–7 and 31–8.
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Continued
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The movement of these drifting electrons is called current. Electric
current is controlled, directed movement of electrons from atom to
atom within a conductor.

Figure 31–8 Electrons in the outer orbit,


or shell, can often be drawn away from
the atom and become free electrons.

Figure 31–7 As the number of electrons increases, they occupy


increasing energy levels that are further from the center of the atom.
Continued
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Conductors Materials with fewer than four electrons in their
atom’s outer orbit are Conductors. Copper is excellent as a
conductor because it has only one electron in its outer orbit. This
orbit is far enough away from the nucleus of the atom that the pull
or force holding the outermost electron in orbit is relatively weak.

Figure 31–9 A conductor is any element that


has one to three electrons in its outer orbit.
Continued
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Figure 31–10 Copper is an excellent conductor of electricity because it has just one electron in its
outer orbit, making it easy to be knocked out of its orbit and flow to other nearby atoms. This
causes electron flow, which is the definition of electricity.

Copper is the conductor most


used in vehicles because the
price of copper is reasonable
compared to the relative cost
of other conductors with
similar properties.

Continued
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Is Water a Conductor?
Pure water is an insulator; however, if anything is in the water, such as salt
or dirt, then the water becomes conductive. Because it is difficult to keep
water from becoming contaminated, water is usually thought of as being
capable of conducting electricity, especially high voltage such as from
household 110-volt or 220-volt outlets.

Insulators The protons and neutrons in the nucleus are held


together very tightly. Normally the nucleus does not change.

Some outer electrons are held very loosely, and can move from
one atom to another. Some materials hold their electrons very
tightly; electrons do not move through them very well.

These materials are called insulators.


Continued
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Insulators are materials with more than four electrons in their
atom’s outer orbit. Because they have more than four electrons, it
becomes easier for these materials to acquire (gain) electrons than
to release electrons.

Insulators include plastics, wood,


glass, rubber, ceramics (spark plugs),
and varnish for covering (insulating)
copper wires in alternators and
starters.

Figure 31–11 Insulators are elements


with five to eight electrons in the outer
orbit.

Continued
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Figure 31–12 Semiconductor elements
contain exactly four electrons in the
outer orbit.

Semiconductors
Materials with exactly four
electrons in their outer orbit
are neither conductors nor
insulators; they are called
semiconductor materials.

Continued
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How Electrons Move Through a Conductor If an outside source
of power, such as a battery, is connected to the ends of a conductor,
a positive charge (lack of electrons) is placed on one end of the
conductor and a negative charge is placed on the opposite end
of the conductor.

The negative charge will repel the free electrons from the atoms of
the conductor, whereas the positive charge on the opposite end of
the conductor will attract electrons. As a result of this attraction of
opposite charges and repulsion of like charges, electrons will flow
through the conductor.

Figure 31–13 Current electricity is the movement of electrons through a conductor.


Continued
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Conventional Theory versus Electron Theory It was once
thought that electricity had only one charge and moved from
positive to negative. This theory of the flow of electricity through a
conductor is called the conventional theory of current flow.
Discovery of the electron and its negative charge led to the electron
theory, which states there is electron flow from negative to positive.

This book uses the


conventional theory
unless stated otherwise.

Figure 31–14 Conventional theory states that current flows through


a circuit from positive (+) to negative (-). Automotive electricity uses
the conventional theory in all electrical diagrams and schematics.
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Amperes The ampere is the unit used to measure current flow.
When 6.28 billion billion electrons (a coulomb) move past a certain
point in 1 second, this represents 1 ampere of current.

The ampere is the electrical unit for amount of electron flow just as
“gallons per minute” is the unit used to measure water flow.

The ampere was named for the French electrician André Marie
Ampère (1775–1836).
Figure 31–15
One ampere is the movement of 1 coulomb (6.28 billion billion electrons) past a point in 1 second.

Continued
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Conventional abbreviations and measurement for amperes are
summarized as follows:
1. The ampere is the unit of measurement for the amount of
current flow.
2. Acceptable abbreviations for amperes are A and amps.
3. The capital letter I, for intensity, is used in mathematical
calculations to represent amperes.
4. Amperes are measured by an ammeter (not ampmeter).

Figure 31–16
An ammeter is installed in the path of
the electrons similar to a water meter
used to measure the flow of water in
gallons per minute. the ammeter
displays current flow in amperes.

Continued
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Volts The volt is the unit of measurement for electrical pressure.
Named for Alessandro Volta (1745–1827), an Italian physicist.

The comparable unit using water as an example would be pounds


per square inch (psi). It is possible to have very high pressures
(volts) and low water flow (amperes). It is also possible to have high
water flow (amperes) and low pressure (volts).

Voltage is also called electrical potential, because if there is


voltage present in a conductor, there is a potential (possibility) for
current flow. Voltage does not flow through conductors, but voltage
does cause current (in amperes) to flow through conductors.
Figure 31–17
Voltage is the electrical pressure
that causes the electrons to flow
through a conductor.

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The conventional abbreviations and measurement for voltage are:
1. Volt is the measurement for amount of electrical pressure.
2. Another term for voltage is Electromotive force, (EMF).
3. The letter V is the generally accepted abbreviation for volts.
4. The symbol used in
calculations is E, for
electromotive force.
5. Volts are measured
with a voltmeter.
Figure 31–18
This digital multimeter set to read DC
volts is being used to test the voltage
of a vehicle battery. Most multimeters
can also measure resistance (ohms)
and current flow (amperes).

Continued
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Ohms Resistance to the flow of current through a conductor is
measured in units called ohms, named after the German physicist
Georg Simon Ohm (1787–1854).

The resistance to the flow of free electrons through a conductor


results from the countless collisions the electrons cause within the
atoms of the conductor.
Figure 31–19 Resistance to the flow of electrons through a conductor is measured in ohms.

Continued
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Conventional abbreviations and measurement for resistance are:
1. The ohm is the unit of measurement for electrical resistance.
2. The symbol for ohms is Ω (Greek capital letter omega), the
last letter of the Greek alphabet.
3. The symbol used in calculations is R, for resistance.
4. Ohms are measured with an ohmmeter.

Continued
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Figure 31–20 A display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, that includes a hand-
cranked generator and a series of light bulbs. This figure shows a young man attempting to light
as many bulbs as possible. The crank gets harder to turn as more bulbs light because it requires
more power to produce the necessary watts of electricity.

Watts A watt is the electrical


unit for power, the capacity to
do work. Named for Scottish
inventor, James Watt (1736–
1819).

The symbol for power is P. Electrical power is calculated as


amperes times volts: P (power) = I (amperes)  E (volts)
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SOURCES OF ELECTRICIY
There are several sources of electrical energy, but only a few of
them are used in automotive electrical systems.

Friction When certain different materials are rubbed together, the


friction causes electrons to be transferred from one to the other.
Both materials become electrically charged.

These charges are not in motion but stay on the surface where they
were deposited. Because the charges are stationary, or static, this
type of voltage is called static electricity.

Vehicle tires rolling on pavement often create static electricity that


interferes with radio reception.

Continued
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Heat When pieces of two metals are joined together at both ends
and one junction is heated, current passes through the metals. Only
millionths of an ampere, but enough to use in a temperature-
measuring device called a thermocouple.
Figure 31–21 Electron flow is produced by heating the connection of two different metals.

Some engine temperature


sensors operate in this
manner.

This form of voltage is


called thermoelectricity.

Continued
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In 1823, German physicist Thomas Johann Seebeck discovered that
voltage was developed in a loop containing two dissimilar metals,
provided the junctions were maintained at different temperatures.

A decade later, French scientist Jean Charles Peltier found electrons


moving through a solid can carry heat from one side of the material
to the other side. This effect is called the Peltier effect.

A Peltier effect device is often used in portable coolers to keep food


items cool if the current flows in one direction and to keep items
warm if the current flows in reverse.

Continued
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Light In 1839, Edmond Becquerel noticed that shining a beam of
sunlight over two different liquids developed electric current.

When certain metals are exposed to light, some light energy is


transferred to free electrons of the metal. This excess energy breaks
electrons loose from the metal. They can be collected and made to
flow in a conductor.
Photoelectricity is
widely used in light-
measuring devices
such as photographic
exposure meters and
automatic headlamp
dimmers.
Figure 31–22 Electron flow is produced by light striking a light-sensitive material.
Continued
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Pressure The first demonstration of a connection between
macroscopic piezoelectric phenomena and crystallographic structure
was published in 1880 by Pierre and Jacques Curie. When
subjected to pressure, certain crystals, such as quartz, develop a
potential difference, or voltage, on the crystal faces. This current is
used in phonograph pickups, crystal microphones, underwater
hydrophones, and certain stethoscopes.
The voltage created is called piezoelectricity.

Some automobile engine control


sensors, such as the knock sensor
(KS), use piezoelectricity to create
voltage or to vary resistance and
control a computer input signal.
Figure 31–23 Electron flow is produced
by pressure on certain crystals.
Continued
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Chemistry Two different materials (usually metals) placed in a
conducting and reactive chemical solution create a difference in
potential, or voltage, between them. This principle is called
electrochemistry and is the basis of the automotive battery.

Conductors and Resistance All conductors have some resistance


to current flow. Several principles of conductors and their resistance
include the following:
If the conductor length is doubled, its resistance doubles
This is why battery cables are designed as short as possible.
If the conductor diameter is increased, resistance is reduced
This is the reason starter motor cables are larger in diameter
than other wiring in the vehicle.

See Chapter for further details on wiring sizes.


Continued
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As the temperature increases, the resistance of the
conductor also increases This is the reason for installing heat
shields on some starter motors. The shield helps protect the
conductors (copper wiring inside the starter) from excessive
engine heat and reduces resistance of starter circuits. Because a
conductor increases in resistance with increased temperature,
the conductor is called a positive temperature coefficient
(PTC) resistor.
Materials used in the conductor have an impact on its
resistance Silver has the lowest resistance of any conductor,
but is expensive. Copper is the next lowest in resistance and it
is reasonably priced.

See the following chart for a comparison of materials.

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CONDUCTION CHART
Starting with the best…

1. Silver 7. Brass (copper and zinc)


2. Copper 8. Platinum
3. Gold 9. Iron
4. Aluminum 10. Nickel
5. Tungsten 11. Tin
6. Zinc 12. Steel
13. Lead

Continued
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Resistors Resistance is opposition to current flow. Resistors
represent an electrical load, or resistance, to current flow.

Figure 31–24 This figure shows a resistor color code interpretation.


Continued
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Most electrical and electronic devices use resistors of specific values
to limit and control the flow of current.

Resistors can be made from carbon or from other materials that


restrict the flow of electricity and are available in various sizes and
resistance values.

Most resistors have a series of painted color bands around them.


These color bands are coded to indicate the degree of resistance.

Figure 31–25 This figure


shows a typical carbon
resistor.

Continued
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Variable Resistors Two types of mechanically operated variable
resistors are used in automotive applications. A potentiometer is a
three-terminal variable resistor where the majority of the current
flow travels through the resistance of the unit and a wiper contact
provides a variable voltage output.

Figure 31–26 A three-wire variable


resistor is called a potentiometer.

Potentiometers are most commonly used as throttle position (TP)


sensors on computer-equipped engines.
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Another type of mechanically operated variable resistor is the
rheostat. A rheostat is a two-terminal unit in which all of the
current flows through the movable arm. A rheostat is commonly
used for a dash light dimmer control.

Figure 31–27 A two-wire variable resistor is called a rheostat.


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SUMMARY
1. Electricity is movement of electrons from one atom to another.

2. Automotive electricity uses the conventional theory of current


flow (electricity flows from positive to negative).

3. The ampere is the measure of the amount of current flow.

4. Voltage is the unit of electrical pressure.

5. The ohm is the unit of electrical resistance.

6. Sources of electricity include: friction, heat, light, pressure,


and chemical.
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