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Electrical Systems: Part of Owning an Older Car

Repair 32x32Part of the mid-life crisis of owning a VW & Audi vehicle includes electrical repairs, like replacing window regulators, headlight bulbs, starters and batteries. A few times a year, we hear a customer refer to their electrical system like it is all one thing and might be failing. We are here to tell you that this system consists of many discrete parts, including lights, starter, windows, ignition, radio, alarm, windshield wipers, etc. And just because more than one issue shows its face, that does not mean the car is dying electrically or the electrical system as whole is failing.

Charging System Testing

The charging system on your VW or Audi can be quickly checked for the basics. Some charging and starting system problems will need a complete set of tests. At Karmakanix, we usually start with a Quick Check using an analyzer that gives a print out for review. Sometimes the printout alerts us to the possibility of further issues. Sometimes the customer or our records show that the previous battery did not last the normal 5 years. Sometimes we can hear the starter does not sound right. Sometimes it is necessary to perform a complete charging and starting system analysis.

Batteries

Batteries can fail six different ways, and there are four common tests to confirm their viability. Normally, the quick test tells enough, but sometimes further testing shows other issues, mostly in older cars. Karmakanix uses high quality batteries. Sometimes the battery from a dealer costs less than some aftermarket unit. Very often, we notice a huge difference in weight between a good battery and a cheap one. That is a statement of the amount and quality of material inside the battery, even though they may look the same. We also provide the best in Deep Cycle Batteries for the dual auxiliary battery found on some Vans. Changing the battery on a VW or Audi vehicle involves reprogramming the vehicles onboard engine and transmission computers and some models require resetting the radio code.

Window Regulators: A Quality Issue

Unfortunately, some of our models experience window regulator failure. Even though it was a factory regulator that failed, we find that only the factory replacements work smoothly and quietly, and last a long time. We suspect improvements have been made since we never seem to have long term issues with the factory replacement parts. But we do see aftermarket window regulators that make a significant amount of noise, and just do not prove durable for the long haul. For some of the early model vehicles, the factory regulators are no longer available. We have to made do with an aftermarket version, and often modifications must be made. Extra holes get drilled, rubber mounts get adapted, wiring connectors get changed, and sometimes even the stereo speakers need to be moved. And it should be mentioned that we cannot provide our 2 year / 24 month warranty on said aftermarket part.

Alternators and Starters

Bosch, Valeo and Hitachi are the starters and alternators that are the replacement parts of choice. We have found that is not always true. After many years of almost 100% reliability, Bosch is manufacturing most of their starters and alternators in China, and the failure rate is too high. Our parts warehouse representatives know that Karmakanix will only buy the USA rebuilds. Just a few engines and models seem to require a dealer part to be reliable. The expense is higher, but they do not seem to ever fail. In such cases we may strenuously suggest a factory option.

Gear case (2)Karmakanix Knowledgebase Information on the Charging System

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