Third edition basic Automobile electrical and electronic systems

Introduction to the third edition

Automobile electrical and electronic systems have grown. I have included just a bit more coverage of basic electrical technology in response to helpful comments received.

This can be used as a way of learning the basics of electrical and electronic theory if you are new to the subject, or as an even more comprehensive reference source for the more advanced user. The biggest change is that even more case studies are included, some very new and others tried and tested – but they all illustrate important aspects.

There has been a significant rationalization of motor vehicle qualifications since the second edition. However, with the move towards Technical Certificates, this book has become more appropriate because of the higher technical content. AE&ES3 is ideal for all MV qualifications, in particular.

All maintenance and repair routes through the motor vehicle NVQ and Technical Certificates.

  • BTEC/Edexcel National and Higher National qualifications.
  • International MV qualifications such as C&G 3905.
  • Supplementary reading for MV degree level course. The needs of these qualifications are met because the book covers theoretical and practical aspects.

Basics sections are included for ‘new users’ and advanced sections are separated out for more advanced users, mainly so the ‘new users’ are not scared off! Practice questions (written and multiple choice) are now included that are similar to those used by awarding bodies.

Keep letting me know when you find the odd mistake or typo, but also let me know about new and interesting technology as well as good websites. I will continue to do the same on my site so keep dropping by.


I am very grateful to the following companies who have supplied information and/or permission to reproduce photographs and/or diagrams numbers are as listed

The story of electric power can be traced back to around 600 BC, when the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus found that amber rubbed with a piece of fur would attract lightweight objects such as feathers. This was due to static electricity.

It is thought that, around the same time, a shepherd in what is now Turkey discovered magnetism in lodestones, when he found pieces of them sticking to the iron end of his crook.

William Gilbert, in the sixteenth century, proved that many other substances are ‘electric and that they have two electrical effects. When rubbed with fur, amber acquires ‘resinous electricity’; glass, however, when rubbed with silk, acquires ‘vitreous electricity’.

Electricity repels the same kind and attracts the opposite kind of electricity. Scientists thought that the friction actually created the electricity (their word for a charge). They did not realize that an equal amount of opposite electricity remained on the fur or silk. A German, Otto Von Guerick, invented the first electrical device in 1672. He charged a ball of sulphur with static electricity by holding his hand against it as it rotated on an axle.

His experiment was, in fact, well ahead of the theory developed in the 1740s by William Watson, an English physician, and the American statesman Benjamin Franklin, that electricity is in all matter and that it can be transferred by rubbing.

Last word

Franklin, in order to prove that lightning was a form of electricity, flew a kite during a thunder-storm and produced sparks from a key attached to the string! Some good did come from this dangerous experiment though, as Franklin invented the lightning conductor.

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