Most are wired through the ignition switch, so that they work only when the ignition is switched on. This prevents you accidentally leaving something switched on which might cause the battery to go flat. The side and tail lights, however, which you may need to leave on when the car is parked, are always wired independently of the ignition switch.
This type of circuit is called an earth-return system any part of it connected to the car body is said to be earthed. If the battery voltage drops, less current flows, and eventually there is not enough to make the components work.
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