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The alternator is a relatively simple component, but it plays a critical role in your car’s performance and operation. Unfortunately, this means the alternator can also cause quite a lot of headaches. Because the alternator is critical for many of the other systems and parts under the hood, a problem with the alternator can in turn cause all sorts of car troubles. Fixing the alternator is easy for auto repair shops in Silver Spring, MD —the real trouble is knowing when to bring your car in for alternator repair in the first place. Here are some of the most telling signs that the alternator is starting to go.

Alternator trouble

Dashboard Warning

The most obvious sign of alternator troubles (at least on cars built in the last decade) is the “ALT” or “GEN” warning light appearing in the dash. This light is linked to computer systems that monitor the voltage output of the alternator. When this output goes below or above a pre-set limit, the light comes on and drivers should visit their local auto repair shop.

Dimming Light

Speaking of lights, another common sign of alternator trouble is dim headlights. The alternator supplies the vehicle’s electrical needs, which means the headlights can start to dim when it begins to lose its electrical generating potential. You may also notice a wide range of other electrical symptoms, including digital gauges that stop working or problems with the stereo.

Unusual Sounds and Smells

Because the alternator is driven by either an accessory belt or serpentine belt in conjunction with the crankshaft pulley, drivers may experience unusual sounds and smells in response to a problematic alternator. If you hear a whining noise or smell burning rubber, visit your local auto repair shop to have your alternator checked out.

In Silver Spring, Murray’s Auto Clinic is your #1 destination for auto maintenance and repair. Our mechanics are trained to deal with all sorts of car problems you may experience, including alternator problems. If you have questions, please call us at 301-585-7557.