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Do-It-Yourself Projects
Replacing An AlternatorPrintable version
Degree of DifficultyModerate
Moderate
Estimated Time60 minutes
60 minutes
Point of No Return
If you cannot locate the alternator, reach the attachment bolts or free the nuts, stop and let a professional Technician handle the job.
 
Note: This DIY task really benefits from having a second vehicle and/or another set of hands. More on this later.
Tools Required
Basic hand tools are needed for this job:
  • Combination wrenches
  • Socket wrenches
  • Vise grips
  • A large, flat-bladed screwdriver
Tools for Needed for Replacing an Alternator
Materials
Other than a new or rebuilt alternator, the only other material required is a new V-belt, masking tape (or similar) and a marker pen. You may also need some fine-grit sandpaper if the nuts and washers on the alternator are corroded.
 
Since you have to loosen the V-belt when you replace an alternator, unless the belt is relatively new, it makes good sense to replace it. The alternator and V-belt can be purchased at your car's dealership or, for most cars, at auto parts stores. When you go to the parts counter, you will need to provide the year, make, model, engine displacement, and even information about options on your vehicle, such as power steering and air conditioning. All this information is needed since V-belt length varies depending upon what engine accessory is being driven.
 
Here's where it's beneficial to have another running vehicle or a friend's car. Ideally, you should remove the old alternator and V-belt from your vehicle and take them to the parts counter. In this way, you can ensure that the replacements match perfectly.
 
The Job
Park your car (inside or outside) with plenty of space to work around each side of the engine compartment.
  1. Disconnect the negative terminal of the vehicle's battery. If you don't do this, some of the wires that run to the back of the alternator can short out if they touch the car body or engine. Disconnecting the battery will protect you and the electrical circuits of the vehicle.

  2. Loosen the two bolts that hold the alternator in place. If these bolts have nuts on the opposite side, you may have to use two wrenches on one or both of these bolts. Do not remove the bolts yet.
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