Prior to replacing your alternator, there are some simple checks you can do that will most likely indicate that it is faulty. First check your dashboard to see if the charging warning indicator light stays on after the car is started. The indicator looks like a miniature vehicle battery located on the instrument panel. Second, use a multi-meter to check for approximately 13.5-14 VDC volts at your battery terminals after the car is started. This reading indicates the output voltage to your battery from your alternator to keep it charged. Typically this voltage is around two volts higher than your normal battery voltage of 11.5-12 VDC. If you have either or both of these symptoms then your alternator is most likely bad.
Tools and Supplies Required
- A serpentine belt tool with a 3/8″ socket adapter end
- Ratchet and sockets
- Common and Philips screwdrivers
- Needle nose or slip joint pliers
- Drain pan for radiator fluid
- Radiator coolant
Disconnect the battery negative cable to prevent being shocked. Place a drip pan beneath the vehicle to catch fluids from the radiator hose. All of the work will be performed on the passenger side of the engine. Disconnect the radiator hose directly above the alternator. Your hose could have a compression clamp on it that will require squeezing and pulling back to release or a screw on clamp. Push the hose back to gain access to the alternator. Pull off the upper radiator over-flow bottle hose then unsecure the bottle and lift it away to gain access to the serpentine belt tensioner. There is no need to completely remove the bottle. The serpentine belt tensioner sits between the crankshaft, alternator, and air conditioner pulleys. Place the serpentine tool adapter end into the notch in the serpentine belt tensioner. No sockets are required. Pull back toward front of engine to release belt tension. Slide the belt off of the alternator only. This will prevent needed a diagram to get the belt back on.
Just in case, take pictures or make note of the belt routing in the event it completely falls off. Remove bolt that secures the power cable to the alternator. Disconnect the electrical connector from the alternator. Remove the one bolt from the top and the two bolts from the bottom of the alternator and carefully remove it from the vehicle. Installation will be the reverse of removal. Make sure to top off your radiator coolant.