How to Change an Alternator
When your car’s electrical system starts acting up, the alternator might be the culprit. The alternator is responsible for charging the battery and powering the vehicle’s electrical systems. If it fails, your car may stall or not start at all. Luckily, changing an alternator can be a manageable DIY project if you have some mechanical knowledge and the right tools. In this article, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to change an alternator.
Before you start, gather these necessary tools:
– Socket wrench set
– Car jack
– Jack stands
– Replacement alternator
1. Disconnect the battery:
Safety first! To avoid any electrical issues, disconnect your car’s battery by removing the negative cable. This is typically the black wire, and it will be attached to the battery with a clamp.
2. Locate the alternator:
Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual to find where the alternator is located. It will usually be near the engine and driven by a serpentine belt.
3. Remove belts & tensioner:
Loosen the bolts that hold the serpentine belt tensioner in place, and then gently release tension on the belt by pulling up on it. Be sure to note how the belt is routed around various pulleys so that you can reinstall it correctly later on.
4. Unplug electrical connections:
Disconnect any electrical connectors attached to the alternator, such as wiring harnesses or ground wires.
5. Remove mounting bolts:
Using your socket wrench set, remove any mounting bolts securing the alternator to its bracket.
6. Remove old alternator:
Carefully lift out the old alternator from its bracket or cradle.
7. Install new alternator:
Position your replacement alternator in its bracket or cradle, ensuring it’s aligned properly before securing it with the original mounting bolts and tightening them to the specified torque.
8. Reconnect electrical connections:
Plug back in any electrical connectors that you removed, and attach any ground wires to their original locations.
9. Reinstall belts & tensioner:
Route the serpentine belt around all necessary pulleys, according to how you noted in step 3, before placing it over the alternator. Adjust the belt tensioner to apply the correct amount of tension on the belt.
10. Reconnect battery:
Reattach the negative cable to your car’s battery.
11. Test your installation:
Start your car and use a voltmeter to measure voltage output at the battery with the engine running. The voltage should be between 13.5 and 14.5 volts; otherwise, you may have an issue with your new alternator or another component of the charging system.
12. Double-check your work:
Before hitting the road, take a moment to inspect your work area for any forgotten tools or loose connections. Clean up any debris and properly dispose of the old alternator.
There you have it—a step-by-step guide on how to change an alternator. With some patience and perseverance, you can save yourself some money by tackling this DIY project instead of heading directly to an auto repair shop. However, if you feel unsure about any steps or experience difficulties during the process, don’t hesitate to consult an experienced mechanic for assistance.