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It is relatively simple for any car:

1) Disconnect the battery. This is incredibly important. Do not skip this step.
2) Disconnect the wiring from the back of the old alternator.
3) Remove the belt from the alternator pulley.
3a) If the belt is serpentine look for a spring loaded tension pulley. Push on this and slip the belt off a convenient pulley. The entire belt will go slack.
3b) If you have individual belts the alternator should be mounted on a slotted bracket. Loosen the bolt to this bracket and the alternator should move so you can get the belt off.
4) Remove the old alternator. Depending on the car this is where it gets tricky. Sometimes they bury the thing so well you have to remove other parts of the engine to get it off. Take your time.
5) Insert the new alternator and replace anything else you had to take off.
6) Put the belt back on the alternator and tension it, if necessary.
7) Connect the wiring to the alternator
8) Reconnect the battery.
9) Take a measurement of the system voltage with the motor off.
10) start the motor.
11) Take a measurement of the system voltage. It should be around 14V. If your battery is very dead this may not be the case. Compare to the above measurement. If the voltage is rising to around 14V, it is working.

Answer

To get to the alternator, you have to get it from the bottom of the car. Make sure you disconnect the battery! I just did the job today (2-13-06) with another person. You don't need 2 people, but it helps tremendously. It's rather tight in some of the locations, but it's definitely workable.

First, you must remove the front passenger side wheel and place the car up on Jack stands. It helps to have the whole front elevated as you will be working underneath the car most of the time. Then remove the plastic guards that are behind the wheel. They are held in place by two plastic pins (the anchor type pins).

Once the car is up, refer to the diagram under the hood that gives the serpentine belt routing. You'll see the Tension wheel that you need to move. It's really easy to get to from the wheel axle level. Use a 14mm wrench (NOT A SOCKET!, it's too small of a space to fit the barrel of the socket). Grab onto the bolt head on the wheel and turn clockwise. The whole assembly then moves down, as it's on a spring. That will loosen the Serpentine belt. If you have another person, have them remove the serpentine belt from one of the pulleys as you are holding down the tension pulley. Once the belt is off, ease the tension pulley back into place. You can now pull the belt off all the pulleys.

The alternator is held in by two bolts. they are 13mm bolts, you can use a socket for these. The top bolt is harder to find and easier to reach and loosen if you do it from the bottom of the car. It takes time to loosen, but it can be done. The bottom is a long bolt with a nut on the end. You'll need a 13mm wrench and a 13mm socket for this. From under the car looking at the alternator, place the wrench on the left side of the bolt and the socket wrench on the right. The right side is a nut that holds the bolt in place. Remove the nut and pull the bolt out to the left.

Next, there is a plastic guard that protects the wiring. You can remove that by using a 10mm ratchet on the bolt that is on the left hand side (from underneath the car) of the alternator. it sits just above the grounding wire. Remove that bolt. If you have someone helping, have them reach through the top of the car and hold the alternator in place while pushing the guard up. It is also held by a little clip, so if you push up you'll unlatch it. Pull the guard off and set aside.

Next, remove the grounding wire on the side with a 10mm socket wrench. Then unclasp the clip holding the wiring to the alternator with a flat head screw driver. You'll see how the clip is removed when you see it.

Next, remove the alternator. It may be stuck in place, so have someone come from the top or from the bottom to pound one of the sides where the long bolt was. Once free, remove it through the wheel well.

Once you have this done, just reverse the directions to install the new one. It's fairly easy once you've removed it, to see how it's done.

Hook up the battery and start the car!

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Q: How do you replace the alternator on a 1995 Saturn sl?
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