I don't know if it would be the same way with an SL2, but I happen to have a 1996 Saturn SL1 that I replaced the alternator with and this is what I had to do to replace it.
First you have to get the car on a lift. Then, take off the passenger side front tire and then there is a plastic splash guard you have to remove to gain access to the alternator. In order to remove the alternator you have to take the tension off the pulley by releasing the serpentine belt. Then, remove the 3 bolts that mount the alternator. but before you remove any electrical connections to the alternator, disconnect the main negative of the battery to prevent shock or a power surge.
I have a 97 SL2 and I have done the alternator.
Everything he stated is correct. A few additional points.
The mounting bolts are very hard to see and you will need to rotate the pulley to get to all of them.
Once the alternator is free it needs to be removed through the wheel well. It won't appear to fit anywhere but it really does.
Additional points: I have changed alternators in SL2s about a dozen times now (much to my chagrin).
1. Before you even BEGIN disconnect your battery completely. You can cause serious damage to your alternator and car computer if you do not. Better to err on the side of caution you see. 2. The other safe thing to do is to remove the serpentine belt BEFORE you get the car on a lift device. 3. Next, raise the car on a lift so you can get underneath safely and easly. 4. Remove the passenger side front tire and splash guards. 5. Remove the electrical wiring from the alternator. 6. Remove the bolts on the alternator. (Taking care to have the alternator secured before removing the last bolt. 7. On many Sl2s upon removal of the last bolt, you may place your hand underneath it, and give it just about a quarter turn, and slowly slide it through an opening below the alternator that looks as though, and may feel as though it should never fit through. You can do this by giving it that quarter turn, and then sorta spiraling it through the opening in a slow and decisive manner.
Repeat these steps in reverse order to insert a new alternator.
The first time i did this it took me an hour, the second 1/2 hour, and there on out it only takes me about 15 minutes. Its a very simple process, almost as easy as changing your oil... the hardest part is undoing the bolts.
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