First things first ? What model The se dwsignation is a package level. I would need to Know the model and engine. If you are asking if it is better to go from the top or bottom I will assume that it is a front wheel drive model and most likely you will need to replace it from the bottom. you will most likely need to remove the tire and possibly a few other components. If the ac compressor needs to be removed DO NOT disconnect the hoses to the compressor as this will vent freon into the atmosphere and is a federal crime with very hefty fines, not to mention that it can be expensive to recharge the a/c system, and you were lucky enough not to get any debris in the system which can also lead to costly repairs.
To install the alternator on a 1996 Nissan Maxima you will have to remove the drive belt first and then the A/C compressor. Do not remove the refrigerant lines because the compressor will only have move down about a few inches for you to get enough room to remove the alternator. The alternator will need to be taken out from the bottom.
loosen the one or two bolts holding the alternator in place, i believe 14mm, then loosen the 12mm on the adjuster (side) and "screw" the 12mm bolt down to lower the alternator down enough and replace the belt. This is almost the same for every Toyota engine which doesnt use an automatic belt tensioner (serpentine) on the alternator.
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