How to Install Alternators and Starters
Your vehicle’s alternator is responsible for producing most of your car’s electrical energy. Using a rotating magnetic field, the alternator powers most of your car’s electric components, including your stereo, windows, headlights, dashboard instruments and more. Your starter motor is another power-generating component of your vehicle that runs on electricity and initiates the operation of your engine. Both can easily be installed or replaced with the help of these easy step-by-step instructions.
Here’s What You’ll Need:
- 3/8 socket set
- 3/8 ratchet
- 3/8 extension
- 3/8 u-joint
- Serpentine belt tool
- Set of combination wrenches
- Jack stands
- It's always a good idea to use a fender cover to protect your paint job.
- You may have to remove some components to gain access to the alternator on some vehicle applications.
- When the battery is disconnected, some vehicle computer and memory systems may lose data. You may need to drive your car to allow your car's computer to reboot itself (about 25 km).
Words of Wisdom From The King:
- Every vehicle is different. Always follow the owner’s manual when it comes to maintenance and repairs. Allow the engine to cool completely before attempting to replace the alternator or the starter.
- Make sure you have all of your tools and supplies before you begin – the last thing you want to do is go shopping when you have the car on the jack.
- Safety should be your number one priority. Don’t smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, or wear a necktie while working on the car.
- Watch out for hot objects, sharp instruments, hazardous materials and other potential safety hazards in and around your workspace.
- Don’t work with a Philips when the job calls for a flat. Substituting tools can compromise your safety or your vehicle’s performance.
- Finally, when the fun turns to frustration, or if the job requires specialized knowledge beyond your capabilities, please do not attempt it yourself. Talk to a professional mechanic or installer.
Steps For Removing An Alternator:
- Disconnect the battery ground cable.
- Remove the ground wire (black) from the alternator.
- Disconnect the positive wire (red wire held on by a retaining nut) from the back of the alternator.
- Disconnect the wire harness from the alternator.
- Remove the drive belt.
- Take off the mounting bolts from the alternator bracket.
- Remove the alternator from the engine compartment.
Royal Tip: Some models use a belt tensioner that applies tension to the drive belt. The best tool to use for this job is the serpentine belt tool. On other models, you need to loosen the adjusting bolt on the alternator bracket. If you're not sure how to remove the drive belt, feel free to contact the Parts King.
Steps For Installing Your New Alternator:
- Put the alternator in the engine compartment
- Install the mounting bolts that connect the alternator to the alternator bracket.
- Connect the alternator wiring harness.
- Connect the ground wire to the alternator.
- Now install the drive belt.
- Reconnect the ground battery cable.
Royal Tip: This is a great time to replace the old worn-out belt. When inspecting the belt, look for signs of cracking, oil-soaked, hard-glazed, splitting or fraying.
Steps For Removing the Starter:
- Before you get started, you may need to remove some parts to gain access to the starter. This only applies to some vehicles.
- Disconnect the battery ground cable.
- Raise the vehicle and support it securely with jack stands.
- Disconnect the wires from the starter and starter solenoid.
- Remove the mounting bolts.
- Remove the starter from the engine
- Some vehicles use shims. Make note of where they were placed because you'll have to replace them the exact same way with the new starter.
Royal Tip: Remember where each wire comes off by marking each with masking tape. Trust the King. He learned the hard way.
Steps For Installing Your New Starter:
- Put the new starter in the engine compartment. If you have them, install the shims in the original position
- Install the mounting bolts. Torque to the specifications.
- Connect the wires to the starter and starter solenoid.
- Reinstall any components that may have been removed to gain access to the starter.
- Raise vehicle and remove the jack stands.
- Reconnect the battery ground cable.