Alternator Removal/Replacement How-To (2003 Astro)

Alternator Removal/Replacement How-To (2003 Astro)

Postby chemist [OP] » July 6th 2008, 9:53pm

Replacement of an alternator is a general repair. In my case, this happened around 110K miles. There are ways to know you have a bad alternator before your van dies on the middle of the road. In my case, the battery light came on. A battery test revealed the battery was fine. That left another possible suspect--the alternator...uhg. Looking at the voltage output guage was a pretty good indicator too. The folks who tested the battery told me it should be indicating closer to 16/17, but in my case it was reading 14/15.

Now you may have a short somewhere. But some shops, like Advance, will test your alternator for free, so you're just out some time and sanity in pulling it out. Also maybe your battery just dies when parked overnight. That could be a voltage regulator. Unless I'm mistaken, GM put the voltage regulator in your alternator (different from Ford). A bad alternator may leave you needing a tow. Worse, a bad voltage regulator may also fry your battery, so don't waste time waiting for the nerve to get this done. There's no good reason for a backyard mechanic to fail on this, despite how daunting the job of accessing the alternator appears. No specialty tools are required. It just takes a little longer than on your sedan. To give an idea of what is meant here, this is a pic of the alternator:
Image
It's between the air filter housing, the AC lines and just below the oil dipstick...no reason to be discouraged.

To begin, proceed as follows:

Edit (addition): This should have been number 1--safety first. Disconnect the battery. SWMBO made me do this, despite the fact that I like to listen to the radio as I work... The bolts on the side terminals of mine were 8 mm.

1. Remove the air intake as per this procedure:
https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1142

2. Remove the upper fan housing as per this procedure:
https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1143

3. To remove the belt from the alternator, slip a 3/8" extention into the belt tensioner, and pull up on the rachet. A good pic of the tensioner wasn't possible, but here's one showing the location with extension already inserted:
Image

For more details on how to deal with that belt, refer to the removal procedure, here:
https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1144

4. Using a 13mm socket with extension(s) remove the two alternator bolts, located at the bottom of the alternator:
Image

5. The alternator won't just lift right out. It needs coaxing with a pry bar and sturdy screwdriver, seen behind the coolant hose in this pic:
Image

6. Don't just try to yank it out once you've unseated the part, because it's still attached via two wires.
6a. One is on the top, going in through a harness. Pull the clip out and pull the wire harness.
6b. The other is in the back of the alternator, covered by a slip on rubber boot. Slip the boot off and unbolt it (8 or 9 mm socket if memory serves me, but I may be wrong).

7. Now half the job is done. Pull out the alternator, maneuvering as needed, and taking care not to break the plastic fan. And this is what your left with:
Image

Replacement is the exact reverse of this procedure. To seat the alternator properly, I recommend removing the transmission and oil dipsticks and coaxing with a long socket extension (or screwdriver) and mallet.
Last edited by chemist on July 7th 2008, 5:07am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Alternator Removal/Replacement How-To (2003 Astro)

Postby rayjay » July 6th 2008, 10:19pm

excellent informative post mate,better than the book!!
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Re: Alternator Removal/Replacement How-To (2003 Astro)

Postby rmassaro » July 19th 2008, 4:34am

spot on- I was trying to do it at night and didn't remove the fan shroud- talk about some angled torque on a flex head socket! When it gets light out I will do as you show and then take a break. Thanks for the details and pictures.
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Re: Alternator Removal/Replacement How-To (2003 Astro)

Postby Matrixx » September 5th 2008, 1:19am

Hi chemist
Great write up thanks. Just a side note for the older models like my 96, is the alternator with mine has a bracket at the back which bolts up to the rear of it as well as the ones you mentioned above, This is a 10MM bolt which is located in the upper left hand rear corner of the alternator when you face it. I can't see that bracket with your model year but I have on mine. Again thanks very much for the write up chemist, great work. :)
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Re: Alternator Removal/Replacement How-To (2003 Astro)

Postby The Many » February 13th 2009, 2:01pm

Great stuff. I am just considering buying an Astro that drains its battery every couple of days (suspect alternator) so this is just what I need!

Thanks.
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Re: Alternator Removal/Replacement How-To (2003 Astro)

Postby Duck Hunter » February 14th 2009, 5:03am

HI all.... Just replaced my Alternator.. did not take me long get it put in than getting old one out was bit stress!

here's some pictures I just take when put in new ALT in. sorry did not get any on old one coming out.

Image

Image

Image

Image


I did not have to take out the fan cover at all..

at first it was kind hard to get wires off the old ALT.. so go easy on it.

enjoy!

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Re: Alternator Removal/Replacement How-To (2003 Astro)

Postby Matrixx » February 14th 2009, 12:42pm

Those are great pictures Duck Hunter, Thanks.:)
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Re: Alternator Removal/Replacement How-To (2003 Astro)

Postby Raindropp » June 29th 2009, 7:03pm

Does anybody know if a 1999 safari has two or three alternator bolts?
I can only find two, but the car books and "alldata" say there are three.

I don't want to pry on the alternator if there are three!!

Thanks,
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Re: Alternator Removal/Replacement How-To (2003 Astro)

Postby kidhauler » June 29th 2009, 10:25pm

i just did my alt on my 99 two weeks ago. There are only two bolts. The alt is kind of smushed in place. This post is identical to your 99. Once the bolts are loose pry on the side closest to the drivers side with a flat blade screw driver and it will slowly pop up. To put the new one in I had to tap on mine with a rubber mallet and a socket extension to squeeze it back into the mount. I found that this job takes about 30 min to line it all up and make sure you don't beat the heck out of it putting it in just tap it in. If you can move the front little spring clip things back as posted it would make life easier I just didn't see a way to move them when I did my alt.

Good luck.
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Re: Alternator Removal/Replacement How-To (2003 Astro)

Postby Greg_gp1 » July 29th 2009, 1:47am

I just replaced the Alternator on my 1994 Safari 4.3 L High Output engine option.

There is a third mounting bolt, found at the rear left of the alternator, approx 1/2 way down. It is a 10 mm bolt. Access to the bolt is limited at the rear, I ended up removing the engine cover so a friend could help from that side to get the bolt re-aligned and back in. Removing the engine cover also gave me more confidence about what I was doing at the rear of the alternator. I ended up moving the upper oil dipstick channel out of the way, to make it easier to use a 10 mm short socket and ratchet instead of a wrench to get the bolt back on. (Only move the upper oil dipstick channel if you have removed the engine cover, since the channel comes apart in the middle, and you will need access to re-insert the top of the oil dispstick channel into the bottom)

Another pointer, test the threads in your replacement alternator before trying to re-install. One of the threads on mine needed to get re-threaded for the bolt to actually screw into it.

I noticed some posts suggesting one should remove the belt tensioner inorder to get the alternator out. Certainly for my model and year Van, this was absolutely not required.

If your doing a 94 Safari, and need more confidence building info, email me, and I'll send you a detailed set of steps I followed, along with some supporting photos.

[email protected]
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Re: Alternator Removal/Replacement How-To (2003 Astro)

Postby gillbates » July 29th 2009, 2:05am

On my 97 the fan shroud is easy to remove and gives you a lot more room to work in there. Most of them are split (top/bottom) so you really only remove the top. There's two rubber pads that sit between the radiator edges and the shroud. Make sure you put those back when you put the shroud back on. I've removed it twice to replace the alternator and once to replace the tensioner. Piece of cake and the front of the engine magically appears once it's off.
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Re: Alternator Removal/Replacement How-To (2003 Astro)

Postby Bryce77 » September 8th 2009, 5:47pm

currently have my cousins 96 astrovan followed all these instructions but mine too has a back bolt and I'm wondering how to get the damn thing out I don't have a 10mm wrench!!! socket fits but can't move the damn thing!!!! please help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :feedback:
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Re: Alternator Removal/Replacement How-To (2003 Astro)

Postby fungus2k » September 10th 2009, 11:31am

just make sure you don't pull too hard forward on the alternator once its loose to remove the power cable, I did this and shredded the sensor cable that attaches to the backside of the alternator added an extra day of trouble shooting for doing that in the middle of January, not fun
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Re: Alternator Removal/Replacement How-To (2003 Astro)

Postby red98tj » October 7th 2009, 3:07pm

Just replaced mine last weekend. Was not very hard at all, thanks to this post. only trouble was finessing the new alternator into place. Got a 160 amp unit that puts out 105 amps at idle from DB electric for around $180 shipped to me in 3 days.
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Re: Alternator Removal/Replacement How-To (2003 Astro)

Postby tommckay » October 24th 2009, 1:16am

Looks like I may be following these instructions soon. Since I bought my Van the amp gauge has been reading at or a touch below 14 volts, today on the way home it dropped to below what would be 12 volts with lights, wipers, defrost, & radio going. I was only a mile from home when I noticed, so I shut the lights, wipers, and blower down. The volts returned to about 12-13 volts. Not good.

Why do the Alternators have to be so pricey?
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Re: Alternator Removal/Replacement How-To (2003 Astro)

Postby JayDubya » April 21st 2010, 6:20am

kidhauler wrote: ... If you can move the front little spring clip things back as posted it would make life easier I just didn't see a way to move them when I did my alt. .

In Duck Hunter's first pic, You can see how he moved them out forward. He inserted a bolt with a flat washer from the rear, then put a large, oversize spacer (looks like a lug nut) on the front side, then a flat & a nut. A few turns of the nut and they should be well out of the way.
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Re: Alternator Removal/Replacement How-To (2003 Astro)

Postby brilamb2 » June 8th 2010, 7:11am

one good piece of advice is for anybody who can go to a junkyard is to possibly pick up an alt off a 03 or 04 full size truck, the ad244 style puts out about 100 amps at idle, and up to 170 at full tilt. only diffrence is you hve to change out to a tad biit longer belt, either a 96 or 96.8
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Re: Alternator Removal/Replacement How-To (2003 Astro)

Postby astroturf » June 8th 2010, 1:37pm

brilamb2 wrote:one good piece of advice is for anybody who can go to a junkyard is to possibly pick up an alt off a 03 or 04 full size truck, the ad244 style puts out about 100 amps at idle, and up to 170 at full tilt. only diffrence is you hve to change out to a tad biit longer belt, either a 96 or 96.8


Great Info Bri... Thanks a lot. Jim
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Re: Alternator Removal/Replacement How-To (2003 Astro)

Postby brilamb2 » July 13th 2010, 11:55am

update........
the 96 in belt is the one we need. 96.8 is just barely too long for the ad244
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Re: Alternator Removal/Replacement How-To (2003 Astro)

Postby yotaman88210 » October 4th 2010, 8:21pm

Gonna tackle this tonight on my 95 astro. Got the hook up from a friend at a parts store. 125 for a brand new 105amp Ultima. Lifetime warranty... we shall see how it holds ups.
I was driving to work this morning and the volt meter in the dash started jumping ariound and then went down to 12ish and the batt light came on and I could hear the nator saying EFFF YOOUU!! :screaming:

Welp, hope its just the nator... Hopefully it goes smooth....
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ElectricalDiscussion specific to electric components of vans. Category for alternators or batteries, starters and ignition parts, anything 12v and electrical issue like fuses, circuitry, wire, terminals, switches, connectors, bulbs, relays, and wiring. Voltage and amperage diagnosis.
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