Saturn Vue: Alternator Replacement
If you have a Saturn Vue you hopefully enjoy it as much as we do, and you’re probably going to have to change the alternator soon. 10-years is usually the upper range for an alternator, so even if you haven’t changed it, it’s going to be an issue soon. Unfortunately, it is really hard to change. The alternator, per se, is not difficult, as it is only 3-bolts and 2 plugs. Accessing the alternator is a major problem, as you’ll have to take a substantial amount of the engine’s front off. Fear Not! It is still perfectly doable in your driveway. Follow along as we show you the major steps in getting this done and you’ll have your Vue purring again in no time.
Parts for this DIY:
- Serpentine Accessory Belt
Tools You’ll Need:
- Full Socket and Wrench Set
- A Jack and Lifts
First up we’ll need to get the car ready and disconnect the battery. We’ll be doing a number of things to the car, so the last thing you want is any undue electrical issues.
With the battery disconnected, we need to start clearing up some space. The alternator is located towards the front of the car on the passenger side. So first up, we’ll need to completely remove the air filter assembly.
With the air cleaner assembly removed you can now see why replacing the alternator is so difficult. The alternator cannot be pulled from the engine backwards (towards the driver side), it can only fit toward the front of the engine (towards the fender). Unfortunately, the alternator is placed inline with the car’s frame. Thus, in order to remove it, we will have to lift the engine in order to clear the frame.
To lift the engine from the body of the car and get the clearance we need from the frame we will have to loosen the large aluminium bracket that bridges the engine to the engine mount on the frame. Before loosening it though you need to support the engine. The easiest way is by using a jack and a piece of 2×4 under the oil pan. You’ll want to lift the engine just a tiny amount, that way the weight is already on the jack before you start to loosen anything.
With the weight of the engine now off the car, you can start removing the aluminium bracket and the engine mount.
Once you can get the engine mount removed you can finish removing the bracket. The next step it to remove the serpentine belt. With both the belt and engine mount off the car, it is a good time to check them out and replace them if necessary. This is especially true for the belt and it is a high wear item.
Finally, you can lift the engine and begin to remove the alternator. Start by removing the two electrical plugs in the rear of the unit (one is bolted on).
With the alternator unplugged you next need to remove the idler pulley from the front. The pulley, unfortunately, shares a bolt holding the alternator in so it has to be cleared away before we can continue.
With that pulley bolt removed you can remove the other bolt holding the alternator, which is actually mounted sideways holding the alternator into the bracket.
Finally, with everything loose you can remove the alternator (although you might have to lift the engine a bit more to make sure you get clearance.)
Installation of the new alternator is simply the reversal of the removal steps. The main thing to keep in mind though is when reattaching the engine mount. Make sure you use Loctite on the bolts that attach to the frame and torque everything to its correct spec. I used 33 Ft. Lbs. for the bracket to the engine, and 81 Ft. Lbs. for the mount to the frame. It’d be best to double check these ratings for your own particular application though.
That should be it! Give everything a nice cleaning before putting everything back on and you should be good to go. This is a tough, time-consuming repair, but is it definitely doable and you will save significantly by doing it yourself.