How to Replace an Alternator on a Saturn SL1


The Saturn SL1 sedan was manufactured with a 12-volt alternating generator coupled with a negative ground battery. This charging system powers the car's ignition system and the secondary accessories. The alternator is prone to wear, and after years of use must be replaced. The average backyard mechanic can replace an alternator in the SL1 in about an hour.

Things You'll Need

  • Socket set
  • Floor jack
  • Lug wrench
  • Screwdrivers

Replacing a Saturn SL1 alternator

  • Disconnect the battery by turning the positive terminal bolt counterclockwise. Lay the terminal wire aside. Do not allow it to touch the battery.

  • Jack the Saturn up at the passenger side wheel and remove the wheel by turning the lug nuts counterclockwise. Set the wheel and tire aside.

  • Remove the plastic inner fender shield by turning the screw counterclockwise, then pulling the plastic free from the pop rivets. Set the shield aside.

  • Disconnect the alternator's primary charge wire by reaching through the wheel well and turning the output post nut counterclockwise.

  • Press the tension pulley firmly to release the tension on the primary drive belt, then slide the belt off of the alternator's pulley wheel. The belt can be left hanging, as long as it does not lose its path through the other pulleys on the engine.

  • Unbolt the alternator from the mount by reaching into the engine compartment through the wheel well and turning the two mount bolts counterclockwise. Manipulate the alternator out of the engine compartment through the wheel well.

  • Reconnect the primary charge post nut, securing the output wire back onto the alternator.

  • Position a new alternator into the mount and secure it by turning its bolts clockwise. The alternator should be mounted firmly and not wiggle.

  • Replace the drive belt by pressing the tension pulley and sliding the belt back onto the alternator's pulley wheel.

  • Replace the fender skirt shield by pressing it back onto its clips or pop rivets, then turning its screws clockwise.

  • Replace the wheel, tighten the lug nuts and lower the car from the jack.

  • Reconnect the battery's positive terminal by turning the bolt clockwise onto the battery.

Tips & Warnings

  • Have an alternator tested for free at most auto parts stores. Buy a high-output alternator if using many accessories.
  • Do not remove the alternator without disconnecting the battery.

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