How to Replace an Alternator on a Chevy Malibu

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Chevrolet Malibus come equipped with alternators with slight but important differences among them, depending on the particular model. If you need to replace the alternator, measure your Chevy alternator's pulley width and diameter. Also, count the number of ribs on the pulley and make sure the new alternator pulley has the same configuration as the one you are replacing. Installing the wrong unit on your Malibu will eventually damage or break the alternator belt.

Things You'll Need

  • Wrench set
  • Ratchet
  • Socket set
  • 13 mm box wrench or 3/8-inch drive breaker bar
  • Ratchet extension (optional)
  • Universal joint (optional)
  • Deep well socket (optional)

Removing the Old Alternator

  • Disconnect the negative battery cable using a wrench.

  • Remove the coolant reservoir for better access, if necessary, using a ratchet and socket. The reservoir is the plastic container located at the front and to the right (passenger side) of the engine compartment.

  • Detach the belt guard from the top of the belt. if your particular Malibu model is equipped with it, using a ratchet and socket. The belt guard is located between the water pump and the power steering pump.

  • Rotate the belt tensioner pulley to release the belt tension. Use a long 13 mm box wrench or 3/8-inch drive breaker bar, depending on your particular model.

  • Slip the belt off the alternator pulley.

  • Remove the two top alternator mounting bolts and the front bolt if you have a 2.4L engine model. Remove the top and front mounting bolts from the alternator if you have a 3.1L engine model. Use a ratchet and socket for both model types.

  • Unscrew the mounting nut from the rear of the alternator if you have a 3.1L engine model. Use a ratchet with a ratchet extension, universal joint and deep well socket to reach the mounting nut.

  • Unplug the electrical connector from the alternator. Then detach the wire from the back of the alternator using a wrench.

  • Unscrew the power steering line clip using a ratchet and socket, if you have a 3.1L engine model, so that you can work the alternator out of the engine compartment.

  • Remove the alternator from the vehicle.

Installing the New Alternator

  • Set the new alternator in its mounting position in the engine compartment.

  • Install the power steering line clip, if you have a 3.1L engine model, using the ratchet and socket.

  • Plug the electrical wire harness and the single wire with the retaining nut into the back of the alternator using the wrench.

  • Install the mounting nut to the rear of the alternator, if you have a 3.1L engine model. Use the ratchet with the ratchet extension, universal joint and deep well socket to tighten the mounting nut.

  • Install the two top alternator mounting bolts and the front bolt if you have a 2.4L engine model. Install the top and front mounting bolts to the alternator if you have a 3.1L engine model. For both models, use a ratchet and socket.

  • Rotate the belt tensioner pulley using the long 13 mm box wrench or 3/8-inch drive breaker bar, depending on your particular model.

  • Slip the belt onto the alternator pulley.

  • Attach the belt guard to the top of the belt, if your particular Malibu model is equipped with it, using the ratchet and socket.

  • Install the coolant reservoir, if you had to remove it, using a ratchet and socket.

  • Connect the negative battery cable using the wrench.

References

  • "Chevrolet Malibu, Oldsmobile Alero and Cutlass, Pontiac Grand Am Automotive Repair Manual;" Jay Storer and John H. Haynes; 2005
  • Photo Credit universal joint image by Christopher Dodge from Fotolia.com
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