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NG900 & OG9-3 Workshop NG900 (1994 to 1998) & OG9-3 (1999-2002) & '03 Convertible Technical Forum

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  #1  
Old 18th April 2011
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altf4 altf4 is offline
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Thumbs up Alternator Replacement How-To

Back in November, my alternator quit and left me for dead in the middle of a very busy bridge at rush hour. I took some pictures of the process and put the memory card "in a safe place." Luckily, I recently found it. Here is how I swapped my alternator:

The "aircraft" engineer who decided to place the top mounting bolt behind the tensioner must have designed aircraft like this:


The shop manual says to remove the cat, a bunch of exhaust parts, and the passenger axle. Don't panic, its really not all that bad. If you are patient, everything will turn out okay. The alternator can be replaced without touching either of those things. I pulled mine out of the top of the engine bay.


You will need:
  • Jack and Jack stands
  • tire iron
  • 1/2 inch box wrench for battery terminals
  • 3/8 inch drive ratchet, 13mm socket, 8mm allen socket, various extensions, at least a 3" and 6",
  • 1/4 inch drive ratchet and 8mm socket
  • 8mm allen wrench
  • steel wool
  • PB Blaster or Kroil, anti-seize grease and dielectric grease.

First, disconnect the battery. The alternatior is connected to the battery and you risk electrocuting your self if you don't.

To remove the alternator, you also need to remove the serpentine belt tensioner and alternator bracket. By removing the tensioner, you will have access to the upper alternator bolt. By removing the alternator bracket from the engine block, you free up room to pull the alternator up and out by the passenger strut tower. The alternator often gets wedged into the bracket, so removing it will free the alternator if it is stuck.


Use your 3/8" drive socket extensions to release the belt tension. Stack the 3" and 6" and place the square end into the square hole on top of the tensioner. pull towards the front of the car. I stuck a 8mm allen wrench into the female end of the extension chain for more leverage and wedged it against the strut tower brace to hold the tension loose while I removed the belt. Once the belt is out you can gently let go of the tensioner.




Use the penetrant lube of your choice on the four bolts of the alternator bracket, the one bolt in the middle of the tensioner, the two alternator mounting bolts and the two electrical connections at the back of the alternator. The penetrant will work better for the alternator bolts if you reach around the bracket and find the ends of the bolts. Wait for the penetrant to set in.


The first thing to come out is the tensioner. It is mounted to the alternator bracket by one 8mm allen bolt. If your 8mm allen socket is long, you will back yourself up against the strut tower and may need to use an allen wrench. I didn't have enough clearance for the socket wrench between the bolt and the strut tower. Also, be gentle with those green brake lines that bend into an opening on the strut tower directly in front of the tensioner bolt. There isn't enough room to pull the bolt completely out of the tensioner, so remove the tensioner with the bolt still a little inside of it.




There are two cables that attach to the back of the alternator, the big one is for the battery and the small one is for the diode output that makes the idiot light on the dash turn on when the alternator is not charging. Use the 13mm socket for the battery cable nut and the 8mm socket for the diode nut. You can reach these nuts from the top of the engine bay, but I found it easer to get at these from underneath the car near the catalytic converter.


The Alternator bolts are next. With the tensioner out of the way you will have unrestricted access to the top alternator bolt. 8mm allen socket into the hole with the lip on the bottom. The bottom bolt is even easier. Access the bolt from the wheel well using an 8mm allen socket for the bolt above the axle boot. Once the two bolts are out the alternator will probably be stuck in place. It will only be free once the alternator bracket is removed.

Bottom Bolt:


Top Bolt:


There are four 13mm bolts in the engine block that hold the alternator bracket to the car. One is behind the top idler pulley, one is behind where the tensioner is supposed to be, one is facing the alternator pulley and the fourth is behind the alternator. I originally thought there were 3 bolts and not 4, so I just pulled on the bracket and broke it. Once I got the alternator out, I found the 4th bolt, removed it and the piece of bracket and used JB Weld to put it back together.



I couldn't pull the alternator out of the top of the engine bay with the alternator bracket still fastened to the engine block. Once the bracket is loosened from the block, the alternator should pop right out. The bracket comes out of the engine bay first, only then will there be enough clearance for the alternator to come of of the top too.



Congratulations, It's a boy:


Take a break, drink a beer.

Make sure you have your replacement alternator tested before you try to permanently install it. I probably would have pushed my car off a cliff if I reinstalled everything and it still didn't work. The first one came from ebay, "tested and guaranteed." It was a dud. The second dud came from a junkyard and the third and final alternator came from a different (more expensive) junkyard. My local Autozone did the tests for for free. They didn't mind doing three tests for me. I think they felt bad that they wanted $379 for a rebuilt model.


When you go to reinstall the alternator, lower the new alternator down and gently rest it on the exhaust. This will give you room to lower the alternator bracket into place and fasten it to the block.

My beautiful JB weld:


I found it easy to finger-tighten the lower alternator, pivot the alternator into place, and then insert and finger-tighten the top bolt. Climb back under the car. Smear dielectric grease on the alternator terminal posts and ring terminals before reconnecting the two cables. Corrosion impedes the flow of electricity and dielectric grease helps prevent that situation. It wouldn't hurt to polish the terminals with steel wool either.

Spin the belt tensioner pulley and idler pulley. If they sound like an old pair of roller skates, remove the pulleys. Remove their bearing seals with a tiny screw driver and get some fresh grease in there.

Torque the alternator bolts down and then reinstall the belt tensioner. Use the socket extensions to take the tension off while reinstalling the belt.

Once the belt is back on, the car should start right up. Good luck!

This post by jrs9966 in the faq was very helpful.
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  #2  
Old 18th April 2011
Mr. Bingley Mr. Bingley is offline
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Nice, bookmarked for the inevitable future reference. Thanks.
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  #3  
Old 18th April 2011
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Frank_Drebin Frank_Drebin is offline
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Nice write-up. Great pictures. Thanks
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  #4  
Old 18th April 2011
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Nice, keeping this just in case.


Tom
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  #5  
Old 19th April 2011
nevi325 nevi325 is offline
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this should be stickyd
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  #6  
Old 19th April 2011
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Submit this to saab wiki.
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  #7  
Old 19th April 2011
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There is more than one way to "skin a cat".
http://www.saabwiki.info/index.php?t...or_Replacement
One of the troubles with engineers is that they live in a fantasy world....my opinion of course, developed over 70 years, I have worked with some.
Has any engineer ever had to work with a filthy corroded engine in an undersized bay ? .....as opposed to "on paper" ??
This thread is now a favorite (great info and pics), but I hope the pics last; I've seen many regress into tiny red exes.
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  #8  
Old 9th May 2011
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this is a great write-up. i'm in the middle of removing the alternator, but I can't get the last bracket bolt out--the one behind the alternator. the bolt is right up against the alternator, and there's just no room to get a socket or wrench in there.

thoughts?

UPDATE: Ok, as uncouth as it may be, I took the plastic shroud off of the back of the old alternator and had enough room to get a socket in there.

Last edited by bullyd; 10th May 2011 at 01:19 AM.
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  #9  
Old 14th May 2011
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Well, it was a mess and it's worse now...

There is an 8mm allen wrench bolt (recessed) on the lower alternator mount. We just couldn't get it it loose AT all and because it's recessed, it stripped pretty badly. That was after a couple hours trying not too. So we cannot get the alternator loose from the mounting bracket. We then realized the bolt goes all the way through.

At this point, we figure we have to drill through the bolt to break it and pull the entire thing out. We'll have to remove the axle for that. Frig!

Thus, I will need a new alternator mounting bracket and that recessed allen 8mm bolt. I did an initial search online and Cannot find one for the life of me.

I also don't see any other ways of pulling this off / out (pun intended). I am very frustrated and the car will be in the driveway until I can find a replacement bracket mount.

Any help on where to find these?
Thanks!

1997 saab 900 se turbo
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  #10  
Old 14th May 2011
jjthegreat jjthegreat is offline
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I just did a job where I had to replace the alternator bracket assembly.
That was a PITA.
Also, 3 of the 4 bolts for the bracket are accessible with the alternator in situ. I broke the lower left one thinking there wasnt a 4th bolt either.
Also, if anyone needs an 8mm allen bolt for the alternator let me know, I think I have 2 leftover when I stripped a car down. I dont have a spare bracket tho, needed that one.
//JJ
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  #11  
Old 14th May 2011
yesyeah yesyeah is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjthegreat View Post
I just did a job where I had to replace the alternator bracket assembly.
That was a PITA.
Also, 3 of the 4 bolts for the bracket are accessible with the alternator in situ. I broke the lower left one thinking there wasnt a 4th bolt either.
Also, if anyone needs an 8mm allen bolt for the alternator let me know, I think I have 2 leftover when I stripped a car down. I dont have a spare bracket tho, needed that one.
//JJ
Def need the 8mm allen wrench bolt. Please pm me! Thanks
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  #12  
Old 15th May 2011
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I bought an allen wrench and cut it down to size with a die grinder. You can also buy an 8-mm socket, tap the existing allen wrench out and press in the correct length allen wrench in a vise... Ron
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  #13  
Old 15th May 2011
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Yeh just keepin this one nice work
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  #14  
Old 11th September 2011
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by far the best writeup I have seen on this, thanks much!

one thing: you can put a small drillbit in a small hole on the tensioner to keep it open
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  #15  
Old 12th September 2011
hollixter16 hollixter16 is offline
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when the pulley broke on my alternator bracket you have to loosen thebottom one just so you can push the al out of the way.. this is when mine stripped..the car sat for 2 months because i was so frustrated. i spent weekends trying to drill out that bolt and finally it cam out..because i had to drill the hole extra big i never even put a bolt back in that one =/but its been ok for a year now so i guess its ok =)
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  #16  
Old 12th January 2012
bobdotorg bobdotorg is offline
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Thanks for the helpful post. This was one a a few posts I read list night before tackling mine today.

I had only one headache - the upper bolt area of the new alternator would not fit back into the bracket.

I had to remove the bracket and alternator again to see what was going on: on the bracket there is a steel bushing with a slit that needs to be compressed back into / flush with the bracket. Thirty seconds with a c-clamp and I was good to go: the alternator lined up immediately.

When you tighten the upper bolt this bushing will slide back out and butt up against the alternator.
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  #17  
Old 17th June 2013
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Time to get alternator out: 4 hours.
Time to get everything back in place including a new serpentine belt: 2 hours.
Beers drank afterwards: 3

You need to pivot the alternator towards the firewall to access that 4th top bracket bolt. That one stumped me for about an hour. A long crowbar/tire iron did the trick. I was just about to give up and go back in the house for the day when the alternator finally moved with that tire iron as a lever.

No wonder they ask for $700 to do this repair. Glad it's done, but that was ridiculous. I've swapped out entire transmissions faster.

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  #18  
Old 7th July 2013
Fiona1997 Fiona1997 is offline
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Default gunna tackle the alternator replacement on my 97 900 SE Turbo convert.

Ok...I've stewed about this long enough. Fiona is in the garage and I'm doin this today. Any tips would be most helpful.
Steve.
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  #19  
Old 7th July 2013
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Spray down the threads of the alternator bolts with something like PB Blaster and let it soak for a few hours to overnight. Those two bolts are long, so just spraying the head of the bolt won't get the lubricant to the threads... Ron
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  #20  
Old 7th July 2013
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If you have a 8mm racheting wrench, just cut an inch off the bottom of an 8mm allen wrench and fit that into the tensioner.

This job is tough...but it's nowthere near as tough as an alternator on the 9-5. That's the Bataan Death March of auto repair...
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