You will know you are starting to have problems with your alternator when the lights dim or flicker when you are driving at night and you are asking people to jump start the car for you with battery cables. If you think your alternator is going bad, you should take your car to an auto parts store to have it checked. If they find that the alternator is going bad and you want to save money, you should replace it yourself. Replacing an alternator is not hard and many used car owners can do it themselves. Here is how to replace the alternator on a 2001 L-Series Saturn.
Remove Air Filter System
You need to remove the air filter and duct system to gain access to the alternator and serpentine belt. The duct is connected to the filter box and engine with hose clamps. Remove the hose clamps with a flathead screwdriver. You will also need to remove a small tube running from the middle of the duct to the engine. Remove the duct system.
There is also a tube connected to the filter box. Remove that tube. Take the cover off of the filter box. There is a bolt holding the filter box to the car. The bolt is located by the fender. Remove the bolt and take out the filter box. You will see the serpentine belt and alternator clearly once you remove the filter box.
Remove Serpentine Belt
The serpentine, or drive belt, wraps around the pulley on the alternator and has to be removed. Take a ratchet and place it on the nut on the tensioner pulley. The tensioner pulley is located underneath the pulley on the alternator. Turn the nut counterclockwise to lift the tensioner up to loosen the serpentine belt. Slide the belt off of the pulley on the alternator.
You need to detach the electrical clip going to the alternator first. Then unscrew the nut holding the positive wire to the alternator to remove that wire. The alternator is held in place with four bolts. Take all of the bolts out to free the alternator. To make taking out the alternator easier, leave the bolt at the top left of the alternator for last. This bolt is the easiest to reach and remove.
Once the alternator is free, wiggle it out from under the radiator hose to remove it from the car.
Installing New Alternator
Slide the new alternator into the space vacated by the old alternator. Insert the top left bolt first to help keep the alternator in place while you put in the other bolts. Reconnect the electrical wires and replace the serpentine belt. Place the air filter box back in and reconnect the hoses and duct system to finish the job.
For used auto parts, contact a business such as Goodfellow Motors Inc.