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Old 12-20-2003, 05:22 PM   #1
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Default Q: 99 SC1 Alternator replacement

Hi folks,

I'm writing this on behalf of my sister, whose alternator on her '99 SC1 3-door (44k mi) seems to have died. She lives in Florida, and I noted, when I was visiting her at Thanksgiving, that the lights/dash would flicker at times (braking/decelerating). She left work this a.m., went to the grocery store, and the car wouldn't start when she came out. By time the tow service arrived, the battery seemed to recover enough to get it started, so she drove home, then had it towed to the dealership.

They're quoting her $450 to replace the alternator, which seems very steep, considering AutoZone prices out replacement alternators at $110-$150. How difficult a job is this for a 99 SC1? Is the alternator easily accessible (like my 96 Lumina was) or buried (like my 98 Aurora's is)? I would greatly appreciate knowing. I'm suggesting she find a good independent mechanic (she lives in Deerfield Beach, Saturn dealer is Lighthouse Point)...

Thanks, in advance,

who find the "shelf life" of GM alternators to be ~ 4 years.
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Old 12-20-2003, 05:45 PM   #2
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1999 SC1
1991 SL2

Get ready to get dirty!

1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.
2. Remove the accessory drive belt.
3. Raise front of vehicle and place on jackstands.
4. Remove the passenger side wheel.
5. Remove the plastic splash gaurds. Use a couple of screwdrivers to remove the center pins. Take your time so they don't break.
6. Remove the field wire connector.
7. Follow the alternator output fusible link to the starter. Remove the 13mm nut from the starter, where the fusible link goes to.
8. Remove the lower alternator bolt and nut. They're both 13mm.
9. Remove the upper alternator bolt. You'll need a somwhat low-profile ratchet and 13mm socket to get between the frame rail and the bolt.
10. Remove the alternator through the wheel well opening behind the strut.
11. Remove the fusible link from the alternator using a 10mm socket.

Installation is pretty much the reverse from removal. Just be careful when installing the fusible link to the new alternator. If you tighten it too tight you can crack the plastic insulator and you'll have to buy another alternator.

Hope this helps!
Jeff Silva ~ 91 SL2 - 11.809 @ 116.488mph
•Chilton & Haynes manuals are junk
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Old 12-20-2003, 07:57 PM   #3
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The alternator is "semi buried"

The accepted "Book time" (standard industry guide) for a S-series alternator is 1.5 hours. Unless that dealer performs services that you think are worth over $100 per hour, then boost the car and drive it elsewhere.
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Old 12-20-2003, 11:05 PM   #4
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Thanks guys for the responses - particularly the info that the alternator requires removal of the passenger-side tire, and that the book time of the repair is 1.5 hours. I'll pass that info on to her (I unfortunately live too far away to directly help her by doing the repair).

Thanks again,

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Old 12-20-2003, 11:18 PM   #5
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I will only add that "Autozone" or other autoparts chain store alternators are almost universally "rebuilt" and can be of dubious quality. The "lifetime warranty" makes a great selling point, but is not so great if you are replacing that "lifetime" alternator every year (even if the part is free) as others have found.
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Old 12-21-2003, 08:20 AM   #6
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From the ones I have seen here in the south , the life of most of the aftermarket Alts. is about 6 months. I cant tell you how many of these things i remove in the summer time with the tags still on them and they look like they have just come off the shelf . Go with the Saturn part if you can . Also check the batttery with a good load tester . A bad battery will kill a Alt. very quickly. by bad I mean the battery may seem to start the car ok , but a dead cell in the battery will "over work " the alt. to death of its putting out max charge all the time . Charge and load test the battery to be safe.
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