How to Hook Up an Alternator

Learning how to hook up an alternator is not a difficult task, although there are a few safety hazards involved. The negative terminal on the battery must be disconnected before you start, so as to prevent accidental grounding of the positive cable. Lay the negative battery cable to the side, making sure it is not touching metal.

Before attaching the main battery positive wire to the rear of the alternator, make an inspection of the wire to the battery for any corrosion on the wire itself or on the battery terminals. Corrosion causes resistance and voltage drops across the circuit decreasing the charge rate.

Connect the large 10-gauge-battery positive wire to the large terminal on the back of the alternator. Most alternators have this terminal marked with a "+" sign. Tighten the nut securely, but do not over tighten it, which will twist the internal wire off. It is a good idea to install a rubber cover for this wire for safety reasons.

Install the v-belt or serpentine belt and check it for proper tension. A v-belt relies on tension applied by the angle of the alternator. The alternator bracket will either have slots with which the alternator can pivot, or a belt tensioner located at the bottom of the unit. This type of tensioning unit uses a bolt that pushes against a fixed point. The bolt passes through a block that is attached to the alternator pivot point. Tightening or loosening the bolt will have a corresponding movement of the alternator allowing tension adjustment. When properly tensioned, the belt should have no more than an inch of deflection when pressure is applied to the center of the belt between pulleys.

Should the belt be of the serpentine variety, simply move the belt tensioner away from the belt until it is in place, and release the tensioner.

Install the two or three wire connector in the socket provided on the rear of the alternator. This connector is the regulator's activating circuit, alternator and battery warning light. The presence of a third wire is usually for a remote voltage regulating circuit such as the computer.

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