How to Change an Alternator on Ford Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The alternator on a Ford car is a small electrical generator mounted to the engine. Powered via a drive belt connected to the crankshaft, the alternator powers all of the electrical accessories on your vehicle, such as the stereo, headlights and windshield wipers. The alternator is also responsible Ford car keeping the battery fully charged, so that your vehicle will start easily. If you're having trouble starting your Ford car or you notice the headlights are dim, it may be time to replace your alternator.

Under The Hood:

 How to Change an Alternator on a Ford Ranger

Removing the Alternator

Open the hood.

Disconnect the ground cable from the negative battery terminal. Loosen the retaining bolt, using a wrench. Then pull the clamp off the terminal.

Loosen, but do not remove the bolts that connect the alternator to the engine bracket, using a socket.

Slide the alternator towards the engine.

Pull the drive belt off the pulley.

Label and disconnect the electrical leads on the back of the alternator, using masking tape and a marker.

Unscrew the bolts that attach the alternator to the engine bracket, using a socket.

Carefully lift the alternator away from the engine.

Installing the Alternator

Lower the alternator into position in the engine bracket.

Screw in the bolts that connect the alternator to the engine bracket. Do not tighten.

Connect the engine wiring harness to the alternator, by pushing the plastic electrical connectors into the back of the alternator.

Slide the drive belt onto the alternator pulley.

Slide the alternator away from the engine until the drive belt is tight.

Tighten the mounting bolts, using a socket.

Connect the ground cable to the negative battery terminal. Slide the clamp over the terminal. Then tighten the retaining bolt using a wrench.

Items you will need

  • Wrench set

  • Socket set

  • Masking tape

  • Marker

 How to Replace an Alternator in a Ford Van

Disconnect the cable running to the negative battery terminal using a socket wrench. Loosen the retaining nut on the clamp and slide it off the battery terminal.

Loosen the alternator pivot bolt. This is the top-most bolt on the alternator that holds it to an adjustable bracket.

Loosen the bottom mounting bolt.

If your Ford van uses a serpentine belt, release the tension on the belt by loosening the auto-tensioner. On most Ford engines, the tensioner is at the top-left of the front of the engine. It should be facing you if you are standing in front looking at the engine. Use a socket wrench and a Torx bit, and turn it counterclockwise to release tension on the belt. You may need to use a breaker bar to give yourself enough leverage. Ford almost always uses a 3/8-inch Torx bit for auto-tensioners.

Slip the belt off the alternator pulley. Do not remove the belt completely, and make a note of the belt orientation for when you reinstall the belt.

Unplug the electrical connector from the alternator. Squeeze the top of the electrical plug and pull the connector out of the back of the alternator.

Remove both the upper and lower alternator bolts.

Remove the alternator by pulling it forward and lifting it up.

Install the new alternator assembly. Installation is the reverse of removal. Make sure that when installing the belt, you center the teeth on the belt onto the grooves in the alternator pulley. Also, for auto-tensioned belts, make sure that you follow the belt path stamped on the frame of your van to the left of the hood latch.

Wedge a breaker bar between the alternator housing and the firewall for pivot bolt- type alternators. Apply tension on the belt while you tighten the pivot bolt to 40 ft-lbs with a torque wrench. Use a belt tension gauge to ensure that the belt tension is at least 50 lbs and no more than 150 lbs.

Tighten the lower alternator mounting bolt to 40 ft-lbs with a torque wrench.

Reconnect the battery and turn the ignition switch to "II". Start the van and check to make sure the battery light goes out.

Items you will need

  • Socket wrench

  • Socket set

  • Breaker bar extension

  • Belt tension gauge

  • Torx wrench

  • New alternator

  • Torque wrench

 How to Change the Alternator on an E350

Open the hood for access to the engine compartment. Disconnect the battery cables before replacing the alternator.

Locate the tensioner pulley toward the passenger side of the engine. Insert a bare socket wrench in the square notch and push it counter-clockwise to release the tension on the belt. Slide the belt off the pulley.

Pull the safety cap off at the top of the alternator. This will expose the wiring connector. Gently pull it off the alternator. Disconnect the negative wires by unbolting the nut on the stud and pulling the wires off the stud.

Unscrew the bolts holding the alternator in place with a socket wrench. Once the bolts are out, pull the alternator off the mounting brackets.

Bolt the new alternator to the mounting bracket. Ensure the bolts are tight.

Push the positive wires to the connector. Push on until the wires lock to the connector. Unscrew the nut off the negative stud and place the negative wire on to it. Tighten the nut back on with a socket wrench.

Insert the socket wrench in the tensioner pulley. Push the tensioner down to loosen the pulleys. Position the belt over the alternator pulley. Release the socket wrench slowly to tighten the belt.

Connect the battery by connecting the red cables to the positive terminals. The black cables will bolt on to the negative terminals.

Start the van and allow it to run. This will charge the battery. Turn the van off and allow it to sit for at least an hour. Once the hour is up, start the van. If the alternator is charging the battery, the van will start.

Items you will need

  • Socket set

  • Socket wrench

 How to Replace the Alternator in a Ford Explorer

Determine which alternator your Ford Explorer will need. You'll want to be sure the new alternator is compatible with your Explorer's engine. Models built from 1991 to 1994 have a 4.0 L engine while 1995 to 2001 models add the option for a 5.0 L Windsor engine. Models made from 2000 to 2005 may be equipped with the 4.0 L Cologne or 4.6 L Modular engine.

Disconnect both battery cables with a socket wrench. Lower the tension on the front end accessory drive belt by rotating its tensioner counterclockwise. Remove the accessory drive belt.

Push aside the cover for the B+ terminal on the alternator so you can remove its nut. Disconnect the B+ terminal and both electrical connectors to the alternator.

Remove the mounting bolts on the alternator with a socket wrench and the alternator pulley, if needed. Take the alternator off the vehicle.

Install the new alternator assembly and reverse the removal procedure. Use a torque wrench to tighten the nut on the alternator pulley to 80 foot pounds if you removed it. Torque the mounting bolts to 35 foot pounds and tighten the alternator terminal nut to 80 inch pounds.

Items you will need

  • New alternator

  • Socket wrench set

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace the Alternator in a Ford Focus

Determine which alternator your Ford Focus will need. You'll want to be sure the new alternator is compatible with your Focus's engine. Models made from 2000 to 2007 can be equipped with a 2.0 L or 2.3 L engine. Models made after 2007 will have a 2.0 L engine.

Disconnect the negative battery cable with a socket wrench. Remove the accessory drive belt and the electrical harness for the alternator.

Remove the coolant expansion tank and power steering reservoir. Use a socket wrench to disconnect the bracket for the engine wiring harness and the ground cable. Take off the purge valve for the evaporative emissions canister if your VIN begins with 3 or 5. If the VIN starts with P, you will need to remove the power steering pipe brackets and heat shield for the exhaust manifold.

Take off the mounting bolts on the alternator with a socket wrench and detach the alternator from the vehicle.

Install the new alternator assembly and tighten the mounting bolts with a torque wrench to 18 foot pounds for a 2.0 L engine with a VIN that begins with 3 or 5. Torque the mounting bolts for a 2.0 L engine with a VIN that begins with P to 35 foot pounds. Torque the mounting bolts for the 2.3 L engine to 35 foot pounds.

Items you will need

  • New alternator

  • Socket wrench set

  • Torque wrench

 How to Replace the Alternator in a Ford Taurus

Determine which alternator your Ford Taurus will need. You'll want to be sure the new alternator is compatible with your Taurus's engine. Models made from 1986 to 1991 have a 2.5 L HSC, 3.0 L Vulcan or 3.8 L engine. The 2.5 L engine was dropped for 1992 to 1995 models, and post-1995 models will have a 3.0 L engine.

Disconnect the negative battery cable with a socket wrench. Release the tension on the accessory drive belt so that you can remove the drive belt from the pulley.

Take off the mounting bolt on the right side of the alternator with a socket wrench and remove the bracket for the power steering hose. Remove the mounting bolts on top of the alternator, the front passenger wheel and tire assembly and the front fender splash shield. Remove the alternator splash shield with a socket wrench and take off the inspection cover for the torque converter.

Mount a tool to hold the flywheel so you can remove the crankshaft pulley bolt and crankshaft pulley. Lower the alternator so you can unplug its electrical connections. Disconnect the crankshaft position sensor and Oxygen sensor connector. Remove the lower alternator mounting bolt and B+ connector nut to remove the alternator.

Install the new alternator assembly by reversing the above procedure. Use a torque wrench to tighten the B+ connector nut to 71 in. lbs. and the lower alternator bolt to 18 foot pounds. Torque the crankshaft pulley bolt to 74. foot pounds, the upper alternator bolts to 18 foot pounds and the nut for the power steering hose bracket to 13 foot pounds.

Items you will need

  • Flywheel holding tool

  • New alternator

  • Socket wrench set

  • Torque wrench

 How to Change an Alternator on a Ford Escort

1.9 Liter Ford Escort

Open the hood and remove the negative battery terminal from the battery by loosening the clamp nut with a box-end wrench. Wiggle and pry the terminal off of the post with a screwdriver, and isolate it so it does not come into contact with the battery post during the procedure.

Remove the serpentine belt by locating the tensioner pulley and placing a box-end wrench onto the bolt head and turning it. Remove the belt from the alternator pulley only.

Remove the two snap-on wire connections to the alternator.

Remove the wire connector to the alternator by removing the nut to the alternator stud.

Remove the clip retainer of the A/C accumulator tube support (if equipped with A/C; if not, skip this step).

Remove the two alternator bolts (upper and lower) using a ratchet and socket.

Remove the bolts holding the power steering reservoir in place and position the reservoir out of the way. Remove the alternator.

Place the new alternator into the engine and reverse the procedure to install.

1.8 Liter Ford Escort

Open the hood and remove the negative battery terminal from the battery by loosening the clamp nut with a box-end wrench. Wiggle and pry the terminal off of the post with a screwdriver, and isolate it so it does not come into contact with the battery post during the procedure.

Remove the wire connector to the alternator by removing the nut to the alternator stud.

Remove the other wiring connector to the alternator.

Loosen the alternator bracket bolt enough to position the alternator forward and remove the drive belt from the alternator pulley.

Break the lug nuts loose on the front passenger side tire with the lug wrench.

Lift the front right quarter panel with the floor jack and support the Escort on a jack stand under the front right frame rail.

Remove the lug nuts and wheel. Remove the splash shield retainer clips by prying them out with the screwdriver, and remove the splash shield to expose the alternator.

Remove the lower alternator bolt and remove the alternator.

Place the new alternator into the engine and reverse the procedure to install.

2.0 Liter Ford Escort

Open the hood and remove the negative battery terminal from the battery by loosening the clamp nut with a box-end wrench. Wiggle and pry the terminal off of the post with a screwdriver, and isolate it so it does not come into contact with the battery post during the procedure.

Remove the serpentine belt by locating the tensioner pulley and placing a box-end wrench onto the bolt head and turning it. Remove the belt from the alternator pulley only.

Remove the power steering hose bracket from the alternator bracket on the sedan and wagon models only. On the coupe, remove the antifreeze reservoir to access the alternator more easily, then unplug the electrical connectors.

Remove the alternator bolts and position the alternator so you can access and remove the electrical connectors. Unplug the electrical connectors on the sedan and wagon. Remove the battery cable to the alternator on the coupe model.

Remove the alternator.

Place the new alternator into the engine and reverse the procedure to install.

Items you will need

  • Box-end wrench set

  • Ratchet and socket set

  • Flathead screwdriver

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stand

  • Lug wrench

 How to Change an Alternator on a Ford Contour

Park the car on a level surface. Turn the engine off. Open the hood and disconnect the negative terminal from the battery cable.

Loosen the lug nuts on the driver's side tire. Jack the car up till the tire has left the ground, and you can get a jack stand underneath to support the For Contour's weight. Lower the car onto the jack stand and remove the jack. Remove the tire.

With a socket wrench, remove the four bolts in the wheel well that hold the mud flap and the flap that protects the radiator from road debris.

Loosen the belt tensioner bolt by reaching in from the top of the engine with a socket or box wrench. This bolt is usually found in the engine block, holding a spacer bar to the alternator; consult your manual for the location in your specific year of Ford Contour, as they vary. Remove the belt from the pulley.

Pull the cotter pin from the ball joint stud where it connects to the wheel knuckle in the wheel well. Using a box wrench, loosen, but do not remove the nut on the stud.

Attach the Tie Rod End Puller to the tie rod by placing the tie rod end in the channel on the top of the steel grip of the puller, and twist the screw clockwise until the tie rod comes free. Separate the tie rod from the wheel knuckle.

Remove the nut on the ball joint stud that you loosened in Step 5.

Draw, mark or photograph the way that the wires connect to the alternator and then disconnect the wires.

Loosen and remove the three bolts holding the alternator in place. There will be one at the top, one at the bottom and one in the rear holding the alternator in a bracket attached to the car frame. Withdraw the alternator through the wheel well.

Installation is the reverse of removal. Remember to use a new cotter pin at the nut on the ball joint stud.

Items you will need

  • Lug wrench Tire jack Car stand Socket set Box wrench set Tie rod end remover Cotter pin

 How to Replace the Alternator on a Ford Expedition

Lift the Expedition's hood manually. Remove the negative battery cable end from the negative battery terminal using the battery wrench. Make sure to put the cable end in a place where it cannot accidentally contact the battery during the repair.

Examine the serpentine belt routing diagram for the location of the Expedition's automatic belt tensioner. The Expedition's belt routing diagram is on the fan shroud.

Move the automatic belt tensioner off the belt with the serpentine belt tool. Pull the belt off the alternator pulley by hand before releasing the pressure on the tensioner with the tool and allowing the tensioner to slowly move back into position.

Remove the Expedition's charging circuit harness from the back of the alternator by hand. Remove the ground strap for the alternator's ground stud using the socket set.

Remove the mounting bolts that hold the alternator to the alternator bracket using the socket set. Lift the alternator out of the Expedition's engine bay by hand. Set the replacement alternator into the alternator bracket manually.

Install the alternator mounting bolts by hand first and then tighten them with the socket set. Connect the charging circuit harness by hand. Bolt the ground strap to the ground stud with the socket set.

Reinstall the serpentine belt onto the alternator pulley by reversing your removal method. Bolt the negative battery cable back onto the battery using the battery wrench. Close the Expedition's hood.

Items you will need

  • Battery wrench

  • Serpentine belt tool

  • Socket set

 How to Replace a Alternator on a 1992 Ford F150

Open the hood and disconnect the negative battery cable end from the battery terminal with your battery wrench. Move the serpentine belt tensioner off the serpentine belt using the serpentine tool. Slide the belt off the alternator pulley with your other hand before slowly moving the tensioner back into place.

Unplug the alternator wiring harness from the back of the alternator manually. Unbolt the ground wire from the back of the alternator with the socket set.

Remove the alternator mounting bolts with a socket set. Lift the alternator up and out of the engine well by hand.

Compare the old alternator to the replacement unit. Make sure the pulleys are identical, the voltage regulators are the same, the bolt pattern is identical and the rear faces are identical before installing the replacement alternator. If there are any differences, take both alternators to your place of purchase to match the old one to an identical replacement.

Set the replacement alternator into the alternator bracket. Thread the mounting bolts in until they're finger tight and then tighten them fully with the socket set.

Plug the wiring harness back into the alternator. Bolt the ground wire to the alternator with the socket set.

Move the belt tensioner over with the serpentine tool, slip the belt over the replacement alternator pulley and then move the tensioner slowly back into position. Remove the serpentine tool.

Reconnect the negative battery cable to the battery in the reverse of how you removed it.

Items you will need

  • Battery wrench

  • Serpentine tool

  • Socket set

 How to Replace the Alternator on a 2000 Ford Windstar

Drive the Windstar’s front wheels onto the ramps, set the parking brake and chock the rear wheels by putting the chocks on the ground directly behind the wheels.

Open the hood and disconnect the negative battery cable end from the negative battery terminal using the battery wrench. Move the cable end off to the side where it cannot contact the battery until you reconnect it.

Find the belt-routing diagram, applied to the fan shroud, and use it to locate the belt tensioner and alternator. Move the belt tensioner off the serpentine belt with the belt tensioner tool and then push the belt aside as you slowly move the tensioner back into place.

Move the serpentine belt off the alternator pulley by hand. Unbolt the alternator ground wire from the back of the alternator using the socket set. You may need to crawl underneath the Windstar to reach the back of the alternator, depending on your physical size and dexterity.

Disconnect the wiring harness from the back of the alternator and then unbolt the alternator from the engine with the socket set. Pull the alternator away from the engine by hand and pull it out of the engine well from the bottom. Compare the old and new alternators to make sure they are physically identical.

Put the new alternator in position and thread the bolts in by hand. Tighten each one down with the socket set. Connect the alternator wiring harness by hand and then bolt the ground wire to the alternator using the socket set.

Reconnect the negative battery cable end to the negative battery terminal with the battery wrench.

Wrap the serpentine belt around alternator pulley in the same manner it was prior to removal and then move the belt tensioner aside with the belt tensioner tool. Hold the belt to the belt tensioner pulley and slowly move the tensioner back into position. Remove the tool and close the hood.

Move the wheel chocks and drive the Windstar off the ramps

Items you will need

  • 2 ramps

  • 2 wheel chocks

  • Battery wrench

  • Belt tensioner tool

  • Socket set

 How to Replace the Alternator on a 6.0 Power Stroke

Loosen the negative battery cable connector using a socket and ratchet. Pull the connector off the negative battery terminal to disconnect the power source from the Ford.

Unplug the wiring harness plugged into the back of the alternator. The harness has a push-in lock on each end. Pull up on the tabs to unlock the harness.

Remove the wire nut that secures the alternator grounding wire to the back of the threaded stud on the alternator using a socket and ratchet. Pull the wire off the threaded stud.

Loosen the alternator through bolt that secures the top half of the alternator to the mounting bracket. Loosen the pivot bolt that secures the lower half of the alternator to the mounting bracket. Use a socket and ratchet. Do not remove the bolts at this point.

Push down on the alternator and pull the serpentine belt off the alternator pulley.

Remove the through bolt and the pivot bolt and pull the alternator off the mounting bracket.

Place the new alternator onto the bracket and thread the through bolt and pivot bolt into place using your fingers. Do not tighten them.

Place the serpentine belt over the alternator pulley.

Place the crowbar between the bottom of the alternator and the top of the mounting bracket. Push down on the crowbar handle to create pressure on the serpentine belt.

Tighten the through bolt and pivot bolt using the socket and ratchet while you maintain pressure on the crowbar.

Slide the alternator grounding wire onto the threaded post and secure it using the wire nut, socket and ratchet.

Plug the wiring harness back into the alternator and push down on the locking tab on each end of the harness to lock it in place.

Place the negative battery cable connector onto the negative battery terminal and secure it by tightening the nut on the connector using a socket and ratchet.

Items you will need

  • Socket set

  • Crowbar

 How to Change an Alternator in a 2002 Ford Explorer 4X4

Locate the belt routing diagram in the engine compartment. This is for reference only in case the belt becomes disengaged from other pulleys during the procedure. If you cannot locate the belt routing diagram, either refer to the owner's manual or illustrate your own.

Loosen the black-wired negative battery terminal clamp with a wrench. Wiggle the terminal clamp back and forth on the battery post with a pair of channel locks to loosen, then remove it from the battery post. Isolate the clamp so it does not come into contact with the battery post during the alternator replacement. Repeat this procedure for the red-wired positive battery terminal clamp.

Locate the alternator on the passenger side of the engine. Below the alternator is where the belt tensioner pulley is located. Place a 1/2-inch drive adapter into the serpentine belt tool, insert the tool into the square drive of the belt tensioner pulley, and then turn it counterclockwise to release tension on the serpentine belt. Remove the belt from the alternator pulley only. You do not need to remove the entire belt, but this is a good opportunity to inspect the belt for dry cracks and replacement, if necessary.

Remove the B+ terminal cover from the alternator and then remove the B+ terminal nut using a ratchet and socket. Remove the B+ terminal and the two electrical connections from the alternator.

Locate the three alternator bolts. They are accessible from the passenger side front fender. There are two on the bottom and one on the top of the alternator. Remove the alternator bolts using the ratchet, an extension and a socket.

Remove the alternator.

Install the new alternator by reversing the procedure. Be sure the ribs of the serpentine belt are properly aligned in the grooves of all the pulleys when placing it back onto the alternator pulley. Be sure to attach the positive battery terminal clamp to the battery first and then the negative battery terminal clamp to avoid sparks from occurring.

Items you will need

  • Serpentine belt tool

  • Wrench set

  • Channel locks

  • Ratchet, extension and socket set

  • Replacement alternator

 How to Replace the Alternator on a 1997 Ford Explorer

Removing the Alternator

Disconnect the battery ground cable.

Remove the air cleaner outlet tube.

Release tension to the drive belt by rotating the belt tensioner pulley counterclockwise, using the 15-mm wrench. Remove the drive belt once tension has been released.

Unplug the voltage regulator electrical connector from the alternator.

Remove the B+ terminal cover, the B+ terminal nut and the B+ terminal electrical connector, using the 10-mm wrench.

Unplug the wiring harness from the side of the alternator.

Remove the alternator bolts with the 15-mm wrench.

Remove the alternator from the vehicle.

Installing the Alternator

Position the new alternator in the vehicle.

Install and tighten the alternator bolts, using the 15-mm wrench.

Attach the wiring harness to the alternator.

Reinstall the B+ terminal cover, the B+ terminal nut and the B+ terminal electrical connector, using the 10-mm wrench.

Plug in the wiring harness to the voltage regulator electrical connector.

Reinstall the air cleaner outlet tube and the drive belt.

Reconnect the battery ground cable.

Items you will need

  • 15-mm wrench

  • 10-mm wrench

  • 95-amp or 130-amp alternator

 How to Replace the Alternator on a Ford Escort 2000 ZX2

Removing the Alternator

Open the hood and loosen the bolt that secures the negative battery cable to the battery post using a wrench. Detach the cable from the battery.

Position a large 13mm box-end wrench on the belt tensioner bolt and pull or push it to rotate the tensioner away from the belt. This will release the tension. Hold it that position. If your tool does not have enough reach, raise the front of your ZX2 using a floor jack, support it on jack stands and work from under your vehicle.

Slip the belt off the alternator pulley with your free hand or ask an assistant to release the belt for you if necessary. Slowly release the belt tensioner.

Unbolt the coolant reservoir tank using a ratchet, ratchet extension and socket. Move it to the side to gain extra clearance as you remove the alternator.

Reach behind the alternator and unplug the electrical connectors.

Unbolt the alternator and remove the mounting bolts, using a ratchet, ratchet extension and socket.

Tilt the alternator so that you have access to the back side of it, and unfasten the retaining nut that secures the battery cable, using a ratchet and socket. Remove the nut, washer and battery cable.

Take the alternator out of the engine compartment.

Installing the New Alternator

Place the alternator in position in the engine compartment and connect the battery cable to the back of the unit. Install the cable and washer, and tighten the retaining nut using the ratchet and socket.

Install the alternator mounting bolts by hand. Tighten the bolts using the ratchet, ratchet extension and socket.

Plug in the alternator electrical connectors.

Replace the coolant reservoir tank using the ratchet, ratchet extension and socket.

Rotate the belt tensioner bolt using the large 13mm box-end wrench and slip the belt over the alternator pulley with your free hand, or ask an assistant to slip it on for you. Lower your ZX2 off the jack stands if you had to raise it.

Secure the black battery cable to the battery post, using the wrench, and close the hood.

Items you will need

  • Wrench

  • Large 13mm box-end wrench

  • Floor jack (optional)

  • 2 jack stands (optional)

  • Assistant (optional)

  • Ratchet

  • Ratchet extension

  • Socket

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.