How to Replace an Alternator in a Suburban

by Eli LaurensUpdated November 07, 2017
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The Chevrolet Suburban was manufactured with a belt driven alternator, which can deteriorate and require replacement. The older models use a single belt system, while newer units have switched to a serpentine belt system. Each system has its advantages, but removing the alternator from models with the serpentine system will take half the time. The average backyard mechanic can remove the single-belt style alternator in about 30 minutes.

Disconnect the battery by unfastening the positive cable. Secure the cable away from the battery.

Disconnect the alternator's primary power output wire by turning the nut counterclockwise and pulling the wire off.

On single-belt systems, remove the belt by loosening the alternator's mount and adjustment bolts. With the adjustment bolt loose, the unit will slide in the mount's groove and release the belt tension. Remove the belt and set it aside for reuse. Slide the bolts out of the mount to free the alternator.

On serpentine systems, press the tension pulley arm firmly to loosen the belt, then slide the belt out from underneath the idle pulley wheel. Release the tension pulley arm and the belt will now have enough slack to be removed from the alternator pulley. Loosen all of the alternator's mount bolts by turning them counterclockwise, then slide the bolts out and remove the alternator.

Replace the alternator with a new unit by positioning it into the mount and sliding the mount bolts through. Finger tighten the stationary bolts. On the single belt system, wrap the belt around the alternator's pulley and pull the alternator to tighten it. Fully tighten all mount bolts, including the adjustment bolt, until they are very snug. On serpentine systems, tighten all mount bolts completely, then wrap the belt around the pulley, press the tension arm, and slide the belt underneath the idle pulley wheel. Release the tension arm and the belt will tighten.

Reattach the power output terminal to the rear of the alternator by turning the nut clockwise. Replace any black rubber insulation cap that may be present. Reconnect the battery by repositioning the cable on the terminal and turning the positive terminal bolt in a clockwise direction.


Use a high power alternator if the vehicle contains many accessories, such as a large stereo.


Do not attempt this repair without disconnecting the battery. Use extreme caution when working on the electrical system of a vehicle.

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