Actually, if it is the brushes, that is the most common but the least expensive problem. If you have a pick-your-own-parts salvage yard nearby you can find some of these alternators mounted in some cars in such a way that you can pop the rear cover off and remove the brush assembly without even removing the alternator from the engine. If you're anywhere between Indianapolis, Ohio, and southern Georgia or Alabama, I can recommend a real clean and well-organized chain of yards where the parts are real inexpensive and the people are very friendly.
I "busted" a lot of these to create real-world "bugs" for my students to troubleshoot. Here's three photos from one of those minivans. The first one shows the four nuts that must be removed after the wires are removed. Next the cover can be prided off. It might need a little tapping but it won't come off very hard. The second one shows what you'll see with the cover removed. In the third one, the old, worn brushes are on top and the new assembly is on the bottom. You can see how much longer they stick out in the middle. The old assembly is still bolted to the terminal block. You don't have to take that out. It shows the screw removed from the left side. Besides that one, all you have to remove are the two on the right side. Push the spring-loaded brushes down with your finger to slide the assembly on.
I don't know if you ran into a problem last time but if you promise to be careful, do not disconnect the battery cables. You might have a large bolt-in fuse in the under-hood fuse box that is just for the alternator. You're better off removing that to prevent sparks. That is because I remember very well the frustration of reprogramming the heater / AC controller after the battery was reconnected. I can post the calibration procedure but the AC system must be working properly for it to work, and even then you might have to run the test more than 20 times before it works. If the six yellow leds in the push buttons aren't blinking now, it's best to leave the battery connected so that computer's memory isn't lost.
Images (Click to enlarge)
Tuesday, April 26th, 2011 AT 7:01 AM