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Difficulty level 10.0. Never again. SDI.

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I have a need to tell everyone to not even attempt to change the alternator in an SDI. At least not without taking the engine out.

There is no job more difficult. On any car. Any model.

If you have a need to change the alternator, I'd suggest you get some unsuspecting garage to do it for £75 plus parts (or whatever regular alternator swap price they charge).  You even need to change the oil and drain the coolant. And remove the cam belt. And air filter. And both front wheels. And power steering system.

I was thinking about doing a how-to. Nope, not happening. Get someone else to change the thing for you.

There, I've said it. I now can go and chill. Grrr. 😡

Edited by mk2
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Eh, did this the other week, it's a bit faffy but not impossible. Had to do it (amongst other things) for the MOT because the car had been standing that long, the thing had seized solid and screws/bolts keeping regulator on were also shot, so no quick fix there.



1. Take the front end off (front bumper and metal crash bar thing) so you have better access -and also so you can pull the old Alt out of the now exposed aperture in the front panel, and pass the new one back in through it. Also take under engine cover off.

2. Using the extra access with the front end off along with the newly presented front panel aperture, remove the front facing long bolt on the alternator.

3. The second long bolt at the back is, i will give you that, a pain to extract, but you can get to it if you've got nimble fingers and a ratchet spanner (a necessity for this job). Firstly using the longest spanner you have that fits (or using the double up trick) from underneath lever the Aux belt tensioner out of the way, as much as humanly possible so you can actually access the back bolt (you cannot otherwise) and fix the levered tensioner spanner in place with a zip tie to the front panel (you can now also change the Aux belt if you feel like it). You can now then get to and undo the long back bolt with the ratchet spanner -this may take a while as you can't get much rotation in the space for long strokes...

4. Once loosened, to actually get the bolt out of it's slot however you need to slightly drop that side of the engine by undoing the three engine mount bolts that side of the engine a small amount -not a lot, just a cm or so (prop up the bottom of the engine with a jack with a bit of wood inbetween, this will help later to push the engine back up to tighten the mount back up)  -you can now slide the bolt out past the chassis arm it will otherwise not clear.

5. Pull the now free Alternator (take plugs and connectors off if you haven't already before you do) out through the front panel aperture.

6. Fix the new alternator in place by doing the above in reverse, sorted.

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That rear bolt- i had to remove the "fan belt" tensioner pulley. (LH thread if anyone else wants to give it a go).

I managed to extract it from below, by manouvering it past the oil filter (removed), past the thermostat hose (removed), past the power steering feed pipe (removed). And air filter box out. And cam belt, just so I could get my hand in there. Oh, and removed the engine mount like you said. And engine under tray. And both wheels for good measure.... Glad I took the cam belt off though- it was not happy teeth side and the little idler bearing was completely shot after just 2 years and 12k miles.

I don't like removing the front bumper/trim panel, as the clips or panel are so fragile now the plastic is old, they just snap. 

Either way though, such a lot of faff. I actually have a spare SDI engine which I was constantly referring to, as visibility is not good.

I stand by my thoughts though. Take the car to some unsuspecting mechanic who'll tell you it's a breeze changing alternators. Yes it is on most cars. Then there's the Lupo SDI alternator...

(My alternator fault was that it was drawing current from the battery once switched off. I haven't had a chance to look at the thing yet, but I suspect one of the diodes in it has partly failed. It was drawing about 160mA. After a week, the battery was almost drained.)

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Well if i knew how much a faff it was beforehand, i would probably be more inclined to give it to somebody else to do as well. I just got annoyed with not being able to remove the regulator, which should be easy as, and decided for my own satisfaction to pull the entire thing out. Which is just as well as it was completely shot (doesn't help that the Lupo has hardly done 400miles in three years).

The fan/aux belt tensioner is a pain, infact most of the gubbins in that area is. Everything else in the engine bay has acres of space in comparison!

Next job is the front suspension arms replacing, and i might swap the power steering pump out while i'm under as it had a bit of a tell tale squeal coming back from the MOT.

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