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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I thought this was going to be so easy, just a little bit of a struggle jigsawing it out. Boy I was wrong.

I've got it physically loose. That was a little difficult because the previous mechanic way overtightened the bolts. But I've spent an hour trying to jigsaw it out of the car, and I don't think it can come out without removing something else - probably the radiator fan. I'm sure I'm missing something.

In all my fighting I heard something fall down into the car, and can't find whatever it was. I think I've accounted for all bolts, brackets and tools I know about. But now I'm concerned about whatever that was.

I'd pay at least $500 for someone to finish the job in my driveway right now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
So I got it.

Before I found the video below, I chewed the hell out of my new tensioner pulley, what I think is the plastic timing belt cover, and the metal AC tubes trying to fight it out. Hopefully the tensioner doesn't chew up my new $70 belt faster.

I wouldn't bother looking at the service manual to do this, other than to get the proper torques. I haven't found anything on the internet that describes it well. And most YouTube videos cut away from the hardest part by just saying you have to work it out, without explaining what that means.

This guy shows exactly how you can get the alternator out.

Basically the keys are to
  • Remove both wire holds for the alternator output cable and get it far out of the way
  • Pull up to release the power steering reservoir, and then bend it over and to the right far further than you think you should to the point you are crimping the hose, being careful not to spill the contents.
  • Pull the coolant tank up and out of the car
  • Disconnect the plug to the headlight. I tried to remove the rest of the plug from the headlight housing, but I was just bending and about to break it.
  • Basically force the alternator out and back in the way I have in the below pictures. As you do you'll be bending the fuse box back probably half an inch, and bending that headlight plug a good bit as you go past.

In all, this is going to be a 4 hour job. But if I had seen this video first, I probably could have done it in an hour. Except for getting the alternator out, this was much easier than the Pathfinder, Maxima, Mustang, and Scout I have replaced alternators in before. But if I hadn't found this video, I would have either removed the radiator fan if I could, or towed it to a shop. I would have never thought I should force stuff around this much.

113744


113745
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
By got it, I hadn't put the belt on or connected the wires.

That turned into a mess too.

This time the 12 pt socket did not have enough adjustment to get on the tensioner nut and still allow the belt to slip on.

I know I shouldn't have done it, but I was out of ideas without going to Harbor Freight. I used a pry bar between the alternator pulley and the tensioner pulley to get a running start for the breaker bar. It slipped and gouged the alternator pulley groove bad. That will chew up my $70 new belt faster for sure. But I don't have the patience to remove it again and replace the pulley. I'll just see how long the belt lasts.

I did manage to do the same thing with a wood hammer handle. I wish I would have thought of that first.

Now so far I've been unable to get the alternator output condom over the shell. It's a great idea in theory and horrible in practice.

My wife said I'm done, we are going to dinner. She's tired of hearing me cuss all day.

Tomorrow hopefully goes better. I still need to replace spark plugs, neutral safety switch, and install air springs.

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The secret to getting the alternator output wire condom over the alternator output stud shell was to rub dielectric grease over the shell. Then get a small screw driver and bend the tip up between 45-90 degrees. Then you can get one side of the condom started on the shell, put the screw driver between the condom and the shell and use it to stretch the condom over the other side of the shell.

I was exhausted yesterday and not thinking clearly when trying to finish this. Starting fresh today helped. Little did I know the next project today would be even worse.
 

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I thought this was going to be so easy, just a little bit of a struggle jigsawing it out. Boy I was wrong.

I've got it physically loose. That was a little difficult because the previous mechanic way overtightened the bolts. But I've spent an hour trying to jigsaw it out of the car, and I don't think it can come out without removing something else - probably the radiator fan. I'm sure I'm missing something.

In all my fighting I heard something fall down into the car, and can't find whatever it was. I think I've accounted for all bolts, brackets and tools I know about. But now I'm concerned about whatever that was.

I'd pay at least $500 for someone to finish the job in my driveway right now.
I did mine last summer (2018), and I think I removed the power steering pump (it's actually quite easy)...maybe some connectors on the rad fan to get them out of the way. Definitely moved the PS reservoir... However, I also did this on my TSX this past summer (2019) and might be confusing the two.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The ps pump looks like it would be easy to remove and replace too, but on the MDX I don't think it would help getting the alternator out. Definitely removing the 2 reservoirs is needed.

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Just to comfort any future readers contemplating an alternator swap, it's normally not a huge job, though it is a "little fiddly", with a couple sure-to-be-tight bolts in slightly hard-to-reach places, and the need to work around lots of other things (cables, hoses, etc.). You need a pretty stout breaker bar or similar to de-tension the tensioner (I used a closed-end wrench, and used another larger one to add leverage). And of course, you have to remove the power steering reservoir and bend the hose out of the way (no tools needed for that job, thankfully). I swapped my alternator in the parking lot of a hotel after having the car flat-bedded there (broke down in the middle of nowhere in Texas). Not fun, but really not a tough job at all. OTOH, I've certainly done my share of jobs that "shoulda been easy" that - for one reason or another - weren't. ;-)
 

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I just did this a couple days ago. Previous poster was correct about the Power Steering fluid reservoir It has to be moved. I was able to get the alternator out/in without removing anything else except the serpentine belt. Not easy though. Lots of swearing and scraped knuckles. Hardest part was putting the belt back on. I couldn't move the tension pulley at all without using the long breaker bar, but the bar didn't have enough space to move it enough to get the belt back on (though it did to get it off - go figure). Ended up having to use two wrenches hooked together to get enough leverage to move the tension pulley enough. The top wrench was angled toward back of the car, so the wide "V" shape gave me plenty of turn on the lower wrench. Belt went on easily with that. Wasted almost an hour and a half trying to figure out how to move the tension pulley enough. Also, the bottom Alternator mount has a bushing or something that will stick into the space for the bottom of the Alternator. Spend 15 minutes trying to get it in there and it simply would not go. Took a break to google the issue and found posts about the bushing. You just need to hammer it out a little bit (not all the way) and the Alternator will fit nicely. Couldn't use a hammer though (not enough room) I ended up using the end of a small pry bar I acquired somewhere years ago.
 

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That's the same trick I used in that hotel parking lot (using a second closed-end wrench as leverage in the open-end side of the one I was using on the tensioner). A large breaker bar can work, but as you mentioned, there's limited room to swing it. A tip though - if the breaker bar doesn't line up, pull the socket and turn it 90° - that'll put the socket flats in a different alignment that might work better. A 12-point socket might help, too.

You can press the bushing out of the way using a socket and a bolt / washer / nut, in the same way you would use that combo to press out a (larger) bushing in a control arm or similar. That makes it a lot easier to put the alternator back in (it'll just slide between the mounting tabs, rather than having to force it in).
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'm sure different alternator bushings have different amount of force needed to move them. I've had this problem with every alternator I've put in. Most, including this one, I just wedge one corner of the alternator into the bracket ears, and start jiggling it around until that moves the bushing out far enough it drops in.

I had both a 6 and 12 point socket, and no orientation of the head (rotating the socket position on the bar) allowed me to adjust it far enough to get the breaker bar off the nut after releasing the belt. The bar was hard over on the front end crossbrace. It was about 5 degrees from being able to release. It did work with another brand 12 point socket at my father in law's house - possibly forged with a slightly different clocking of the 12 points to the drive square. Though the nut on the pulley may have been in a slight different position too.

Once about 15 years ago I was able to figure out how to the 2 paired sockets together to feel confident enough in applying serious leverage. But every other time I've tried, they've either slipped apart immediately, or felt sketchy enough that I thought they would slip and I'd get seriously hurt so I was too chicken to push harder.

Those pulley tensioner release tools can be had for $15. I'd strongly recommend buying one for planned maintenance.
 

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This is one place that Honda made it difficult, IMHO. My Audi has a 16mm (IIRC) "box" on the end of the tensioner, designed to give it enough leverage to move it out of the way with a single open-end wrench. Better, it has a little guide you can slip a drill bit or nail through to pin it in the "open" position. Other parts of the design have me pulling my hair out (don't even get me started on what it took to replace the left control arm bushings...) but this, they got right.
 

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Really struggling with trying to replace my 2013 MDX alternator and haven't even got to the belt yet... The issue I have is getting the connectors off the back of the alternator (there are two of them). All the videos say is to squeeze the tab and remove the connector but mine doesn't seem to want to budge. Is there a trick to getting these removed? I have been eyeing removing the fan to give more room but that seems problematic as well. Help!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Those release tabs are always a nightmare, they are tight and get brittle with heat and age.

I don't know what clearances you have on that model year but using the end of a screw driver to really press the tab in as you start wiggling helps.

If you really think it's stuck you can use some silicon lube. But that makes it harder to grab.

I've bruised my nail removing my Nissan alternator plugs.

And on the Honda neutral safety switch I broke the tab off entirely trying to get it to disengage and then re-engage.

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Really struggling with trying to replace my 2013 MDX alternator and haven't even got to the belt yet... The issue I have is getting the connectors off the back of the alternator (there are two of them). All the videos say is to squeeze the tab and remove the connector but mine doesn't seem to want to budge. Is there a trick to getting these removed? I have been eyeing removing the fan to give more room but that seems problematic as well. Help!!
I would advise removing the coil pack for cylinder 6. It will give you room to work and access the connections. Second, use a pry bar to remove the alternator. Finally, I also used a bungee cord, rubber with a hook, to fish the alternator out. It gave me the leverage I needed so I could work it with one hand and move hoses as needed.
Hood Motor vehicle Automotive design Automotive exterior Gas
 

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. This video helped me. I didn’t remove the line to the ac compressor as suggested. He doesn’t suggest removing the coil pack, but gives you a bit more room and is less hassle than the radiator fan. I did see someone remove it. Just depends on your needs.
Really struggling with trying to replace my 2013 MDX alternator and haven't even got to the belt yet... The issue I have is getting the connectors off the back of the alternator (there are two of them). All the videos say is to squeeze the tab and remove the connector but mine doesn't seem to want to budge. Is there a trick to getting these removed? I have been eyeing removing the fan to give more room but that seems problematic as well. Help!!
One more video.
 
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