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Chevy Cruze Alternator Replacement: A Step-by-Step Guide

You’ve been noticing those battery and charging system warning lights popping up on your Chevy Cruze’s dashboard lately. Uh oh. Could be time for an alternator replacement. Don’t sweat it – with this step-by-step alternator replacement guide, you can swap out that old alternator for a shiny new one in no time. Armed with a few basic tools, a replacement alternator, and this handy guide, you’ll be back on the road cruising in your Cruze in no time. The process is easier than you think. Just disconnect the battery, remove the serpentine belt, take out the old alternator, put in the new one, reconnect everything, and you’re good to go. We’ll walk through each step with photos so you know exactly what to do. Your Cruze’s electrical system will be revived in just an afternoon. Let’s get wrenching!

When to Replace Your Chevy Cruze Alternator

Signs It’s Time for a New One

There are a few signs that indicate it’s time for a replacement alternator in your Chevy Cruze. The main ones are:

  • Dimming or flickering lights: If your headlights or dashboard lights start dimming or flickering, that means your alternator isn’t producing enough power to properly charge your battery.
  • Battery not charging: You may notice your battery indicator light come on, indicating it’s not charging. Or when you start the engine, the voltmeter reads below 13.5 volts. Either way, it means your alternator needs replacement.
  • Difficulty starting: As your alternator fails, your battery will drain, making it harder to start your Cruze. If you need to jump start it or it takes longer to turn over, that’s a clue you need a new alternator.
  • Growling or squealing noises: Failing alternators often make noises like growling, squealing or whining sounds. This is due to parts inside wearing out or slipping. ###When to Have It Replaced Once you notice any of these signs in your Chevy Cruze, have the alternator tested right away. Continuing to drive with a malfunctioning alternator can drain your battery and cause permanent damage. It’s best to replace your alternator at the first indication of trouble. The typical alternator will last around 60,000 to 120,000 miles depending on driving conditions. If your Cruze has over 100K miles, it’s a good idea to have your alternator tested during routine maintenance to check if it’s still working properly and replace if needed.

Step-by-Step Guide to Replacing a Chevy Cruze Alternator

Gather the necessary tools

You’ll need a few basic tools for this job: an adjustable wrench, socket set, screwdrivers, pliers, voltmeter, and replacement alternator. Be sure to grab a repair manual for your specific Cruze model year as well.

Locate the alternator

The alternator is typically found at the front of the engine bay on the passenger side. It’s a cylindrical component with cooling fins, wires, and a belt connecting it to the engine. Double check that this is in fact the alternator using your repair manual.

Disconnect the battery

Safety first! Disconnect the negative battery cable to avoid electric shock.

Frequently Asked Questions About Replacing a Chevy Cruze Alternator

Do I need any special tools to replace the alternator?

To replace the Chevy Cruze alternator, you’ll need some basic tools like wrenches, sockets, and screwdrivers. The alternator is in a tight space, so a ratchet wrench will make things easier. You may also want a pry bar to help position the new alternator. Make sure you have the correct size socket for removing the alternator bolts—usually 15mm or 5/8 inch.

How long does it take to replace an alternator?

Replacing the Chevy Cruze alternator typically takes between 1 to 3 hours for a DIYer, depending on your experience. The actual alternator replacement only takes about an hour, but you’ll need extra time to disconnect the negative battery cable, remove engine parts to access the alternator, and reassemble everything. It’s a good idea to schedule 3 hours for your first alternator swap in case you run into any issues.

Can I drive with a bad alternator?

It’s not recommended to drive your Chevy Cruze for long with a malfunctioning alternator. The alternator charges the battery and powers your vehicle’s electrical systems. Without it, the battery will quickly drain and your vehicle will lose power, leaving you stranded. Only drive as needed to get your vehicle to a repair shop or dealer as soon as possible. Driving for an extended time can damage other components like the battery or computer systems.

Is it safe to replace the alternator myself?

Replacing the Chevy Cruze alternator yourself can be safe if you take proper precautions. Be sure to disconnect the negative battery cable to avoid electrical shocks. Only work on a cold engine to avoid burns. Use jack stands for support—don’t rely on a jack alone. Follow all instructions carefully and double check that everything is reinstalled properly before driving. However, if you’re not experienced working on vehicles, it may be best left to a professional to ensure it’s done correctly and safely.


So there you have it, a step-by-step guide to replacing the alternator in your Chevy Cruze. While it’s not the easiest or quickest job, with the right tools and a little patience, it can be done in your own garage. Just be sure to disconnect the battery, remove all the necessary belts and hardware, install the new alternator, get the belts back on, and reconnect the battery. Take your time and double check all your connections. Before you know it, you’ll be back on the road cruising in your Chevy. Replacing parts yourself saves a ton versus paying a mechanic. Now you have the knowledge to tackle this repair with confidence next time your Cruze alternator goes out.

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