Jeepman, I didn't bother trying to mess around with taking it off. A new alternator was around $200 from a local PepBoys. It was just easier to replace the whole unit considering I had to remove it anyway. The new alternator comes with a new pully. What does a new pully cost from Chrysler? $100? and the special tools?
2001 Town and Country LXI (125,000mi.)
Replaced: brakes,rotors,calipers,serpentine belt,spark plugs,wires,alternator,battery,tie rods,struts,sway bar links,sway bar bushings (5 times),passenger door window motor,ATC module, transmission service, transmission solenoid pack, key cylinder, power steering fluid reservoir, PCM module, oil pan/valve cover gaskets, #2 fuel injector, Fuel filler tube and countless oil changes. DIY'er
Good thread. I just replaced the alternator on my '03 3.8 V-6 THREE times so I have a pretty good handle on the problems. Quick synopsis: First time was due to pulley going bad and I didn't want to risk problem on upcoming trip. This job took about 3 hours mainly b/c of these things: 1) First time doing this repair, used Haynes manual, but missing some details; 2) didn't have belt tensioner tool and due to limited space between tensioner and frame I couldn't use 1/2" drive rachet or breakover so had to resort to a large screwdriver for leverage (and a neighbor's help); 3) the field electrical connector mentioned in a previous post was a pain in the butt; 4) removing the dipstick with attached cable; 5) figuring out what combination of wrenches and sockets would work for the various sized bolts and 6) getting the splash shield removed and then finding replacement trim clips to reintall it.
The first replacement alternator was defective and I had to replace it a couple of days later. With my first experience under my belt, once I had the van jacked up and the wheel removed, it took me about 15-20 minutes to remove the splash shield, loosen the belt (still didn't have a special tool); disconnect the wiring, remove the dipstick and remove the alternator. Re-installation of everything took about 30 minutes max, but did need my neighbor's help to install the belt.
I did the third replacement in my daughter's garage in Florida on our trip. The alternator light came on and according to the code it had low output. After having a mechanic check the system and reset the code, it came on again in about 35 miles. I changed it for the third time but this time with a different brand rebuilt alternator. A couple of thousand miles since with no problem.
I kind of doubt that it was two bad alternators. I am more inclined to believe that it was the field connector on the alternator. When you reinstall the connector make sure it is pushed on all the way, very tightly, and that the slide clip is securely in place. Also, borrow a tensioner belt tool kit from you auto parts dealer as that makes a huge difference in removing and installing the belt and enables you to do it by yourself. The first two times I changed the alternator I didn't have the tool and it made it very difficult and not as safe.
Hope this provides some help and encouragement for the next one needing to tackle this job. I will try to remember what size tools I used for what bolts and post that later. That info is getting a little fuzzy after a month away from the task.