How Do You Clean an Alternator?

Over time, debris and other contaminant find their way into the alternator. These foreign bodies reduce the alternator’s performance and, in some cases, damage internal parts.

Learning how to clean the alternator can save you money and help you maintain your car. That is why we have created this precise guide on how to clean alternators from oil, debris, and other forms of contamination.

how to clean alternator windings

How do you clean alternator

While there are different methods to clean your alternator, the best way is to remove the alternator from the car. You do not need advanced mechanical knowledge, and we will walk you through the process.

Below are steps on how to clean an alternator.

Step 1: Get all the necessary materials for the cleaning process.

Below are the cleaning materials that you will need.

  • soft brush
  • Degreaser, if you don’t have a degreaser, you can clean the alternator with WD40.
  • A piece of cloth
  • Spray bottle

Step 2: Disconnect the alternator.

Open the hood of your vehicle and disconnect every alternator wire connection. Then go ahead and detach the alternator and place it on a flat table or wherever you have decided to carry out this process.

Step 3: Prepare your alternator cleaner.

If you are using a degreaser, you will need to dilute it. Mix the degreaser with water using a 50:50 ratio. Once properly mixed, you can transfer the mixture to a spray bottle. Leave it in whatever container you use if you do not have one.

Step 4: Apply the cleaner.

Pour your cleaner into a spray bottle and apply adequately on the alternator. If you do not have a spray bottle, you could soak a piece of cloth or rag into the mixture and then apply it to the alternator. After doing this, leave the alternator and let the cleaner soak. It will soften the dirt on the alternator and allow for easier cleaning.

Step 5: Brush dirt away.

Use your brush to scrub the dirt away from the surface of the alternator. Make sure to get all the dirt out of every corner possible.

Step 6: Flush

The final step is to use water to rinse the alternator and ensure it is done gently. Once you are done, leave the alternator to dry.

Note that it could take some time for your alternator to dry appropriately. Leave the alternator to dry for a day to ensure it is dry.

How do you clean the alternator without removing it?

Furthermore, you don’t need to remove the alternator anytime you need to clean it. Removing it can be very stressful.

Here is how to clean the alternator without removing it:

how to clean alternator without removing

Step 1: Prepare cleaning materials

  • Alternator cleaner, which could be degreaser or wd40. If you cannot get these cleaners, you can clean the alternator with alcohol.
  • Soft brush
  • Spray bottle
  • A piece of cloth or rag.

Step 2: Disconnect the battery.

After getting the necessary materials, you should then disconnect the battery cables. By doing this, you can avoid being electrocuted or short-circuit, which could damage the alternator.

Step 3: Remove the serpentine belt

Go ahead to remove the serpentine or drive belt. It will give you better access to the alternator when cleaning it.

Step 4: Apply the alternator cleaner.

Apply the cleaner to the alternator, the WD40, or the degreaser. Remember to mix the degreaser before applying it to the alternator. Ensure the cleaner is used adequately and leave it to soak in the dirt.

Step 5: Brush off the dirt.

Use a soft brush to scrub off all the dirt on the alternator. Ensure to get into all the corners.

Step 6: Rinse the alternator.

After scrubbing the dirt away, you can carefully use water to wash away all the dirt from the alternator. Then use a dry cloth to dry out the alternator. You could leave the alternator to dry.

Step 7: Connect all cables.

Once the alternator has adequately dried, connect all disconnected cables. When doing this, ensure all cables are connected to the right places.

Important tips and tricks to extend car alternator life

Many factors could shorten an alternator’s life; some may include dust, oil, poor wiring, and more. You must develop a good maintenance culture to ensure a long-lasting alternator.

Below are some tips for a long-life alternator.

  • Ensure to clean your alternator to avoid dirty alternator problems periodically.
  • Limit the electrical load of your car.
  • Ensure that your battery is in good working condition.
  • Periodically check the drive belt and ensure it is firm and in position.
  • Ensure that your alternator and battery are protected from extreme temperatures.
  • Ensure that there are no forms of fluid leaks escaping to the alternator or battery.
  • Make it a habit to clean the alternator case and fan periodically.
  • Limit short rides.
  • Learn how to clean alternator connections and do it regularly.

Is it safe to spray water on the alternator?

Spraying water on the alternators is safe if you do not apply too much water. The alternator is designed in such a way that it can protect itself from water. However, note that the alternator is not waterproof. So, you must take care it’s not submerged in water for longer that it needs.

Can I use wd40 on the alternator?

You can use WD-40 to clean your alternator. It is an excellent way of protecting your alternator from corrosion. Wd40 contains lubricant and anti-corrosion properties, which are suitable for metal parts. It will protect the parts from contamination from water and other properties.

Can you oil an alternator?

You can lubricate your alternator; this provides a coating that protects it against corrosion and harsh weather conditions. However, not all lubricants will be suitable for your alternator. Ensure to buy lubricant products that can be used on alternators.

Is it safe to pressure wash an alternator?

No, avoid pressure washing your alternator. The force from the pressure washer can push on the water into the alternator components. Remember, the alternator is an electrical component; the water could react with electricity and cause severe damage.

What is a good lubricant for alternators?

WD40 is a trusted lubricant that you can use for your alternator. There are other products like CRC alternator cleaner. 

Final words

When cleaning your alternator, it is good to understand how to recognize the right alternator cleaning spray. Many people clean alternators with brake cleaner, spirit, and more. Although these cleaners are not entirely wrong, some products, like the alternator, are made specifically for cleaning car parts. Using any supported degreaser when cleaning your alternator is best, and check the instructions before using.

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Akindayini Temiloluwa

I am passionate about everything automotive. Right from when I got my first toy car as a kid, I developed an interest in the inner workings of vehicles. As I grew up, my love for mechanical stuff became more substantial enough for me to pursue a career in it. My goal as an automotive content writer is to simplify the most challenging concepts for my readers, help them self-diagnose what may be wrong with their vehicles and offer real value for their time.

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