GM Cavalier/Sunbird/Skyhawk/Firenza 1982-1994

Alternator Precautions


To prevent damage to the on-board computer, alternator and regulator, the following precautionary measures must be taken when working with the electrical system.

Be absolutely sure of the polarity of a booster battery before making connections. Connect the cables positive to positive, and negative to negative. Connect positive cables first and then make the last connection to ground on the body of the booster vehicle so that arcing cannot ignite hydrogen gas that may have accumulated near the battery. Even momentary connection of a booster battery with the polarity reversed will damage alternator diodes.
Disconnect both vehicle battery cables before attempting to charge a battery.
Never ground the alternator or generator output or battery terminal. Be cautious when using metal tools around a battery to avoid creating a short circuit between the terminals.
Never ground the field circuit between the alternator and regulator.
Never run an alternator or generator without load unless the field circuit is disconnected.
Never attempt to polarize an alternator.
Keep the regulator cover in place when taking voltage and current limiter readings.
Use insulated tools when adjusting the regulator.
Whenever DC generator-to-regulator wires have been disconnected, the generator must be repolarized. To do this with an externally grounded, light duty generator, momentarily place a jumper wires between the battery terminal and the generator terminal of the regulator. With an internally grounded heavy duty unit, disconnect the wire to the regulator field terminal and touch the regulator battery terminal with it.
When installing a battery, make sure that the positive and negative cables are not reversed.
When jump-starting the car, be sure that like terminals are connected. This also applies to using a battery charger. Reversed polarity will burn out the alternator and regulator in a matter of seconds.
Never operate the alternator with the battery disconnected or on an otherwise uncontrolled open circuit.
Do not short across or ground any alternator or regulator terminals.
Do not try to polarize the alternator.
Do not apply full battery voltage to the field (brown) connector.
Always disconnect the battery ground cable before disconnecting the alternator lead.
Always disconnect the battery (negative cable first) when charging it.
Never subject the alternator to excessive heat or dampness. If you are steam cleaning the engine, cover the alternator.
Never use arc-welding equipment on the car with the alternator connected.