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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The car I am working on is a 1999 BMW 323i 4DR Sedan.

About a week ago the alternator went out so I ordered a replacement alternator from BavAuto - Bosch AL0738X.

Following a DIY I removed the faulty alternator from the car and the only difficulty I really had was unscrewing the lower bolt.

Upon installation of the alternator I was having difficulty screwing in the lower bolt just as I did removing it. The bolt was about 95% in and then it snapped on me - please see image for location.



I then decided to try and remove the alternator to see if I can remove the broken bolt only problem is I cannot remove the alternator as it appears to be held in by the snapped bolt. In fact, when I slide in the portion of the bolt pictured above it slides in and requires some screwing through the first hole to reach the the area where I believe the bolt snapped. Given this I'm figuring it will take some unscrewing to remove the portion of the bolt pictured above so it is not just going to fall out if I slide it in for some support.

My question is... The bottom bolt is not attached to any pulley like the top bolt is and the top bolt should screw in with pulley no problem. Even though the bottom bolt snapped - if the bottom portion of the alternator is stuck to the engine via the partially broken bottom bolt if I screw the top bolt in with no problem with the pulley will the alternator be secure until a mechanic removes it in the future if there is ever a future job that requires alternator removal or do I have to get this alternator off the car somehow.

I am a young student with no money and the car is really not worth anything at this point - hence why I am doing a DIY. Will the car be safe to drive with the lower bolt holding the bottom portion even though it's snapped? I would assume that as long as the top bolt attached to the pulley is not snapped then it should be fine until a future mechanic who might need to remove the alternator for other engine work can address it...? Please advise.

Is it safe to hook everything up and see how the car runs or am I running risk of the alternator coming loose?
 

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The fact that it is not all the way in nor the head of the bolt keeping it tight is not good long term. Get It back together and take it to a shop for them to extract the bolt. Also be easier when your using the wrench to get bolts out lol. Or even better use a ratchet instead of a wrench for something like that. Oh and get rid of the 12 point stuff. 6 point sockets and wrenches :hi:
 

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^+1 take the car to a shop and have it extracted, and be on your merry way.

BTW, we DIY because we love our cars and don't want to be ripped off, not because we have no money and our cars aren't worth anything :hi
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
The fact that it is not all the way in nor the head of the bolt keeping it tight is not good long term. Get It back together and take it to a shop for them to extract the bolt. Also be easier when your using the wrench to get bolts out lol. Or even better use a ratchet instead of a wrench for something like that. Oh and get rid of the 12 point stuff. 6 point sockets and wrenches :hi:
I did use a 6 point socket attached to a ratchet. My guess is the replacement alternator lower bolt hole thread is the culprit because I was able to screw in 95% of the bolt and then for some reason it would not go any further. I guess I should have left it in 95% screwed in because now I'm screwed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
^+1 take the car to a shop and have it extracted, and be on your merry way.

BTW, we DIY because we love our cars and don't want to be ripped off, not because we have no money and our cars aren't worth anything :hi
Does anyone have an idea of how much work it would involve to extract it? I mean should I just try to pry the alternator out myself first and see if I can extract the bolt before having to take it to the shop or put everything back together since the bottom of alternator seems to be lodged in well and try to get the car running to I can drive it to the shop.

I do not get the idea where you think I don't love my cars... this is my 4th BMW I've owned and my 2nd bmw I currently own... I also own a 330i. Being that it's the holidays I was trying to avoid getting ripped off by a dealer/shop also and the alternator DIY is pretty straightforward for me. I was just asking if the broken part of the bottom bolt is stuck and holding the alternator down if I can put everything back together and rely on that to get me to a shop to avoid having to call a tow truck which would dig into the money I could spend to have this broken bolt extracted..
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Then the bolt probably wasn't going in straight .
I understand that possibility, but the bolt was giving me trouble period on removal and installation so my guess is that the remanufactured bosch alternator had a shitty thread on it because I was having a semi rough time test screwing it into the new alternator before I even attempted to screw it in once installed in the car.. I'm just hoping there is a solution which will help me avoid having to buy another alternator. =[
 

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If you can get the alternator out, extracting the bolt will be easy. Space is the hardest part in bolt extraction.

If you felt abnormal resistance, you'll need a thread chaser or tap to re-do the threads in it.
 

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If you remove the top bolt, would the alternator pivot out maybe, so you can see better the broken piece?

Also some alternators use a locknut that slide into the bracket. If that's the case, all you'd have to do to is tap it with a hammer.

Member delmarco posted some great pictures on that recently.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If you can get the alternator out, extracting the bolt will be easy. Space is the hardest part in bolt extraction.

If you felt abnormal resistance, you'll need a thread chaser or tap to re-do the threads in it.
I would try to pry the alternator out but I do not want to do any damage to where the alternator is attached or the new alternator by trying to pull it off the engine if it's stuck by the portion of the bolt that is keeping the alternator in right now lol
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If you remove the top bolt, would the alternator pivot out maybe, so you can see better the broken piece?

Also some alternators use a locknut that slide into the bracket. If that's the case, all you'd have to do to is tap it with a hammer.

Member delmarco posted some great pictures on that recently.
The top bolt is not screwed in yet and I can pivot the alternator it's just being held in by the portion of the lower bolt that is broken at the bottom and I have not applied any extraordinary force yet to try and pry the alternator out because I was looking for some input from you guys =]

I did note the post on here about the locknut and I checked for it but the Bosch AL0738X alternator does not appear to have it because I tried to tap it with a hammer and it would not budge. I recall the faulty alternator I removed from the car did have a locknut so I understand what you mean.

The thing is I see so many posts about the top bolt snapping on people but I never see anyone talk about the lower bolt - I guess I just have bad luck because the lower bolt is so much harder to see/access than the top bolt. The bottom bolt seems to be more of a holder in place and the top bolt has a function of holding the pulley so that's why I was wondering if it makes sense to try to put everything together and get it to the shop since the alternator seems stuck or if I attach the alternator I'm afraid it might create a pull and cause more damage than if I try to just pry out the alternator and try bolt removal methods if possible.. I was looking for some guidance, recommendations or similar experiences where I could draw a solution from. I have basically put the project on hold until I decide how I am going to go about with this..
 

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Yeah, mine alternator didn't have that either.

Take off the alternator with the entire oil filter housing, it takes less time then figuring this out and it gives you a chance to replace the oil filter housing gasket.
That is, if the alternator isn't covering any of the bolts.
There are six of them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Yeah, mine alternator didn't have that either.

Take off the alternator with the entire oil filter housing, it takes less time then figuring this out and it gives you a chance to replace the oil filter housing gasket.
That is, if the alternator isn't covering any of the bolts.
There are six of them.
Does removing the oil filter housing require draining the oil out of the car? Is there a DIY on this?
 

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Not at all.
It's just the six bolts, the vanos oil line, 2 electrical connectors.
At that point you can move it to the side and can already reach the broken piece.
To completely remove it, you need to disconnect the power steering pump, I think it's only 3 bolts.

There is a write-up in the DIY section.
 

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I am a young student with no money and the car is really not worth anything at this point - hence why I am doing a DIY.
I was merely responding to that statement you made, and that is all. Sorry to offend you. As the others said, it will be way easier if you take the OFH out along with the alternator. Though if memory serves me right, I'm not sure how much room there will be to get the top bolts off the OFH as the alternator is in the way. But if it pivots you have a shot!
 

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Dude, I think you might be hosed. I'd get the bracket/alternator off and order a new one and filter housing gasket, then pull the voltage regulator off the new alternator and put it in the old one and remount the new gasket, housing and bracket. Install the old alternator with the new regulator. My 155,000 mile 328 only needed the regulator and I'd bet yours is the same.

I think you're hosed because the bolt sounds like it's already threaded into the alternator. At that point you're going to have to drill it out and probably screw up the threads on the alternator rendering it useless without a tap and die set. Then your chances of success are 50/50 at best. You're going to have to hack up the bracket to get to the bolt to back it out without screwing the threads on the alternator up.

That's just the way I see it,

Green

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I did this a few weeks ago, but my memory is failing me. I think the thread is in the bracket.
The broken piece is sometimes fairly loose, not necessarily hard to get out.

There is also the possibility of using an even longer through bolt.

It's a good idea to replace the VR while you're in there, but the VR can cost as much as an alternator.
What brand did you get, Green?
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Yeah, mine alternator didn't have that either.

Take off the alternator with the entire oil filter housing, it takes less time then figuring this out and it gives you a chance to replace the oil filter housing gasket.
That is, if the alternator isn't covering any of the bolts.
There are six of them.


It sounds like a great idea but the above image shows how much room I have with the alternator tilted. I am not sure if I can access that left bolt without some kind of special tool. Even then I'm not sure how long the two top bolts are and if I would end up with enough room to pull them out. Also, I don't know if I'm following the diagram correctly but are the middle bolts accessible with the alternator there?
 
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