Re: 2011 Sienna Alternator Removal Mistakes were made
Well Sienna fam, the van is back up and running. Boy has it been an eventful 48 hours...
So I suppose here is the best place to outline the whole process to those in a similar predicament:
First things first go to techinfo.toyota.com and buy a two-day access ($15) to all documents related to your repair. If it's the alternator you're looking to replace, note that Toyota refers to it as a generator. Save as many pdfs from that site as possible, the diagrams are super accurate and their step-by-step instructions are actually pretty easy to understand!
Secondly, if you are going to change an alternator on your 3rd-gen (2011-2015) toyota Sienna, make peace with the fact that you are going to need to remove most of the front end. You cannot avoid it, cutting corners will cost you in this project. I know you've probably seen that 1.5 hour youtube video where the guy struggles the whole time and eventually gets it out with a ton of maneuvering, but his is a 2nd-gen Sienna and has a little bit more wiggle room in the front. You must remove your radiator/condenser/fan assembly in order to swap your alternator out. Luckily, there isn't much to removing the radiator in this model!
If you're reading this and wondering whether or not you should just bite the $1,000 bullet and take it in to a shop (roughly $400 parts if new battery is also needed, $600 labor), that last paragraph may have sealed the deal for you. If you're like me and know that you can hardly afford the parts alone after dishing out a ton of money for this van only weeks ago (dealer claimed they didn't know about alternator issue even though it struggled to start AT THE DEALERSHIP and it was obvious someone in their service department monkeyed with both battery and alternator and refused to work on it), fear not! You can do all of the necessary work to replace the alternator with basic tools. It's just going to be a bit time consuming. Which leads me to my next point.
TAKE YOUR TIME. Don't let yourself be frustrated. It isn't worth it. As soon as the f-bombs start flying around your garage, walk away and come back later. You'll wind up missing something critical and yanking out a wire that you didn't know was still connected.
10mm, 12mm, & 14mm size wrenches (I recommend ratcheting wrenches, MUCH easier in tight spaces)
Flat Screwdriver for clamps
Bent-nose pliers for hoses
Jack & stands
Allen wrench to keep tensioner in place
two gallons or so of coolant
WED hard starting diagnosed as bad battery & alternator.
THUR buy new battery, alt, and belt & prepare for a quick swap after kids go to sleep
FRI @ 2 a.m. still unable to remove alternator from engine bay, became frustrated and accidentally ripped camshaft position sensor wire & ECM ground from engine block terminals. wept/died inside.
FRI @ noon Posted dilemma here, did some light research, decided to buy TIS manuals from Toyota's tech site, realize I did everything wrong
SAT bought necessary tools & equipment, set to work taking apart the front end (bumper, radiator, condenser, etc.). Took a bath in coolant & freon, Successfully removed alternator & AC Pump, retrieved splayed engine block terminals. Rejoiced.
SUN taught myself to solder, successfully rejoined alt wires with terminals, installed new alt, new belt, re-installed AC Pump, radiator, condenser, front bumper assembly, passenger tire, battery, and refilled my fluids.
1.) Disconnect battery
2.) Lift van onto stands
3.) Remove front passenger tire
4.) Inside that wheel well, remove two bolts and one clip holding the access panel in place.
5.) Locate tensioner, loosen, hold in place using allen wrench (theres a convenient little hole in the part that moves that corresponds with a little hole in the engine block)
6.) Remove plastic protectors under front end. While youre at it, drain coolant from the radiator, disconnect oil cooler hoses (2 small ones), and lower coolant hose (1 large one).
7.) Discharge AC line. (Toyota has a procedure for this, though I just did it by accident and wound up smelling like Freon for two days)
8.) Remove air intake, metal bar, grille, and wire harness from the fan assembly.
9.) Remove Upper and Lower AC lines to condenser
10.) Disconnect horn & hood latch assembly, remove or loosen and push aside.
11.) Lift Radiator/condenser/fan assembly out and set aside
12.) Toyota recommends that you remove the bumper, however that step was entirely unnecessary in my experience.
13.) Disconnect the wiring components first, and make a huge mental note that there is a hidden clip with wiring attached BEHIND the bracket holding the alternator to the engine block
14.) Remove the three bolts holding the alternator in place. The two on the belt side are 14mm, the one connecting the bracket to the block is a 12.
15.) Remove the bracket from the old alternator and install it in the new one.
Reverse the steps and top off your radiator with 50/50 coolant.
There really isnt a whole lot of info out there on this particular van, and I think that is because most 1115 Siennas are still under some sort of warrantee, and owners are still more apt to just take it in to a shop to get it done. It wont be too long until these minivans will be passed along to kids, and by the time it gets to that stage, the cost/benefit of DIY may just tilt in its favor. When that day comes, at least this post may encourage some poor soul who feels over their head and down on their luck. There are a lot of steps, but it is possible!