Alternator Alternatives

Last week, the dashboard warning light (AKA - "idiot light") for the alternator lit up. When that light is on, it means that battery voltage is higher than the alternator output voltage. In other words, the alternator output is low or non-existent. I suspected the voltage regulator mounted on the back of the alternator was the culprit, so I priced one out from my local FLAPS. For $60 I could get a Bosch unit, or $30 bought me a Taiwan no-name regulator. A Bosch brand rebuilt alternator (Model AL27X) with a lifetime warranty from the same FLAPS was $160.

Being the cost-conscious type that I am, I wondered about a used alternator. Nice concept, but finding a donor Vanagon in the junkyard is a bit rare around here. But the wreckers have plenty of late model Golfs and Jettas, and the 90 Amp alternators from them will fit the Vanagon just dandy! This is also a great method of upgrading from the 65 Amp alternator found in some earlier water-cooled Vanagons.

Side view Back view
From these pictures, you can see that the Vanagon alternator (on the left) is identical to the Golf alternator (on the right) with the exception of the drive pulley for the alternator belt.

Front view, pulleys removed
To use the Golf alternator on the Vanagon, simply swap the pulleys from one to the other. The nut holding the pulley on was pretty tight, so I had to use a hand impact driver tool to remove it. In this picture, you can see both alternators with the drive pulleys removed - exactly identical.

Side view, pulley swapped
Here's the Golf alternator with the Vanagon pulley installed. Be sure to re-use all the spacer washers exactly as before, and apply LoctiteŽ the threads of of the shaft before installing the nut. I installed the used alternator, and checked the output voltage. 14 Volts, just as it should be!


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