“Step 4) Loosen the lower alternator mounting bolt”
Got it. No problem — I’ll just loosen the alternator mounting bolt and be cruising my way onto step 5 and healthy charging. See, I’ve had intermittent charging problems with my Rabbit as of late, and I think it’s owed to the fact that my old V-belt had more missing teeth than Cletus The Slack Jawed Yokel. So, turning to my trusty Bentley manual for 1980-1984 Volkswagen Rabbits, I read up on the simple 6-step method to remove one’s alternator and replace and tighten their V-belt.
So, Step 4, time to loosen that alternator mounting bolt. Right. Let’s just get on tha whaaaaa?? Do they mean the tiny hex that’s buried under a half inch of sludge, nested in the dark corners between the A/C Compressor and engine block? The one that requires a human with seven-jointed fingers to access it? Yeah, that’s the one.
Which brings me to the problem that, as a journeyman home mechanic, I’ve encountered numerous times since undertaking heavier duty projects (I know, belts are that “heavy duty”) — there’ s an education and literature gap that exists between feel-good books like “Automotive Repair for Dummies” and the erudite, elitist writing of the workshop manuals. At a critical point in a person’s automotive education, they graduate beyond “Working on cars may seem scary but you can do it!” into a world of stuck parts, stripped screws, and bleeding knuckles, and there’s nowhere to turn. Well, you could always take a gamble on the forums…
So, what are your options:
Bentley Manual: “Loosen the alternator mounting bolt”
Dummies: “Alternators recharge your car’s battery. If your battery is no longer holding a charge, and you’ve ruled out loose connections, bring your car to the local repair facility”
Forums: “bro are u sure you have the right altnernator because i worked on a westy rabbit once and it didnt have the york type AC compressor but the bracket was still lose. u jsut need to get under the grommet but behind the washer and use a little force. itll pop right off lol cheers mate.”
Eventually, I got the alternator off (or loose enough), the new belt on and tightened, and so far the charging is good. I also replaced the rusted out ground strap with a big ol 4ga. steel strap, just in case. A simple 6-step procedure took me all day. I’m dreading if I ever get to a serious, 22-step task in the manual that’s detailed in more than just a few simple sentences.
So what I’m saying is, won’t someone write a book that tells the home mechanic how to remove and install every nut and bolt of every component for every car ever made?