Replaced a belt tensioner on my GC last weekend. Don't mess with the alternator. Instead, get you a 'belt tensioner removal tool'. It is $20 or more depending on the quality. Or do like I did, and go to Advance Auto and borrow the tool for free.
With the tool, put pressure on the tensioner to remove the serpentine belt. Then you can work on the bolt that holds the tensioner to the motor.
Have seen alot written about OEM vs. Dayco vs. Goodyear, when it comes to the tensioner part. Save yourself some $$$, the OEM part had the Chrysler star emblem on the back, and "Dayco" on it too, so just buy it from Advance. Same part, lower price.
Then think about it, while you are in there, is it time to replace the belt too? How about the idler pulley?
The nut is accessed from underneath just above the rear exhaust manifold. A little tricky on your back but its the quickest way. I don't think that removing the alternator has any benefits.
Dodge/Chrysler/Jeep Technician 14 Years, ASE Master Certfied
1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 75,600 miles
1999 Dodge Dakota Sport 318ci 135000 miles
2008 Chrysler Town and Country Limited 2500 miles
Brandon is right, the nut can be accessed from below. You'll need a couple swivel extensions and a LOT of patience to get the nut threaded on the post. Once your hand is there you can feel it but not see it. Have someone hold the new tensioner against the engine or jam a shop rag against it to hold it in place while you thread the nut on. I did mine in march in God's garage lying on ice and snow. It can be done, but a lift would make it a lot easier.
Caravan Fan....have owned 7 and praise their virtues, but woe their transnission flaws. I use a broken differential pin as a key chain if that's any sign. 2 1988 w/2.5l, 91 GC w/3.3, 94 GC AWD w/3.3, 2 1997's w/3.3 and 99 w/3.8
Ireplaced the tensioner (Dayco from Advance) today on a 1998 3.3L Grand Caravan by using my ramps in the garage, a standard 3/8 ratchet, one 6" and one 3" extension on a 15mm socket. The key is to come in from thecenter of the vehicle just below the rear exhaust manifold. There is good access from there.
For a while there it was either factory or NAPA for replacement tensioners. If Dayco makes the factory part now, and AAP has it cheaper, then that is the way to go. It's hard to keep up with who's part is best, especially with pretty much everything sliding into the Chinese quagmire.
The idler and the tensioner take *** bearing #6203.2RSR.C3(1512017). The bearings can be replaced with out removing the tensioner and without crawling under neath and without spending a lot of $$. 15mm wrench, and you are all set.
Edit....The bearing manufacturer name is a derogatory term for a homosexual so it came up as asterics- sorry, didn't mean to affend with my first post.