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I know this is an old thread, but alternator can absolutely cause transmission and gauge problems. At first, my transmission wouldn't go into gear. I dropped it into 1st and it launched forward for a second and then remained in 3rd gear- even from a stop! Needless to say the 0-60 time is about the same as a 1986 Jugo. (20 seconds or more)
If you are debating tackling the job on your own, once you get the 2 bolts out and pry the alternator out of the bracket, you'll realize it can't be removed from above or below. The vehicle must be jacked up, the passenger wheel removed and the clips holding the front of the plastic inner fender must be removed. Let the inner fender hang down in the front and remove the washer fluid reservoir wiring clip, 2 hoses and two bolts. (the fluid can drain into a container of your choice) Next, remove the one remaining reservoir bolt from the engine compartment and lower it down through the fender. Next, pull up the power steering reservoir and unbolt the bracket from the radiator support. You don't necessarily have to remove the reservoir, but if you do, remove the top hose from the power steering pump shoving paper towels under the unit to collect the fluid that spills. Next, pop off the black wiring conduit and the Black bolt holding the A/C hose bracket in place. These steps will ensures the alternator will slip out right where the power steering reservoir bracket was.

Next big tip! Don't buy an alternator from Advanced Auto. My first unit was defective and I had to repeat all the above steps again! At least the second time, I did in less than half the time (2hrs). I've since read many other threads that bash Advanced Auto alternators. I'm just hoping this new one lasts.
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