Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
March 1, 2004
Photos By: Chuck James

Horse Sense:
PA-Performance offers nine finishes for its alternators, including chrome plated, polished, bare aluminum, and six powdercoated options. The yellow 3G alternator was a special request by us, but Rick Harmon of PA-Performance says this color might be added to the company's selection of colors if demand warrants. To check out the available colors, go to the PA Web site (www.pa-performance.com).

When designing a car, engineers must calculate various system loads. They use components that will handle these loads and then build a bit of headroom into them. For instance, when designing a cooling system for a car, an engineer will take into account the radiator size, the water-pump-pulley ratio, and the radiator-cap pressure-all of which keeps your car cool, even when sitting in traffic on a 100-degree day. But if you put more heat into the system than it is designed to handle, the cooling system will cease to be efficient and will begin having problems keeping the engine cool. That is why larger radiators are necessary when adding performance engine parts.

The alternator and charging system are designed basically in the same manner. The alternator output, the charging-wire size, the pulley ratio, and so on are all configured to maintain the proper voltage to a stock Mustang and its stock stereo, fuel pump, ignition, and accessories. But increase the load extensively with a high-volume fuel pump, an aftermarket ignition, and a killer stereo with a couple amplifiers, and you need some serious amperage to keep everything in check.

PA-Performance makes it simple to upgrade to an alternator that will handle your current (no pun intended) and future needs. PA's alternators and starters are made from all-new materials and come "clocked" (meaning the ears are in the right location for mounting) to your application. Easy-to-follow instructions are included. Even the proper pulley is already installed so you don't have to hunt down a shop or parts store to swap parts. PA offers several alternator amperage options, as well as conversion kits for Bullitt intakes, one-wire race alternators, and more.

In addition, PA recently began offering polished, chrome-plated, and powdercoated housings for the show-going crowd. We had the company fire us one of its newest 160-amp 3G direct-replacement alternators for Associate Editor Johnson's new Chrome Yellow notch. (The base 95-amp model does not require bracket modifications-as does the larger amp model we are installing-and will drop right into the stock bracket.) The small amount of material that needs to be removed for alternator-case clearance is easily handled with a file or grinder. PA even powdercoated the alternator in yellow as a special request for us. Check out the following pictures to see how easy an alternator swap is on the Mustang.

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