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... can just the regulator be replaced or do I have to do the whole alternator? It's a '99 Duratec. If I can get away with just the regulator any tips? Thanks
 

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I don't believe it's a wrench/screwdriver replacement job. Probably requires some soldering. Doable, but you might find it hard to obtain the component. Probably better to get a rebuilt part.
 

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The problem may not be the regulator. The regulator has a dedicated circuit to measure system voltage at the battery (I forget which regulator terminal it is), and if this circuit becomes open or the circuits connection at the regulator plug is corroded, etc, the regulator perceives this as low system voltage and runs its output to maximum (max field coil current) to try to compensate. Before replacing anything, check the voltage sense circuit and regulator plup to be sure they are functioning correctly.
 
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