Serpentine Belt


Old 07-17-03, 09:54 AM
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Serpentine Belt

Hello all,

I have a 1999 Dodge Grand Caravan (actually the wife's vehicle which I RARELY drive) with the 3.3L engine. I replaced the S belt 6 or seven months ago and it went bad the day before yesterday. Seemed rather short lived but I put another one on and home drove the wife. The belt lasted just about 24 hours.

My next thought is a bad tension pulley. I am in the process of trying to replace it (need more elbows in my arm and have to buy a shorter 15mm wrench.) I have checked all pulleys for nicks etc and can find nothing. Would you agree that the tension pulley is likely the problem? Does anyone have any other ideas?

The van has been very reliable and I have pretty much liked the vehicle until today. Getting to the pulley has proved to be VERY difficult. I still have not figured out how to totally remove the alternator. I have simply managed to move it aside. Any ideas on how to get it out would also be apprciated.

Thanks in advance for any input.

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Old 07-17-03, 10:00 AM
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Check ALL of the pulleys and make sure none wobble or are out of alignment.

Check for any bulletins pertaining to your problems.

Lastly, check in my signature file below for some R&R photos of the belts, pulleys and related items (including the alternator).

Let us know what you find.
Old 07-17-03, 11:02 AM
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Buy a complete tensioner assembly, not just the pulley. They're known to fail. As Joe said, inspect the water pump & all other accessories for looseness, wobble, etc.
Old 07-17-03, 03:55 PM
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HOLD ON A SEC........ You do not have to remove any other components to replace the tensioner. Get to it from behind, from under the vehicle over top of the cradle. There is a single bolt that runs through the tensioner and a nut on the back take it off there . It is easily a simple 15 minute job. I have done several of these and saw hundreds when I worked at Chrysler. The tensioner is a poor design and has been improved upon many times. They give up the ghost quite regularly. Besides that check the other pulleys as well. I have seen the Harmonic Damper give out as well.
Hope this helps,
Old 07-17-03, 05:02 PM
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I agree with Billy.. 1 15mm nut on the backside..When done from underneath, not a bad job at all..
And yes, seldom is it actually the pully, but the tenioner arm and spring that go bad, making the pully and belt "track" crooked..
Old 07-19-03, 10:42 AM
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Follow Up

Thanks to all for the input and advice.

Prior to my original post I checked all pulleys for play, wobble, and nicks. Purchased tensioner assembly and attempted to change the tensioner.

I have now completed the task. I was delayed by my need to purchase a shorter 15mm wrench (the only one I had was too long for the small workspace.) I was forced to do all the work from the top side as I was doing the work in the parking lot of the local YMCA.

One word of caution to any who may attempt the same repair from the top side of the engine... if you have large hands and/or forearms, be sure to have someone available to assist. I was able to remove the nut securing the tensioner and was barely able to hold onto it to get it out. However, I don't know how I would ever get that nut back on. I realized this before removing it but knew it HAD to come off. Once removed, I ended up having to go into the YMCA and find a young man who had skinny arms and small hands to start the nut onto the bolt. Even he had a very hard time of it. I mentioned to him the recommendations of doing the job from underneath. He slid under the van and said that he could see NO way of doing it from the bottom. I am sure that having it on a lift would make a world of difference though.

Anyway, the new tensioner and new belt are now on. It has only been driven a few miles. However, at this point, the belt seems to run more in the center of the tension pulley than it was before.
When I put the previous belt on, it appeared to run towards the outside edge of the pulley which is a bit rounded. I suspect that the edge of the belt riding on the rounded edge of the pulley was putting undo strain on that edge of the belt causing it to fail (that was the edge that failed.) Hopefully, the problem is now fixed. We shall see.

thanks again for all the help
Old 07-19-03, 02:04 PM
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you're a better man than me--replacing it from the top

i'd at least try driving one tire up on a curb and find a piece of cardboard to lay on

glad to hear it fixed it though, be glad you didn't lose the nut somewhere in the brackets, that would have been fun.
Old 07-19-03, 02:40 PM
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thanks for the encouragement. Believe me, I crawed under and took a look underneath as did the skinny guy who helped me. It just didn't look feasible. As for losing the nut, I told the guy who helped me that if he could get the nut started, he would have my eternal gratitude, but whatever he did... DO NOT DROP THE NUT. He got it started with no fumbles!

As for it being "fixed", I am waiting to see if it truly is. I don't know for sure that the tensioner was the cause of the problem. I have a spare belt and a tool box still in the back in case this belt breaks too. Only time will tell.

Old 07-19-03, 02:59 PM
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Thumbs up

Good job. Glad it's fixed. Keep an eye on it for any problems.
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