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Belt tension gauges


BA-35's Avatar
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10-10-03, 12:22 PM   #1  
BA-35
Belt tension gauges

The shop manual for my 97 Honda Accord states that, when replacing the alternator or P/S pump belts, the belt tension should be checked either with a deflection test or by using a special tool--the aptly named belt tension gauge.

I was wondering if anyone had experience using the tension gauge or does nearly everyone use the deflection method.

Also, the only belt gauges I've seen for sale are for V-belts. Do you suppose they would work on flat, ribbed belts as well?

Thanks.

 
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10-10-03, 12:48 PM   #2  
Joe_F
I've never used one of those gauges in my life. LOL.

I use 1/2" of belt tension deflection on the longest span and have had no problems in all these years .

Is the tool the way to go? Sure, that's the "right" way. But I've yet to see anyone use that specific tool .

 
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10-10-03, 12:52 PM   #3  
BASICALLY, GET THE BELTS AS TIGHT AS U CAN. THE CHANCES OF OVERTIGHTENING AND HAVING A PROBLEM AS A RESULT ARE NIL.

 
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10-10-03, 03:08 PM   #4  
not me

I never used the deflection guage I have calibrated fingers like Joe no problems with this method.

 
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10-10-03, 07:06 PM   #5  
In all the years I've been doing this work, I've never "torqued" a regular belt..(Setting the tension on a timing belt is a different story).
Your question about belt types= It will either take a v-belt, or a ribbed belt. You can not not use a v-belt on a ribbed belt pully..Some cars (like Chrysler) will use a v-belt for 1 component, and a ribbed/serpentine belt for the other components.

 
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10-10-03, 08:44 PM   #6  
Originally posted by bigguy05641
BASICALLY, GET THE BELTS AS TIGHT AS U CAN. THE CHANCES OF OVERTIGHTENING AND HAVING A PROBLEM AS A RESULT ARE NIL.
I can't imagine anyone giving this advice???
You would be asking for premature bearing and belt failure Look at the shop manual again. I think you will find that they give a belt deflection dimension.

 
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10-11-03, 09:15 AM   #7  
mike from nj
i have a loyal following of isuzu customers, the only way to keep the alternator quiet is to overtighten the alternator belt. these things come back with sometimes over 200,000 miles and no bad bearings in the alt or fan pulley.


one example.

 
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10-11-03, 11:50 AM   #8  
Originally posted by mike from nj
i have a loyal following of isuzu customers, the only way to keep the alternator quiet is to overtighten the alternator belt. these things come back with sometimes over 200,000 miles and no bad bearings in the alt or fan pulley.


one example.
If you must over tighten the belt there is a problem. Either there is a repairable problem that can be diagnosed and repaired or there is a design flaw with the pulleys or the amount of belt contact.

Overtightening may quiet the belt but it is not the correct solution.

 
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10-11-03, 06:58 PM   #9  
Joe_F
Nut:

Just did belts on my friend's 1997 2.4 Stratus today, 1/2" deflection, no squeak, no problems.

Fat chance of getting ANY tensioner/gauge in there. No way, nope, no way. Maybe a factory item, but it probably costs $200 and it will sit on your shelf forever. LOL.

Some shop manuals give the 1/2" rule as the "tension".

 
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10-16-03, 09:45 AM   #10  
ah yes, here it is.....

Yes, tighten them as tight as u can get them.
See, in the real world, you're lucky enuff to get something in there to pry against with out it breaking something, or to get enuff leverage to get the belt tight enuff to keep it quiet.
The more important thing I can think about belt tightening, is not to break anything while prying. such as p/s pump reservoirs, etc.
In 23 years of dealership experience, not once have i seen a failure due to overtightening. But the number of times they came back squealing due to lack of tension? Well it took only once.
the auto industry did technicians one of their bigger favors when they came out with the serpentine belt and spring loaded tensioners. These have their whole set of problems, but I'll take a serp belt over v-belts anyday! Ya, as tight as u can get them!

 
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10-16-03, 09:48 AM   #11  
Originally posted by car nut


If you must over tighten the belt there is a problem. Either there is a repairable problem that can be diagnosed and repaired or there is a design flaw with the pulleys or the amount of belt contact.

Overtightening may quiet the belt but it is not the correct solution.
Sorry, our R & D team has the day off!!

 
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10-16-03, 01:51 PM   #12  
The belt tensioning gauge is your thumb, for a short span between pulleys 1/2 inch deflection is proper for longer span, say 18/24 inches 3/4 of an inch should be within specs. When you're done kiss your thumb and buy yourself a nice bottle of wine.

 
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10-16-03, 03:57 PM   #13  
Originally posted by bigguy05641


Sorry, our R & D team has the day off!!
Aparently the "Master Technician " approach is "if it doesen't fit, get a bigger hammer"

A good mechanic will take the good with the bad. Some times a fix goes faster and easier than expected and you collect the going rate for the repair. When the fix is not so easy your solution is "I'm not going to take the time to solve the problem and do it right, I'll crank it down as tight as I can get it. So what if the belt and bearing life is reduced, the customer won't figure out that I caused it so I will be off the hook"

This is unfortunate for the customer and another reason why a few mechanics give the trade a bad reputation.

No intent to be disrespectful, but your approach is not profesional rather you will admit it or not.

How would you like it if your surgeon took this approach the next time you or a family member needs surgery?

 
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10-16-03, 06:55 PM   #14  
mike from nj
you haven't seen the doctors i've been to!! more importantly, the ones i'll never go back to!!! they're as 'flat rate' as i am, with a much worse pay-out schedule, and a ton more invested. and they do flat rate every job, in and out as fast as possible(i've seen a doctor yell at nurses, "why are these rooms empty?")

when my FFV (fixed first visit) score drops below the top 20 in the nation, i'll worry about customers not coming back.

also a 'master' in one domestic and one import brand.

 
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10-16-03, 07:12 PM   #15  
Fortunatly there are professionals out there that are more interested in doing a first quality work job than just making a buck. They are not always easy to find, and it is sad that there are not more of them.

Who would you rather have working for you? The person who is more interested in doing the job the best it can be done or the person who just wants to make a buck and a so so job is good enough to get by?

You do not need to answer as we all know the answer don't we?

Have a good day and treat your customers as you would want to be treated.

 
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10-17-03, 06:40 AM   #16  
Joe_F
Car Nut:

I couldn't agree more that medical diagnosis and car repair are akin. I have been preaching this for years.

However, a belt tension gauge is one of these tools that will just collect dust in your toolbox. I am a staunch advocate for following the service manual to the T, all the time, every time.

You'll see me preach that here day in and day out to the point of nausea.

I would like the person that designed the belt tension gauge for my friend's 1997 2.4 Stratus to bring me one and show me how he will fit it into the tight spot you have to work with on those belts.

We did this job last Saturday and I had to step away for a minute to change the oil on my uncle's 1997 LHS because he couldn't get the oil filter off

When I was finished with him, I came back (my friend was working 10 feet from me in front of my house) to a cursing, dirty, greasy friend.

Kept asking me, "Joe do you have a 1/2" to 3/8" adapter, with a wobble swivel, etc, etc". He was asking me for all these arcane tools, which believe it or not, I have (more than one. LOL).

I said, "Lemme see what we have there". I said, "Ahspet...(Italian slang for "wait a minute"). Out came my brand new Craftsman Prybar set which I have never used yet. Took out the middle bar, got under there, told him, "Get the 13mm wrench ready." I gently positioned and moved the bar. Belt got tight. My friend tightened the 13mm bolt. Tightened the other bolt.

Done in five minutes. You 'ain't' fitting a belt tension gauge in there champ. LOL.

 
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10-17-03, 08:00 AM   #17  
Joe:

I totally agree that while a belt tension gage would be the ideal way to set belt tension, the problem with them as you know is on many vehicles they are difficult to impossible to use due to space limitations. Even deflection can be hard to measure but at least you can judge it fairly close. I doubt if anyone would want to pay to pull the engine so you can use a belt tension gage.

I was just opposed to the sledge hammer approach of tighten it as tight as you can get it because I don't want to diagnoes the problem.

 
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10-17-03, 08:10 AM   #18  
Joe_F
Nut:

General rule is 1/2 deflection along the longest end which is pretty easy to do

 
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