5 AC Belt Tensioner Replacement Tips

The AC belt tensioner is one of the components in your vehicle that you’re likely to replace with time. It is also known as a tensioner pulley. The belt usually goes round a pulley attached to the flywheel. It works to ensure that the proper tension is maintained through all the drive belts in the engine. The tensioner rotates clockwise to relieve tension and moves counterclockwise to apply tension. With time, the belt develops cracks and emits noise. If not replaced, it can break and cause the loss of drive torque within the engine. It isn’t difficult to replace a faulty belt. Below are 5 tips to help you replace the belt.

1. Preparation

Wait for your engine to cool before you begin replacement. Hot engine parts can easily leave you with burns. Remove the negative battery cable from the battery. Use jack stands to raise the front part of the vehicle. Place blocks directly behind the rear wheels so that the vehicle doesn’t roll as you work.

2. Belt Routing Diagram

It is a good idea to refer to the repair manual for your vehicle when you undertake belt tensioner replacement. You may have to remove some engine parts to reach the tensioner. The specific parts to be removed will vary from vehicle to vehicle. However, these may include accessory drive belts, radiator, power steering pump and coolant reservoir. Your repair manual will give you exact details on parts to be removed. It will also give you the belt routing diagram which is a vital guide for the job. The diagram may also be available under the hood of your vehicle. It will help you route the new belt properly round all the pulleys.

3. Tools for the Job

It helps if you obtain a hex wrench and socket wrench from an auto parts store. The long extension handle of the hex wrench allows you to rotate the tensioner and relieve tension. You may have to rotate it about 80 degrees clockwise, although the amount and direction varies amongst vehicles. Once the belt has loosened, simply slip it off the pulley. Use a socket wrench or box-end wrench to remove the retaining bolt on the tensioner. You can then remove it from the engine.

4. Size

It is vital that you get the same size of belt to replace your old one. Once you’ve removed your belt, take it along with you to an auto parts store to ensure you get a good match. It is okay if the new belt is a couple of centimeters shorter than the old belt, as it will stretch once installed. However, a belt that is too long isn’t acceptable.

5. Replacing the Belt

Fit the new tensioner in its place on the engine. Insert the bolts and tighten to meet the specific torque for your vehicle. Give the tensioner a slight lift with your hand so that you can slip on the new belt. Be sure to align the teeth on the belt with those on the pulley sprockets. Reinstall all engine parts that you may have removed in order to access the tensioner belt.