National average cost of a a Drive Belt Tensioner Replacement for popular vehicles:
What is a drive belt tensioner and how does it work?
The rubber drive belt on your vehicle allows the engine to provide power for a number of systems. Attached to the engine are a power steering pump, alternator, air conditioning compressor, and (in some cases) a water pump. Each of these components has a pulley on the front. Snaking around the pulleys is the drive belt, also known as a “serpentine belt”. Now, a device is in place to keep tension on the belt. This drive belt tensioner might need to be adjusted to provide a particular amount of tension, it might be spring-tensioned, or it might operate by hydraulic pressure. In any case, the job of the drive belt tensioner is to make sure that the serpentine belt does not become loose as it turns all of the pulleys.
Signs that your drive belt tensioner needs to be replaced
When a drive belt tensioner is failing, there are certain signs that might alert you to its condition. If your vehicle has a manually-adjusted tensioner, some of these signs could also suggest that it needs to be adjusted. These signs include:
Squealing noise coming from the front of your engine that raises in pitch with engine RPMs
The belt comes off of its pulleys
Your battery warning light comes on
The drive belt flutters or tracks in an off-centered manner
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Drive belt tensioner replacement first requires access to the front of your vehicle's engine. That might include removing shields or guards or disconnecting engine accessories. With the belt and tensioner in clear view, a mechanic will typically do the following:
Release any tension from the drive belt tensioner by either loosening the tension bolt or turning against the tension with a special service tool
Taking care to note the routing of the serpentine belt in advance, remove the belt from the engine
Unbolt the old tensioner and remove it from its mounting location
Install the new tensioner and torque the mounting bolts to the manufacturer’s specifications
Inspect all other related components for signs of wear
Reinstall drive belt and load tensioner
Reinstall any components that were removed for access
Other questions customers ask
What happens if a belt tensioner goes bad?
A loose or seized drive belt tensioner can cause your drive belt to break or come off of the engine. When that happens, you will likely lose important functions of your vehicle. For instance, if you are driving, you could lose power steering assist, something that can be dangerous if you happen to be turning through an intersection at the time. Also, your alternator would no longer be operational, so your engine would eventually stall out for lack of electrical power. And your battery would die. Because the drive belt powers the water pump on some engines, dangerous overheating could be another result of a failed drive belt tensioner.
What causes a drive belt tensioner to go bad?
The drive belt, or “serpentine belt” on your vehicle is moved by the engine crankshaft. That means, whenever your engine is running, so is the drive belt and all of the pulleys that it engages. Therefore, the belt tensioner sees an enormous amount of use. Eventually, the tensioner pulley bearings give out. Sometimes the tensioner mechanism, whether screw-type, spring-tensioned, or hydraulic, gives way. Excessive dirt and dust can cause premature wear.
How long can you drive with a bad tensioner pulley?
If a drive belt tensioner is going bad, the resulting damage - namely a broken or thrown belt - might not be immediate. But they might be. If you suspect that the belt tensioner is going bad, or any other drive belt component, such as another pulley, is failing, make sure to have it inspected and replaced as soon as possible to avoid a potentially dangerous loss of vehicle function.
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What parts are related to a Drive Belt Tensioner Replacement?
What are some other common services related to a Drive Belt Tensioner Replacement?
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