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should a belt tensioner move

by Aileen Ernser Published 8 months ago Updated 5 months ago
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The tensioner arm should move smoothly and freely. Solution: If you notice a binding, sticking or grinding tensioner arm, the tensioner should be replaced.

Full Answer

Is the drive belt tensioner on the inside or outside?

It is the long one. The pulley itself is found on the outside of the belt, which is how it adds tension or pressure. The problem with the drive belt tensioner is that once it goes, it usually means replacing the pulleys and sometimes the drive belt itself. It’s not usually a one-part replacement job.

What does the tensioner arm do on a belt?

The tensioner arm is a mechanism that allows for the adjustment or the removal of the drive belt. It delivers enough slack on the drive belt for easier adjustments. The base is what holds all the different parts together. We now know that the belt tensioner is what maintains the correct tension on the drive belt system.

Can a bad tensioner pulley cause a belt to break?

In more severe instances, a bad tensioner pulley can cause the drive belt to break. Since the belt tensioner keeps the proper spinning of the drive belts in the car’s engine, certain components or accessories may fail to operate if there’s a problem with the tensioner.

Should I replace the entire belt tensioner system?

Mechanics will tell you to replace the entire belt tensioner system. This is to help avoid compromising the state of the tensioner. There is no way of knowing whether the tensioner is also affected by the pulley bearing wear. It is best to replace the entire assembly to be safe.

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Is belt tensioner supposed to wobble?

A wobbling belt tensioner can result from many different causes. In general, belt tensioners tend to get noisy when they fail. If your belt tensioner is chirping or makes other noises, it is often an indication that the part is old and needs to be replaced.

Why does my belt tensioner move?

2:166:54How to Diagnose a Loose or Stuck Belt Tensioner on Your Car or TruckYouTubeStart of suggested clipEnd of suggested clipThe reasons for that could either be because maybe your serpentine belt is in poor condition maybeMoreThe reasons for that could either be because maybe your serpentine belt is in poor condition maybe it's cracked or something like that but assuming your serpentine belt is in good condition.

Is the serpentine belt tensioner supposed to spin?

Spin the pulley to see if it spins freely. If you hear grinding or the pulley doesn't spin freely, replace the tensioner. When you replace the belt, it should take a lot of muscle power to move the tensioner. If you can move it easily, the spring tension is most likely not tight enough.

How do I know if my belt tension is correct?

0:152:19How To Check & Adjust Serpentine Drive Belt Tension On Your CarYouTubeStart of suggested clipEnd of suggested clipIf you're not able to twist it half a turn then you have too much tension if you're able to twist itMoreIf you're not able to twist it half a turn then you have too much tension if you're able to twist it more than half a turn then you do not have enough tension. If the tension needs adjustment.

How do I know if my tensioner is bad?

One of the most common symptom of a bad or failing drive belt tensioner is noise from the belts or tensioner. If the tensioner is loose the belts may squeak or squeal, especially when the engine is first started.

How do I know if my timing belt tensioner is bad?

When a timing belt tensioner fails, it can result in a number of different symptoms.Symptom 1: Squealing, rattling, or chirping. ... Symptom 2: Knocking or slapping. ... Symptom 3: Check engine light illuminated. ... Materials Needed.Step 1: Park your vehicle and turn off the engine.More items...•

Should all pulley spin freely?

The only pulleys you should be able to turn by hand when the serpentine belt is not in place are: the water pump, alternator, and power steering pump pulleys. The air conditioning compressor has a clutch on it that should spin freely as well but it will not be rotating the internals of the compressor.

Should pulleys spin freely?

It should spin freely. Apparently you can do away with it altogether as its only there to gauge belt tension. That makes sense, it seemed too flimsy to really be affecting belt tension. I'll have to dink with the washers a bit to see if I can get it smooth.

Is an idler pulley supposed to spin?

Like many automotive parts, the idler pulley becomes worn over time. The pulley spins against the belt wearing down both parts.

How tight should a tensioner pulley be?

0:534:48HOW TO TIGHTEN A DRIVE BELT PERFECTLY EVERYTIME - YouTubeYouTubeStart of suggested clipEnd of suggested clipSo you want it to go from flat to just straight up and down if you can turn it too much that meansMoreSo you want it to go from flat to just straight up and down if you can turn it too much that means it's too loose if you can't turn it all the way straight up it means it's too tight.

How tight should a belt tensioner be?

0:082:17Belt Tension: How To Know The Correct Tension - YouTubeYouTubeStart of suggested clipEnd of suggested clipNow the rule of thumb for the timing belt. You want it 90 degrees. So when you grab this belt. YouMoreNow the rule of thumb for the timing belt. You want it 90 degrees. So when you grab this belt. You want to be able to spin it 90 degrees at least 90.

How much play should a serpentine belt have?

Pinch that point between your index finger and thumb and move it back and forth. The belt should have about a half an inch of play when at the appropriate tightness. If there is less than a half an inch, the belt will need to be loosened, if there is more, it will need to be tightened.

Why is a belt tensioner important?

The belt tensioner in your car is an important component. It maintains the correct tension on the drive belts. This helps facilitate the transmission of power to the different accessories of your car.

How to tell if a belt tensioner is loose?

Squeaking or Grinding Noise. One of the most common symptoms of a failing belt tensioner is unusual noise coming from either the tensioner or the drive belts. If the drive belt noise resembles a squeal or a squeak, it is possible that the belt tensioner is loose.

Why does my alternator not work?

Since the belt tensioner keeps the proper spinning of the drive belts in the car’s engine, certain components or accessories may fail to operate if there’s a problem with the tensioner. For instance, the alternator may not work. If this happens, then you will not be able to power up your car’s electrical components.

What is a spring tensioner?

Spring tensioners operate automatically. This means it adjusts the tension on the drive belts without external manipulation. The belt tensioner in your car consists of four principal parts. These include the pulley, the tensioner arm, the spring, and the base. The pulley is what allows the movement of the drive belt.

Why does my drive belt wear out?

This can be due different causes. One of the more important reasons of unusual belt wear is a problem in the pulley of the drive belt tensioner. If the pulley is problematic, it can lead to the fraying of the drive belt’s edges.

Why does my drive belt make a squeaking noise?

Since the tensioner is not able to maintain the correct tension on the belts, it produces a squealing or squeaking sound. This is most evident on the drive belts. If the noise you hear is similar to a grinding sound, then it is possible that the tensioner bearings or the tensioner pulley is the problem.

What causes pulley wear?

The grooved surfaces should not have debris or any other particle within the grooves. The groove’s high points should also be equal in height. One major cause of pulley wear is the wearing of drive belt into the pulley .

How to tell if a belt tensioner is good?

The tensioner arm should only move about 1/32″. If the tensioner arm moves more than 1/32″ the dampening mechanism is worn and the tensioner must be replaced. The sign of a good tensioner is to only see 1/32” movement. If you see more, the dampening mechanism is worn and the tensioner must be replaced.

What is the purpose of a belt tensioner?

The belt tensioner’s first job is to maintain the proper tension on the serpentine belt. That’s easy enough, you just build a tensioning device with a strong enough spring to keep the belt at the correct tension. The tensioner also has to compensate for belt wear and stretch. As belts wear, they ride deeper into the micro-grooves and that changes belt length. So the spring inside the tensioner is designed to take up the slack caused by belt wear and still maintain proper belt tension.

What causes a lack of tension?

Most new cars have an automatic belt tensioner. But they don’t last forever and as they wear they introduce tension issues that can cause squeal and misalignment problems that cause chirp. The #1 cause of misalignment is pivot bushing wear inside the automatic tensioner. The tensioner is made in two pieces. One piece is bolted to the engine and has a slot to hold one end of the tensioning spring.

What happens when a tensioner is not dampened?

If there were no dampening mechanism in the tensioner, the power pulses would cause the belt to vibrate and make noise —like a guitar being plucked. So all tensioners include a vibration dampening mechanism.

How to release tension on a serpentine belt?

Using the proper tool, rotate the belt tensioner to release tension. Remove the serpentine belt. The tensioner should rotate smoothly during compression and during release. Any binding no matter how small is an indication of a serious tensioner problem. Replace the tensioner if you discover any binding.

Why does a tensioner make noise?

So all tensioners include a vibration dampening mechanism. When the dampening mechanism wears out, the belt makes noise and transmits that vibration to other components like the alternator, power steering pump, and A/C compressor. That vibration can cause premature bearing failure on those components. So you see why a properly operating belt tensioner is so important.

How long does it take for a serpentine belt tensioner to wear out?

Automatic tensioners tend to wear out at around 100K miles. If you have a belt noise or vibration and you’ve changed the belt, it’s time to test your belt tensioner. It’s easy. Just follow the procedures below.

What does it mean when a belt tensioner goes?

So, the problem with the automatic belt tensioner is that, once it goes; it usually means replacing the pulleys and sometimes, the drive belt itself. Finally, it’s not usually a one-part replacement job.

How to check if a tensioner is moving?

Check the movement of the tensioner arm with the engine off. Use a socket with a long handle ratchet or breaker bar; on the tensioner pulley center bolt, to rotate the tensioner. Consequently, you should be able to feel tension pulling it back. So, if it does not move, it may be jammed or seized.

What happens if the tensioner pulley does not move?

If the tensioner pulley does not move at all, the tensioner may be stuck. Also, watch for excessive chattering or tensioner arm oscillation while the engine is idling.

How to tell if pulleys are bad?

Also, with the belt removed try spinning the pulleys by hand. All pulleys should turn freely with no binding, roughness or wobble. Any binding, roughness or wobble; means these parts are bad and need to be replaced.

Why is an automatic tensioner needed?

So, the automatic tensioner prevents the belt from slipping. A weak tensioner can also allow, the belt to slip and squeal.

Why does my belt slip?

A weak or broken spring inside the tensioner, can’t maintain proper tension and the belt will slip. Springs lose tension over time from exposure to heat.

What should a tensioner be quiet about?

The tensioner should be quiet when the engine is running. Any squealing, rumbling, growling or chirping noises should be investigated. Use a mechanic’s stethoscope to pinpoint the source of the noise. The same goes for all the engine-driven accessories (water pump, alternator, PS pump and A/C compressor).

What happens when you turn on the drive belt tensioner?

As the drive belt tensioner continues to break down, a variety of aspects of your vehicle will start to suffer. It can affect your alternator, power steering, and your air conditioning since they are all powered through the drive belt.

How to know if a belt tensioner is working?

Once you start to hear a grinding or squeaking sound coming from your engine, it's time to have the drive belt tensioner looked at. It will get to the point that you hear this sound every single time you turn on ...

How long does a drive belt tensioner last?

While there is no set lifespan for the drive belt tensioner, it is suggested that you have it inspected each time you perform the regular routine maintenance of your drive belt system. This is a good way to detect early warning signs of any possible problems. It should be noted that the drive belt itself will most likely need replacing before the tensioner does. Drive belts typically last anywhere between 40,000 and 70,000 miles.

What to do if your drive belt tensioner is in need of replacement?

If you’re experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms and suspect your drive belt tensioner is in need of replacement, get a diagnostic or book a drive belt tensioner replacement service with a professional mechanic.

How to keep serpentine belt tension?

In order to keep the proper tension on your vehicle's serpentine belt, a drive belt tensioner is used. This is a pulley that is either mounted to an adjustable pivot point or a spring mechanism. If you open up the hood of your car, you'll see that the serpentine belt is on the front of your engine. It is the long one.

Why does my drive belt tensioner wear down?

The drive belt tensioner can wear down over time, just due to normal wear and tear. It’s a good idea to have it inspected each time you have your belt system looked at. The goal is to replace it before it actually breaks down, and causes your vehicle to run less than perfectly.

Where is the pulley on a belt tensioner?

The pulley itself is found on the outside of the belt , which is how it adds tension or pressure. The problem with the drive belt tensioner is that once it goes, it usually means replacing the pulleys and sometimes the drive belt itself. It’s not usually a one-part replacement job.

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