How To Replace Belts
When it comes to life under the hood, belts are your workhorses: they keep your engine from overheating, your battery from dying, your power steering from failing. Belts endure a lot of wear and tear during the winter. If they become too loose or are damaged or blistered, they need to be replaced. We’re going to show you how.
Parts you'll need:
- Jack and Safety Stands
- Socket Set (standard and metric sizes may be needed)
- Wrench Set
- Torque Wrench
- Serpentine Belt Removal Tool
- Hand Cleaner
- Belt Routing Diagrams & Torque Specifications
- Application specific instructions
- Belt Tensioner Assembly
- Idler and/or Tensioner Pulleys
Safety comes first
Every vehicle is different. When it comes to maintenance and repairs, always follow the vehicle's owner's manual.
Safety should be your number one priority. Don't smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, or wear a necktie while working on the car. Watch out for hot objects, sharp instruments, hazardous materials and other potential safety hazards in and around your workspace.
Don't work with a Philips when the job calls for a flat. Substituting tools can compromise your safety or your vehicle's performance.
Finally, when the fun turns to frustration, or if the job requires specialized knowledge beyond your capabilities, please do not attempt it yourself. Talk to a professional mechanic or installer. The last thing we want is someone getting hurt.
IMPORTANT - Even if they aren’t damaged or loose, both V-Belts and Serpentine (flat, multi-ribbed) belts should be replaced every 3-4 years or every 60000km to 75000km.
Steps for replacing belts
- Raise the hood and let your engine cool if it’s been recently running. Chock any wheels that are not raised off the ground.
- While the engine is cooling, locate the belts, tensioners, and pulleys. They’ll be on the front of the engine, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be facing the front of the car. Many front wheel drive cars have the engine mounted ‘sideways’ or transverse, which means the belts will be located on the side of the engine compartment.
- Once the engine is cool enough to work around, you’ll first need to remove the old belt(s). This is done differently depending on the type of belt your vehicle has
TIP: Take a picture with your smartphone. Before removing the old belt, be sure you know how the belt should be routed.
Steps for removing v-belts
- Generally found on older cars, V-Belts are removed by loosening the bolts on one of the components that the belt turns, such as the alternator, once they move enough to relieve the tension on the belt, the belt can then be removed.
- You’ll likely have multiple V-belts on an older car, so repeat the removal process for each belt/component
Steps for removing s-belts
- Serpentine belts normally use a spring-loaded tensioner to stay tight. Using a wrench that fits the end of the tensioner, a ratchet that fits in a hole in the tensioner, or a belt removal tool, rotate the tensioner away from the belt to relieve the tension, and then remove the belt.
- The belt may need to be removed or accessed from underneath the car. If you need to raise the vehicle, be sure to check the wheels on the ground first, and support it with jack stands.
- Some Front Wheel Drive vehicles have a motor mount that the belt is routed around. This mount needs to be removed to get the old belt off, and the new belt on. Be sure to support the engine properly before removing the mount.
IMPORTANT - Be careful - Spring-loaded tensioners will snap back to their original position, and a wrench on the end of the tensioner can quickly jump out of your hand causing personal injury or damage to your vehicle.
- If you need to replace a tensioner, simply unscrew the bolt in the middle, remove the parts, and install the new parts in the same position as the removed parts. Some models of spring-loaded tensioners have an aligning dowel to make sure they’re installed correctly
- To replace the pulley on the tensioner, remove the tensioner bolt, and remove the tensioner from the engine first. Place the tensioner in a bench vise (don’t over tighten the vise) and then remove the bolt from the pulley. Install the new pulley onto the tensioner, and reinstall the tensioner onto the engine, paying attention to all torque specs.
- If no other parts are being replaced at this time, it is time to install your new belt(s). Use the same technique you used to remove the old ones, paying close attention to the proper routing of the belt.
IMPORTANT - If you have multiple V-belts, make sure you have them on the right grooves in all the pulleys, and that they’re not crossed and rubbing against each other. This is a fast way to wreck your new belts!
- If your vehicle is chewing up belts faster than you think is normal, you may have bent pulleys, or that some pulleys may not be aligned properly with the others . You can use a straight edge to check this, or have it checked by a professional