Changing a Car Serpentine Belt

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Overview: Fan belt replacement

If you’re old enough to remember the good old days when you changed your own fan belts, then you can also remember the bruised knuckles and cursing that went along with it. And to make matters worse, there were often two or three belts to change.

Now, instead of separate belts for each component, most cars today use a single wider, multigrooved “serpentine” belt (aka as serp belt), named for the way it snakes around multiple pulleys.

Serpentine belt replacement is easy because today’s automatic drive belt tensioners eliminate the need to loosen bolts or pry components into position for retensioning. Just rotate the tensioner, remove the old belt and install a new one. When the belt ribs are seated into the pulley grooves, release the tensioner and you’re done.

Fan belt replacement: Check the tensioner first
Step 1: Check for excessive movement

tensioner

A “good” tensioner arm should exhibit just a slight vibration with about 1/32 in. or less of arm movement. And the belt should run smoothly with no visible vibration. If the tensioner arm exhibits a jerky vibrating motion, the belt vibrates, or the tensioning arm moves 1/4 in., the tensioner is bad.

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