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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys -

My van started belt squealing/squeaking VERY badly today, primarily when the AC was on. Start the van with the AC, you get a big squeak, turn off the air, it goes away. Sometimes while driving it would come back, especially when the trans shifted gears.

I got a new belt from Pep Boys, their Dayco brand belts have always been champs for me. Some other belts I've had problems with, Daycos are really designed well. I also got a whole tensioner assembly, it was from O'Reilly's, a Gates brand tensioner for about $45.

The belt was glazed on the back and had a number of cracks in the ribs so it was definitely due. Decided to do the tensioner "while I'm in there" and I'm VERY glad I did.

First off, one problem with releasing the belt tension is you DON'T use the star-shaped hole in the tensioner itself. If you look underneath there's a 19mm head protrusion on the arm of the tensioner, this is what you use.

To remove the belt, all I needed was a 19mm combination wrench, I could easily pull the tensioner back to get the belt off. Did this from below and pulled the belt off the main pulley. To get it back on, the same wrench didn't work. Good reason - the hydraulic arm on the old tensioner was shot and that's why it was easy to move. It's supposed to have good resistance and that's part of why I was having squealing.

So, I took my same 19mm combination wrench and found a big fat socket that fit over the closed end and added a good-sized extension to that socket. Came back easy, and it didn't take much force to hold it in place, and I easily and safely slipped the belt over the main pulley.

Van is squeal-free and happy.

Also, a while back I noticed sometimes the van was noisy from outside with the AC on, you couldn't really hear it in the car. Looking under the hood with the AC on you could see the tensioner "jumping" a bit. Now this makes sense, the tensioner is like a shock and spring on a car. The shock was basically blown so the spring was oscillating around with no dampening.

The tensioner wasn't hard to change, 1 17mm bolt and 1 12mm bolt. You will probably need to get some length on whatever tool you're using to break the 17mm free, I used a ratchet and socket on the bolt then put a big deep well socket and a long extension on the handle of the socket. Broke free nice and easy. You need to use a combination wrench or Gear Wrench to remove the bolt the rest of the way as just after a few turns I couldn't get the ratchet off the bolt head. The 12mm bolt was a cinch, though - nothing fancy there.

Summary: Have belt squeal? Do it RIGHT, get a good belt and a new tensioner. Took me about 45 minutes total TOPS.

Dale
 

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I realize this thread is a few years old. Perhaps if Dale doesn't read this some one else who has replaced serpentine belt and tensioner will be kind enough to respond.

Did you work form above or from below?

Did you find it necessary to remove the splash shield? If so remove it completely or just enough fasteners to bend it out of the way to do the belt work?

Thanks for any information.

Tim
 

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Funny that this topic should come up - I just developed squealing on my van and was in the process of lining up replacement parts. From what I could see, the tensioner roller is shot – there’s too much play when I wiggle it. Thinking about ordering Goodyear tensioner +belt from rock auto.

Now on to your question – I had done alternator replacement on my van a couple of years back or so, which of course required access to the tensioner, and I found that it is easier to work from under the car. For that I just removed enough pins so that I could bend the splash shield out of my way. With wheel off and splash shield bent back, it is also much easier to make sure that the belt is sitting well on all the pulleys, I think
 

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Work from under the car, and do your self a favor, buy a tensioner. Return it if you dont need it.Remove some splash guard to make life easy.
I caught hell getting my belt on, until I relized something was not right with the tensioner(having done many in my time without issue).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I've done it from the bottom each time, it's probably impossible to do from the top.

Dale
 
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