Tips for Installing a Serpentine Belt

Needs some tips for installing a serpentine belt? Serpentine belt routings can range from relatively simple to complex. Preparation is essential before removal of the belt. Always look for a placard under the hood depicting the serpentine belt routing. Usually, the placard is located on the radiator support shroud. In lieu of a placard, look in the owner's manual and, if that fails, a service manual. The serpentine belt can be installed in the wrong configurations on many vehicles and will not work.

Some vehicles such as the Buick Roadmaster have a motor mount in the middle of the belt routing. This requires removing a portion of the motor mount in order to extract the belt. This requires a floor jack to support the engine while the mount is off. Quite a number of vehicles have their particular quirks to replace the belt.

Another good tip for replacing a serpentine belt is to write down a description of the serpentine routing and looking for any obstacles to the replacement of the belt.

Check the serpentine belt tensioner to see what type is being used and what type of tool will be necessary to move the tensioner to relieve tension on the belt. Accessibility to the tensioner is another matter. On some vehicles a special long ratchet wrench is needed to reach the tensioner.

Always start by installing the belt around the crankshaft pulley and work counter clockwise. Keep a little tension on the belt as it is being installed or it will slide off.

When ever possible, try to have the slack at the top of the engine. This makes it much easier to keep tension on the belt while the tensioner is loosened enough to slide the slack end over a pulley.

Once the belt is installed, go back and check every pulley to make sure that the belt is sitting squarely in the center of all pulleys. The grooves in the belt can easily prevent the belt from seating. If the belt is not seated in the grooves properly, when the engine is started either the belt will come off or fray within a very short time.

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