At Wheelco, we’ve seen our fair share of broken serpentine belts, especially this time of year. However, few people replace their tensioners at the same time. This is a common mistake that can lead to rapid belt wear, resulting in repetitive belt complications if the tensioner needs to be changed out. Simply inspecting and upkeep can save you money in the long run.
How? Great question! If an older, aging belt is not replaced, it may break. Then you may experience a loss of drive torque to engine accessories like premature malfunctions with shaft bearings on water pumps, alternators, air conditioning compressors and power steering—just to name a few. Therefore, by replacing your belt tensioner when it starts to show wear and tear (you can hear the squeal too) you could save yourself a lot of time, money and heartache down the road.
How tensioners work
The tensioner has a coil spring that applies force/pressure against the belt to keep it tight. Because of this tension, this belt is under constant strain. One of the main duties of a tensioner is to absorb shock loads on the belt when the A/C compressor clutch cycles on and off.
Signs you need to replace your belt tensioner.
Now that you understand why belt tensioner is so critical, here are a few signs that your belt tensioner made be due for a replacement.
- You may notice the belt slipping and squealing. This can be caused by too little tension. If your belt is slipping, it will likely cause it to run hot. This means it will wear out more quickly and you’ll need to replace it sooner. If it gets too loose, it can slip completely off the pulleys.
- Too much tension can overload it and cause premature malfunction on engine accessories.
- Rust and corrosion can prevent the tensioner from rotating properly, thus, “freezing” it in place. This is common within places where roads are heavily salted in the wintertime.
- Dirt or mud can jam tensioner in a similar manner that salt does.
- Lose or worn pivot arms can cause squealing or noise.
- Cracks to the tensioner housing and/or pulley arm may prevent the belt from rotating smoothly which cause premature breakage.
Replace your old belt tensioner with your serpentine belts at the same time.
When you’re changing out your serpentine belt, replace your old belt tensioners too. Built with patented technologies, our belt tensioners are designed to ensure smooth operation with less wear and tear. Corrosion-proof round spring design creates more even load distribution across the belt.
We carry an assortment of Continental serpentine belts and tensioner belts for many applications – Cummins, Volvo, Cat and more. Stop in or call one of our many locations, or shoot us an email and our experts will find the belts that are right for you.