The V-belt drives the auxiliary devices, such as the alternator, the water pump, the power steering pump and the AC compressor. If not tensioned properly, the belt slips affecting the operation of all the components powered by it. To avoid belt tensioning problems, modern cars are equipped with tensioners guaranteeing the right tensioning. Although they are durable, they still wear and require to be changed periodically. Their replacement may be easy or difficult, depending on the engine type and position.
What is the belt tensioner?
The timing belt is often equipped with a tensioner ensuring appropriate tension of the belt and preventing it from slipping. In older engine types, the belt was usually tightened during assembly by means of adjusting fixtures of a given component, e.g. the alternator. However, as the belt stretched, its slack would not be compensated in any way, eventually resulting in its slip, wear of the drive wheel powered by it, and deterioration of the belt-driven components, such as the alternator or power steering.
In modern cars, belt tensioning is provided by the tensioner comprised of a belt-pressing roller, a lever and a tensioning spring. The tensioner may additionally be equipped with a vibration damper decreasing the noise generated by the belt.
How is the belt tensioner replaced?
The belt tensioner may, from time to time, require changing. If this is the case, the tensioner lever has to be pulled away by means of a special tool in order to remove the belt. Next, the tensioner bolts have to be removed. After fitting a new tensioner, its lever is pushed back into place, followed by fitting of the belt.
What else to keep in mind?
When changing the tensioner, a good idea is also to change the belt in order to ensure that the old one does not slip, crack or otherwise wear while cooperating with a new tensioner.