There is no recommended timeframe in which to replace your tensioner, especially as the belt itself usually needs replacing before the tensioner does. However, you should inspect your tensioner each time you service your car to monitor its condition and replace it if necessary.
Symptom 1: Squealing, rattling, or chirping.
When the tensioner or tensioner pulley fails, the loss of tension can cause the belt and pulleys to make high-pitched rattling or chirping noises. If the pulley bearing completely fails, it can also cause a squealing or even a grinding noise.
If the tensioner is worn, the belt will slip and then catch suddenly. Tensioners are more than just a spring. … The belt will slip and catch, causing noise and vibration. This can cause a change in crankshaft speed that is severe enough to cause the engine management system to think that a misfire just occurred.
Listen for a fluttering” noise while driving or while the car is idling. This indicates the tensioner is too loose. Other noises such as squealing or whirling from the front of the engine mean the spring inside the tensioner is weakening. In this case, the belt tensioner needs to be replaced.
The hydraulic oil that maintains this tension can seep out of the tensioner. When it does the associated engine belts become loose. A car that leaks oil is not an uncommon sight. … This is often due to a loose timing belt, which arises due to leaking from the tensioner.
The camshaft and crankshaft cannot synchronize when you have a loose timing belt caused by a bad tensioner. Because of this, you won’t be able to ignite the fuel and air mixture in the chamber. You may hear the motor after you turn the key in the ignition but you won’t be able to turn the engine over.
If you suspect you’re dealing with a failing tensioner or idler, you’ll want to watch for the following symptoms: … Excessive tensioner movement – Worn-out coil springs can also cause drive belt tensioners to loosen their grip on the drive belt, resulting in excessive vibration and rattling.
If there is any wobble, squeak, or undue friction, the idler pulley should be replaced. The best way to maximize the idler pulley’s lifespan is to maintain proper tension on the serpentine belt and replace belts with new ones whenever required.
The most common sign of a loose drive belt is noise, and it can range from a barely audible squeak to an ear-shattering squeal. It could happen when you’re driving, or when your engine is idling.
The most common cause of engine ticking noise is low oil pressure. … Your engine may be low on oil or there could be a problem inside the engine causing the low oil pressure. Ticking, tapping, or clicking sounds can also be symptoms of worn valve train components such as lifters or cam followers.
Squealing. When the engine is idling, a bad pulley may make a squealing sound. The bearings may also make various other sounds such as clattering or even a rumbling sound, making the vehicle sound as if there was much more wrong than a bad pulley. …
A bad belt tensioner spring will often cause the tension arm to bounce up and down with the cycling of the motor. This makes the belt wobble as the engine runs. These are definite signs that the tensioner needs replaced.
When the timing belt is replaced, other parts, including the tensioner, should be replaced at the same time. This is because these components wear out at essentially the same rate as the belt. For instance, the tensioner bearings could dry out or even seize.
A seized tensioner cannot maintain proper belt tension. Dirt or mud can also jam the tensioner housing. A loose or worn pivot arm can allow unwanted movement; that results in belt noise and misalignment. Over time, this will increase belt wear and lead to premature belt failure.
If the tensioner’s wear leads to the belt fully dislodging, likely through seizing, each of the components that rely on the belt for power will be lost. This means your vehicle’s air conditioning, alternator, smog equipment, water pump, and power steering will be lost if the belt dislodges.
Checking the Tensioner
Spin the pulley to see if it spins freely. If you hear grinding or the pulley doesn’t spin freely, replace the tensioner. When you replace the belt, it should take a lot of muscle power to move the tensioner. … You can also check the tensioner by checking belt tension.
How long does a belt tensioner last? It’s always best to check your owner’s manual to find out exactly how long your particular timing belt’s last but it’s worth noting that in general they are expected to last between 60,000 miles and 100,000 miles.
If you hear a chirping or squealing noise when you accelerate, it usually means a belt is loose and slipping or the drive pulley for an accessory has become misaligned.
While a shaky idling car can certainly feel like an earth-rumbling tremor, it can also indicate a problem with the engine. One common cause of shaking while idling can be loose engine mounts. … Alternatively, a car that shakes when idle may have faulty fuel injectors, worn-out spark plugs, or a bad timing belt.
Misadjusted or worn out timing belt and other belts just as the serpentine belt can cause engine vibrations. If these belts have become loose or worn out then they can also cause other parts of your engine such as fans to not operate properly – resulting in strange noises and shaking.
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.
You will pay somewhere between $125 and $380 to have your tensioner pulley replaced. The labor should run between $45 and $155, while parts can cost as little as $85 or as much as $225.
To get the belt tensioner replaced, you will pay anywhere from $140 to almost $400. The price of parts and labor varies from one car to the next, with most labor costs coming in at about $70 or $80.
Under ideal conditions, a belt should stick with you for an average of 60,000 to 100,000 miles. This is all because many cars have one serpentine belt that drives the water pump, the power steering pump, the alternator and the air conditioning compressor, and the fan.
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