What to Look for in a Replacement A/C Idler Pulley
Buying a replacement A/C idler pulley for the first time can be really complicated and confusing. The best way to overcome this challenge is to equip yourself with sufficient and relevant information about this car component. If you know the different types, sizes, and functions of the idler pulley, you can easily recognize the appropriate idler pulley for your vehicle. If you want to learn more about this essential auto part, read on.
The precise size
There are no ifs, buts, and maybes when you're buying car components. Precision is the primary key in finding the auto part that fits your car perfectly. To find an A/C idler pulley that fits just right, take note of the exact dimensions of the following:
Belt width- this is the thickness or girth of the serpentine belt that is wrapped around the pulley. To identify the right size of the pulley's groove, measure the belt's width. Some pulley have a single groove, while some have six. Buy an idler pulley that has the appropriate groove measurement.
Pulley diameter- this measurement tells you of the pulley can fit or not inside the car's A/C assembly. Use a special measuring tool, which you can purchase in a car parts store, to determine the accurate diameter size of the pulley.
The mounting position
The mounting location of pulleys varies. It depends on the car's model and type. Some are positioned in the driver's side, while some are in the passenger's side. What you need to do to verify the idler's location is to find the A/C idler pulley in your car. Pop the hood open and inspect the parts. If it's difficult to find it, consult the vehicle owner's manual. The manual includes all the vital information about your car's A/C idler pulley.
The quality of materials used
You can predict how long the idler pulley can last by looking into the quality of materials used in its production. Steel and thermoplastic are just two of the best materials used in manufacturing A/C idler pulleys. Between the two, a thermoplastic pulley is popular and common among old and modern car models. It is compatible to almost all vehicle types. Because of its light weight, it turns very smoothly inside the engine. This type of pulley is appropriate for standard cars. For race cars, trucks, and other utilitarian vehicles, a steel pulley works better. It's tough and rigid, thus it withstands the intensive vibrations and friction. Steel pulleys tend to last longer than thermoplastic pulleys.
DIYer's Guide: How to Replace the A/C Idler Pulley
Most of the major components in your car are metal. Some of these metals come in contact with one another when performing a certain mechanical function. Because of this, some parts suffer from extreme friction. Applying lubricants such as grease helps in reducing wear and tear, but only up to some extent. After a long while, these components come to fail. This scenario usually happens in an A/C idler pulley. When the tensioner pulley dries out of grease, its metal bearings chafe. That's when you hear the screeching, grumbling sound in your engine while you're driving. Neglecting this problem can damage the idler pulley severely. When repairing can no longer solve the case, replacement is necessary. Here is a DIYer-friendly replacement guide for A/C idler pulley.
Difficulty level: Moderate
- Wrench set
- Socket and ratchet set
- Torque wrench
- Bench vise
Step 1: Find the belt tensioner, which is usually located at the side of the engine. Examine the belt assembly. Determine the right tool that you should use to release the tensioner from the belt to free the pulley from its mounting. Use a ratchet and a socket of the right size.
Step 2: You have the option to remove the radiator form the engine to have ample space in replacing the idler pulley.
Step 3: Spray a liberate amount of penetrating oil on the belt tensioner mounting bolts so they would come off easily.
Step 4: Release the tension belt gradually until it becomes easy for you to pull the pulley out of the assembly. Position the vice and hold the tensioner's pivot bolt. Do not grip the tensioner tight so you won't crush it. Turn the pulley bolt counterclockwise to release the pulley. Take the pulley out of the assembly along with the washer.
Step 5: Put the new A/C idler pulley in place. Install the new retaining washer as well. Return the tensioner back in the pulley assembly. Tighten the bolts to secure the pulley assembly to its mounting position.
Step 6: Return the belt and snake it around the pulley. Make sure that it is properly aligned within the pulley's grooves. You cannot put the belt back if it's not fitted correctly in the pulley.
Step 7: Test the car after the installation procedure. If you don't hear any rambling noise in the engine, you're good to go.