An accessory belt tensioner is a device that adjusts the tension of the belt of any auto part requiring a belt. Proper tension is very important for the part to function properly. It is a device which consists of an idler pulley usually found between the drive and driven pulleys. A dependable accessory belt tensioner is important as proper tension is needed in order to achieve the pest possible performance from your car. So to get the most out of your car, install only the best premium-grade accessory belt tensioner. Race Pages offers you only the highest quality accessory belt tensioners with key features such as reduced accessory bearing failure, reduced belt squealing, belt slippage, as well as poor accessory performance due to low tension. With coated flat springs for rust resistant characteristics, crack resistant heavy duty cast aluminum springs, and added strength with less distortion brought about by heavy-duty aluminum arm, your replacement accessory belt tensioner will surely last a long time and silently but surely and efficiently work for you and give your car a better all-around performance. Order now from Race Pages, where affordable prices are matched with only the top most quality car parts and excellent customer service!
Accessory Belt Tensioner Buyer's Guide
- The accessory belt tensioner manages the tension of the drive belt that powers many car systems.
- An accessory belt tensioner keeps the right amount of tension in the drive belt, prevents flat belt drive slippage, ensures steady delivery of power to various systems, and makes sure that the belts stay out of each other’s way.
- Several problems that can stem from a bad or failing accessory belt tensioner include engine overheating, loss of power steering, loss of charge from the alternator, and a torn drive belt.
- When you notice several belt-powered car systems perform poorly, inspect the accessory belt tensioner for any signs of damage or excessive wear. You can also readjust the pulley, which can sometimes fix the problem.
- The component can go for prices anywhere between $22 and $58 on CarParts.com.
Are various systems in your car, like the air conditioning and water pumps and even the power steering, not running as well as they should? Their poor performance can stem from an old accessory belt tensioner that broke down or wore out from extensive use.
This brief guide will go over the basics of the accessory belt tensioner, including its parts and role in the car. It will also cover the warning signs of a worn or wrecked part, and what traits to consider for its replacement.
What is an accessory belt tensioner?
The accessory belt tensioner manages the tension of the drive belt that powers many car systems. Some call it by the slightly longer name of “accessory drive belt tensioner.”
It consists of a tensioner pulley. A type of belt pulley mounted between the engine and the other pulleys attached to various auto systems.
The engine drive belt goes through the tensioner pulley on the way to the other pulleys. Afterward, the belt loops back to the engine.
While the similar idler pulleys attach to the engine compartment through a fixed mount, tensioner pulleys use an adjustable mount. Their movable mount can compensate for changes in the drive belt.
What does the accessory drive belt tensioner do?
Tension is vital to a drive belt. Too little leads to the belt getting slack or even slipping out of the pulley. Conversely, excess amounts can strain the belt until it eventually breaks.
A good accessory belt tensioner maintains just the right amount of tension in the drive belt as the latter passes to and from the pulleys. It prevents the risk of flat belt drive slippage.
By keeping the belt from slacking or slipping, the tensioner pulley ensures steady delivery of the right amount of power to various energy-intensive systems. The air conditioning, heating, water pumps, and other systems will not suffer hiccups during their operation.
Further, it makes sure that the belts stay out of each other’s way, as their movement generates vibrations that can shake something loose. Likewise, it prevents the belts from interfering with the other components that share the engine bay.
Issues attributed to the accessory belt tensioner
Many car systems get the engine power they need from the drive belt through pulleys. They depend on the accessory belt tensioner as the intermediary between them and the engine.
Several problems that can stem from a bad or failing accessory belt tensioner include:
- The water pumps cannot quickly circulate coolant fluid through the cooling system. As a result, the car’s engine overheats faster and more often.
- The power steering system cannot help the driver steer the vehicle.
- The alternator cannot charge the car battery. It also cannot generate extra electricity to supplement the battery’s output.
In the worst-case scenario, a slack drive belt can get trapped in the crankshaft pulley. That incident can shred the belt. A torn belt will not only cut off power to the auto systems that rely on it, but the fragments can also cause severe damage to other parts of the engine.
Warning signs of a bad or failing accessory belt tensioner
When you notice several belt-powered car systems perform poorly, inspect the accessory belt tensioner for any signs of damage or excessive wear. Common symptoms attributed to a problematic tensioner pulley include:
- Visible fractures in the mounting arm
- The tensioner vibrates while the engine idles
- The entire assembly feels loose
- Lubricant seeps out of the pulley’s bearings, causing it to run
- The pulley vibrates and makes rattling noises
- The belt gets stuck in the pulley or causes the latter to seize up
Sometimes, you can readjust the accessory belt tensioner to restore its proper performance. Professional technicians and drivers with sufficient experience in DIY auto repair can handle this fix.
But if adjusting the pulley doesn’t eliminate the problem, or if you come across serious damage like fractures and leaks, you should replace the tensioner pulley as soon as possible.
What to look for when buying an accessory belt tensioner
It’s important to get the best replacement possible for a broken accessory belt tensioner. The performance of many auto parts banks on the tensioner pulley’s ability to maintain the right amount of tension in the drive belt. The new part must also last for several years and withstand the harsh conditions in the engine.
Considering the following factors can help you narrow down the options and make sure you get the best part:
Protection against corrosion
Exposure to air and moisture causes corrosion in metal. When metal components rust or corrode, their strength gets compromised and they experience more friction between their moving parts.
A good accessory belt tensioner resists corrosion. Its springs and other metal parts should feature a layer of coating that prevents contact between the material and air or water.
Like any pulley or car part, the accessory belt tensioner experiences lots of heat and physical stress. The entire assembly and its parts should possess the strength to endure constant friction and punishment.
Look for components with heavy-duty parts. For example, cast metal springs can withstand the heavy loads for long periods with minimal risk of fractures. Likewise, the arm that supports the pulley must also have the strength to keep its shape.
How much does a new accessory belt tensioner cost?
You should replace a bad accessory belt tensioner as soon as possible to prevent serious damage to your vehicle’s drive belt and engine. The component can go for prices anywhere between $22 and $58 on CarParts.com.
Make sure that the new part can fit in your vehicle. Auto parts sites like CarParts.com have a filter bar where you can enter your vehicle’s year, make, and model.
Important Facts You Need to Know About Accessory Belt Tensioner
All systems go! Your car's engine isn't made up of only pistons and valves. It's also home to a number of important systems: cooling, ignition and power steering. What makes all these systems function is the accessory belt.That is why the accessory belt tensioner is so important. If there's too much slack in the belt, your car's engine could end up overheating, your steering could lose power assistance and your battery could lose its charge. All these systems are connected to the belt via pulleys.The tensioner itself is a pulley that can be adjusted to tighten the belt's hold over all the other pulleys. Don't take this too lightly - a loose belt can easily get caught by the crankshaft pulley and be torn apart, rendering all the other systems down and out.If adjusting the accessory belt tensioner doesn't tighten the belt enough, then it may be time to replace it. CarParts.com should have the right tensioner for your car's engine type.
• Our tensioner's flat spring design reduces likelihood of bearing failure.
• Our belt tensioner feature a non-slip pulley surface prevents belt squeal.
• Our accessory belt tensioners provide a perfect fit.
Installing an Accessory Belt Tensioner in Six Easy Steps
Your car includes an accessory belt that drives the numerous ancillary components of the engine, including the alternator, A/C compressor, and the water pump. Meanwhile, the part that keeps it in place as it functions is called the accessory belt tensioner. If the belt starts to stretch and stops functioning normally, it might be time to replace the tensioner with a new one.
Required skill level: Intermediate
Needed tools and materials
3/8-inch drive breaker bar
3/8-inch drive metric socket set
3/8-inch drive ratchet
Disconnecting the power
Open the hood of your vehicle and secure it in place. Disconnect the battery so you will not accidentally touch an electrical connector or terminal while working around the engine. Look at the top of the fan shroud to see the accessory belt routing diagram; if it is not there, check the underside of the hood. Use this diagram to route the belt back around the pulleys in case the belt comes out of the pulleys when replacing the tensioner.
Locating the old accessory belt tensioner
Find the tensioner on the front of the engine. The accessory belt will be routed underneath the roller pulley, which is attached to the tensioner. Look for the bolt head in the middle of the roller pulley. You can rotate the accessory belt tensioner from there.
Removing the accessory belt
Using the breaker bar and a socket, turn the tensioner either clockwise or counterclockwise. This will help relieve the tension from the belt. You will see two holes protruding from the tensioner. Once you see the second one stick out from the component, stick the retaining pin through it to lock the tensioner in place. Then, reach under the roller pulley and slide the belt out. Let it hang down toward the other pulleys.
Removing the tensioner device
Look for the bolt that secures the tensioner to the front of the engine. Most tensioner devices have a bolt head in the middle of the spring-loaded arm of the tensioner. Some of them are attached to a bracket connected to the front of the engine by two or three bolts. Using the ratchet and a socket, remove the hardware that the tensioner device is attached to.
Installing the new accessory belt tensioner
Pull the tensioner off of the front of the engine and match it to the new component to make sure that the new stock is of the right size. Then, mount the new tensioner to the front of the engine and tighten the hardware back down tight using the ratchet and socket.
Reinstalling the rest of the components
With the new accessory belt tensioner installed, rotate it from the roller pulley again with the breaker bar and socket then slide the belt under the pulley. Slowly release the tensioner and remove the breaker bar. As it is retracting against the belt, the accessory belt tensioner will remove all of the slack out of the belt and bring it to the proper tension.
Battle of the Brands: AC Delco vs. Febi Accessory Belt Tensioner
Accessory belts need to regain the right levels of tension in order to function properly-else your alternator, power steering pump, water pump, compressor, among others will not get the power that they need. A tensioner in good working order maintains the exact level of tension at all times. Choosing the best one is hard because there simply are too many brands out there. That's why we took away all the guesswork, and pit two very popular brands head-to-head to determine which is the best one for you.
When it comes to an accessory belt tensioner, these two brands are virtually indistinguishable from each other. The materials used are of the best quality polymers, so you can expect durability and resilience. In fact, there are virtually no complaints when comparing the two brands. There is somewhat of a difference when it comes to the solidity of the builds, though. Here, Febi comes off looking and feeling more "put together."
AC Delco takes the lead when it comes to affordability. It costs a lot less than the accessory belt tensioner from Febi. Febi's tensioner has a more solid feel, but a problem lies in the price discrepancy. If you're one that wants to focus on bang-for-their-buck or affordability with no appreciable loss in quality, then AC Delco is a good choice.
WINNER: AC Delco
Diversity of choice
If your vehicle is very popular and relatively new, you don't really need to concern yourself much with availability-manufacturers will have a tensioner that matches your ride's engine. If you have a much older or less popular model, then diversity of choice is a very big concern. In this regard, AC Delco is the brand for you. They carry over 300 percent more types of tensioners that cover a wider set of engines and rides. You will not have a difficult time finding a match for your vehicle in their catalog.
WINNER: AC Delco
If you're lucky enough to find a match for your engine and don't mind paying a couple of dollars more, Febi is a perfect investment-you just know it will last a long time. If, however, you're more concerned with affordability that doesn't compromise too badly on quality, then you can't go wrong with AC Delco.
How to Replace a Damaged Accessory Belt Tensioner
The accessory belt tensioner maintains proper belt tension to ensure the seamless operation of the parts connected to it. The belt drives several components together, including the water pump and alternator, so adequate tension is required to keep it running. The accessory belt tensioner must be adjusted to the correct tension at all times. Any looseness on this part may cause the belt to become derailed, jeopardizing the operation of the peripheral devices dependent on it. At some point, the spring inside the tensioner may start to weaken and become worn out. When this happens, the tensioner will lose its capacity to maintain the required belt tension. Ultimately, various engine parts will stop working, rendering your vehicle inoperable. Replace a damaged accessory belt tensioner right away before the problem worsens. Here are the tools you'll need and the steps to follow in replacing a faulty belt tensioner:
Difficulty level: Moderate
- 3/8-inch drive breaker
- 3/8-inch drive metric socket set
- 3/8-inch drive ratchet
Step 1: Disconnect the car battery and turn the engine off for safety. Using the breaker bar and a socket, turn the damaged accessory belt tensioner either counterclockwise or clockwise to loosen it. This leaves the belt free of tension.
Step 2: Slide off the belt from underneath the roller pulley and let it hang downward in the direction of the other pulleys.
Step 3: Remove all bolts securing the tensioner to the engine using the ratchet and a socket. Pull the damaged tensioner out and detach it from the engine carefully.
Step 4: Before discarding the old tensioner, align it with the new one to ensure they're both of the same size. Position the new accessory belt tensioner on the engine block and put back the mounting bolts to secure it in place. Tighten all bolts using the ratchet and socket.