Have a worn-out timing belt tensioner on your hands? Don't prolong this problem. Get a new timing belt tensioner replacement.
Your engine is composed of numerous components that work together to bring out the best in your car. These parts need to be in-tune with one another for an unparalleled engine performance. The entire engine relies on the timing belt to tune the components together. This toothed rubber component connects the camshaft and the crankshaft to open and close the valves at the proper time. But the belt is not alone in performing this task. It has a timing belt tensioner that adds slack to the belt to activate the valves.
Your car is already installed with a timing belt tensioner from the time it came out of the assembly plant. Like the timing belt, the tensioner is also exposed to abrasive elements that can compromise performance. If the tensioner no longer provides the right amount of slack, it's time to find a timing belt tensioner replacement. Otherwise, your car's engine performance will be compromised. When you pick a replacement, you should check if the specifications have passed OEM standards. And you should check if the replacement is made from high-quality materials to ensure that it gives long-lasting service.
You can search for timing belt tensioner replacements online. With so many auto retailers on the Web, you're sure to find a replacement that fits your car's specifications. However, we advise that you double-check your selected retailer sites to protect yourself from scammers. Contact the site's customer service representatives and voice out questions and concerns to secure your purchase.
Timing Belt Tensioner Buyer's Guide
The roles of the timing belt and its tensioner intertwine literally and figuratively. The belt makes sure that the crankshaft and camshaft operate in sync for smooth engine operation while the timing belt tensioner ensures the belt stays taut and tight, preventing any slack that may cause the length to slip.
When you replace the timing belt, it’s also recommended to get a new tensioner for best results. This buyer’s guide can help you select the right replacement for your car’s belt tensioner.
What is a timing belt tensioner?
The timing belt tensioner controls the amount of tension in the belt. Its four parts are the base, the tensioner, the tensioner pulley, and the tensioner arm.
As its name implies, the tensioner pulls on the timing belt to keep it tense and prevent it from slipping. Many tensioners use torsion springs that apply mechanical force on the belt, but some rely on hydraulic-powered clamps.
Below it sits the tensioner arm. This component serves to counter the pulling motion of the tensioner so you can adjust, remove, and replace the timing belt when necessary.
The tensioner pulley guides the belt to its proper destination. A slack belt can slip out of this pulley and cause problems.
Finally, the base bears the combined weight of the other parts and holds them in place. It can withstand the vibrations produced by the running engine and the shocks caused by driving over uneven ground surfaces.
Symptoms of a bad or failing timing belt tensioner
The timing belt tensioner keeps the timing belt at the right level of tightness. Otherwise, the belt will slacken until it slips up and misses one or more teeth on the crankshaft or camshaft, disrupting the valve timing and throwing off the engine’s operation.
A malfunctioning tensioner can put too much pressure on the timing belt until the latter stretches. This causes much the same problems
When the belt tensioner wears out or breaks down, it may cause these warning signs:
- The belt makes grinding or roaring noises
- Loss of synchronization between the crankshaft and the camshaft, leading to poorer engine performance
- The Check Engine Light activates
- The PCM logs trouble codes associated with the camshaft or crankshaft sensors
- The engine makes slapping or scraping noises
- The engine’s RPM may abruptly climb as your car speeds up because it isn’t accelerating smoothly
How much does a timing belt tensioner cost?
Factors like the parts manufacturer, the number of parts in a set, and the location of the part affect the cost of the replacement part. A timing belt tensioner can go for around $5 up to roughly $310. You can get individual tensioners, a set of 2, 3, 4, or 5 units, or a replacement kit that includes other parts like a new timing belt.
Replacing an old or broken timing belt tensioner
Even when the engine isn’t running, the timing belt tensioner is always working to ensure the timing belt doesn’t slip. The wear and tear from constantly applying pressure to the often-moving belt can push the tensioner past its design limits.
Once you catch wind of any symptoms linked to a bad or failing tensioner, replace the faulty component as early as possible. Otherwise, its negative effects on other engine parts can cause failure in those components.
If you replaced the timing belt, you must also install a new tensioner, even if the current unit looks fine. The timing belt tensioner often takes other parts with it when it finally breaks down, so replacing it at the same time as the timing belt will reduce the risk of a domino effect.
Selecting the best timing belt tensioner
So your car’s old timing belt tensioner needs a replacement because of old age, malfunctions, or your planned purchase of a new timing belt. You have plenty of options to choose from, so how can you pick the best tensioner for your car?
Torsion spring type versus hydraulic type
Many timing belt tensioners use torsion springs to apply mechanical pressure on the belt. They are simple, reliable, and fit any budget.
Other designs take advantage of hydraulic pressure. These complex hydraulic tensioners cost more and take up more space in the engine, but they also deliver greater performance.
Adjustable tensioners versus automatic tensioners
If you own an older vehicle model, it may have an adjustable timing belt tensioner. This type requires manual adjustment of the tensioner after returning a slipped belt to the tensioner pulley.
Later vehicle generations switched to automatic timing belt tensioners that handle the chore of readjusting loose belts.
No car part enjoys compatibility with all vehicles, and this holds true for timing belt tensioners. Older vehicles that use adjustable tensioners may not accept the newer automatic tensioners, while a hydraulic tensioner may not fit in the limited engine space that once held a torsion spring tensioner.
To help you find the right fit for your car, our online shop comes with a convenient filter bar feature. By entering your vehicle’s year, make, and model, you can quickly browse the wide selection of timing belt tensioners we carry.
OEM parts versus OE parts
The simplest way to ensure the new timing belt tensioner’s compatibility is getting an exact replacement from an authorized parts shop. Also called Genuine parts, these Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) parts exactly match the stock parts they replace.
If you own an older vehicle model no longer produced by its manufacturer, the supply of OEM parts designed for that model may have dried up because of lack of official support, making it much harder to replace faulty parts like a timing belt tensioner.
Original Equipment (OE) parts offer a flexible alternative to OEM components. Produced by other companies with no direct affiliation to the vehicle’s original manufacturer, these parts appear in every store’s catalog and deliver roughly the same performance as Genuine parts.
Some OE parts improve on known defects of the OEM counterparts. You may even find components deliberately designed for compatibility with discontinued vehicle models to help keep those old cars on the road.
Important Facts You Need to Know About Timing Belt Tensioner
The timing belt is one area of your car that can benefit from tension. To open and close the camshaft's valves according to proper timing, the belt has to be maintained at correct tension levels. When the belt slacks, its inability to drive the camshaft correctly can cause extensive engine damage.There's an easy way for you to avoid that problem, though. Just equip your vehicle with a reliable timing belt tensioner. This pulley is designed to maintain the right amount of pressure on the belt and prevent it from becoming loose or slacking. This ensures that the timing belt keeps driving the camshaft properly.Interestingly, the timing belt is also the most effective indicator of a damaged tensioner pulley. If the belt breaks before 60,000 kilometers, however, then something is definitely wrong with your timing belt tensioner. Push on the timing belt to check for tightness. If there's slack, tighten the tensioner.If the belt still slacks, and is nearly brand new, then you're better off getting a new tensioner pulley. CarParts.com has tensioners for all makes and models.
• Keeps proper timing belt tension
• Lasts longer than stock tensioner pulleys
• Matches most timing belt applications
What to Consider When Buying Timing Belt Tensioner
The key to proper timing belt function is keeping the belt taut and tight. A broken or malfunctioning tensioner makes this next to impossible. So it's absolutely important that you get a new the moment you start to find yours wearing down.
Replace one or replace all
It's very rare that the tensioner by itself will break down. More likely, a busted tensioner will be the cause of a long cascade of trouble within the same area. That means, odds are good that you will wind up replacing all of them anyway.
Because the tensioner and its associated parts will have this tendency to break down in a cluster, it's a smart investment to replace the tensioner and the timing belt at the same time. Trust us. It will save you the hassle of having to go out an order parts again!
Fit, fit, fit
We say this again and again in many different articles, but the primary consideration is always going to be the specificity of fit for your exact year, make, and model. True, some models and makes will have some similarity in lay out, but the simple fact is that vehicles are too diverse in form for any universality to emerge.
The trick here is to have a point of reference. Automobile owners have two: the first is the busted tensioner; the second is the owner's repair manual. If you intended to shop online and have no numbers for the dimensions, take the time to measure out the diameter, thickness, and take note of the particular appearance relative to the belt.
It still bears mentioning that, even with standardization in the manufacture of tensioners, you still have to be careful not to pick out a tensioner that is made from shoddy materials. Of course, you've no time to fully analyze a product you are trying to buy-especially if it's online. The next best thing is to go with the price. A decent, yet affordable one will rarely be priced lower than $35, and a higher-quality one will rarely tip the scales over $70.
Changing Your Timing Belt Tensioner
Over time, your timing belt can stretch out and become next to useless-that's what a tensioner is there for. Unfortunately - a tensioner can wear out over time too! These two are so intertwined that it's a safer bet to replace both at the same time. The process can take 30 to 45 minutes is very simple and straightforward-you just need to follow along.
Difficulty level: Moderate
Stuff you'll need:
- New timing belt
- New timing belt tensioner
- Owner's manual
- Socket set
Step 1: Unhook the battery connectors and wait a half hour before beginning to avoid getting a nasty electrical shock.
Step 2: Remove the distributor cap-if, however, your vehicle does not have a distributor, align the cam position sensor to "Top Dead Center".
*NOTE*This is where your manual comes in handy!
Step 3: Rotate the engine so that the mare on the crankshaft pulley lines up with the "o" mark on the timing scale-also, align the distributor rotor with the index mark on the distributor housing.
Step 4: Remove bolts, screws, and other things that may interfere with the removal of the timing belt-this varies greatly among makes and models, so always use your manual as reference.
Step 5: Remove the timing belt tensioner by undoing the mounting bolts and slide off the timing belt.
Step 6: Install the new tensioner and belt-make sure you weave the belt properly first before tightening the mounting bolts completely.
*IMPORTANT*Refer to the manual to figure out how hard to torque the tensioner bolts and other bolts.
Step 7: Simply reverse the installation steps, re-engage the battery, and rev up the engine to test it out.
- Keep it safe! Always wear protective eyewear and insulated gloves, and make sure your shoes are not open-toed when working on your vehicle.
- Having a small jar handy will make it easy to keep hold of those easy-to-lose nuts, screws, and bolts.