Is something squealing under your car's hood? It's most likely the drive belt, finally giving in to wear and tear. Keep in mind that this belt is what keeps different parts such as the alternator, air pump, and AC compressor up and running. So once this belt breaks, don't be surprised if you experience various car problems from a faulty AC to a malfunctioning air pump. Replace it as soon as you can to keep your vehicle in good condition. Fortunately, installing a new belt is a fairly easy task. Here's what you need to do:
Tools you'll need:
- Pen and paper
- Wrench or serpentine belt tool
Step 1: Familiarize yourself with the routing diagram.
Before you remove anything, study the routing diagram that's found on a sticker or label under the hood and the car manual. If necessary, get a piece of paper and pen to sketch a diagram of the drive belt's exact route. Remember, rerouting the new drive belt can be tricky especially if this is your first time to do this.
Step 2: Locate the tensioner.
The exact location of the tensioner depends on your car make and model. In some cars, it's located in front of the power steering pump. Check your car's manual to be sure.
Step 3: Loosen the tensioner.
Once you've located the tensioner, use a wrench or serpentine belt tool to loosen it. Be careful not to damage nearby components with the removal tool or wrench. Remove or loosen other bolts or nuts that will prevent you from unthreading the old belt.
Step 4: Pull out the old drive belt.
As you pull out the old belt, take note of its routing. After pulling it out, take a closer look and search for signs of damage to figure out what's causing the squealing sound. Then, place the new belt against the old to check if the replacement part is an exact fit.
Step 5: Install the new drive belt.
Attach the new belt, making sure that you follow the exact route. Lock the belt in place by tightening the tensioner and other bolts or nuts you had to remove in order to remove the old belt. Once you've installed the replacement belt, leave the hood up and switch on the engine. While the engine is running, take a look at the belt and see if it moves smoothly. Watch out for squeaking or grinding noises. If the belt isn't moving smoothly or there is an unusual noise coming from the belt assembly, let the engine cool off and reexamine the newly installed belt. Make the necessary adjustments until the belt moves along smoothly and properly.
Things you should remember:
- When tightening the tensioner, be sure to follow the manufacturer's torque specifications. A poorly tightened tensioner will cause the drive belt to slack.
- Depending on your vehicle's make and model, you may have to remove the radiator shrouding in order to access the belt. If this is the case, don't forget to reinstall it later on since a missing radiator shrouding can also cause weird noises from under the hood.