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Belt Tensioner, Help!

I have a 2005 Dodge Caravan. It’s got 130,000 miles on the original serpentine belt, so yes it needed replacing. But it still made a lot of noise, so after a bit of research went for the belt tensioner. Got the old one off and discovered the little tab that positions the arm had sheared off, has to drill/gouge/wd40 it out. Got the new one in, pried it down to slip the belt on… And nothing. It didn’t take in the slack. I took it off, and that little tab had sheared off the new one too. It’s Sunday evening so I’m screwed. Put the old one back on and tightened it as best I could by putting a long drill bit under the arm and using a jack to force it up. Tightened the center bolt as best I could. It seems ok, and I plan on seeing if the store will replace it. In the meantime will the old one be okay? Hoping it won’t slip, I really need to be able to drive until I can get another part. The new one was REALLY hard to torque, maybe the pry bar against the frame method is too brutal. Any thoughts? Still dealing with my suspension issue, arrgghh!

I wouldn’t drive the car like that myself. If the belt or tensioner comes off while the engine is running it could damage something expensive. And strand you on the freeway. Take it to your local shop and have them fix it up for you, meanwhile beg a ride from your co-worker to get to work Monday AM. Or take a cab or public transportation.

"will the old one be okay?"
Nobody can possibly answer that. But you have our best wishes.

Did you replace the indexing tab with an OEM replacement?
Have you checked to see if Chrysler had a TSB on the tabs for breakage?

I’m not familiar with this vehicle, so I can’t offer a specific suggestion, but perhaps a Mopar guy here can.

TSM, the tab seems to be part of the cast aluminum. Why something that is under constant tension is held in place by a 1/4" piece of aluminum is beyond me. Going to see if I can return it, and ask if maybe there is a better quality one.

As an update, it seems to be holding in place. Still squeals though not loud when putting on a load (uphill, etc.), but I’ve pulled over several times and checked the tension. Unfortunately I have no choice but to drive until I can fix.

Which engine? There were 3 available on your year.

If it’s the 3.8, you can replace the tabbed tensioner with a newer design that uses a 1/2" socket receptacle to relieve tension instead of cranking on it with a prybar. On that version, there is no tab to break off.

The tab is only to index the tensioner, after the mounting bolt is tightened there is no stress on the tab. There should be no need to use a jack or pry bar to install the tensioner or belt, the tensioner can be released with a wrench.

@Nevada_545 is exactly right. You used too much force prying it and not enough tightening the nut is my guess.

Nevada, but that wa the problem. With te tab sheared off even tightening the center bolt real good it still twisted. In any event all is well. Advance Auto took the broken one back, and the replacement was steel not aluminum. I got it on today, and so far no squeal. Keeping fingers crossed. On to the gas leak…

I would have tackled the gas leak first. You replaced the belt and tensioner, then started a engine that had a gas leak!!!


The gas leak started after the belt issue. I found it, and while it stinks to hell it’s not too bad. Hoping to do it today.

By the way, the squeal came back, not as bad and it seems to go away, but obviously that wasn’t the whole issue.

Old thread here, but one last concern. By the way, I replaced the water pump and no more squealing. As a plus, the temperature gauge shows it is running a bit cooler now. Anyway, I noticed during the install the pulley wheel on the tensioner now has some shiny stripes, as if the black finish has been removed. So if your looking at the pulley, the lines run all the way around the circumference. Has anyone seen this before? Think it is a concern? Thanks.

Here’s a pic

That is of no concern

That paint will come off during normal use

Drive on

What happened with the fuel leak?

Thanks for reporting back . . . it’s nice to hear the resolution


db, originally I tried some epoxy on the fuel pump, as it had obvious stress cracks on the top. That initially worked, then the leak slowly returned. So I replaced the pump entirely. What a fiasco, smelled like gas for days. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lift so did it all with the car on ramps and crawling under it. But in the end all is well, at least with that. Next up, tie rods. Thanks.

You are the man!


I’d like to take all the credit, but I wouldn’t be doing any of these repairs without the existence of YouTube lol.