Belt Tensioner?!



First they changed my belts ($110) to correct a loud chirping noise in my 2005 PT Cruiser, now they want to order “belt tensioners” ($250) since it is still chirping (angily!) at me. Is this remedy legit?


Belt tensioners/idlers can make a chirping sound if the bearing is dry/worn. But usually if you remove the belt and rotate these components by hand you can feel if this is the case.



although i don’t think a 2005 should need new tensioners yet, it is possible.

yes, the tensioners do chirp. if you don’t replace them they will most likely just fall off, thus leaving you stranded.

where are you having this work done? 250 for a tensioner sounds kind of high to me.


As Tester said, remove belt and rotate the tensioner pulley. Put side pressure on it when doing so.

Another way you can check without removing the belt, is to use a short (1 ft long) piece of water hose or long screwdriver and use it like a stethoscope and while the engine is idling, listen for loud scratchy noises.

Watch out for loose clothing, hair, etc. that may get caught in moving parts.


The first line of attack would be to change the belts as was done and watching for anything obviously wrong with the tensioners. It might have been prudent to change the tensioner pulley or pulleys at the time of the belt change. Check a car parts store for the price of these, know if you need one or two; the pulley only or the whole lever arm and spring and consider the ease of access to the tensioners. $250 as usual would push me into doing it at home for $50 or so for parts and $5 for a 6 pack on a Saturday morning.


The price isn’t really legit (though, it’s “legal”). You could buy a tensioner, retail, for $60. Shops won’t accept this cost saving step. The shop will charge you 150% to 400% of this price for the part. The price markup is normal “business practice”.


It could depend on where they procure the part from. The item seems to be a bit pricy anyway and with markup/labor it could easily hit 250.

JMHO, but inspecting any belt tensioners or idler pulleys should be part of the belt replacement job.