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How do you get at a Ford FWD serpentine belt tensioner?

And what do you do when you get at it? I have a 2004 Ford Freestar that I need to change the generator on. The generator is easy to get at, top and forward. However, the manual says you need to release belt tension (and it’s obvious you need to do that), and to do so you “rotate the serpentine belt tensioner counterclockwise and position spring clip”. I can barely see the serpentine belt tensioner, let alone get a hand down there, and how does rotating the pulley help release belt tension? I have the official workshop manual, which provides no help on this. Should I just unbolt the alternator and use brute force to reposition the belt on it after I replace the alternator?

The official workshop manual should have DETAILED instructions for this, including pictures and diagrams. Try looking in a different section.

You don’t rotate the tension pulley itself, as in make it spin, you rotate it on its mounting to remove tension from the belt.

You will have to remove whatever is in the way to make room for access to the tensioner. This might mean front wheel and inner fender liner if the engine is transversely mounted.

If you just unbolt the alternator the tensioner will go in the wrong direction, and you will still have to get down there and mess with it later. It’s much easier to do it correctly the first time.

It’s not the pulley you are supposed to rotate. It’s the arm that the pulley is attached to. Usually with Ford, there is a square hole in the arm that you can put a pull-handle in to be able to rotate the arm. You would have to be very strong to just do it by hand.

Your post reminds me of a guy I was helping a few month ago.

He had replaced the alternator on his 97 Explorer, but it still wasnt charging.

I took a quick look at the charging circuit wiring diagram & asked him if the “charge warning indicator” fuse was blown.

Yes it was blown he replaced it & his charging problem was solved.

There should be a diagram under the hood that shows how to release the tensioner.