Power steering trouble

So my problem is with the power steering belt alignment, and with the tensioner pulley.

There are a few issues. The pulley itself doesn’t spin when tightened to the frame, but seems to spin fine without being tightened and the bearing seems ok, at least it spins easily. It also sets back farther than the rest of the pulleys (though that’s hard to see in the pictures) causing a ridge to form in the belt after some time.

I got the car used so perhaps it’s missing something in its assembly and that’s why the spacing isn’t right and it doesn’t turn when tightened? Any ideas?

No auto parts stores in my area carry one for comparison either.

Wrong part or assembled in the wrong order in a previous service. It should spin easily when tightened. It should align with the belt. Go to a dealer and look at his parts breakdown chart showing all the parts in exploded view. That will tell you what part goes on which way. The small cupped washer looks like it is rubbing on something that it shouldn’t.

If all is right with the parts and their order, that pulley must be wrong or failed. Order a pulley from the dealer. They aren’t too expensive and you’ll get the right part.

A washer should be fitted onto the rear of the idler. The washer should have an inside diameter equal to the bearing inner race with and outside diameter smaller than the outer race. Any GOOD parts man/woman should know the washer is needed and be able to lay their hands on it without looking it up. The rear dust shield that was on the OE pulley is usually discarded and raplaced with the washer/spacer.

It also sets back farther than the rest of the pulleys

Suggest to address that problem first. It might solve the rest. The entire belt path must align in the same geometric plane. Somebody’s in the past installed a non-oem part or left out a spacer or washer somewhere.

When you say the pulley isn’t spinning, do you mean the belt goes round and round but the pulley itself isn’t turning? i.e. the belt is sliding along a stopped pulley?

Yes, the belt is sliding along a stopped pulley. Even when the belt is not on it if I tighten the nut I can’t turn the pulley.

It does not appear to be mounted correctly or it is the wrong part. Two things I notice about the mount is that there is a bolt hole and shoulder that is not being used and that the mount itself is facing the wrong way. The idler looks like it should be on the other side of the mount which means the mount facing the wrong way.

If I’m not mistaken, the order that you are installing this is wrong.
Put the bolt in through the back side of the bracket, then the larger of the two washers, then the pulley, then the smaller washer and then the nut. Also the pulley may match up differently if you flip it around and start the other side onto the bolt first.

I think @keith does not realize that the front of the car is at the top of the picture…along with the fan. That bracket cannot be flipped. It’s an illusion. Plug it is manually adjusted, per the long bolt in the first photo.


When you said the pulley wouldn’t turn when tightened I thought you meant when the belt was tight. If the pulley won’t turn by hand even if the belt is removed from the belt path, then that’s the first priority to address. Good ideas above. Another possibility is to find a similar vehicle without this problem and ask the owner to allow you to inspect how the pulley is supposed to be installed.