Serpentine belt tensioner on 2003 Taurus

ford
taurus

#1

I have replaced my serpentine belt and tensioner pulley bearing. I was getting a lot of noise that is now gone. But now i still get noise during wet weather. We recently had a lot of snow and the belt has started making noise again. I’m wondering if my tensioner is the problem. My belt may now be making noise because it’s loose. the tensioner may not be keeping it tight enough. Is there a way i can determine if my tensioner is bad without replacing it to see if the noise goes away? I’d rather not waste money on something that won’t solve my problem. I plan to do the job myself since it isn’t difficult. I could take it to a mechanic, but that may cost more than i can do it for. On the other hand, a mechanic could find where the problem is better, but i’d still rather do it myself. Does anyone have advice that could help me here?


#2

It could be the belt itself. I bought a new Goodyear Gatorback belt for my Lincoln about a year ago and that belt squeaked from day one. (new tensioner, etc.)

The old belt could be reinstalled and it was quiet as a mouse. Reinstall the new one and back to the noise again. Rather than buy another new belt I just installed a very good used one I had and threw the new one in the spare tire compartment for emergency use.

I’m not a huge fan of belt dressing, at all actually, but you could try spraying the belt down with that to see if that will quieten it down.
(A rule of thumb about belt tension, sort of. Pick a point about halfway down the longest straight stretch of the belt and use your thumb and forefinger to twist the belt about 90 degrees. This should require a bit of effort to do but should not require brute force. If it’s easy to twist it could be the tensioner spring is weak.) Hope that helps.)


#3

Agree that it can be the belt. Have a Jeep Wrangler with belt squeak, replaced idlers etc, had a new alternator (squeaking before it was replaced). Switched from a Dayco to a Gates belt and the sound finally cleared up.


#4

Thanks for your quick reply. I have heard that some belts just make noise. The belt that came with the car made noise in wet weather. When i replaced the belt and tensioner pulley bearing the noise dissappeared. It came back in damp weather like we’re having now. I sprayed the belt with conditioner because we had snow and the noise went away. But it came back. The belt appears tight by the test, and just seems tight enough. The old belt, a motorcraft, was good and tight. I replaced it with a dayco from advance auto. My concern is whether the belt is slipping. That would seem to mean i’m losing power and maybe gas mileage. My mpg is in upper teens. It seems i should be doing much better than that. I’m also concerned about my thermostat. The car seems to take time to warm up, and that could affect my gas mileage as well as performance.

It also seemed that my defroster wasn’t working well during a snowfall yesterday, and the belt was making noise. I was, and still am, concerned that the belt was slipping and not allowing the defroster to work efficiently.

If belts can just make noise, does that mean they’re working properly, but just making noise? In dry weather it doesn’t make noise. Is the noise meaningless and just annoying, or does it mean the belt is slipping?

I reinstalled the old belt and it made noise. If the new belt makes noise in wet weather but not in dry weather, would that mean the belt may be the problem? I suppose i should ask the people at advance auto.

Do i understand that twisting the belt is the main test for the tensioner? By that measure the belt seems tight.

Thanks for your help.


#5

The belt twist is just a general rule of thumb that reveals whether the tensioner is maintaining enough tension on the belt.

It could just be the belt itself. On my Lincoln I had tried removing the belt, cleaning the serpentine pulleys with brake cleaner, etc. but it still chirped no matter what. Rather than cough up 30 or 40 bucks for another belt I just consigned the new one to the emergency bin and put on a very good used one.

You might take a squirt bottle of water and lightly spray the belt as the engine is running. If the noise goes away for a few seconds or so then the problem is likely the belt itself. Hope that helps.


#6

The last couple of days i’ve been getting noise when the car is cold, but the noise fades as i drive the car. If i had a bad bearing it seems the noise would get worse. But i don’t understand why the belt would make noise when it’s cold. I’m guessing the belt is likely slipping when it makes noise. I’m considering buying another belt from another parts store. NAPA has Gates belts. If another belt takes care of the noise the problem is fixed. And i can return the other belt since it was making noise. If another belt doesn’t fix the noise, then i may have to take it to a mechanic.

But why would a belt make noise when it’s cold and quiet down when it warms up? But would a bearing behave that way. But after i replaced the tensioner pulley bearing the car ran a good bit better. I figure the bad bearing was slowing it down. But if i buy another belt and the noise doesn’t go away, then i may have to eat that money. And the problem would still be there.

If i sprayed the belt with water, wouldn’t that make the belt make more noise? Being wet?


#7

A quick squirt of water should temporarily (couple of seconds) make the noise go away if the belt is the problem. It won’t hurt anything at all.

After running a bit the belt will have a tendency to soften up some due to heat (engine and friction) so that could be the explanation there.


#8

You say you replaced your tensioner? I went to my NAPA store to get another belt. They didn’t think the belt was the problem, and after a clerk looked at the car he suggested the tensioner. He pushed down on the belt and it went what looked like too far. He also said the tensioner could go bad and stop me in my tracks, and maybe eat the belt. I was convinced and bought a tensioner. When attempting to replace it i found the single bolt holding it in has a allen- a star head to be more specific- head. I tried to break it loose with an allen wrench, with a 17mm combination wrench as a cheater bar, but was very concerned about stripping the head. I would like to do this myself, but if i strip the bolt head it would be a disaster and far more expensive.

A neighbor advised that i wait for a warmer day and get the engine nice and warm. I may look for a socket with the 1/4" star allen head and use a breaker bar. I may just take it to a mechanic and let them figure it out. If it’s not the tensioner, i’ve wasted that money and adding another repair bill for the right part to be replaced. I am very nervous guessing on the tensioner. That’s an expensive guess. I usually don’t guess on parts that cost that much. The tensioner costs $70. I’ve considered going to a junk yard.

The NAPA people didn’t think a belt would be making the noise itself. You seem to have had a different experience.