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Timing Belt Tensioner Replacement

In June 2009, at 76,0000 miles on my 2000 Mazda Protege, my timing belt broke while driving. Fortunately, no one in the car was injured. My mechanic replaced the belt and other parts but did not replace the tensioner at that time with this expensive repair. Last week, at 93,000 miles the tensioner broke (luckily, I did not lose the belt and power to the car) The same mechanic repaired and charged me full price ($695 + tax) for the timing belt materials and labor. He assured me everything was replaced this time. My question is whether it is standard practice for safety and cost reasons to replace the tensioner at the same time as the belt and whether this should have all been done with the first repair in 2009. The mechanic says it was not necessary to change both at same time but I’ve read differently on some other online sites. I’ve used this shop for many years with pretty good experience through 2 used cars but am thinking I should seek a new mechanic. Your thoughts are appreciated.

Yes, we would recommend that the timing belt and tensioner be replaced at the same time, as well as the water pump, if it is driven by the belt. The reason is that labor is the biggest single cost.

Gates, who makes these belts, sells the three items as a kit. Just Google www.Gates.com and you will be able to price the set for your car.

A one time charge of $750-800 or so would replace all those items, making you all set for the next 70,000 miles of trouble-free driving.

My wife has two friends with this Mazda model and they are long lived and bullet-proof.

Happy motoring!

When the timing belt was replaced on my Acura MDX, my dealer said that it was my choice on replacing the tensioner, as half of their customers did and half didn’t. I decided it was worth the money to be safe, so I had mine replaced.

From a mechanical standpoint any tensioners and/or idler should always be replaced with the belt along with the water pump if applicable.

Failure to do so can often lead to what you just experienced; and even a lot worse. If a customer is advised this is to be done and the customer refuses then any warranty on the work is null the minute it’s put back together.
A mechanic who does not recommend new tensioners, water pump, etc is missing the point.

Let me get this straight.
Repair #1 was for timing belt, no tensioner for 695?
Repair #2 was for timing belt, tensioner, also 695?

I am guessing that a tensioner spring failed.

Thanks all for your comments.

To Cavell and FYI:

Repair #1- included other repairs besides the timing belt (but NOT tensioner) and total cost was over $1000. He did install a new water pump at that time. He never asked me if I wanted to pay the extra money for the tensioner. If he did, I would certainly have said yes.
Repair #2 - was just for the timing belt with the tensioner, plus springs, etc. ($695) Did not install a new water pump.

My mechanic said that in 2009 that suppliers were not putting all the parts in a single “kit” and that is why he did not order the tensioner separately. Again, for safety’s sake, I would have certainly paid for it, if asked. This time around (March 2013), he bought the kit, which he said included all required parts, including tensioner.

Some shops do not replace the tensioner, but many do. Your experience is the exact reason why it is prudent to replace the tensioner.

Did your repair even have a warranty? 12 months or 12k miles or lifetime? Of course they only warranty parts they change. I changed my wp/tb and wp leaked in 6 months. Store gave me new wp and belt since belt got wet from coolant.