Fit a Fan Belt Without a Help of a Mechanic

Edited by Jerry Rivers, Eng, Lynn

Jerry changing fan belt 1.jpg

You are driving down a road when suddenly your car is losing power, and you are not going up a hill. You step down on the accelerator and it has no effect whatsoever. You notice that not only is your speed dropping, but the temperature light on your car is on as well. The battery light comes on, and you get this sickening feeling that your usually reliable car is about to knock out on you before you can even get it home. Chances are, with these symptoms, you need to replace your fan belt.

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A trip to a certified mechanic will cost you $80 per hour or more, and a new fan belt will cost between $15 -40. The good news is that for most models of cars, you can fit a fan belt without help of a mechanic. All you need is to perform the steps here and keep that $80 to yourself.

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  1. 1
    You should check your fan belt monthly
    If the belt is frayed at all, you should replace it. If suddenly you have engine power loss, or hear a loud screeching sound, your belt is either worn out or loose. If your engine light comes on, yet your radiator coolant is not boiling, the problem is usually the belt. Expect your fan belt to require a half-hour to replace, unless you have a vehicle made before 1990 (explained in the instructions). It is recommended to wear latex gloves while replacing your fan belt.
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  2. 2
    Ensure that you have the correct belt when you replace your old fan belt
    1. There will be a brand name and part number stamped on the old belt.
    2. If there is no part number visible, the auto parts store will have a parts book in which you can cross reference the fan belt's number using your make and model of vehicle.
    3. A parts store employee will also assist you in finding the proper number if needed.
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  3. 3
    If you have a typical car or truck, you will see that your fan belt connects to the pulley of two or more engine components, including the alternator
    Sketch a picture of the belt's route to make certain that you will fit the replacement fan belt correctly.
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  4. 4
    If you are replacing another belt at the same time, be sure to label each in some way that will remain intact when you are fitting the belts.
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  5. 5
    Check the bolt heads and nuts to be sure that you have the proper wrenches, and/or ratchets, extensions, and sockets
    The bolts and nuts are not standard among vehicles.
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  6. 6
    The tension of your fan belt should be between 1.25 and 2.5 cm (half inch to one inch)
    You must determine which type of two possible systems that you have for your fan belt tension. This depends on when your vehicle was made.
    1. If you have a car manufactured in 1990 or later, you will have a serpentine belt that has a constant tension controlled by a hydraulic or spring device.  
      1. A socket wrench, or specialized serpentine belt wrench is required to loosen and slide the tension device so that you can remove the fan belt.
      2. Once the belt is loose (remember to have a route sketch of the belt), slip it off the components' pulleys from any spot that is convenient.
      3. Replace the belt, ensuring that the new belt is routed properly on all pulleys.
      4. Push the tension device to tighten the belt until it is at the recommended tension. Never should it be looser than one-inch (2.5 cm) nor tighter than a half-inch (1.25 cm). Your owner's manual should have the proper tension information. Note that if it is too loose, your auto will not operate properly. If it is too tight, you will damage the pulleys of all components connected.
    2. If you have a vehicle made prior to 1990, there will be a component-tension method to secure your fan belt.
    3. You will have to move a component, typically, or a specific tension pulley to adjust the fan belt tension. This will require more bolts and nuts to work with than on the newer vehicles:
    4. Loosen two or more locking nuts on the tension pulley if there is one. Otherwise, you will have to loosen belt tension at a pivot bolt on a component to remove the old belt.
    5. If there is no tension pulley, you will have to loosen the tension of your power steering or alternator.
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  7. 7
    Before you replace your old fan belt, hold the new fan belt next to it and stretch them both together
    This is merely a "back-up" to ensure that they are identical.
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  8. 8
    When you install the new fan belt, you may have to compress the pulley tension device once again
    If you have a fan belt that you must hold in place while you installing it, you can use clamps or even clothes pins to hold it in position at the pulleys. Release the tension device once the fan belt is in position.
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  9. 9
    Make certain that the fan belt, and any other belts, are intact and in their proper place
    All belts must be in a straight alignment on their pulleys for proper functioning of all parts. If the fan belt is not in a straight line, re-check your routing from the sketch. Make any corrections needed on the pulleys.
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  10. 10
    Check that all nuts and bolts are tightly secured once you have installed the new belt
    This is a good time, also, to make sure that all components and wiring are intact. For example, make sure that your battery cables are clean and securely connected on the terminals.
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  11. 11
    Before you close the hood, make sure that all tools are now cleared from your engine and area
    Once you have all tools accounted for, and put away, start your engine. Any unusual sound or smoke indicates that the fan belt is not at the correct tension. Shut off your vehicle immediately, and check on your new belt.
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  12. 12
    If there is squealing or smoking from your fan belt
    1. You may have a component, such as the power steering pump locked up on you. All pulleys on your components should turn freely.
    2. Make sure that all of your belts are dry. If there is oil or any liquid on any of your belts; you can remove it with a can of belt cleaner available at your auto parts store.
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  13. 13
    • Keep all objects, including shirt sleeves, away from moving parts of your engine while it is running.
    • While your engine is running, keep yourself away from moving parts when under your hood.
    • Never have a lit cigarette anywhere near your auto while it is idling.
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Questions and Answers

How to I put on a new A/C belt on a 92 Plymouth acclaim?

How do I put new belt on the pulleys

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Article Info

Categories : Automotive

Recent edits by: Eng, Jerry Rivers

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