Many automobile engine components are driven by the rotational forces of the engine through a belt. In older cars, various belts were used. Most modern automobiles use a single serpentine belt to drive all the necessary parts of the engine. It usually consists of the power steering motor, alternator, water cooling pump, and air conditioning unit. The belt requires constant tension in order to efficiently drive all components. Most cars use a spring loaded belt tensioner to hold the serpentine belt tight. If this goes wrong, it can lead to a lot of problems in the car.
Step 1: how to tell if the tensioner is damaged
Hear the screeching inside the engine when it is running. While there are many causes for squeaks within an engine, a faulty belt tensioner is probably the culprit. You will usually hear the screeching sound when the engine is idling at low speed and it will fade as the engine revs.
Step 2: how to tell if a hydraulic tensioner is damaged
Watch the belt and belt tensioner while the engine is running. A faulty belt tensioner spring will often cause the tension arm to bounce up and down with the cycle of the engine. This causes the belt to wobble while the engine runs. These are clear signs that the tensioner needs to be replaced.
Step 3: how to tell if the chain tensioner is damaged
Turn off the motor. Examine the serpentine belt for unusual damage. If your engine belt has broken or cracked grooves, is worn or frayed, the belt will need to be replaced. A faulty belt tensioner is a probable cause of belt damage. However, if your belt is old and hasn’t been replaced in several years, it could just be normal wear and tear.
Push down on the middle of the belt while the engine is off and the components are cool enough to touch. If you can push the belt down more than an inch, you will likely need to replace the tensioner. A good tensioner should hold the belt firmly in place with enough resistance that you can’t push it down as far.
Tip. how to know if the belt tensioner is damaged
- Check your owner’s manual for a schedule of how often you should replace your serpentine belt.
Warnings, how to know if the tensioner is damaged
- Do not reach into the engine compartment while the car is running.
- If you are unsure whether the belt tensioner needs to be replaced, take the car to a mechanic.