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You use a special tool to move the belt tensioner to release tension on the belt. Sometimes you can use a regular wrench if you have enough room.
Make sure you have a diagram or draw one of the routing of the belt before you remove it so you know how to put the new one back on.
Below the altenator is a tensioning pully, insert a 3/8" ratchet or breaker bar in the square hole on the tensioner and release the tension on the surpentine belt and remove the belt. Route the new surpentine belt in place up to the altenator and take the tension off the tensioner and put the belt over the altenator pully. Double check to make sure the belt is riding correctly on all the pullies before starting. Crank the engine over several times before starting to seat the belt.
take a ratchet and put it on the center tensioner pully arm. now with the belt on except for the alternator torque the ratchet pulling the tensioner pully giving you enough room to put the belt on fully.
I would bet it is the belt tensioner or belt idler, but can not be sure as I can not look it. At one time there were belt routing diagrams on a sticker under the hood, but I do not know if your Explorer was one of those. If I find a link to the belt routing I will post it for you.
This is going to be your Belt Tensioner. With the Workout that these Pulleys get it is a Common Repair and the Belt will not stay Tight without it. Please Rate my Solution,I need all the Help that I can Get! Thanks!
Well, first of all you don't "loosen" the tensioner. Tighten that back up. Route the belt as it should go. Put a 15mm open-end or box end wrench on tensioner bolt (in the middle of tensioner.) To make this really easy, I use a "cheater" (a pipe large enough in diameter to go over wrench) to give added leverage to pull down tensioner far enough to slide belt over. Personally, I route the belt over everything except the idler pulley then pull down on the tensioner far enough to slip the belt on the idler. Because of the small cleareance, trying to use a socket on this bolt is almost impossible however, the previous is the method I've learned to be the most efficient.
If you open the bonnet and look to the left hand side you will see the jockey wheel that keep the belt tight tight. It has a square 3/8 inch fitting in it, put in a rachet of that size and take the tension off. Your belt will now lift off all the pulleys easy. If I was you I would make a simple drawing before you actually take off the drive belt as it runs over a number of pulleys and if you do the drawing easy to fit the new one on.
Once you have old one off fit new one and take the tension off with the rachet as you did prior to removing use your drawing to fit it correctly. I would also make sure your jockey wheel is fine prior to fitting the new belt listen for any rough bearing noise from it when you spin it.
Make sure you get the right belt from a ford dealership asthe length is critical of the new one even one a little shorter wont fit, dont be talked into buying one that seems nearly the right length, it must be the Ford one and the right length.
If you have a book picture your are screwed. You do have a tensioner but it is between air con and powersteering pullys. In front from under you can put 15mm wrenchopend with a nother for leverage pull center bolt down to release tension. simple.