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How to replace a belt tensioner on a 2002 Pontiac Grandam

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Posted on Jan 02, 2017

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SOURCE: how to replace a serpentine drive belt tensioner

(read this whole thing before you start - and remember you're following these directions at your own risk).

Sometimes I wonder if the people writing the directions have in fact actually done the work on their own cars, or are professional mechanics trying to be helpful, or are copying from somewhere else.

For instance, if they did it themselves on their own cars they'd probably tell you Don't Raise The Sunfire By The Oil Pan If You Can Help It, because it crushes the oil pan gasket and it will start leaking (if it isn't already). Pro mechanics will do that in part because the oil pan won't start leaking immediately and it's easier to do than actually working to reckon a lift point. Anyway... use a block or piece of wood spanning the "ears" that hold the lower torque strut/motor mount, and lift up there with a floor jack. You do not have to raise the engine so much that the bolt absolutely clears the frame - turns out that if you raise it a couple inches the motor will be far enough away from the frame so the bolt will clear. The wood may crack a little bit, and if you use a block cut from chipboard or a 1x4 it may bend/crack a little--that's not an issue at all, it's "sacrificial" and there to spread the load.

"From the top" here'sa "12-step program" that tells what you can do to change that (#*&$(@# tensioner:

1) ENGINE OFF. And disconnect the negative terminal of the battery after you write down the TheftLock code if you need one to get your radio going again. Then take the serpentine belt off the track. One way to do this is use a broom handle, pushing down on the tensioner while pulling up on the belt at the alternator pulley. You'll feel the belt loosen to the point you can slip it off the alternator pulley. Then unbolt the coolant reservoir. There is 1 bolt with a 10mm hex head at the front, and a plastic clip into the inner fender on the left (as you look from the front of the car). Using a trim removal tool carefully (or VERY carefully with screwdriver) remove the wire loom that's clipped to the coolant reservoir mounting foot. Now remove the bolt, move the hose guide that's under it, un-do the reservoir from the inner fender (you may need a screwdriver to pry the shoulder on the clip past the opening on the inner fender) and move it out of the way (most likely over the radiator area in the very front of the engine compartment.

2) loosen the top 2 bolts on the motor mount a little, about 2 centimeters (cm) each. The motor will pull down on the mount and begin to separate. Don't worry, the bolts are pretty long. There is a point to this initial loosening though.

3) NOW jack up the motor, placing the floor jack as instructed under the torque strut mounting area, with the wood block.
Place the floor jack with wood block balanced on top of the jack pad, under that torque strut mounting saddle. You only need to jack up a little, enough so the engine mount that you loosened looks right again. You should be able to turn the bolts you loosened back snug using just your fingers if you get this right.

4) Now unbolt the motor mount. There are 5 bolts - the 2 on top you already loosened, and three on the inner fender. One of those three is only accessible if you have removed the coolant reservoir so if you have not done that yet you better do it now, and then read all the rest of these directions before you continue because there are more surprises.

5) . With the bolts out and nuts off, unclip the top AC tube from the plastic holder and lift the motor mount so it is clear of the mounting studs and (somewhat clear of0 the AC tubes. IF you can get the mount out that's great, but you don't really have to.

6) Using the floor jack raise the engine some more. make sure that as you raise it you are not pinching or bending the AC tubes, nor are you binding the brake tubing that runs near the passenger side inner CV joint (look down past the engine mount, toward the left... you'll see it).

7) When you have raised the engine an inch or so, you should be able to get a box wrenh (15mm) offset wrench easily on the bolt holding the tensioner, and remove it. you may have to raise the engine a little more to get the bolt clear of the frame.

8) take off the old tensioner and put the new one in its place; tighten the mounting bolt as tight as it was when you removed it but no more.

9) consider replacing the idler pulley while you're at it...

10) lower the engine just to the ponit that you can reseat the mount over the bolts on the inner fender/frame and replace the mount nuts and bolts, then reattach them loosely. Adjust the mount (raise or lower a little) so you can screw down all the nuts and bolts with your fingers. The point of this is you have the engine in a neutral position, with no strain on the mount. Now retighten the bolts as tight as when you took them off, but no tighter. When they are all tight, lower the engine off the jack and remove the jack. (you are NOT done yet)

11) Remount the serpentine belt - referring to the sticker on the hood (it's right over your head when you look upward from this step) for the belt routing. Get it over all the pullies EXCEPT the alternator. Then press the serpentine tensioner with a broomstick (all the way) so there's enough slack to slip the belt over the alternator pulley. It will just fit. Once it is on CHECK YOUR WORK so as to make sure the belt is routed properly and is square on the smooth pulleys and mounted right in the grooved ones.

12) Put the coolant reservoir back, remounting the hose guide and reservoir with that 10MM bolt. Be sure to reclip the AC tube on the engine mount. Be sure to replace the wire to the coolant level sensor and reattach the cable that you detatched from the bolt area. Reattach the negative battery cable. Look over your work one last time, if all seems OK, put tools away and start the car, see that it runs OK. And (please) say a prayer for me.

Posted on Aug 02, 2010

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