Question about 1998 Mercury Sable

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Serpentine belt keeps breaking

So serpentine belt breaks, replaced, breaks again. Replaced the tension pulley thinking that could be the problem. The belt STILL slides to the side and breaks. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. I have looked up a diagram for the correct belt positioning as well.

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Whichever pulley it is sliding off of is not straight. check the alignment of ALL the pulleys and make sure there is no play in them. They should all be solid with no wobble. My guess would be a bearing is bad allowing play in the pulley which lets the belt "walk" to the edge.

Posted on Nov 18, 2013


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Posted on Jan 02, 2017

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SOURCE: Serpentine belt in a 1995 Mercury sable

I have the same car and last night my belt slipped off. The top small pulley backed it's self out. The problem is in most cars the pulleys are reverse threaded so this wont happen, in ours not so much. The pully spins loose with the turn of the belt so it has to be tightened way down. IT's a pain. Here is a diagram I found and You need a 15mm wrench, which doesn't just come in most sets. Good Luck

The book says "Using a 15 mm socket or wrench on bolt attaching drive belt tensioner pulley, rotate drive belt tensioner clockwise. Make sure spring keeper engages into slot." I would put a socket on the 15 mm pulley bolt and a long handle for leverage. Thats one tight spring.
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SOURCE: Mercury Topaz serpentine belt diagram

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SOURCE: engine diagram for 2001 mercury cougar

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What does the break look like. What i mean is, the way the new belt broke will help determine what is wrong with it. My educated guess will be that the serpentine belt tensioner is siezed. this is what applies pressure to the pulley.
have a look at that first.

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Hope this helps:

Removal & Installation
  1. Remove the air cleaner outlet pipe.
  2. Rotate the drive belt tensioner clockwise and remove the drive belt.


Rotate the drive belt tensioner clockwise and remove the drive belt

To install:

  1. Installation is the reverse of the removal procedure. Make sure the belt is routed properly


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Other than something like that, I think it would have to be the tensioner not doing it's job.

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