I have a 1995 Buick Regal with a failed water pump pulley. The pulley wore right off. When the pulley came off the belt went slack of course. I know how to install the water pump but easing tension is something I am unaware of. I'm pretty sure I will have to get a serpentine belt tool to do that but I'm not sure how to ease the tension pulley before putting the belt on. I know once I get the tensioner eased that getting it re-tensioned will be a piece of cake. I hope that makes sense.
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Look closely as there should be a square one half inch or three eighths inch hole in the tensioner. Place the proper sized ratchet or breaker bar in the hole and turn which ever way loosens the belt. When replacing the belt be sure the belt is properly settled in all the pulleys as if it's off by one spline on any pulley it will quickly damage the belt. Please rate this answer, thanks.
buy a new tensioner assembley and idler pully and might as well get a new belt while your at it. you will need a 3/8 ratchet a 15 mm socket and a 13 mm socket there is one bolt holding on tensioner remove it discard old tensioner put new tensioner in place and tight bolt. second remove bolt from idler pulley discard old pulley put inton place and tighen bolt. next install belt fallow belt routing digram put head of 3/8 rattachet into hole on tensioner or on bolt head of tensioner pulley depending on style of tensioner and pull or push to create slack in belt push belt into groves on all pulleys and release tensioner
just check the buttom of the pulleys or buttom of the car for leaks or tensioner pulley , sometimes bearings in tensioner wear out i had similar issue with gear slipping it happened to be a leaky water pump and antifreeze getting on the pulleys while the car is running, causing belt to slip and tranny slip feel similar as you described , i replaced belt and water pump and no more issue
the water pump is going to be one of the pulleys on the serpintine belt. its going to be the only one that uses the back of the belt(side with no groves) to spin it. take the belt off and undo the three screws on the pulley and pull it out. then put the new pump back in. make sure belt is one right. make sure cooling system is still full. and you should be good to go.