Question about 1996 Pontiac Sunfire

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Is the pulley on the ac compressor supposed to be loose when the car is not running. i have a noise and believe it is a pulley. replaced alternator and idler pulley.

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No it should be tight.

Posted on Jul 03, 2009

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Diagram for 5 pulley belt 98 pontiac transport.


start from bottom crankshaft pulley and ac compressor turn belt tensioner counterclockwise or lift forward then run pulley belt around crankshaft pulley and around AC compressor,run pulley belt around power steering pump then around alternator,once drive belt around alternator you done make sure drive is center of crankshaft pulley and AC compressor pulley.and belt back is center against water pump pulley before releasing the belt tensioner.

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sounds like your belt broke. replace with a new belt. battery light is on because the belt is not spinning the alternator. If it busted you should be able to pull it right out. Make sure to check the tensioner pulley, alternator pulley, power steering pump pulley and ac compressor pulley for free play(if you can make it spin with your hand it's good) and make sure that they're not binding or making any grinding noises. If the belt has never been replaced, then most likely it gave out.

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High pitched howling and screeching (yes two different noises). The howling appears to happen when the air conditioning compressor pulley engages. The screeching, my guess would be from the belt. Any...


When the AC compressor kicks on, an electrical load is placed on the alternator and the drive belt that turns the alternator pulley, if not tight enough, can cause the belt to squeal. Replacing the belt should help with that noise if the belt is stretched from wear. The screeching noise can be from a bad idler pulley, a bad belt tensioner pulley or a bad alternator pulley or a failing clutch on a very old ac compressor and rarely a water pump pulley. To check pulleys remove the drive belt and turn them individually to see if they can be tilted up down or sideways with play in the "bearing" of the pulley. Also, you may wish to visually inspect the clutch on the ac and look for melted black rubber around the bolts that secure the clutch to the compressor (stinks,smokes and melts these rubber areas if ac compressor clutch fails).

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1 Answer

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Check belt for adjustment as loose belts as loose belts can cause a squeal if that is ok then it's possible that the AC compressor is locked up. Remove the belt and turn compressor by hand and see if it spins freely if it doesn't there is your noise. While you are at it spin all pulleys by hand feel for rough turning and listen for noises.

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OK, went through the exact same thing this week. Put on a new belt, checked for proper seating, etc, etc. and that wasn't it. Read all through this site and others and it comes down to one of two things, the tension pulley assembly or the compressor itself. Seeing as compressors ran about $300 or so and the pully assembly is less than $50 and takes about 45 min to an hour to replace, I did that first. And for me, that was it. Tip for replacing the pulley assembly? Have a wide variety of sockets (depth) and extensions.

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