Replacing the drive belt alternator is one of the simpler things that an amateur mechanic should do. However, first: it's worth paying attention to a few rules when replacing, second: it's better to do it in the garage rather than on the road.
In older cars, the procedure for tightening and replacing the belt required more effort than the mechanics. Many cars had disassembly pulleys, and the belt tension was adjusted by adding or removing pads between the sides of the pulley (i.e., changing their diameter). With other models, there was a way to manually pull the alternator and quickly "catch" it in the right position, which was sometimes not easy.
You can change the strap yourself?
Can you replace the belt yourself? Definitely yes, but even in this case, remember a few rules. First of all: there is no need for precise adjustment in relation to one pulley in relation to another - as in the timing mechanism - crankshaft drive pulley and pulleys that receive drive (alternator, power steering pump, air conditioning compressor, sometimes engine compressor). These devices work without synchronization. Secondly, it is better to do it slowly in the garage than on the road in the dark. The main problem is the lack of space. That is why it is better not to hurry, have good lighting and more tools at hand (it can, for example, turn out that only a round wrench can be put on the tensioner, because a fork cannot fit).
Newer cars often use automatic pretensioners
Automatic tensioners have become very widespread. They work similarly to timing belt tensioners that are mounted in the timing system. They may be in the form of a spring-loaded roller or may be used, for example, from an externally tensioned spring.
As the name suggests, you do not need to check your belt tension regularly as this is done automatically. Of course, it's worth paying attention to whether it's working properly ... auto-spanning.
Some belts are still tightened, stretched, by hand. It requires control, but it's also simple - you don't have to move the alternator manually, just using it
adjusting screw, place the tensioning device in the correct position.
When to change the belt? Is it worth changing the tensioners?
Manufacturers often state the replacement interval of the accessory belt (usually around 90-120.000 km). Due to the low price of the belt, it is worth adhering to this interval. You will often also find that the tensioners or even the pulleys need to be changed at the same time. Is it really necessary? If above all you care about quiet work and you’d rather pay once rather than doing the same job multiple times! The durability of the spanner is not great, the weakest links are the bearings - although they are so-called closed, but they work in much worse conditions than those in the distribution mechanisms - they are exposed to water, dust, etc.
The belt "speaks" for other devices
The belt may also require intervention outside the replacement interval. It often happens to squeak - unpleasant sounds can appear immediately after the start, for example during rain, or after washing the engine. Indeed, sometimes the belt itself is responsible for such a condition. Often, however, this means that it has to overcome the high resistance of the device and is therefore noisy. In many models, the alternators are not very durable. Increased resistance is manifested by slipping and creaking of the belt. Similar symptoms can be caused by a significant weakening of the battery (after charging, the alternator is heavily charged). Whistling (but also the typical noise of worn bearings) can also be the result of a roller or spanner bearing jamming, for example, damage to the power steering pump.
The forces of Spain? Never too much!
The worst thing we can do to eliminate the creaking of the tape (also by installing a new tape) is its excessive tension. It will certainly help, but only in the short term. This will quickly cause damage to the component bearings (usually the alternator bearings).
Belt tension control is very important in cars with manual tensioners and flexible straps. At the pressure of the thumb, it should bend about 1 cm between the outermost points.
Is it possible to continue traveling if the belt breaks?
It depends on the aggregate. The worst is with the liquid pump (if it is driven by a belt for accessories, and not together with the camshaft) - with several kilometers the engine overheats, trying to "cool down" is a futile effort, unless you have literally a few kilometers to the house. No air conditioning compressor is a problem, as are power steering pumps (although maneuvering the car will be much more difficult). Even worse, if, for example, there is a leak in the power steering system - the pump cannot run dry. Some vehicles may be equipped with a shorter strap that bypasses the damaged device. The question of the alternator remains - the reduction of energy consumption will enable driving without a belt for several tens of kilometers.
In the past, V-belts were used as an accessory for accessories, but many years ago, PK belts were largely replaced by multi-channel belts. The newer solution has a number of advantages - it is primarily a much better grip of the belt pulley and easier shaping of the belt (the ability to work on small pulleys, the use of one belt with a much longer length), higher power transmission (driving all devices - air conditioning, assistance, alternator with one lane). PK belts work quieter and are more reliable than V-belts.
Theoretically, neglecting the control or timely replacement of the belt should not have unpleasant consequences - in most cases there will be a crack, and if we have a spare belt, we will install a new one and after half an hour we will move on. But not all the action will end painlessly - the most important problem is the possibility that due to the bursting of the accessory belt, in some cases the engine can fall under the toothed belt and damage the toothed belt. This, of course, has consequences that are not predictable. It is also not always possible to replace the belt in the field, which can disable the car.
Some engines will not find belt tensioners. The removal procedure is simple. A special tool must be used to mount the new belt. Depending on the car model, the device is used a little differently, the tool should be mounted on a pulley, so that when rotating the crankshaft, the belt "snaps" into place. Note: The strap is not elastic enough to stretch it with your hands. Attempts to "fit" with a screwdriver often result in damage to the belt or pulley.
Recommendation of similar texts:
Hi there, I am Mladen and I am an auto enthusiast. I started this blog years ago to help like minded people share information about latest cars, car servicing ideas, used car info, exotic cars, and auto technology. You will find helpful articles and videos on a wide variety of cars - Audi, Mercedes, Toyota, Porsche, Volvo, BMW and much more. Ping us if you have anything cool to share on latest cars or on how to make older cars more efficient, or just want to say hi!