In order to keep the proper tension on your vehicle's serpentine belt, a drive belt tensioner is used. This is a pulley that is either mounted to an adjustable pivot point or a spring mechanism. If you open up the hood of your car, you'll see that the serpentine belt is on the front of your engine. It is the long one. The pulley itself is found on the outside of the belt, which is how it adds tension or pressure.
The problem with the drive belt tensioner is that once it goes, it usually means replacing the pulleys and sometimes the drive belt itself. It’s not usually a one-part replacement job. While there is no set lifespan for the drive belt tensioner, it is suggested that you have it inspected each time you perform the regular routine maintenance of your drive belt system. This is a good way to detect early warning signs of any possible problems. It should be noted that the drive belt itself will most likely need replacing before the tensioner does. Drive belts typically last anywhere between 40,000 and 70,000 miles.
There aren't a lot of warning signs that a drive belt tensioner has hit the end of its lifespan, in fact there is really only one.
Once you start to hear a grinding or squeaking sound coming from your engine, it's time to have the drive belt tensioner looked at. It will get to the point that you hear this sound every single time you turn on the engine.
As the drive belt tensioner continues to break down, a variety of aspects of your vehicle will start to suffer. It can affect your alternator, power steering, and your air conditioning since they are all powered through the drive belt. These issues will just become more and more pronounced.
The drive belt tensioner can wear down over time, just due to normal wear and tear. It’s a good idea to have it inspected each time you have your belt system looked at. The goal is to replace it before it actually breaks down, and causes your vehicle to run less than perfectly.
If you’re experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms and suspect your drive belt tensioner is in need of replacement, get a diagnostic or book a drive belt tensioner replacement service with a professional mechanic.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How Long Does a Drive Belt Tensioner Last? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.