The drive belt that is on a car runs nearly all of the major components of the engine. Most of the newer cars on the market have a serpentine belt rather than various V-belts. In order for this belt to remain functional, it will need to have the proper amount of tension and guidance. The idler pulley that is on your car helps to guide the belt where it needs to be, while providing the tension needed to keep it circulating as it should. This belt is used each time the engine is ran and is a vital part of keeping the car running as it should.

The idler pulley is designed to last the lifespan of the car. Usually, this pulley will wear out eventually due to the use that it receives. These pulleys can be made of either metal or plastic and have a pressed bearing in the middle of them to keep it secure on the belt shaft. The sealed bearing design helps to reduce the need for regular lubrication and can provide years and years of service without showing any signs of wear. A bad idler pulley can bring your engine to a grinding halt, which is why it is so important to check it from time to time.

When checking the idler pulley, you will need to look for signs of damage on both the pulley and the bearing that is in the middle of it. In some cases, the covering on the idler pulley bearing will come off and let all of the lubrication out. This will usually lead to the bearing locking up and not allowing the pulley to spin freely.

Here are a few of the things that you may notice when it is time to replace your idler pulley:

  • Screeching and squeaking noises coming from the engine
  • There are engine warning lights on
  • The power steering will not work
  • The engine is starting to overheat on a regular basis

Having a professional to replace the idler pulley on your car is the best way to ensure that the job is done the right way. Attempting to do this type of work on your own will usually lead to a variety of additional repair issues.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How Long Does an Idler Pulley Last? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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