Drive belt tensioner replacement

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Average rating for Drive belt tensioner replacement


4.8 • based on 42 reviews of 40 businesses

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Average rating for Drive belt tensioner replacement


4.8 • based on 42 reviews of 40 businesses

Drive belt tensioner replacement

How much does a drive belt tensioner replacement cost?

Your engine accessories like the air-conditioning compressor, alternator, and power steering pump depend on the drive belt to keep them in operation, and the drive belt tensioner keeps the belt tightly wound against each part’s pulley.

Inevitably, the drive belt tensioner will develop wear over time, either losing its tension on the belt or a bearing failure on the pulley.

The drive belt tensioner is not a maintenance component and, as such, has no set interval or expectation for replacement.

A failing drive belt tensioner is typically found on higher-mileage cars, though.

To replace the drive belt tensioner on most models, you can expect the parts and labour charges to tally up between $200-$400 for most cars.

Some engine designs use more than one tensioner for the drive belt, and some cars even have more than one drive belt with a tensioner.

What is a drive belt tensioner?

Your engine’s drive belt, or serpentine belt, requires tension to keep it firmly pressed against the crankshaft pulley and other pulleys to drive the engine accessories.

The tensioner may be either rigid with a tension adjustment bolt or a spring-style auto tensioner.

The drive belt tensioner’s pulley presses against the drive belt, keeping it taut and on course while it runs around all the pulleys in the engine bay.

The tensioner is made of metal, often a cast aluminum or steel bracket and a small, round pulley mounted on a bearing.

It revolves at high speed so it’s critical that the bearing rolls smoothly and without side-to-side play.

If the spring tension or adjustment bolt fail, or if the pulley’s bearing is worn out or loose, you’ll need drive belt tensioner replacement.

Symptoms your car requires drive belt tensioner replacement

  • The drive belt has come off
  • The drive belt tensioner spring is soft and the tensioner can be moved by hand
  • A squeal or whirring noise can be heard under the hood with the engine running
Drive belt tensioner replacement cost

How is the drive belt tensioner replaced?

  • The technician releases tension on the drive belt, either by loosening the tensioner adjustment bolt or by unloading the spring tension
  • The drive belt is removed and inspected, then set aside for reuse if in good condition
  • The tensioner is unbolted from the engine and a new drive belt tensioner fitted
  • The drive belt is reinstalled and the engine run to check operation

Tips to remember

  • If the drive belt has come off due to a failed drive belt tensioner, it’s best to install a new drive belt during replacement
  • Check the condition of the other belts while the serpentine belt is off. It’s easiest to replace secondary belts at this time

How important is replacing your drive belt tensioner?

A weak or failing drive belt tensioner can throw the serpentine belt off unexpectedly, resulting in a loss of power steering, charging system operation, and potentially other issues.

That can pose safety concerns if you’re driving. Replace the drive belt tensioner as soon as it’s been diagnosed as faulty to keep you and your passengers safe wherever you drive.

If you’ve read this far, you obviously care about your car. A lot. So next time you need a service, repair or inspection, visit

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Image credit - Jon Whitton