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Old 08-16-2010, 03:04 PM   #6
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DavidJames is on a distinguished road
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 8
Default Re: Tensioner rattle is back -- even with new AC Delco tensioner and belt!

Does anyone have a photo of the original (OEM) Saturn belt tensioner? There appear to be three holes for the original tensioner, two on the top and one and one on the bottom. The aftermarket belt tensioner that everyone is selling only uses two bolts, one on top and one on the bottom. It only has a one year warranty and is prone to failure in less than one year.

I bought one of these aftermarket belt tensioners from Autozone and it started rattling less than one year later, when I turned on the AC. During this period, my car sat parked most of the time. I put less than 6000 miles on the car since changing the belt and belt tensioner, less than half that with AC on.

The folks at Autozone told me to tighten up the bolts to see if that fixed the problem. SO I did, and it did not fix the problem. So I went in and got a replacement tensioner from them under warranty.

Now I needed an extra bolt since I rounded down the head on the top bolt trying to tighten it per their instructions. The manager at Autozone claimed they did not have one. So I went to Advanced Auto Parts. That is when I discovered Advanced sells the very same belt tensioner.

So I bought a set of bolts from Advanced, and put them in. It immediately stripped out the treads on the engine assembly. As it turns out the vibration from the tensioner fatigued the threads on the engine assembly for the top bolt causing the threads to soften. Also, more info, the place where the tensioner bolts on appears to be a separate part (a separate plate) that Saturn made from aluminum instead of cast iron.

Now my Saturn SL2 with just 125K miles is ready for the junk yard, because I cannot bolt down the belt tensioner. Their doesn't appear to be enough space on the top bolt to put in a tapper, to tap in new threads without taking the engine out. Replacing the assembly plate may not be much easier.

My car, which is in perfect condition otherwise, with a newly rebuilt trans and leather. Any help on the subject would be appreciated. IT appears all our Saturns are headed for the junk yard because "Cash for Clunkers" and planned obsolescence. This could be the stuff for a class action. Does anyone know a good lawyer?

AVOID using aftermarket belt tensioner or you could be facing the same problem or worse down the road. If anyone else has experienced this problem, please make a follow up post.

Last edited by DavidJames; 08-16-2010 at 03:13 PM.. Reason: Clarity and typos


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