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Old 11-02-2017, 08:11 PM   #1
saturnmommy
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1997 SL1
Default Belt tensioner and pully assembly

Here we go again, BUT I think we finally found the grinding/rattle issue we are having on my 1997 Saturn SL1 . I have asked on other threads about the rattle but so far changing many things under the hood from motor mounts to pulleys and so on has not worked. We changed the power steering pump and for a few days the noise was gone but its been back a few weeks now so its not the power steering pump. Today while looking to see if the pump was making the noise, we saw the Belt Tensioner Pully assembly was actually jumping a little while the car is in park and when you put it in drive it really starting jumping and vibrating. We think this is probably the cause of the loud rattle we hear when you put the car in drive and sometimes reverse, as well as when you are sitting at idle. So my question is has anyone had a tensioner do this? We are currently using the CARQUEST by Dayco Automatic Belt Tensioner #89240 which is the second one since April. I think its defective out of the box because when we put it in we had a major struggle putting the belt back on which we have never had before. My other question is do you think the AutoZone Duralast brand would be a good fast replacement? Also what size, type, and brand of belt do you recommend?

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Old 11-02-2017, 08:48 PM   #2
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Default Re: Belt tensioner and pully assembly

Do yourselves a favor, only use ACDELCO serpentine belt tensioners, they will last YEARS longer than any other supplier.

$54.65 delivered

https://www.amazon.com/ACDelco-38112...ype=automotive

Hopefully, someone will correct me if this is NOT the right part for a 1997.
I had all these necessary part numbers at my fingertips on my computer before the house burned down and destroyed the hard drive....

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Old 11-02-2017, 09:25 PM   #3
saturnmommy
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Default Re: Belt tensioner and pully assembly

Quote:
Originally Posted by toggenburg View Post
Do yourselves a favor, only use ACDELCO serpentine belt tensioners, they will last YEARS longer than any other supplier.

$54.65 delivered

https://www.amazon.com/ACDelco-38112...ype=automotive

Hopefully, someone will correct me if this is NOT the right part for a 1997.
I had all these necessary part numbers at my fingertips on my computer before the house burned down and destroyed the hard drive....
Thank you I will check into that on Amazon. I wish stores sold them because I need it fixed this weekend with work and school schedules its tight times right now so it has to be fixed when time is available which makes it hard to order a part. I am sorry about your house burning down, I hope everyone is safe and you are all in a new place.

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Old 11-02-2017, 09:41 PM   #4
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Default Re: Belt tensioner and pully assembly

If you search threads about belt tensioners, you'll read equal votes for and against aftermarket parts. This includes Dayco as members have found them just as reliable as stock parts. What may make this belt tensioner issue more difficult in determining whether or not tensioners are interchangeable is the added fact of possibly using the wrong length drive belt. Some mechanical understanding is needed to appreciate what's involved with replacing drive belt and belt tensioners.

Most may overlook parts replacement if not aware of comparing the old one to the replacement. Tensioners may or may not have re-engineered the large clock spring (providing long term belt tension to keep a belt tight) and re-sized the pulley. Spring tension may vary and a different sized pulley affects belt tension. Now add an incorrect belt size to throw off a simple repair. An incorrect spring tension, incorrect pulley diameter and incorrect drive belt length can contribute to a thoroughly ruined repair. Either the belt is too tight or too loose and both create new problems. As a rule, most specs state belt tension around 50-65 pounds - that means if anyone knows how to use a spring gauge to measure belt tension and where to measure it, it would require 50 pounds to deflect a belt that's correctly mounted when new. Another way to measure tension is pulling the tensioner as if releasing the drive belt to measure how much pull is required to move the tensioner. 50 lbs is not light and either a long breaker bar is used or greater arm strength is required to move a tensioner out of the way to remove and replace a belt. That's tight and if the belt tensioner is not worn, makes belt removal difficult unless leverage is used on the tensioner pulley to tighten the tensioner before the belt can be removed. The large clock spring is designed with several windings to provide the large tension against the drive belt to keep it tight. This keeps the accessories from slipping; alternator, water pump, ac compressor and power steering pump. All accessories try to resist the pull of the drive belt and the belt tensioner tightens the belt against accessories to ensure every one is being turned. Some call this tension 'banjo tight' as an appropriate description for belt tension. Any less than that and accessories refuse to turn from a loose belt. The tensioner is only one part of this belt drive system. The other part is the correct belt and length.

The serpentine belt provides the connection from the engine drive pulley to turn the accessories, If too short, the tensioner may be too tight and prematurely wear out the belt, bearings and create other issues. A belt that's too long won't allow the belt to turn the accessories. The belt tensioner has a sweet spot where the belt tensioner applies correct tension in the middle third of its arc, neither too loose/low belt tension nor too tight/higher belt tension. The middle arc is where the belt resides, the ideal place for correct tension.

Unfortunately, there's a science to drive belts and some of it is described here. The trick is to use the correct parts and not deviate from original dimensions. Dimensions may be different diameter tensioner pulley, longer/shorter belt, and incorrect tensioner.

Last edited by fdryer; 11-02-2017 at 09:48 PM..

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Old 11-02-2017, 10:31 PM   #5
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Default Re: Belt tensioner and pully assembly

I've only had to replace one tensioner, I used a Gates 38112 from Rockauto. The Gates is identical to the OEM I took off, no worries about pulley size or belt length.

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Old 11-03-2017, 05:55 PM   #6
Saturn Night
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Default Re: Belt tensioner and pully assembly

Quote:
Originally Posted by saturnmommy View Post
Thank you I will check into that on Amazon. I wish stores sold them because I need it fixed this weekend with work and school schedules its tight times right now so it has to be fixed when time is available which makes it hard to order a part. I am sorry about your house burning down, I hope everyone is safe and you are all in a new place.
I would attempt to source one from a local yard. The OEM will last a very long time, compared to aftermarket. Mine made it to 175,000 before it went bad.

Try this website:

www.car-part.com

...
1991 Pontiac Grand Am @ 140k - More rust than paint & no leaks
1995 Saturn SC2 @ 181k - 17.2538 @ 77.91mph w/Stock TB
Mechanic: I can't fix stupid, but I can fix what stupid does.

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Old 11-09-2017, 02:43 PM   #7
saturnmommy
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1997 SL1
Default Re: Belt tensioner and pully assembly

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdryer View Post
If you search threads about belt tensioners, you'll read equal votes for and against aftermarket parts. This includes Dayco as members have found them just as reliable as stock parts. What may make this belt tensioner issue more difficult in determining whether or not tensioners are interchangeable is the added fact of possibly using the wrong length drive belt. Some mechanical understanding is needed to appreciate what's involved with replacing drive belt and belt tensioners.

Most may overlook parts replacement if not aware of comparing the old one to the replacement. Tensioners may or may not have re-engineered the large clock spring (providing long term belt tension to keep a belt tight) and re-sized the pulley. Spring tension may vary and a different sized pulley affects belt tension. Now add an incorrect belt size to throw off a simple repair. An incorrect spring tension, incorrect pulley diameter and incorrect drive belt length can contribute to a thoroughly ruined repair. Either the belt is too tight or too loose and both create new problems. As a rule, most specs state belt tension around 50-65 pounds - that means if anyone knows how to use a spring gauge to measure belt tension and where to measure it, it would require 50 pounds to deflect a belt that's correctly mounted when new. Another way to measure tension is pulling the tensioner as if releasing the drive belt to measure how much pull is required to move the tensioner. 50 lbs is not light and either a long breaker bar is used or greater arm strength is required to move a tensioner out of the way to remove and replace a belt. That's tight and if the belt tensioner is not worn, makes belt removal difficult unless leverage is used on the tensioner pulley to tighten the tensioner before the belt can be removed. The large clock spring is designed with several windings to provide the large tension against the drive belt to keep it tight. This keeps the accessories from slipping; alternator, water pump, ac compressor and power steering pump. All accessories try to resist the pull of the drive belt and the belt tensioner tightens the belt against accessories to ensure every one is being turned. Some call this tension 'banjo tight' as an appropriate description for belt tension. Any less than that and accessories refuse to turn from a loose belt. The tensioner is only one part of this belt drive system. The other part is the correct belt and length.

The serpentine belt provides the connection from the engine drive pulley to turn the accessories, If too short, the tensioner may be too tight and prematurely wear out the belt, bearings and create other issues. A belt that's too long won't allow the belt to turn the accessories. The belt tensioner has a sweet spot where the belt tensioner applies correct tension in the middle third of its arc, neither too loose/low belt tension nor too tight/higher belt tension. The middle arc is where the belt resides, the ideal place for correct tension.

Unfortunately, there's a science to drive belts and some of it is described here. The trick is to use the correct parts and not deviate from original dimensions. Dimensions may be different diameter tensioner pulley, longer/shorter belt, and incorrect tensioner.
You know its funny you mention the belt because a long time ago we replaced one of the pulleys and my dad realized the belt was the wrong size so we got a smaller length and it worked great. I will have to see if we can figure out the right size belt for this new tensioner. The auto parts guys rely on the computer as a GOD for the right part and sometimes they are sooo wrong. I do know this new Duralast tensioner is a 90 (it says drive belt pully diameter (1) (mm): 90 ). The odd noise is still there but when we put the first pully on a few months ago it was hard as hell to get that belt back on and it was never hard before. With this new Duralast tensioner the belt went on smooth as silk with no problems. It is just a pain to figure all this out and we don't have one of those belt tension tools so we just rely on the old computers to tell us the right parts.

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Old 11-09-2017, 02:44 PM   #8
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1997 SL1
Default Re: Belt tensioner and pully assembly

Quote:
Originally Posted by billr View Post
I've only had to replace one tensioner, I used a Gates 38112 from Rockauto. The Gates is identical to the OEM I took off, no worries about pulley size or belt length.
Normally we would have ordered one but we needed to get it replaced fast so no time to ship it.

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Old 11-09-2017, 02:45 PM   #9
saturnmommy
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1997 SL1
Default Re: Belt tensioner and pully assembly

Quote:
Originally Posted by Saturn Night View Post
I would attempt to source one from a local yard. The OEM will last a very long time, compared to aftermarket. Mine made it to 175,000 before it went bad.

Try this website:

www.car-part.com
Thanks but we don't have a lot of yards around here and the ones we do have are thin on the Saturn or they charge way to much for the parts.

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Old 11-14-2017, 04:46 AM   #10
Tom Walsh
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2002 L-Series 2.2L Sedan
Default Re: Belt tensioner and pully assembly

I'd give thumbs up for Gates. Been reliable for me. Nice to know Acdelco works too.

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