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Old 12-08-2015, 01:45 AM   #1
gqvue08
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Default 2008 Vue Hybrid Dual Belt Tensioner - HELP!

My Vue displayed the check engine / hybrid system icons on the dash when I was driving home on the highway. The car died once I got it home. After talking to the local service center (Chevy dealer) I was told it could be anything from the hybrid batteries to some control modules, all very expensive to replace. I was poking around and discovered that the serpentine belt was gone. Easy fix right... NOT. I bought the replacement belt and the made the spring compression tool and went to work. Before I began though, I looked online for a diagram of the belt routing (which I have attached). What I noticed was that the gap that the belt passes through between the pivot point and the tension pulley to the right (directly below the generator) is only about 1/8 of an inch. There is no room for the belt to pass at all. The other side of the tensioner assembly looks just like the diagram. How could that be? Everything feels tight and solid. No broken or bent parts at all. The pulleys all spin freely too. I was unable to find a photo online of a bare dual tensioner so I am unable to compare what is on my car with what a good part looks like. Has anyone here had a similar experience? What would you recommend I do next. Thanks!
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Old 12-08-2015, 04:40 AM   #2
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Default Re: 2008 Vue Hybrid Dual Belt Tensioner - HELP!

Search for another member custom making his own tensioner tool. You might have to pm him to ask what difficulties he encountered.

As I see it, the belt tensioner needs to be rotated CW (increasing tension) to remove/replace the serp belt. Once the belt is installed, releasing the tensioner tool allows the tensioner to rotate CCW to take up belt slack. If this is correct, the tensioner tool isn't compressing the tension spring enough to allow slipping the new belt on between the pivot point and idler.

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Old 12-08-2015, 11:24 AM   #3
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Default Re: 2008 Vue Hybrid Dual Belt Tensioner - HELP!

Thanks for the reply. I would have thought that was the answer too except that when I did use the compression tool and I compressed the spring 100% it did not change the gap. I will take a photo and post it later.

I have also noticed that on many auto parts web sites, the photos they show for a 2008 Vue Hybrid belt tensioner are NOT what is shown in my previous post. What they are offering look like older versions of the belt tensioner. And the local Chevy dealer that services Saturns is not very helpful even after having cared for this car since Saturn went out of business. Frustrating.

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Old 12-08-2015, 11:38 AM   #4
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Default Re: 2008 Vue Hybrid Dual Belt Tensioner - HELP!

For whatever reason, I did some research before commenting and found rockauto also making the same mistake of showing the wrong belt tensioner. Using a trusted GM website showed the correct drawing for your tensioner (and a ridiculous price).

Please do post a picture. It may help to know thumbnails are restricted to 150kb file size with many here mistakingly believing new member status disallows them from posting pictures. Pictures well over a few megabytes in file size are not accepted so resizing to less than a megabyte and formatted in jpeg will be accepted. I do it all the time.

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Old 12-08-2015, 03:03 PM   #5
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Default Re: 2008 Vue Hybrid Dual Belt Tensioner - HELP!

OK. I think I have found the answer to my question. I have attached a photo to this post that helps explain what I found.

The tiny gap between the pivot point and the pulley below the alternator is the result of a second MASSIVE torsion spring inside the tensioner housing. It seems that in addition to the MASSIVE coil spring for which you need a special tool to compress, you also need to pivot the torsion spring CW in order to thread the belt through the gap. Because this was not obvious by looking at it when installed, and because I found nothing online that mentioned this, I did not discover that fact until I pulled it out of the car. One very important point that should be shared here is that there is literally NO room to pry back the torsion spring/pulley and still have room to get your hands in that confined space to thread the belt. Plus, the spring force is so great that it is almost impossible to pivot it by hand. Getting everything replaced is going to be a lot of fun.

I know that modern cars pack tons of hardware and electronics under the hood. That is just the way things need to be these days. But to see how difficult the GM engineers made it to service something as routine as a belt on this car is beyond belief. Service and maintenance ease was certainly not a prime consideration. Wow.
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Old 12-08-2015, 03:53 PM   #6
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Default Re: 2008 Vue Hybrid Dual Belt Tensioner - HELP!

When I did mine, I removed the passenger side motor mount and jacked up the motor a bit to get some more room to work.

On my 05, there's a 3/8" square recess to fit a ratchet- which I used to relieve tension enough to get belt on.

...
'05 ,2.2L, FWD,5-speed stick with transaxle death rattle is history,,,
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Old 12-08-2015, 03:55 PM   #7
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Default Re: 2008 Vue Hybrid Dual Belt Tensioner - HELP!

I thought that I would also post a photo of the simple spring compression tool that I made. I had all of the pieces left over from other projects in my garage.

I cut to 3/16" thick x 1.25" wide x 2.5" long steel flat stock. I drilled two 5/16 holes at 1/2 from each end. I used two 1/4-20 x 6" long carriage bolts, and the assorted washers and nuts. It worked great. Just alternate between the two bolts until the spring is compressed.

If I ever have to make another one, I would probably use 5/16-18 or 3/8-16 carriage bolts, and narrow the inside gap a bit so that the tool does not twist as much. Even if you had to buy this material at Home Depot it would probably cost just a few dollars and take a half hour to make.

I hope that this is useful.
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Old 12-08-2015, 06:04 PM   #8
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Default Re: 2008 Vue Hybrid Dual Belt Tensioner - HELP!

Quote:
Originally Posted by gqvue08 View Post
.......The tiny gap between the pivot point and the pulley below the alternator is the result of a second MASSIVE torsion spring inside the tensioner housing. It seems that in addition to the MASSIVE coil spring for which you need a special tool to compress, you also need to pivot the torsion spring CW in order to thread the belt through the gap. .......
And now I have to eat my own words since you revealed another tensioner, the ones pictured in rockauto....... I see the dilemma now. I can suggest at least two ways to move this tensioner CW to put the belt on but I'm sure you already have a way to do this.

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Old 12-09-2015, 03:55 PM   #9
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Default Re: 2008 Vue Hybrid Dual Belt Tensioner - HELP!

I have not tried reinstalling everything yet, but I do have an idea that I hope works. Once I get the tensioner bolted back in place I will take a box wrench and put it on the bolt head for the torsion spring roller. I will turn it CW with one hand and try to thread the belt with the other over all of the pulleys. It is certainly going to be difficult because that spring is STRONG, and there is very little room to work. Or perhaps chock the torsion spring in the open position with a piece of wood, thread the belt and then remove the chock. Phew.

I will post again with the results.

Thanks for all the support.

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Old 02-15-2016, 03:27 PM   #10
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Default Re: 2008 Vue Hybrid Dual Belt Tensioner - HELP!

It has been a while since I promised to report back with the results of my effort. Serious winter weather forced me to drive my 4WD Tacoma and put the Vue repair on hold. Recent warm temps allowed me to finish up.

I am relieved to say that the missing belt was the cause of ALL of the problems with the car and it is now running fine (at least for now anyway).

I have a few recommendations and comments to make for anyone attempting to perform this belt replacement...

1. Prepare to be frustrated. This is no simple task. Even if you have every part and tool at hands-reach, this may take HOURS to complete.

2. The spring compression tool is essential. Buy or make one.

3. The air filter box assembly must come off completely. The attachment point
toward the front of the car is not a fastener to be removed. It is a stud for a bushing and the box can be pulled straight off without ant tools required.

4. In order to get access to the drive pulley on the engine you must turn the front wheels to the right, jack up the car, remove the front passenger tire, and remove the inner rubber flap. Always use jack stands for safety.

5. Threading the belt is an exercise in patience and pain tolerance. If you have really big hands, you might not be able to perform this task at all. I wound up putting the belt over the bottom of the drive pulley last because that was where there was the most room. To proceed you will need to take any and all tension off of the belt by chocking out the front idler pulley/tensioner. I used a small piece of wood I cut down from a 2x4. Lastly I popped the belt over the bottom of the drive pulley using a small screwdriver. I removed the chock and re-installed the spring tensioner. That last step is tricky because the spring and the pulley tensioners fight each other.

6. Put everything back together and you should be good to go.

7. Now my comment. Being a mechanical engineer by trade, and having designed industrial equipment for the likes of Boeing and Intel, there are certain fundamental considerations that are part of every project you begin. One of the most important is serviceability. I also realize that individual engineers do not always get to do what they feel is right when it comes to big projects, like designing a car. There are orders from on high that force you to make bad design choices. Like, "just make it fit". This car is a perfect example of numerous bad design practices. For a service item as fundamental as the serpentine belt, access to the location is abysmal. The spring/tensioner pulley design is poor in and of itself too. GM dropped this engine into this car without the slightest concern for everyday maintenance. They make the owner take it to the dealer for a repair that will cost $$$$$$$. I am truly amazed.

One last comment, I will never buy another car that does not have a keyed entry to the hatch in the back. Check this out. My car sat for a while pending this repair, and the 12V battery had lost its charge. I needed to get the jack and lug wrench out of the back to remove the front wheel for belt access. I could not do so because of the electric-only hatch. So I thought that I would simply hop over the back seat and get them from the inside. But no. The inside of the hatch is designed in such a way that it blocks the floor board from flipping up to get the jack. Making the plastic door molding a little less ornate, or scalloping the floor board slightly would have permitted total access. That was just another careless design and lack of real-life testing. Frustrating but not overwhelming.

I am glad that my car is back on the road. And I hope that I was able to provide some insight and assistance to anyone that may want to undertake this repair themselves in the future. Long live the DIY-er.

Good luck and safe driving.

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Old 02-16-2016, 03:27 PM   #11
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Default Re: 2008 Vue Hybrid Dual Belt Tensioner - HELP!

I forgot to add this one detail to my last post...

Don't store your jumper cables in the compartment where the spare tire is located. If your battery is dead, then you cannot open the rear hatch. And with the hatch closed you cannot open the spare tire compartment from the inside. Therefore your jumper cables are trapped and useless.

Live and learn.

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Old 02-16-2016, 07:01 PM   #12
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Default Re: 2008 Vue Hybrid Dual Belt Tensioner - HELP!

I don't envy your predicament with the way GM designed a dual tensioner system. During the last 30-40 years of GM's slow demise until largesse forced it into bankruptcy protection, quite a few engineering 'marvels' debuted; throttle body injection to circumvent tried and true Bosch fuel injection, the short lived 2.2L Vues using GM's VTI (cvt) xmission, converting gas engines to diesel, etc.. I have my pet peeve with replacing the t-stat in my L300, requiring two days of back breaking labor removing most of the upper intake system to have access to the t-stat.

In hindsight, I'm not sure why GM decided (other than bean counters arguing to leaving manual trunk lock out) to eliminate manual trunk locks requiring a key. Just one dead battery when locked out of entry to a vehicle and trunk most likely was forgotten by engineers far removed from the 'what if' scenarios occurring in real world vehicle ownership. Its great to have a manual or electric trunk release, remote operation and the old standby keyed trunk lock. Having redundancy would lessen the one time occurrence of a 'perfect storm' when a manual trunk release doesn't work when the cable or its mechanical linkages fail, the electric solenoid fails and not having a keyed trunk lock.......

I know someone buying a 'tricked' out Avalanche with all door lock cylinders removed, several flat screens, a large sound system and huge satellite dish laying on its roof. And two large batteries. This was finished for show, a garage queen not meant for daily driving. The previous owner somehow had the presence of mind to leave two wires dangling somewhere under the vehicle - it was meant as the only wires to connect another 12v battery, enough to have the remote operate the electric door locks when both batteries fail. It was prophetic when the new owner suffered two battery failures at the same time and resorted to connecting another battery to these wires to gain entry.

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