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Old 06-10-2014, 01:18 PM   #1
fagurt
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Default $300 to replace Belt Tensioner & Belt

I am the proud owner of a 2001 Saturn SC2 with 199k miles on it (owned since 140k). Today the belt tensioner pulley went bad (I think it popped off??), I was driving and felt a clunk then saw something go flying down the road behind my car which looked like the pulley. My car immediately started overheating and I got a battery light come on in my car, I also lost power steering. I pulled over and popped the hood... the serpentine belt was completely off the track. Luckily I had pulled into a Sears parking lot and the mechanics were happy to look at it for free. 2 hours later I get a call, they say pulley and belt need to be replaced, but they can do it now and have it done by the time I get out of work... For $267 + tax.

I got this current tensioner pulley put on about 2 months ago for 25$ on ebay and installation labor cost me about $40. I also got a new belt ($10) and labor was $20. Total under $100. I am currently not close to my house so my dilemma is I can't get it to the same mechanic as last time, and I'll have to order the parts online again which will take a few days. So I'm out of a ride. And I suppose it's not worth trying to drive it home to take care of later, right? (I live about an hour away)

I am currently trying to shop around for better prices but my not so distant future isn't looking too bright. Any thoughts/comments/suggestions??

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Old 06-10-2014, 01:39 PM   #2
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2001 SC2
Default Re: $300 to replace Belt Tensioner & Belt

Cheap tensioners (non OEM) are not worth it. They fail often enough you'll have spent the OEM price on it within a year.
Stock part number: 21008320
$81.81 plus s/h: http://parts.nalleygmc.com/products/.../21008320.html

Belt:
With A/C & PS: http://parts.nalleygmc.com/products/.../21008369.html
Without A/C, with PS: http://parts.nalleygmc.com/products/.../21008367.html

...
The proper way to fix a S-Series automatic is to replace it with a 5spd O:)

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Old 06-10-2014, 01:44 PM   #3
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1998 SC2
Default Re: $300 to replace Belt Tensioner & Belt

Without the belt tensioner you're not going to go anywhere. It took me nearly 2 hours to replace the belt tensioner on my car and at $100 an hour, plus parts then $267 is about right.

Getting it towed to your other mechanic is an option but that's $150 there.

Just make sure they put on the correct part, no aftermarket ****.

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Old 06-10-2014, 02:50 PM   #4
Razzle Dazzle
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Default Re: $300 to replace Belt Tensioner & Belt

It's really not hard to replace it, especially if the tensioner is already off. Look up Richpin's how-to.

I took 30 minutes to replace mine, and that was with removing the belt, and getting the tensioner stuck in the process.

...
'12 Chevrolet Cruze, 1.4T M/T 101k
Miss my White 95 SC2, said goodbye at 213k, 7 years of ownership.

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Old 06-10-2014, 03:22 PM   #5
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1995 SL1
Default Re: $300 to replace Belt Tensioner & Belt

Just food for thought....

If you have the time and skills, neither of which would be much, you could do it yourself before you head home. It all depends on local resources. If you have a parts place local, you can probably get them to deliver the parts.

For what they are charging you, you could pick up whatever the local parts store has, the tools to do it, if needed a big towel or something to keep from trashing your work clothes, some cool iced tea, and still come out ahead.

Even if you get a crap tensioner you could order another when you get home, and still come out on top. Autozone pricing would get you belt, tensioner, and some tools for $120 or so out the door. You might even be able to get loaner tools.

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Old 06-10-2014, 04:38 PM   #6
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Default Re: $300 to replace Belt Tensioner & Belt

Everyone has different circumstances. Second car, time to do repair work, place to do repair work, money growing out of ears, amount of aggravation one is willing to put up with. Sure, you can get it done cheaper than that, but the time and aggravation you would save? I'd make sure they offered a decent warranty (1 year) and pay the money.

...
2002 SL2 Manual - new in November, 2001
As of 09/30/17: 223,751 Miles - SOLD
New owner report of 08/08/19: 234,408 Miles

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As of 07/25/18: 51,495 Miles

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Old 06-10-2014, 05:01 PM   #7
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1998 SC2
Default Re: $300 to replace Belt Tensioner & Belt

The book labor time for a tensioner is real close to 3 hours so that is not that incredible. Car trailer is the only way to move car.

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Old 06-10-2014, 07:56 PM   #8
fagurt
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Default Re: $300 to replace Belt Tensioner & Belt

Hey everyone thanks tons for the replies, here's my update: It turned out the tensioner completely cracked! Not sure how this happened, but I ended up taking it next door to Tire Kingdom for a quote and hopefully a better price, they told me they'd do it for 215.00 even AND include a lifetime warranty on the parts! I had them do it, and 2 hours later got my car on the road and won't have to call a cab to get to work tomorrow. I am a very happy person!

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Old 06-10-2014, 08:37 PM   #9
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Default Re: $300 to replace Belt Tensioner & Belt

Glad you got it fixed but I don't understand how a 45min (tops) job turns into 2 hours unless something breaks/strips.

Then again, book time for replacing all 4 struts on my Subaru is close to 8hrs when legit labor time is well under 3.

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Old 06-11-2014, 07:38 AM   #10
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Default Re: $300 to replace Belt Tensioner & Belt

Not trying to be a smart aleck, but now that the drama is over, it would be a good time to evaluate how much saving money on that cheap part cost you. Many times the saving in money for cheap parts ends up costing you more in the long run in aggravation, labor charges, and having to buy the same part twice. Not to mention the extra stress it puts on the car. For example, had you continued driving for any distance (Like you were thinking about when you considered driving it home without the belt) would have overheated and likely ruined the engine and possibly junked the car.

It's taken me a long time, but I try to avoid cheap discount parts and buy either factory replacements or at least the same parts the mechanics are using from the places like NAPA. I figure they don't want to do the job again under warranty so they are going to use parts that won't fail prematurely.

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Old 06-12-2014, 01:21 PM   #11
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1998 SL2
Default Re: $300 to replace Belt Tensioner & Belt

I would have just done it myself but that's just me. I didn't know hardly anything about anything beyond basic car maintenance before I got this SL2 but thanks to richpins videos and this awesome forum of great information present and past, I feel comfortable doing anything that needs done that I can reasonably do myself, (so far have done PCV valve, spark plugs and wires, new TPS and IAC valve, throttle body remove and clean, serpentine belt replacement, (which sucked because my tensioners top half of the bolt to release the belt is so stripped from all the years of removing the belt that I have to remove the passenger wheel and go from underneath ) and A handful of other small things. might not seem like much but it feels great to save money and do it yourself.

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