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Old September 10th, 2013, 09:59 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Am i the only one who cannot put serpentine belts on?

i've been raised all my life on the old V-belts and engines with each accessory or two being on separate belts. i've only had a couple of cars with the infamous single serpentine belt that drives everything. my latest car is a 92 Bonneville and the water pump is shot. while the pump swap is easy, the belt has to come off to do it. the only issue is then my car will be undriveable because no matter what i cannot get the damn serpentine belts back on. i'd be able to remove it from its package, and try, but soon as i get it around the first pulley and attempt the second twist, SPROING! the whole thing pops off. again and again. is there a particular method to these blasted belts? i'd love to kill whomever designed that blasted system.

i never even get to the tensioner part. the belt never makes it far enough without coming unraveled in my many attempts.

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Old September 11th, 2013, 09:53 AM   #2 (permalink)
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When the serpentine in my Olds gave me trouble... I gave up and went to a mechanic O.o
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Old September 11th, 2013, 10:27 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I've only done the serp. a couple times. I usually started at the bottom and worked up. The ones I HAVE done were on 4WD trucks with clutch fans (which I left in place). It can be a challenge, especially with a cramped engine compartment. My last car (2006 Grand Prix) never needed a new one, still looked good at 76,000 miles, my current vehicle only has 27,000 on the clock but it should be simple to do.

Try this:
How to replace a serpentine belt on a GM 3800 series II engine 3.8 liter V-6
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Old September 11th, 2013, 07:32 PM   #4 (permalink)
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If it were a simple replacement of the belt alone you can bet i'd get a mechanic to do it. but the belt is otherwise fine, it's the water pump that's shot (it pees coolant as i drive). since the belt has to come off to do the pump replacement i'd be stuck if i can't get the belt back on. it's too cost prohibitive to get a mechanic to do the belt AND pump.
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Old September 22nd, 2013, 05:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I myself love the serpentine belt system. There should be a sticker nearby showing how to route the belt, if not draw yourself a diagram on how it goes around the pulleys.

It is a little difficult the first time you do it, but once you've done it you'll realize how easy it actually was to do.

Find the right size socket that fits on the tension pulley, better if you use a long handle breaker bar for leverage, then just pull on the tension pulley enough to slip the belt off. Once removed slip the new belt over the fan, i usually start routing the belt to the left of the tension pulley, work your way down to the bottom, get on as much of the belt that you can, when it starts getting snug pull on the tension pulley with the breaker bar allowing you to slip the belt over the remaining pulley, if you can only get it partway on the last pulley, it should go on when you bump the ignition, that's it make sure you have some play in the belt, an inch or less, cause it will stretch ..
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Old September 22nd, 2013, 10:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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oh there is a belt routing under the hood diagram, but that is only the factory belt for the car with a functioning A/C compressor. when i got the car the A/C compressor had already froze up and someone put a smaller belt on there thus bypassing it. that belt routing is NOT matching the diagram one bit (and there are no dotted lines to depict bypassing any accessories either). worst part is, this special belt someone else put on has no numbers, and the Auto Zone has no idea which belt to give me since they have no idea what it takes to bypass the A/C compressor.

another reason i hate serp belts. with old V-belts, if one isn't an exact fit, you made it fit. you just tightened it up more. If i ever get over this issue i will be looking for the earlier generation 3800 V6 engine with the v-belt setup. i trust v-belts far more than one-for-all.
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Old September 23rd, 2013, 05:09 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Not a problem, i had to bypass my air condition pulley too (froze up) .,plus i put underdrive pulleys on it to gain horsepower. Just take the belt off, have someone drive you to the auto parts store and they will just match up the length. I've probably had at least four different size belts on over the years because i couldn't afford all the underdrive pulleys at once, i should have waited until i had them all and changed them all at the same time but i couldn't wait.

So just take the belt with you and they will match it.

I don't know how your auto zone store is, but the one i go to the guys are great, they might even change it for you at no cost.

Also the belt doesn't have to be the exact same size (within reason) the tension pulley will make up the difference.

That picture is of the motor in my 92 Chevy pickup, sad to say it doesn't look like that anymore. But between 1996 and 2001 i use to enter it in car shows, then my wife lost her job in 06 and its been my daily driver ever since and looks nothing like that now, Pittsburgh winters really did a job on it.
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Old October 3rd, 2013, 06:07 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I wish I had video of us replacing a belt on one of our big CAT engine generators. We had two guys pulling the tensioner out; one weighed 300 the other about 160. Slipped the belt on and told them to let it go. The big guy let go and the other guy went flying.
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