The drive belt system is made up of the drive belt, drive belt tensioner, and drive belt pulleys. The tensioner works to ensure the drive belt is kept secure while the car is in motion while functioning to apply the right amount of steady pressure to the drive belt.
The drive belt is a long piece of rubber which coils through a series of pulleys which contain bearings, usually operating with a spring mechanism. The pulleys function to enable the drive belt to spin around smoothly allowing the drive belt to propel or drive various components in the engine compartment, such as the alternator, air pump and power steering pump. It is vital that the correct tension is applied continuously to the drive belt while it is working. Incorrect pressure on the drive belt can cause extra stress to the components during their functioning, which can cause them to underperform and deteriorate.
Situated in the engine compartment, the drive belt tensioner assembly is a metal structure housed in a casing and bracket and primarily consists of a coil spring, which allows for the precise amount of pressure to be applied to the drive belt to keep it in place, and a pulley. The pulley mechanism allows the drive belt to run along the inside of the tensioner, which enables it to apply tension to the belt as it spins around its path of pulleys and generates the mechanism and power needed to drive the components it serves. While primarily functioning to apply a steady pressure to the drive belt, the tensioner also helps to prolong the life of the parts driven by the drive belt, such as the air conditioning compressor and water pump, by taking some of the strain away from these parts which allows them to provide optimum performance as well as a longer working life.
If the tensioner isn't applying enough pressure to the drive belt then the belt can become loose and deviate from its position. A sure sign of a loose drive belt is a nasty screeching noise. A slipped drive belt will lead to extremes of temperature as the belt struggles, eventually leading to a damaged drive belt. A slipped drive belt can also affect the proper performance of the components powered by the drive belt. Often the cause of a slipped drive belt is the spring inside the tensioner has become worn and is unable to apply the right amount of tension. If too much pressure is applied to the drive belt by the tensioner this can add undue stress to the parts driven by the drive belt which ultimately leads to premature wear and tear of these parts. To avoid having to replace expensive parts such as the alternator, ensure the tensioner is fitted correctly, functioning properly and changed regularly to ensure perfect performance. A useful general rule of thumb is to replace the tensioner when you replace the drive belt. It is advisable to change the entire drive belt system at the same time which can help to ensure the system lasts longer and works at its best. The tensioner can suffer from rust damage and should be replaced if worn by rust, cracked, chipped or dented. The tensioner is the ideal replacement part when the tensioner has failed. Specifically designed and manufactured for the make and model of your vehicle, this part will be completely compatible.