View Full Version : Belt replacement - should I do pulleys etc too?

12-03-2013, 08:03 PM
My van has 120k miles or so. With a road trip planned in a couple weeks, I took a look at the serpentine belt and tensioner. The belt is looking old and the ribs are starting to go. I can see what looks like steel belting. Definitely a "must replace ASAP" item.

The belt tensioner is original. I can see it move slightly when I press hard on the belt. Still seems to be working fine.

My question is - when I go in and replace the belt, should I also replace the alternator, belt pulleys, and belt tensioner also? (I can place the original tensioner into my spares kit).

And I'm assuming that fitting a 150A alternator in lieu of the original one is a good idea. Eventually I may install a second battery or two for camping power.

Thanks in advance!

12-03-2013, 08:23 PM
Tensioner and alternator if you choose to replace I would go OEM. Other threads here about problems with non oem tensioner and clutch on alternator. Idler pulleys are cheap compared to other parts I think less than $10.00ea. Don't know what the life expectancy is on the tensioner but replaced mine twice on my 02 after 400K miles. 1st time with non-oem. Should have searched here first. Don't know if it was replaced before that but I had most of the service records from the previous owner. Love to visit your part of the Country and hope to get the Sprinter there sometime.

Aqua Puttana
12-03-2013, 11:29 PM
Well, if you want opinions...

At one time when I still had faith in new parts (OEM or otherwise) I would have suggested that changing all the parts would probably be worth the cost and effort. I'm not so confident anymore.

I have noticed many infant failures on new bearings installed in motors and pumps. Even buying brand name parts is no guarantee because brand names sub out parts for manufacture. I found the outer bearings "other than Germany" on my front wheels to show signs of shadow on the races. Normally I would have replaced inner and outer bearings. As I saw "Made in Germany" on the inners, and they showed no signs of wear I replaced only the outers. With "Made in Germany" bearings I might add. When I replaced my serpentine belt I inspected belt operation, and continue to regularly inspect for that. I didn't replace more parts because it all looked good.

There have been posts here which suggest that as long as the belt is running true, shows no signs of wobble/jumping, and no noises then you should be OK for some time. Another check is to move the tensioner unit through its rotation. As long as it moves smoothly and provides resistance it is OK.

I went for the 150 amp Bosch alternator because the cost difference wasn't much at all as compared to the 90 amp (my OEM size) or the 120 amp.

Another factor as to replacing all parts. You live on an island. How long can a road trip be?

Good luck. vic

12-04-2013, 01:24 AM
I definitely plan to replace the belt ASAP.

And I agree with Vic's frugal tendency to leave OEM parts that seem to be working well alone, but inspect them, and replace as needed.

But at 120k it seems like a good idea to have new parts ready during the inspection, so if a problem is found, there's no downtime waiting for new parts to arrive.

I just ordered a "serpentine belt replacement kit" from Europarts (they claim all the parts are OEM equivalent). Soon as those arrive I'll tackle the belt swap and deal with the pulleys and tensioner as needed.

I'm now considering installing a new AC compressor at the same time, so the alternator will remain untouched for the time being (to save money).