Serpentine belt tensioner - DodgeTalk : Dodge Car Forums, Dodge Truck Forums and Ram Forums
 
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#1 Old 11-24-2011, 08:30 PM
marpag
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Serpentine belt tensioner

Does anyone have an idea how to loosen the tension on the tensioner of a 2009 Grand Caravan? I have done this many times on other vehicles and I have a complete set of tools for doing this but they are useless in this case. The tensioner has no hole or head to take either something like a 3/8" or 1/2" rachet or a socket of some size. The tensioner has a nut at the pivot point, as normal for all tensioners, but nothing anywhere else for loosening the tension. The tensioner does have a small square knob at the top and at the bottom and I am guessing that there must be a tool that goes over the tensioner and uses these two lugs for leverage. I have asked all the auto parts stores in close vicinity and many have stared at it but no one has an idea as to what might be used. I asked the dealer, of course, but their answer is just "bring it in and we'll do what you want" and "we don't sell tools". In other words, "if you like to do your own work, don't buy Dodge". That is how I see it. They would not tell me what tool to use. As far as I can find there is no available point to use as leverage to press against the bottom lug to release the tension. I thought of grabbing the bottom lug with a vice grip but the tensioner is made of almg alloy and I doubt if this would stand up to the needed force at that angle. I have never seen anything like
this. Any ideas?
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#2 Old 11-25-2011, 01:42 AM
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According to Rock Auto your belt tensioner should look like the one in the pic i posted. This is a spring loaded assembly, there is no center pivot nut to loosen. You put you wrench, socket or preferably use the special long thin belt tensioner tool, on the only bolt head in the picture. If you push the wrench the right way you will move to idler pulley and the loosen the belt. If you push the wrench the other way the bolt will loosen.

I have a 1990 and 92 caravan and my tensioner’s work the same way.

Here is an exploded view of the tensioner.

http://www.gates.com/file_display_co...ks433-0796.pdf
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#3 Old 11-25-2011, 05:57 AM
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Wally,
Thanks for the quick reply and the nice pic. I believe you woke me up. I have never on any other type of car ever had to look on the backside of tensioner for the nut. But I am new to Dodge. This does make it tough, however, it will mean first removing the shroud under the engine to get at it. I have never had to go through that kind of trouble. Also, I am retired now and I am only one person. From what you show this will mean losing the tensioner from below and removing the belt and then lowering the car to remove and replace the alternator. This is bad design. With the tensioner socket on the other side, I could do everything from above, with the tools that you show so that I would only loosen the belt enough to remove the alternator and put the new one in. This way I could avoid the trouble of having to refeed the belt and without having to make sure that it is in the right tracks - which can destroy a belt in seconds. I will check later when the sun is up and let you know. Thanks.
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#4 Old 11-25-2011, 08:02 AM
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You would still do this from above.

You put the belt release tool on the actual pulley bolt to loosen tension on the belt to remove it.

I have also used the square lugs to loosen the tensioner but that you do have to remove the inner plastic wheel guard and get in there with the correct sized box end wrench or a big adjustable.

It is unfair to say a dodge is designed to not be worked on by the owner. Every vehicle I have ever owned has difficult designs to work on.
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#5 Old 11-25-2011, 01:48 PM
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Right, you still loosen the belt from above. That's why you need the special adjuster tool. It is extra thin to let you get the wrench between the pulley and the passenger fender wall. A standard wrench will fit on it but that is a real knuckle buster. You should not have to remove anything like the alternator or bracket to swing this pulley out of the way. The secret is to rotate the socket on the thin torque bar until it engages the pulley nut to give you the longest throw. You only need about 1/8 of a turn or so.

To totally remove and replace the tensioner you would work below as you described.
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#6 Old 11-26-2011, 05:59 PM
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Wally and others,
I got it done. The picture is not correct. There is no way to access that nut even with the special tool. However, there is a square 3/8" hole which receives a socket wrench or the special tool shown in the picture. The problem is: the square hole is not visible from above because of the shape of the tensioner. Removing the plastic wheel and belt guard make the 3/8" hole visible. Then, I realized that I can do the job from above like I have always done. There really is no reason to remove the plastic guards if you know that the hole is there and it is angled a bit away from the front. To get the tool shown above into the hole at the right angle, I had to remove the breather hose from the air cleaner cowling. This way the tool can approach the tensioner from above but angled about 2 degrees towards the fire wall. Then, the tool will find the hole in the tensioner. I then used a 2' screw driver (lucky I have one of these) as a pry bar to push the tool into the hole from above. You have to do this blind because the hole remains hidden from above. It then took about 10 minutes to replace the alternator. I used the old trick of using a bungee cord to keep the serpentine belt tight against the other pullys so that I would not have to rethread it through. In case someone has not done before, use the bungee cord to pull the belt up by fastening the bottom to the belt and the top to the hood of the car. The bungee cord provides enough slack when you need to pull the belt over the alternator pully but prevents the belt from loosening around the other pullys.
Thanks to every one who helped with this.
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#7 Old 11-26-2011, 06:45 PM
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“I used the old trick of using a bungee cord to keep the serpentine belt tight against the other pullys so that I would not have to rethread it through. In case someone has not done before, use the bungee cord to pull the belt up by fastening the bottom to the belt and the top to the hood of the car. The bungee cord provides enough slack when you need to pull the belt over the alternator pully but prevents the belt from loosening around the other pullys.”

Thanks for the tip, i have had this problem and now i know what to do.
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