Symptoms Of A Bad Tensioner Pulley

There are numerous components that must cooperate with one another in order for your car to function properly. The tensioner pulley is one of these modest but crucial components.

A tensioner pulley applies the necessary pressure and aids in maintaining the belt’s tension and alignment using a spring-loaded arm or a hydraulic actuator. The tensioner pulley on a drive belt system is spring-loaded to maintain the serpentine belt’s appropriate tension and alignment. Well, in this article we’ll be discussing the symptoms of a bad tensioner pulley.

Symptoms Of A Bad Tensioner Pulley

So, let’s dive in!


Symptoms Of A Bad Tensioner Pulley

Weird noises

The noise is typically the first thing to be noted when the tensioner pulley begins to malfunction. The belts will start to squeak or chirp as the tensioner becomes looser. When you first turn on the engine, you might detect this sound the loudest. It becomes very irritating and is the most common grievance among car owners.

It is common for the noise to change as the bearing or pulley totally wears out. Even more concerning is the possibility that the pulley will now begin to grind.

Burnt odor

The serpentine belt will loosen and start to slide on the accessory pulleys if the tensioner pulley is damaged and unable to tension the belt appropriately. While driving, this may cause your automobile to smell like burned rubber. You should inspect the belt and tensioner pulley as soon as you can if you smell burnt material.

Excessive Belt Wear

You can begin to have issues with the belt itself if the drive belt tensioner or pulley starts to malfunction. The belt may show signs of severe or unusual wear. There may be problems with the pulley if the tensioner fails. The belt edges may begin to fray as a result. In the worst-case scenario, you can end up with a broken belt, which is never nice. The pulley should be changed ideally before things deteriorate to this point.

Failing Accessories

The belt, which operates a variety of accessories like the alternator, water pump, and air conditioner compressor in most cars, is held in place by the tensioner and pulley.

Power to these components is lost if the belt breaks or gets slack. You’ll lose access to these items, and odd problems can start to appear. The engine could overheat, the alternator could stop charging, and the air conditioning could cease working.

You’ll pay more for repairs if a poor pulley or tensioner causes a broken belt. You’ll need to replace the belt and other damaged components in addition to the pulley.

Here are other symptoms

  • The pulley is being rocked back and forth. There shouldn’t be any swaying or side-to-side play.
  • Misalignment – Worn bearings lead to misaligned pulleys, which produce belt chirp noise issues.
  • Pulley that is cracked or broken: Look for visible physical damage.
  • Free Spin Pulley: Use your fingers to spin the pulley. Does it rotate more than a couple of times? If it happens, the lack of lubricant in the bearing is the cause and a warning that it may soon fail.
  • Bearings that are seized are a sign that the pulley will lock up.
  • Discoloration – This may be brought on by the pulley bearing intermittently seizing up or by a faulty tensioner causing the belt to slip.
  • The surface build-up is a telltale sign of a belt that is slipping due to a worn-out tensioner.

Tensioner Pulley Location

The tensioner’s spring-loaded tensioner pulley is located at the end of the tensioner. The spring-loaded component of the arrangement applies tension to the auxiliary belt as it travels across the pulley. To prevent it from slipping off the pulleys, it needs to be under the proper amount of strain.

Sometimes the component that breaks down isn’t the tensioner. Sometimes the failure of the bearing results in the pulley. Because of this, you can buy a pulley as a replacement rather than a tensioner. In a moment, I’ll talk more about that.

You can use the procedures below to locate the tensioner pulley;

  • Open the hood of the car.
  • To locate the tensioner, search the length of the auxiliary drive belt. The pulley, which is attached to the tensioner, has a flat surface toward the top of the belt. There won’t be any grooves where the belt rides.

Consult the service handbook for your car if you can’t seem to locate the tensioner pulley. If not, you could require assistance from a nearby dealership or mechanic.

Related Article

Watch the video below to learn more


How do I know if my tensioner is bad?

What happens when a tension pulley goes bad?

The drive belt can experience unusual and fast wear if the tensioner pulley has any kind of problem. The margins of the belt may tear from a poor pulley, and in extreme circumstances, it may even shatter.

How can you tell if a pulley is bad?

How do I know when to replace my tensioner pulley?

Examine to check if the pulley spins freely. Replace the tensioner if you hear grinding or if the pulley doesn’t spin freely. Moving the tensioner should need a lot of force when you change the belt. If it is simple to move, the spring tension is probably insufficient.

Can the tensioner cause a loss of power?

All of the parts that depend on the belt for power will stop working if the tensioner wears down and causes the belt to totally dislodge, probably through seizing. This implies that if the belt comes loose, your car’s power steering, water pump, alternator, and smog equipment will all stop working.

What causes the tensioner to make noise?

The belt squeaks because the belt drive system’s tension isn’t correct. In addition to a polluted belt (oil, belt dressing, etc.) and a worn-out automatic tensioner, additional potential causes include excessively lengthy or worn-out belts.

How do you adjust a tensioner pulley?

What is the lifespan of a tensioner pulley?

The serpentine belt, tensioners, and idler pulleys on the majority of newer cars will last 60,000 to 100,000 miles after they leave the dealer’s lot.

When should I replace my car tensioner?

Drive belt lifespans typically range from 40,000 to 70,000 miles. There is really only one warning indication that a drive belt tensioner has reached the end of its useful life.

That’s all for this article where we discussed the symptoms of a bad tensioner pulley. Hope it was helpful. If so, Kindly share. Thanks for reading.