Q: How Do Belt Tensioners Work?

asked by on November 30, 2015

How do belt tensioners work?

The belt tensioners in your car work to ensure that there is enough tension on your serpentine belt, or other drive belts, so that everything in your engine compartment (your alternator, water pump, air conditioning compressor, etc.) operates the way it should. If the belt is too loose, it won’t drive the pulleys properly.

Belt tensioners come in two varieties; automatic and manual.

The automatic belt tensioner is a spring-loaded idler pulley that maintains constant tension on the drive belt at all engine speeds. The faster that the engine turns, the belt gets stretched more which actually makes the belt loose. The automatic tensioner keeps the belt from becoming loose when the engine speed increases.

Manual belt tensioners are idler pulleys that are tensioned by either tightening a threaded rod or a bolt. These tensioners do not maintain constant belt tension when the belt stretches, so they must be checked periodically and adjusted as needed.

If you think you’re having a problem with the belt tensioner, you will want to have the car checked as soon as possible to prevent any further damage. A technician from YourMechanic can help you service or replace your belt tensioner for you if necessary.

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