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Old 11-13-2012, 04:01 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Can you help a wayward stranger with a serpentine belt issue?

Hey, all. I'll say right now that I do not own this car. I am helping my sister and replacing her serpentine belt, but there are some issues I can't figure out. I was hoping I might find some assistance here.

I replaced this belt 4-5 years ago along with the tensioner pulley. All was well until last week when it broke/tore. It looks like it peeled first. I inspected all the pullies and they all seemed good. I figured the belt was a cheapie so I bought a better one this time. I did not replace the tensioner this time. It seemed fine. Less than a week later, it peeled again, starting on the inside. I made this video in hopes someone could help.

I can't offer much to you, as this is not my car. We do help the occasional wanderer that finds our Pontiac G8 forum, so I was hoping someone here would help a fella out too and understand that I would pay the kindness forward. Thaks for any advice!

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Old 11-13-2012, 04:52 PM   #2 (permalink)
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From what I understand it should have a bit of endplay in the pulley....but the only thing I can think of that could do that is either one of the pulleys that you cant see down in the engine or incorrect belt...check how many v-ribs the belt has and how many the pulleys have, then make sure all the pulleys match. did this happen to the original belt? or only to the replacement ones?

also im not sure what the end play is....see if you can measure it, enough end play can damage the belt.

Last edited by aquinoj; 11-13-2012 at 04:55 PM.
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Old 11-13-2012, 05:35 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I have had this happen on other cars. Anything that causes a belt to run not true will do it.
Too much end play or a worn bearing that allows belt to run back and forth. I would suspect that PS pulley. You could go to a junk yard and check the PS end play you see there or look at a rebuilt at the parts counter.

Could be a weak or broken bracket that allows a pulley to shift under load.

Another problem I have seen is a burr on a pulley, begins to cut the belt. Fix that with a fine tooth triangle shaped file or a replacement.

With belt on listen for bearing noise, a slight drizzle of water on belt sometimes quiets bearing noise, if so find the bad bearing.
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Old 11-13-2012, 07:47 PM   #4 (permalink)
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My PS pulley moves just a bit. My tensioner arm had gone out of alignment somehow. Ordered a dorman replacement tensioner (came with pulley) from amazon.com for about $30 and everything is good now. It didn't tear my belt, but it pulled it toward one side, causing a squeal and I can see how it would rub or tear on something if it was much more out of track. Just a thought.
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:13 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Well....listening to the end play from the video,it seems a little excessive on the p.s.pump. you will need to replace pump,as changing the pulley will not help. The shaft has to much play on the bearing.
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Old 11-13-2012, 09:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I would check (eye) belt/pulley alignment idling with belt installed, esp. the ps pulley. As mentioned previously, some in-out play of the ps shaft is completely normal. If ps pump/pulley has been changed in the past and pulley's location wasn't marked/measured properly prior removal/reinstallation, that could very well be the problem. May ask sis if ps pump/pulley has ever been removed.

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Old 11-13-2012, 10:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Did you look at the alignment of the belt on all the pulleys before you removed it? Was it off a notch on any of them?

I would say the endplay in the power steering pump bearing is excessive. A measurement would be great if you could do it, but in your video it looked like it might be as much as ⅜". Normal endplay should be less than about 1/16". I would say what happened is the loose power steering pump bearing allowed the pulley to move in and the belt jumped a notch on the A/C pulley. The inside notch was riding on the edge of the A/C pulley, and that caused it to wear through. The vibrations and fluctuations in tension when the A/C clutch kicked in and out probably contributed to the problem.

So I would measure the endplay, and if it's excessive I would replace the pump. I would also check the alignment of the pulleys after replacing the pump, because a misalignment might have contributed to the PS bearings being loose.
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Old 11-14-2012, 11:50 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Thank you very much for the replies! I didn't measure the end play of that pulley, but I would say it is more than 1/8th and closer to 1/4.

The original belt could have gone due to age. The car had well over 100,000 miles when I changed that one 4-5 years ago. The next belt I put on was one of the two that peeled apart within a week's time.

One thing I recall when I installed the 2nd belt, I did not care for how the new belt rode on the tensioner pulley. The outside edge of the belt seemed to me to be too close to the face of the pulley. In other words, it seemed like it shifted away from the engine in comparison to the wear marks on the pulley. But everything looked inline and I watched it for a while. The belt seemed to run smoothly. So I made a mental note of it and let it go. When she told me it ripped, I thought, "Well, maybe that has something to do with it." I expected to see the issue on the outside of the belt. I was surprised to see it was the inner side that tore.

So that is suspect, but I am still not convinced it is the culprit..... but maybe...maybe that excessive play did cause the belt to ride like that, then pulled in and out under forces, causing it to eventually fail on an inward misalignment.

I have R&R'd many things on many cars, but never a PS pump. Any special tools needed?

Thanks again for the replies. I know it seems dumb that I let it go with that suspect tensioner alignment, but this car is pushing 200,000 miles and, if it wasn't going to be an issue, I wasn't going to mess with it.
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Old 11-14-2012, 05:16 PM   #9 (permalink)
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The only way I really figured out the tensioner was causing problems was by starting the car, letting it idle... I would hear the squealing in my case, and by spraying wd40 on the tensioner pulley, the squealing would stop, but also the belt would hop over on the pulley. Try that maybe, but yeah, my PS pump endplay is not nearly as much as you mention.
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Old 11-14-2012, 09:01 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Helpful video:
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