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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The bearings in our idler and tensioner are cheesy Chinese/Korean/Asian bearings. They're known in the bearing world as the worst you can buy. I'm sure Ford and the aftermarket parts companies use them because they're cheap.

Has anyone just replaced the bearing? I think a new pulley is around $15. For that cost I'm sure a German or Japanese bearing could be had and it'd probably last longer than the car.

Has anyone just replaced the bearing?
 

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I have in the idler pulleys on the SHO but they are a unique bearing. It is really easy as the press out without much effort.
 

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Idler Pulley Bearing Repacking

Below is generic information for most modern-day vehicles:

Serpentine belt tension is set by the tensioner assembly, which consists of the spring tensioner and an idler pulley. Ideally, the tensioner assembly should be replaced when the serpentine belt is changed. In many cases, this is not the most cost-effective solution. Most people will replace the idler pulley, which costs about 25% of what the tensioner assembly costs. For the more frugal, or more performance-oriented individual, repacking the idler pulley bearing is an option. Since space is normally tight on this side of the engine, access may be improved by moving the power steering reservoir aside or by removing the appropriate wheel and plastic wheel-well liner. Here's how to repack the bearing:

1. Remove idler pulley from tensioner, normally by using a 15 mm combination wrench.

2. Examine old bearing and ensure it's serviceable.

3. Remove bearing grease seals, using a small screwdriver, and soak bearing and pulley in kerosene. Ensure bearing is clean of all old grease and dirt.

4. Inspect ball bearings, cage, and race for any signs of damage.

5. Allow bearing to dry. Compressed air can be used but don't try to spin the bearing or it could be damaged.

6. Pack bearing with grease, thoroughly forcing grease into all crevices of the bearing. Approximately 25% of the inside space of the bearing should be filled with grease. I recommend using either Mobil 1 Synthetic Universal Grease, NLGI #2, or Amsoil Synthetic Multi-Purpose Grease, NLGI #2.

7. Remove excess grease and replace both grease seals.

8. Button things up.

The bearing should now be as good as, or better than, new. Tighten the 15 mm mounting bolt 20 lb.-ft., on a standard NTN 6203 bearing, with a 17 mm inside diameter. This common bearing is frequently referred to as a "203" bearing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ok,
Took the bearings apart and greased them today. While I had the pulleys out I got some measurements for anyone who wants to put some 'real' bearings in these things. The dimensions are:

I.D. (shaft sleeve) -17mm
O.D. - 40mm
Thickness - 12mm

I'm not sure what the ABEC rating is on these but I'd guess it's pretty low in quality/tolerance. Most likely ABEC 1 or not rated. I'm not sure that precision is super important here but a higher rated and better quality bearing would probably outlast the car.
 

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Good idea. You could take the bearing down to a local power transmission supply house and they will match it up with something from Timken, SKF, F A G (yes F A G), Rexnord or whatever manufacturer they carry. I might do this myself when I change the belt this summer.
 

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The state of the global bearing industry today if rotten. If U went to the prez. of any major bearing co. and asked him to tell U where one of his parts came from I'm willing to bet he could not tell U. The co. does not matter. So many cos. have been bought out/merged/outsourced/repackaged that getting a good product is never a sure thing. I've had good Jap./Swed./Germ/U.S. stuff fail before it should have, no matter how it was maintained or used. I've had just as much good luck w/ Chin. The worst have been Ind./Span./Eastern Eur./Braz. Sometimes 2 of the same part nos. bought from the same supplier have been obviously diff. and the QC is not the same. All I'm saying is...good luck.
 

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hi,

Yes, I've replaced both bearings myself, easy to do, twice on my 99 wagon.

I also replaced the tensioner with the Gates part $62 (Korea made China bearing)
and idler pulley $17 on both the 99 wagon and sable.

The bearings cost under $5 each, I will post the numbers tomorrow if I can.

you will need torx bit to remove the tensioner t40 I believe,
the idler needs 15mm box wrench.

no need to remove any other items except the serpentine belt.

regards

james
 

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More comments: When re-packing bearings, cleanliness is very important. Generally, I will clean a bearing 3 times. The first time I will use any good solvent with a brush of some sort. Next I will use another clean container and fresh solvent. The last time I will hold the bearing w/ a plastic baggie and flush it w/ some aerosol solvent that will dry fast which will allow me to flip the bearing inside-out w/ the baggie to keep it clean 'til I get it lubed. I will also keep the lubed bearing in a baggie 'til install. Dirt ruins bearings quicker than anything other than overloading which is why I like to be specific w/ this. Local bearing suppliers can be found in the phone book - if anybody still has these. I've had good luck w/ the local Fastenal Co. here. Easy to deal with and if they don't have something in stock - like a huge selection of stuff - they will order it. Bearings are made in stock sizes that are usually marked on the old bearing. But, the no. alone is not 'nuf. U need to add the type of shielding cover on both sides, unless completely open, which is usually a letter series.
 
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