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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,
I have a 2001 Sable vulcan, and 188,000 miles, and the belt started making noise again. So I got a new one. the cheap one since they did not have a good one at advanced when I went, so I put it on and it was not noisy for about 50 miles and then it got noisy again. So I sprayed it, and the pulleys with engine degreaser, and for another 10 miles it was quiet, then started again. So again I sprayed it and same thing, 10 miles then noisy again. Today, I tried belt dressing, and it changed nothing, so I used more engine degreaser, and I have not taken it out, because I am seeing if leaving it on the pulleys might make them a bit cleaner? Now the last time I changed the belt, I had the same problem, and I changed all of the pulleys, and the alternator, and finally exchanged the belt for another new one, and that made it stop squeeling for a year. So I am baffeled as to what is causing this because I seriously doubt that the belts are all bad that I get from them (Advanced Auto). Does anyone know, am I missing something here? I am completely desperate now.
Dave Shade
 

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Maybe one of your accesories is binding (worn bearings on water pump?) and the belt friction capacity is overcomed. Or the tensioner has a weak spring and it doesn't tension the belt enough.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I was wondering if the spring is weakened, but I don't kow hwo to check it. Do you know if there is anyway to adjust the tension of the spring, or how ot check it? I am going to go out and pull the belt in a bit, and try to clean all of the pulleys. Like I said, I sprayed it last night with degreaser, and let it sit overnight so now after I clean it up, I can at least rule this out if it does not work.
 

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Press the belt with the finger on middle of the widest spot. Should not deflect more that 1/4-1/2".
Also, the tensioner has three marks - two moving and one fixed. The fixed one should be between the other two. You need a mirror to see them.
Mine is on the "start" side (with new belt) - when the belt streaches, it will "travel" to the other mark:

 

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Belt Tension

Hello,
I have a 2001 Sable vulcan, and 188,000 miles, and the belt started making noise again. So I got a new one. the cheap one since they did not have a good one at advanced when I went, so I put it on and it was not noisy for about 50 miles and then it got noisy again. So I sprayed it, and the pulleys with engine degreaser, and for another 10 miles it was quiet, then started again. So again I sprayed it and same thing, 10 miles then noisy again. Today, I tried belt dressing, and it changed nothing, so I used more engine degreaser, and I have not taken it out, because I am seeing if leaving it on the pulleys might make them a bit cleaner? Now the last time I changed the belt, I had the same problem, and I changed all of the pulleys, and the alternator, and finally exchanged the belt for another new one, and that made it stop squeeling for a year. So I am baffeled as to what is causing this because I seriously doubt that the belts are all bad that I get from them (Advanced Auto). Does anyone know, am I missing something here? I am completely desperate now.
Dave Shade
Pic attached of what the tensioner looks like. No adjustments, no oil, no maintenance. Just a new one.

With the key out of the car: find the spring tensioner. Pull on the belt to move the tensioner. Then release the belt. The tensioner should move freely. The belt should be plenty tight after you release it.
Look at the ribbed side of the belt. If it has cracks, the belt has exceeded it useful life.
Final check, even with a new belt.
Start the engine, let it idle, turn lights on bright, air cond to max, max fan. Turn the steering wheel slowly to one side. It should move easily to the end of the travel. If the belts slips, the steering will get heavy, stall, get jumpy. That says the belt cannot handle max load. Too long, tensioner weak, sorry belt.
If the belt is off, turn these pulleys and shake for looseness. Idler, air cond, altenator, and water pump, if it has one there. Any noticable slack is not good, any roughness or noise is trouble on the way. Good time to check for water pump leak.
 
-chart-
 

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First, dont spray anything on belt or pulleys. Are all the pulleys aligned properly? Have you changed out the 2 most common suspects, idler and tensioner pulleys? Check the pointer on top of the tensioner housing to see if its in range. Look for excessive tensioner movement and jerking with car idling. If present, replace entire tensioner assy. Have you carefully listened to all belt driven components with a mechanics stethoscope? Have you removed the belt and spun all pulleys by hand listening/feeling for roughness/play? With the belt removed, might start the car momentarily to see if noise is present. If all else fails, you might check autozone for a goodyear gatorback belt. Much smoother, quieter belt. Good luck.
 

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Belts

First, dont spray anything on belt or pulleys. Are all the pulleys aligned properly? Have you changed out the 2 most common suspects, idler and tensioner pulleys? Check the pointer on top of the tensioner housing to see if its in range. Look for excessive tensioner movement and jerking with car idling. If present, replace entire tensioner assy. Have you carefully listened to all belt driven components with a mechanics stethoscope? Have you removed the belt and spun all pulleys by hand listening/feeling for roughness/play? With the belt removed, might start the car momentarily to see if noise is present. If all else fails, you might check autozone for a goodyear gatorback belt. Much smoother, quieter belt. Good luck.
I agree on Gatorback. I have seen online belts and they often show a length. Others differ by maybe a quarter of half inch. There is only one exact size. There is no suitable "close" size. Once you have taken one off and put one on, that is clear. I think sellers are buying commercial sizes and getting one close and putting it up for an application.

Friend had a Caravan and he told me he took it to the Dodge dealer for service for his vacation trip. Then the AC was weak. Took it back and they said the clutch was bad and replaced it. Still weak air. His neighbor looked at and told him, belt is too long. He took it back to the dealer and then agreed and refunded the clutch parts and labor. Used a different belt and it was OK.

I think the Gatorback is sized for the application. Others, may not be. In any case, pays to check the tension and tensioner travel after installation. It would be a pain to have to remove it and take it back if it is too long. :angry:

The DOHC '01 and later with only 5 pulleys is easy by comparison.

Happy motoring.

-chart-
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Well... I took the belt off and I cleaned the pulleys with warm soapy water, and also did the same with the belt, and it seems to have worked. Although I have only gone about 10 miles with it so far, but I do beleive it was the build up of grease on the pulleys. Thank you to all who posted and the info on the tensioner is defiantley going to come in handy in the future. THANK GOD FOR ALL YOU WONDERFUL PEOPLE ON THIS SITE. Seriously, this site has saved my butt sooo many times and it is all from the knowledge of all those who freely take the time to help us on here. Thanks again and have a wonderful memorial day weekend.
Sincerely,
David Shade
 

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Gates has a tutorial about how important the belt tensioner is. Most belts don't squeal on their own. Usually it's not enough tension being applied or bad bearings causing pully's to sway.

And as Sheila said.. never spray anything onto the belt. they only cause harm.

If you want to check for squeals, drop some water on the belt as it's running.. it'll act as a lubricant temporarily (and quickly) and won't hurt anything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Beleive me I found out the hard way that Sheila is right on the money. See for some reason for the past year the belt would start squeeling whenever it would rain out. Even the lightest rain would cause it, so I got some belt dressing, but it made it squeel wrose. Then I got some silicone spray and it would make it stop squeeling for sometimes months at a time, or until it would get raining again. So I was thinking that all of that silicone spray started to make the pulleys dirty, but even if it did, something had to have made it squeel in the first place. I did notice that the power steering pulley was moving in and out slightly. Is that normal for these pumps?
 

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Like it was said, remove the belt (again :)) and move with your hand the accesories - like that steering pump, alternator, tensioner... They shold not "bind" of make noises.
 

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Next time belt is removed, might take some brake cleaner spray, rag and wire brush to the pulleys and maybe spray both sides of the belt and wipe with a rag.
 

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it's not normal for any of the pully's to move in or out.
Either the pully is warping or the pump shaft is starting to show it's age.

With all the silicone spray you put on.. you were lucky the belt didn't fall off!

the only thing normal for a Ford p/s pump is the groaning sound.. which oddly.. I love to hear!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Well.... Still good, I drove some yesterday and it is still quiet so I think it is all better now. I am going to look into the pulley on the pwer steering though. Everything else is still pretty new, because I changed them all last year... except the ps pump and the water pump. When I cleaned the pulleys and the belt the other day, a whole mess of a lot of black greasy residue was on the pulleys and belt as well, so I cleaned it extremely well, and so far so good. It's pretty hard to get my hands in there though because I have big arms and hands, so I could not get down on the cam pulley, or the A/C pulley, but I did drip some soapy water onto them, and them rinsed it off. Anyway thanks to all for your input, and it was all very informational and very helpful. I wish you all a very good memorial day. God bless.
David Shade
 

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My truck sits for a week or so between uses and even the Gatorback on it will squeak. New tensioner went on with the belt BTW.
Only thing I've heard / found to stop that was to use Talcum powder on the belt.
Got that from the truck group and it works great so I'm passing that on here.
The talc will not hurt the belt, no build up and it works.
 

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PS shaft

Completely normal for ford ps pulley shafts to have some in-out play.
10-4 on that, the only thing accessory that does not use ball bearings. If they were tight on endplay, they would have some failures as they got hot/cold. Also important, maybe 20 years ago Ford began a progeam to mount everything hard mount to the engine, and get away from brackets. Thus they have better alignment and less vibration. Hard to fix out of line and off angle with brackets. Even a little makes issues.

And well to separate slip/squeel from squeek. Damp weather squeek is normal. Warm squeek, not slip, is often some mis alignment. I used talc on a '85 LTD with the 3.8 and pile of brackets making some poor alignment.

In the process, the DOHC got the alternator in one horrible location. I took one off on a '98 with a bad bearing, and found that I could take the pulley off while it was inside the bay, then slip it out through the wheel well. Thank goodness for the impact. Old faithful IR.

Happy motoring.

-chart-
 
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