How to Change a Serpentine Belt on Buick Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The engine in your Buick car uses a serpentine belt to turn the accessories on the front of the engine. The belt is made from nylon-reinforced rubber and while the nylon helps, the rubber will stretch over time. Regular inspection of the belt is the only way to avoid a belt failure. Check your serpentine belt every time you check your oil. A visual inspection is all that is required unless you spot damage on the belt; then removal is necessary for further inspection and replacement if needed.

Under The Hood:

 How to Change a Serpentine Belt on a Buick Regal V6 3.8L Step-by-Step Instructions

Find the belt routing diagram on the fan shroud. If it is not there, draw a diagram of the serpentine belt's path around the pulleys with pencil and paper so you can get the new belt on right.

Find the automatic tensioner. It is located just above and to the right of the crankshaft pulley. If the tensioner has an arm on top of it with a square hole, insert a 1/2-inch ratchet into the hole and rotate the tensioner counterclockwise to release tension on the belt. If there is no arm, use the box end of a wrench on the bolt in the center of the tensioner to rotate it counterclockwise to release tension.

Slide the belt off the pulleys while keeping the tensioner rotated. After you have removed the belt, slowly let the tensioner rotate back.

Begin sliding the new belt onto the pulleys. Rotate the tensioner again to finish installation. Make sure the belt is centered on all pulleys.

Items you will need

  • Paper and pencil

  • 1/2-inch ratchet

  • Wrench set

  • New serpentine belt

 How to Change the Serpentine Belt on a 1997 Buick Park Avenue

Open the hood of your Park Avenue and locate the negative battery terminal on the battery. (The cable is normally black and the battery case will have a large minus (-) symbol molded into it next to the negative terminal.) Remove the cable using a wrench to loosen the retaining bolt on the cable end, then separate the cable from the battery terminal.

Locate the belt tensioner on the front of the engine, just below the alternator. Place a socket on the mounting bolt in the center of the idler pulley, then rotate it counterclockwise using a breaker bar to remove the tension on the belt.

Remove the old belt from the pulleys and discard it. Slowly rotate the breaker bar clockwise, allowing the tensioner to return to its home position.

Install the new serpentine belt onto all the pulleys on the front of the engine except the tensioner pulley. Using the breaker bar and socket, rotate the tensioner counterclockwise again and slide the belt onto the tensioner pulley. Rotate the tensioner clockwise and allow the tensioner to remove the slack from the belt. Do not let it snap back into place or damage will occur to the tensioner spring.

Remove the breaker bar and socket from the front of the tensioner and out of the engine compartment. Visually check the belt to ensure it is lying properly over the pulleys before starting the engine.

Install the negative battery cable on the negative terminal of the battery and tighten the retaining bolt with a wrench. Start the engine and watch the belt, making sure it does not wobble or walk off the pulleys. Close the hood and shut off the engine.

Items you will need

  • Wrench set

  • Breaker bar

  • Socket set

 How to Replace a Serpentine Belt on a 2002 Buick Rendezvous

Locate the tensioner pulley. It is directly beneath the alternator on the left side (facing the engine) of the engine compartment. Two different types of pulleys may have been used for the manufacturing of the Buick Rendezvous. Each offers a different belt release option. There will either be a bolt head on the center of the tensioner pulley or a 3/8-inch square drive.

Insert the correct adapter onto the belt tensioner tool to accommodate the bolt head or the square drive of the tensioner pulley.

Place the serpentine belt tool and adapter onto the bolt head or square drive of the tensioner pulley and then release the belt tension by turning the tool clockwise. While holding the tool to relieve the tension of the belt with one hand, slide the belt off of the alternator pulley with the other. Be careful not to allow the belt tool to slip or it can swing back and cause injury.

Allow the belt tool to return the tensioner back to its seated position once the belt has been removed from the alternator pulley. Remove the tool.

Work the belt off of all the pulleys. Since limited access is available in the 3.4-liter engine, removal of the lower splash guard may help to remove and then install the new belt. If necessary, remove the lower splash guard using a ratchet and socket set to remove the retaining bolts.

Remove the belt and then compare its length and rib count to the replacement belt to ensure that the correct belt was purchased. Since the tensioner only pivots slightly, only one belt will fit on this engine.

Install the new belt starting at the crankshaft on the bottom. Refer to the routing diagram to ensure you're placing the ribbed side of the belt appropriately into the grooved pulleys of the crankshaft, power steering pump, water pump and air conditioner unit (see Resources). The flat side of the belt will go against the surface of the upper and lower idler pulleys. Do not incorporate the belt around the alternator pulley at this time.

Hold the belt up near the alternator pulley and inspect the lower portion of the belt to ensure the ribs are aligned in the grooves. One misaligned rib on a pulley will prevent the belt from being installed on the last alternator pulley.

Reinsert the belt tool onto the bolt head or square drive of the belt tensioner while still holding the belt near the alternator. Turn the tensioner clockwise to reposition the tensioner pulley, which will allow you to slip the belt onto the alternator. If it is not fitting properly, the belt is misaligned somewhere.

Remove all the tools from the engine compartment area after the belt has been replaced. Start the engine and inspect the operation of the belt to make sure it's staying in place and no squeals or squeaks are present.

Items you will need

  • Serpentine belt tool with adapters

  • Routing diagram

  • Replacement belt

  • Ratchet and socket set

 How to Replace a Serpentine Belt on a 1998 Buick Park Avenue

Raise the passenger side of the car with the floor jack and place the jack stand under the frame. Lower the car onto the jack stand. Remove the lug nuts on the wheel with the lug wrench and remove the wheel.

Place a ratchet with the appropriate socket on the belt tensioner and pull the tensioner away from the serpentine belt to relieve the tension. Remove the belt from the pulleys. The belt will come off the pulleys, however, it will not come out because the belt passes through the motor mount arm.

Look through the fender well now that the wheel is removed and you will see the lower motor mount straight ahead on the frame rail. Look to the right side of the arm where it attaches to the engine and you will see a 2-inch section of the arm held in with two bolts. This section must be removed in order to remove the serpentine belt. Place the floor jack under the passenger side of the oil pan and raise the jack just enough to give support to the engine.

Remove the bolts in the engine mount support arm with a socket and remove the piece. Remove the serpentine belt and install the new belt. Don't worry about installing it on the pulleys, just place it through the motor mount for now. Install the piece of the motor mount arm and tighten the bolts.

Look at the diagram for the belt routing on the radiator cover. It is very tight fit between the engine and the frame. The belt needs to be installed a little at a time, starting at the top. Then go in the fender well and grab the belt and pull it down into place as far as possible, and then back to the top and so on until it fits.

Install the belt as illustrated on the radiator cover and when the belt is on all the pulleys, move the pulley tensioner away from the belt and install the belt on the tensioner. Allow the tensioner to operate and apply tension to the belt. Install the wheel and tighten the lug nuts with the lug wrench. Lower the car.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stand

  • Lug wrench

  • Ratchet

  • Set of sockets

 How to Replace a Serpentine Belt in a Buick LeSabre

Note how the old belt is routed. Making a drawing of the belt routing can make it easier to install the new belt, especially if the under hood routing guide sticker is missing. If the belt has broken, the belt routing can be found in a service manual (see Resource).

Remove the old belt by compressing the spring-loaded tensioner and slipping the belt off the alternator pulley. If your LeSabre has the engine package that does not require removal of the motor mount, the belt will simply pull out of the engine compartment, and you can install the new belt in reverse order. If you have to remove the motor mount, continue to the next step.

Position the floor jack under the engine with a block of wood between the oil pan and the jack. Then jack up the engine just enough to make good contact and support some of the weight. Remove the coolant overflow bottle. Remove the bolts attaching the motor mount to the frame, as well as the motor bracket. Then lift out the motor mount and remove the old belt.

Install the new belt, referring to the belt routing drawing or service manual, and slip it back onto the alternator while compressing the spring-loaded tensioner. Reinstall the motor mount and coolant overflow bottle, tightening the bolts securely. Start the engine, and check that the belt is routed properly and sitting evenly in the pulley grooves.

Remove the jack and the wood block before test-driving.

Items you will need

  • Metric wrench set

  • 3/8 inch drive socket set

  • Service manual

  • Jack

  • Wood block

  • New belt

About the Author

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