How to Change the Belts on Ford Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

Ford car engine is available in a myriad of vans and trucks. Each year and model of van or truck has a slightly different serpentine belt configuration, due to the components in the system and the physical size and shape of the engine well. If your Ford car has a serpentine belt that is fraying, cracking or losing ribs, you should replace it, immediately. Anyone with basic auto repair experience can change a belt on a Ford car in less than an hour.

Under The Hood:

 How to Change the Belts on a 2003 Ford Focus

Check to ensure that the belt routing diagram is legible. It is usually located near the radiator beam or on the underside of the hood. If not, sketch a diagram of the belt routing diagram before starting.

Jack up the front of the vehicle, using the floor jack. Support it with jack stands. Remove the splash shield from under the front of the vehicle to gain access to the tensioner.

Fit the appropriate socket on the bolt in the center of the tensioner pulley. Rotate the pulley toward the center of the engine to relive tension on the belt. Lift the belt off the pulleys.

Route the new belt around the pulleys, starting with the crankshaft pulley and leaving the tensioner pulley until last. Rotate the tensioner pulley toward the engine and slide the belt over the tensioner. Allow the tensioner to rotate back into place. Reinstall the splash shield. Lower the vehicle off the jack stands, using the floor jack.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stands

  • Set of sockets

 How to Replace a Belt on a Ford Taurus

Locate the belt tensioner. This spring-loaded pulley puts pressure on the belt to keep it on the engine. The tensioner pulley location should be marked on your belt diagram, but on most Tauruses you can find it near the top-center of the engine.

Grip the extended bolt in the center of the tensioner pulley with either a socket or wrench. You should use a socket if you have the room, but there usually won't be. Ford sells specialized tensioner-pulley wrenches for some years of Taurus that are designed to snake into the engine bay and facilitate belt removal, but there's always some way to make a wrench work.

Apply enough pressure to the tensioner bolt that the tensioner begins to rotate. If you have the room, slip a two-foot long piece of pipe over your wrench or ratchet handle to give you the required leverage. The tensioner pulley will rotate clockwise on some engines and counterclockwise on others. If your belt diagram doesn't specify, then crank the tensioner so that it rotates toward the crankshaft pulley.

Slip the belt off of the tensioner and the pulley adjacent to it. Release the tensioner and pull the belt out of the engine.

Install the new belt according to your belt diagram, starting with the pulleys at the lower-rear of your engine and working toward the front and top. Installing the belt this way will help to reduce the time you'll spend spitting, cursing and digging through your engine bay to slip the belt back onto a buried pulley. You may need to install the belt on your tensioner pulley before the front-most pulley if you don't have enough clearance between the tensioner and wheel-well to get the belt onto the tensioner afterward. But, in general, you'll want to save the tensioner pulley for last.

Rotate the tensioner pulley back toward the engine and slide the belt over it, making sure that it is perfectly centered on the tensioner pulley and seated into the grooves on every other pulley.

Get in the car and turn the ignition key to the start position for about half a second and release. Give the engine five or six quick bumps like this without starting it, then get out and inspect the belt to make sure that it's still properly seated on the pulleys.

Items you will need

  • Metric and standard sockets, full set

  • Metric and standard wrenches, full set

  • Assortment of long and short shaft screwdrivers

  • New belt

  • Belt routing diagram

 How to Change a Belt on a V-10 Ford

Open the hood to expose the V-10. Look on the fan shroud or underside of the hood to locate the serpentine belt-routing diagram. Examine the diagram to familiarize yourself with the location of the components in the system, as well as the belt routing path.

Move the serpentine belt tensioner off the V-10 serpentine belt with the serpentine belt tool. Slide the belt to the side, so you can slowly move the belt tensioner back into position, while leaving the belt loose.

Slip the V-10 serpentine belt off the other pulleys, by hand, and remove it from the engine well. Depending on the year and model of the vehicle, as well as your physical size and dexterity, you may find it easier to access some of the lower pulleys from underneath the vehicle.

Wrap the new serpentine belt around the bottom of the V-10 crankshaft pulley, by hand. Refer to the serpentine belt diagram, and route the belt around the other pulleys, leaving the belt tensioner pulley for last. Be sure to route the belt exactly as depicted on the belt-routing diagram.

Move the V-10 serpentine belt tensioner aside with the serpentine belt tool. Slide the new serpentine belt onto the tensioner pulley, and hold it there, while slowly moving the tensioner back into position.

Remove the serpentine belt tool from the V-10 engine well. Close the vehicle hood.

Items you will need

  • Serpentine belt tool

 How Do I Change the Belt on a 7.3L Ford Engine?

Open the hood on the Ford vehicle and locate the belt diagram. This diagram explains the routing instructions of the belt around each accessory pulley. Use the belt routing diagram when installing the new belt. The diagram is located on the top of the black plastic cover that surrounds the radiator.

Locate the spring-loaded belt tensioner on the front of the 7.3L Ford engine. The tensioner is below the alternator and above the crankshaft pulley. The tensioner has a 1/2-inch drive square hole on the pulley end of the tensioner. Use the square hole to rotate the tensioner back and forth.

Rotate the tensioner pulley clockwise with the 1/2-inch drive breaker bar. Once the belt becomes loose enough to remove, slide it out from the underside of the tensioner pulley. Then, release the tensioner pulley and remove the breaker bar.

Slide the belt out of each pulley. Then, pull the belt around each fan blade and out of the engine area. Rotate the fan blades as needed to get the belt around each blade.

Route the new belt around the fan blades and around the crankshaft pulley. Always begin the routing process of a single belt with the crankshaft pulley. Then, route the new belt as directed by the belt routing diagram.

Rotate the tensioner pulley clockwise again with the breaker bar. Then, slide the new belt under the bottom of the tensioner pulley. Release the tensioner pulley and as it retracts, it will pull all of the slack out of the belt. Inspect the belt to make sure that it is properly routed and that it is seated inside of each pulley.

Crank the 7.3L Ford Engine and watch the new belt just to make sure that it is going to stay around the pulleys. Turn the engine off and shut the hood.

Items you will need

  • 1/2-inch drive breaker bar

About the Author

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