How to Change the Drive Belt on Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The drive belt on your Polaris car transmits power from the drive pulley to the driven pulley. The belt provides a vital link in the operation and performance of the Polaris car. To ensure top performance, the correct size drive belt must be installed, because belt width and length are critical to proper operation. Belt wear affects clutch operation, so it is important to check the belt frequently, inspecting the width of the belt due to wear. With general use, there is no specific mileage or time limit to belt life on your Polaris car.

Under The Hood:

 How to Change the Drive Belt on a 4.7L Dodge Dakota

Open the hood. Locate the tensioner to the left of center on the front side of the engine. Attach the breaker bar and socket to the end of the tensioner and turn it clockwise. Then remove the belt from the idler pulley first (which is the smooth pulley at the top of the engine) and then pull it off completely from the engine.

Draw a diagram of the drive belt route if the old belt is still present. If not, you can typically find a belt routing diagram underneath the hood of the truck or on the core support. If that isn't present and you don't have an owners' manual, any Dodge dealer or Dodge mechanic can provide you with the proper routing diagram.

Loop the replacement belt on the engine following the path laid out on the routing diagram. Run it around every pulley except the idler pulley, making sure the belt doesn't twist or kink along the way.

Pull up the tensioner again with the breaker bar, then pull the belt over the idler pulley. Release the tensioner and double check that the belt isn't twisted or kinked.

Items you will need

  • 3/8-inch breaker bar and socket set

  • Replacement belt

 How to Change the Drive Belt on a Harley-Davidson

Place the Harley onto a motorcycle stand to get the rear wheel off the ground. Use a wrench to remove the rear wheel axle. Push the rear wheel forward to give slack to the drive belt.

Remove the belt guards with the ratchet set. Pull the drive belt off the transmission sprocket and rear wheel sprocket.

Place the new drive belt on the transmission and rear wheel sprocket. Pull the rear wheel back toward the rear end of the Harley to tighten the new drive belt. Replace the rear wheel axle and tighten sightly.

Tighten the new drive belt according to the specifications for your Harley model. Reconnect the belt guards. Use an alignment tool on the rear tire according to the owner's manual.

Items you will need

  • Wrench

  • Ratchet set

  • Owner's manual

 How to Replace a Drive Belt on an Isuzu Rodeo

Open the hood of your Isuzu Rodeo and prop it up with the locking rod attachment.

Examine the serpentine belt routing diagram on the left-hand side of the hood locking latch on top of the fan shroud. You will need this diagram to properly configure the new belt around the accessory pulleys.

Locate the belt tensioner device on the front center of the engine below the alternator. The tensioner device has a roller pulley on one end that is mounted to the tensioner arm by a small bolt. Use the head of the bolt to turn the tensioner device.

Turn the tensioner device by the bolt head in the center of the roller pulley counterclockwise with a breaker bar and a socket. Reach down and slide the belt out from around the roller pulley. Release the tensioner device.

Remove the serpentine belt from each accessory pulley. Pull the belt around the fan blades and out of the engine area. Match the old belt to the new belt to ensure that the new belt is the correct length.

Slide the new belt around the fan blades and around the accessory pulleys by following the routing directions on the diagram.

Turn the tensioner device by the roller pulley bolt head counterclockwise with the breaker bar and socket. Slide the new belt around the roller pulley and release the tensioner. Remove the breaker bar and socket. Inspect the new belt to make sure that it is centered around the roller pulley and that the belt is seated inside of each accessory pulley.

Crank the Isuzu Rodeo for 10 seconds so that the new belt can completely seat onto the inside of each accessory pulley. Then turn the engine off and shut the hood.

Items you will need

  • 1/2-inch drive ratchet

  • 1/2-inch drive metric socket set

  • Replacement serpentine belt

 How to Change the Drive Belt on a ZD30

Locate the drive belt on your engine. You will locate the belt by looking at the engine and following the belt which moves around all of the rotating shafts on the engine. This belt is the drive belt.

Use a wrench to remove the mounting bolts attached to the alternator. Lift the alternator and its bracket away from the engine.

Locate the drive belt tensioner. This fixes the belt tightly in place in the engine. Use a nut driver to loosen the bolt which is attached to the tensioner. This will loosen the belt on the tensioner and allow you to remove it. Lift the drive belt away from the engine.

Take the drive belt to your local auto parts store in order to pick up a replacement. It is best to take the drive belt which you removed from the engine as it will guarantee that you get the right size and type of drive belt which you will need for your engine.

Place the new drive belt on to the drive belt tensioner. Tighten the tensioner bolt with a wrench to fix the belt securely in place. Reattach the alternator and its bracket. Fix them in place with the mounting bolts.

Items you will need

  • Wrench set

  • Nut driver

  • Replacement drive belt

 How to Change a Drive Belt in a Toyota 4-Runner

Measuring Belt Deflection

Place a straight edge or ruler across the two pulleys on the belt you wish to measure.

Press your thumb down on the belt half way between the two pulleys.

Measure the distance you can press down with your thumb. It should be between 3/8 and 1/2 inch.

If the measurement is greater you must tighten the belt.

Alternator Belt

Loosen the alternator belt adjusting bolt on the alternator, using a wrench. Slide the alternator towards the engine.

Pull the belt off the pulleys.

Slide a new belt over the alternator and crankshaft pulleys.

Pull the alternator away from the engine.

Tighten the alternator belt adjusting bolt, using a socket.

Measure for deflection.

Loosen the alternator adjusting bolt and slide the alternator away from the engine, if the deflection measurement is greater that 1/2 inch.

Tighten the alternator adjusting bolt using a socket.

Air Conditioning Compressor Belt

Loosen the air conditioning compressor adjusting bolt and slide the compressor toward the engine.

Pull the drive belt off the pulleys.

Slide the new belt onto the pulleys.

Slide the A/C compressor away from the engine and tighten the adjusting bolt.

Measure the drive belt for deflection.

Loosen the A/C compressor adjusting bolt and slide the alternator away from the engine, if the deflection measurement is greater that 1/2 inch.

Tighten the A/C compressor adjusting bolt.

Power Steering Pump Belt

Loosen the power steering pump adjusting bolt and slide the pump towards the engine.

Pull the drive belt off the pulleys.

Slide the new drive belt over the pulleys.

Push the power steering pump away from the engine and tighten the adjusting bolt.

Measure for deflection

Loosen the power steering adjusting bolt and slide the power steering pump away from the engine, if the deflection measurement is greater that 1/2 inch.

Tighten the adjusting bolt.

Removing a Serpentine Belt

Draw a diagram to note the routing of the serpentine belt around the engine accessory pulleys.

Locate the tensioner pulley, it will be located between the generator and crankshaft pulleys.

Insert a 1/2 inch breaker bar into the tensioner.

Move the breaker bar to your left (when facing the front of the engine) to take the tension off the belt.

Pull the belt off the pulleys.

Installing a Serpentine Belt

Loosely thread the new belt around the pulleys follow the diagram you drew previously.

Move the breaker bar to your left.

Slide the new belt over the tensioner pulley.

Release the breaker bar and remove it from the tensioner pulley.

Items you will need

  • Straight edge or ruler

  • Wrench set

  • Socket set

 How to Change the Drive Belt on a 2009 Toyota Corolla

Loosen the 14 mm bolt at the base of the alternator using a wrench. Turn the 12 mm adjuster bolt on the top of the alternator counterclockwise with a wrench to move the alternator down toward the water pump in order to loosen the belt tension.

Install the new belt making sure the grooves on the belt align with the grooves on the pulleys.

Turn the adjuster bolt clockwise to move the alternator up, which will apply tension to the belt. Tighten the bolt until there is no longer freeplay in the belt between pulleys. Turn the adjuster an additional quarter turn.

Tighten the 14 mm bolt at the base of the alternator to lock it down.

Items you will need

  • 14 mm wrench

  • 12 mm wrench

 How to Replace a Drive Belt on a 1999 Toyota Camry

Raise the hood on the 1999 Toyota Camry and prop it open. Locate the belt routing diagram that is stamped to the left side of the fan cover. Refer to the diagram when installing the new drive belt.

Locate the self-adjusting belt tensioner on the front center of the engine above the crankshaft pulley. The tensioner has a roller pulley attached to the bottom arm of the tensioner. Turn the tensioner from the bolt head that connects the roller pulley to the tensioner arm.

Slide the socket and breaker bar onto the pulley bolt head. Turn the breaker bar counter clockwise to move the tensioner. As the tensioner is moving, the belt will become loose. Once the belt is loose enough, slide it off the top of the roller pulley. Allow the tensioner to slowly retract until it stops. Pull the breaker bar and socket off the roller pulley.

Remove the belt from each pulley and lift it out of the engine area. Compare the new belt to the old belt to make sure they are the same width and length. The old belt will be a bit longer due to stretching from use.

Wrap the new belt around the crankshaft pulley first. Follow the belt routing diagram to position the new belt around the other pulleys. Check the belt and make sure that it is seated properly inside the pulleys.

Slide the socket and breaker bar back on the pulley bolt head. Turn the breaker bar counterclockwise until the tensioner stops turning. Slide the belt over the top of the pulley. Release the breaker bar slowly. The roller pulley will tighten the belt to the proper tension as it is retracting against the belt. Pull the socket and breaker bar off the pulley bolt head and out of the engine area.

Start the engine of the Camry and let it run for 10 to 15 seconds. This will finish seating the ridges of the belt inside of the grooves of each accessory pulley.

Turn the engine off. Recheck the drive belt to make sure that it is still seated properly in the pulleys. Close the hood.

Items you will need

  • 3/8-inch-drive breaker bar

  • 3/8-inch-drive metric socket kit

 How to Replace a Drive Belt on a Ford Fiesta

Check that the belt is in contact with the pulleys and that it's in good shape. The belt is found at the front of the car. If the belt is loose, frayed or worn, it needs replacement.

Remove the old belt. Use a wrench to loosen the mounting bolts on the alternator, where the pulleys are found. Loosening the bolts will cause the pulleys to loosen.

Push the alternator toward the engine and move the belt from the alternator pulleys.

Take the old belt to an auto parts store and match it with the new belt you're purchasing. It's important to have the exact size of the replacement belt relative to the old belt.

Place the new belt on by slipping it over the pulley. The belt will fit over the pulley rims with the pulley still loose on the alternator mounting.

Apply tension to the belt and then pull the alternator away from the engine. When the belt is taut, tighten the bolts until they are tight. Check that the belt is tight around the pulleys and that it can't slip off.

Recheck the tension of the belt. Run the engine for 10 minutes. Turn it off and check the belt. If it is still tight around the pulleys, your job is done.

Items you will need

  • Wrench

 How to Replace a Drive Belt on a Ford 6.0 Diesel

Put on your safety glasses and raise the hood. Inspect to see if your upper radiator hose runs through the belt path. Early model 6.0 engines routed the upper hose through the belt path; however, Ford later changed this set up with a new bracket that would run the hose outside the belt. If your belt runs outside, skip to Step 3. If not, perform Step 2.

Place the drain pan on the ground below the upper radiator hose. Use the socket set to remove the upper radiator hose and allow the minimal amount of coolant inside the hose to drain into the pan. Push the hose back and secure it out of the way. Do not remove the hose until the engine is cold.

Insert the end of the belt tensioner tool into the front of the tensioner and release the pressure from the tensioner by pushing the tool away from the belt. This will allow you to reach down with your other hand and remove the belt from the tensioner pulley. Remove the tool when done. If you do not have a tensioner tool, you can use a ½-inch socket wrench but be very careful not to over-torque the tensioner as it can be easily broken by applying too much force.

Remove the belt from the belt path after you have familiarized yourself with the routing of the belt. There should be a belt routing guide printed on a white sticker under the hood, but it’s always best to remember how the belt was routed prior to its removal.

Route the new belt around the pulleys just as the old one was but do not route it over the tensioner pulley yet.

Reinsert the tensioner tool and pull the tensioner back, then with your other hand, slip the belt over the tensioner pulley and move the tensioner back into place. Pull the tool out and set it aside.

Reinstall the upper radiator hose if you had to remove it from the radiator then top the coolant off with distilled water. In the unlikely event you lost more than a cup of coolant, you will need to add a 50/50 mixture of coolant back into the system through the degas bottle.

Items you will need

  • Safety glasses

  • Drain pan (optional)

  • Socket set (optional)

  • Distilled water (optional)

  • Belt tensioner tool or 1/2-inch ratchet

  • Replacement belt

 How to Replace the Drive Belt on a Mazda MPV

Disconnect the battery by turning the positive terminal bolt counterclockwise. Lay the terminal aside.

Firmly press the tension pulley arm until there is enough slack to slide the belt from the idle pulley at the top of the motor. Release the tension pulley arm.

Remove the slackened belt from the alternator pulley wheel and the air conditioning compressor pulley wheel, if applicable. This will dramatically loosen the belt, and it can then be removed from the remaining pulley wheels and engine crank pulley. Make a note of the belt's path through the engine.

Pull the loose belt from the engine compartment and replace it with a new unit.

Slide the drive belt over the engine crank pulley first, at the center of the motor. Pulley wheels that require torque are grooved, and passing pulleys are smooth. Loop the belt over the water pump, power steering pump, and the emissions air pump. Continue to position the belt over the A/C compressor and alternator, which may become increasingly harder as the belt slack tightens.

Press the tension pulley arm firmly and slide the drive belt underneath the idle pulley. Release the tension pulley arm and the belt will tighten around all of the components to the proper tension.

Reconnect the battery by turning the positive terminal clockwise into the battery post until it is snug.

Items you will need

  • Socket set

 How to Replace a Drive Belt on a 2006 Mazda Tribute

Slide under the right front section of the Tribute. Remove the lower splash shield from the area just behind the front bumper using the socket wrench and 8 mm socket in order to expose the lower engine pulleys and belt.

Open the Tribute's hood. Find and study the serpentine belt routing diagram, adhered to the fan shroud. This decal illustrates proper belt routing as well as engine component locations for your specific Tribute.

Rotate the serpentine belt tensioner counterclockwise using the serpentine belt tool to remove tension from the belt. Slip the belt off the power steering pump pulley before slowly rotating the tensioner back into place. Remove the serpentine belt tool.

Slip the old belt off the engine component pulleys and the crankshaft pulley. Depending on your size and dexterity, you may need to access the lower pulleys from underneath.

Pull the old and new belts out to their full length to ensure you have the proper replacement belt. The new belt should be approximately 1/2-inch shorter than the old one, due to the old belt stretching during its service life. If the length variation is greater than this, or the new belt is longer, take both belts to your parts retailer to match the old one to a proper new replacement.

Loop the new belt, ribbed side in, around the bottom of the Tribute's crankshaft pulley. Feeding the belt down from the top, then placing it on the pulley from the bottom will save time.

Route the belt around each of the remaining pulleys until you reach the serpentine belt tensioner pulley. Rotate the tensioner counterclockwise with the serpentine belt tool once more.

Slip the belt onto the tensioner pulley and hold it in place with your free hand while you carefully rotate the tensioner back into place. Inspect the belt at each pulley to make sure it sits on the pulleys properly and that it routes exactly as illustrated on the belt routing diagram. If it's not, rotate the tensioner off the belt just far enough to allow you to adjust the belt as necessary.

Remove the serpentine belt tool. Reinstall the lower splash shield with the socket wrench and socket. Close the Tribute's hood.

Items you will need

  • Socket wrench

  • 8 mm socket

  • Serpentine belt tool

 How to Change the Drive Belt on a Polaris ATV

Drive Belt Removal

Remove the outer cover to the drive belt using a Phillips-head screwdriver. The outer cover is located on the left side of the motor. Five screws around the cover need to be removed.

Check the drive belt for manufacturer markings for reference during installation. If you are replacing the same belt and there are no directional markings, place an arrow on the belt facing forward using a piece of chalk.

Push against the inner sheave of the driven pulley to release tension on the belt. The driven pulley is the pulley on the right while facing the ATV. Rotate the pulley clockwise to separate the pulley halves, and then roll the belt out of the pulleys.

Drive Belt Installation

Check the directional manufacturer's markings or your chalk markings on the drive belt being sure to face the arrow to the front. Place the belt over the left pulley and roll the free end of the belt over the driven pulley on the right, rotating the inner sheave counterclockwise.

Release the inner sheave of the driven pulley when the belt is in place. Replace the outer cover and tighten the five screws using a Phillips-head screwdriver.

Start the ATV and slowly increase the throttle until the drive belt engages the drive train to ensure proper installation.

Items you will need

  • Phillips-head screwdriver

  • Chalk

 How to Replace the Drive Belt on a Polaris Sportsman 500

Drive Belt Removal

Remove the outer drive belt cover using a Philips screwdriver. The cover has a total of five screws that need to be removed. Place the screws inside the cover and set it aside for future replacement.

Push against the inner sheave of the driven pulley to release tension on the belt. While maintaining pressure on the inner sheave, rotate the pulley clockwise to separate the pulley, and roll the belt out of the pulley.

Inspect the belt for wear. If the belt has severely frayed edges, or is in worn condition, discard the belt. If it is in reasonable condition with little wear, the belt may be used as a back up belt.

Drive Belt Replacement

Inspect the manufacturer's directional markings on the new drive belt. Place the belt facing forward over the left pulley, and roll the opposite end over the right pulley. Rotate the inner sheave on the right pulley counterclockwise to engage the new drive belt into proper position.

Place the drive belt cover into position and tighten in place using the screwdriver.

Start the ATV and slowly increase the throttle until the drive belt engages the drive train.

Items you will need

  • Philips screwdriver

 How to Replace a Drive Belt on a Saab 900S

Locate the idler pulley mounted to the engine block, between the alternator and air condition compressor. The pulley has a square hole in the center of it.

Place the ratchet into the square hole on the idler pulley, and lift up on the handle. Slide the belt off the idler pulley, and lower the ratchet handle.

Remove the drive belt from the rest of the pulleys, and place the new belt onto the Saab pulley system. Do not place it on the idler pulley.

Pull up on the ratchet handle, and slide the belt over the idler pulley.

Lower the ratchet handle to apply pressure to the bet drive, and remove the ratchet from the idler pulley.

Items you will need

  • 3/8-inch ratchet driver

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.