How to Change the Serpentine Belt on Pontiac Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

Although it may look like a complex component in the engine, the serpentine belt in a Pontiac car is not all that difficult to replace provided you have a couple of proper tools. By inspecting your serpentine belt regularly, you can prevent breakdowns or driving mishaps. The serpentine belt controls the alternator, power steering pump, water pump, crankshaft, and with equipped models, the air conditioner compressor. Without the serpentine belt, the Pontiac car is literally crippled on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck.

Under The Hood:

 How to Change the Serpentine Belt on a 2004 Vibe

Park the car on a flat surface, turn off the engine and allow it to cool before replacing the belt.

Open the hood of the Pontiac Vibe and locate the serpentine belt. The serpentine belt is the single belt that wraps around six pulleys on the engine. Take note of the tensioner pulley and the tensioner arm that extends from the pulley. The tensioner pulley is the smallest pulley and has a metal arm extending from it. A bolt is located near the top of the arm.

Place a 15 mm wrench on the tensioner arm bolt and rotate it forward to relieve the tension on the belt. Do not release the tensioner arm.

Pull the belt off of the pulleys and slowly rotate the tensioner arm back into its original position.

Wrap the new serpentine belt around all of the pulleys, except the tensioner pulley, using the belt routing diagram found under the hood as a guide. The lower pulleys are in a tight area of the engine compartment. Some owners find that it's easier to wrap the belt around the lower pulleys from under the car. To do this, lift the front of the car up with a jack and place jack stands under the body. Crawl under the front of the car and wrap the belt around the lower pulleys.

Rotate the tensioner arm forward, slide the belt around the tensioner pulley and slowly rotate the tensioner arm back into position. The belt will tighten around all of the pulleys when the arm is back in place.

Items you will need

  • 15 mm wrench

  • Replacement serpentine belt

  • Jack (optional)

  • Jack stands (optional)

 How to Change Serpentine Belt on Pontiac Sunfire

Release hood latch and place hood prop in proper location. Make sure the keys to the vehicle are not in the ignition so no one will start it up by accident while you're removing and replacing the belt.

Locate the belt routing diagram. This may be in a number of locations. Usually it will be located under the hood, though sometimes on the front engine brace, or even on a small plastic tab directly covering the belt. If for some reason a belt-routing diagram is not present in the motor cavity, create your own diagram by drawing circles for the pulleys and how the belt routes around them.

Remove belt by placing a 15 millimeter adapter (13 millimeter for 2.4 liter engines, but these are very rare in the Sunfire) into the belt removal tool and placing it on the bolt head located on the center of the tensioner. The tensioner is located just above the crankshaft and just below the power steering pump, whether the vehicle is equipped with A/C or not. You can try to use a long-handled 3/8 inch drive ratchet with a 15 millimeter shallow socket, but you may be limited for room, which is why the belt removal tool is recommended. You can usually pick one of these up at most auto parts stores fairly inexpensively.

Move the removal tool or ratchet in a clockwise direction to take tension off the belt.

Remove the belt from the alternator pulley. With the belt off the alternator, work it off the other pulleys and extract it from the engine. You may need to remove the tool to get the belt off.

Compare the size of your old belt to the new one in order to ensure you purchased the correct belt.

Reinstall the new belt using the belt-routing diagram. Start with the A/C compressor (if equipped) and wrap the belt around the bottom of it, then up over and around the water pump, down around the bottom of the crankshaft, on the inside of the tensioner so the flat part of the belt is contacting it, then around the power steering pump and under the idler. Have your removal tool handy as you will need to keep tension on the belt with your hand, and place the belt tool back onto the bolt head of the tensioner and turn clockwise again. The routing schematic is the same on a non A/C system, but bypasses the A/C pulley and instead of starting to route the belt to the A/C compressor you'd start routing around the crankshaft and follow the same procedure around the other pulleys.

Place the remainder of the belt onto the alternator pulley. If you're unable to do this, there may be a problem on one of the pulleys where the ribs of the belt are not lining up properly in the ribs on the pulleys. The belt should go on tightly, but you should not have to force it on. Once it's on, inspect the belt and all the pulleys to make sure it's on securely and lined up properly.

Start engine with hood open and listen for noises or whining. If you hear any, shut motor off immediately and reinspect. That may be an indication of a bad bearing in a pulley, but you do not want to damage the motor or the new belt. If motor sounds okay, then close the hood.

Items you will need

  • Belt removal tool (recommended and most come with five or six adapters) or; Long-handled 3/8 inch drive ratchet Shallow 15 millimeter socket (for 2.2 liter engine) Shallow 13 millimeter socket (for 2.4 liter engine).

 How to Change a Serpentine Belt on a 2006 Pontiac G6

Park the 2006 Pontiac G6 in a safe area and open the hood. Look on the top of the fan shroud near the hood latch for the serpentine belt routing diagram. Use this diagram when installing the new serpentine belt around the pulleys.

Locate the air filter housing cover. Unhook the air flow sensor from the air filter housing. Compress the locking clip on the sensor with your hand and gently pull up on the plug. Position the plug out of the way.

Remove the air filter housing cover by unscrewing the screws with the 3/8-inch drive ratchet and a 3/8-inch t-20 torx bit. Pull the air filter cover off and set it to the side of the air filter housing.

Jack up the front of the 2006 Pontiac G6 and place the jack stands under the designated jacking points on both sides of the vehicle. Lower the vehicle onto the stands and leave the jack upright.

Reach in behind the passenger side front tire and remove the plastic cover from the wheel well. The plastic cover is held on by small plastic clips. Use the flat head screwdriver to pry the small clips through the holes. Then, pull the plastic cover out and set it to the side. You can now access the serpentine belt on the crankshaft pulley and the air conditioner pulley.

Move back to the front of the engine and locate the automatic tensioner. Turn the pulley that is connected to the tensioner clockwise with the 1/2-inch drive pull bar and the 5/8-inch socket. Reach down with your other hand and pull the belt off of the automatic tensioner pulley. Then, remove the belt from the alternator, water pump and the power steering pump pulleys.

Move back to the front passenger side wheel well, and reach in and pull the belt off of the air conditioner pump pulley and the crankshaft pulley. Then, pull the belt out of the engine compartment through the wheel well.

Position the new belt through the wheel well and onto the crankshaft pulley and the air conditioner pulley. Move back to the front of the engine and route the new belt around the remaining pulleys as directed by the serpentine belt routing diagram.

Turn the tensioner counterclockwise again with the pull bar and 5/8-inch socket. Then, slide the new belt onto the automatic tensioner pulley. Release the tensioner and it will pull the slack out of the belt and bring it to the proper tension. Pull the breaker bar and socket off of the tensioner pulley and out of the engine compartment.

Reverse the same steps as outlined above for reinstalling the wheel well cover, air filter housing and the air flow sensor. Then, crank the engine and let it run for about one minute. Turn the engine off and examine the belt again to make sure that the new belt is still inside of all of the accessory pulleys. Close the hood.

Items you will need

  • 3/8-inch drive ratchet

  • 3/8-inch drive t-20 torx bit

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Flat head screwdriver

  • 1/2-inch drive breaker bar

  • 5/8-inch socket

  • New serpentine belt

 How to Change a Serpentine Belt on a 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix

Remove the tension from the tensioner pulley on the passenger side of the engine by pushing downward on a belt removal tool attached to the tensioner pulley. Ideally, the belt removal tool is better to use, as there is a very limited amount of space between the pulleys on this engine and the inner side of the fender wall.

Remove the serpentine belt completely from the vehicle.

Install the new serpentine belt using the "Belt Routing Diagram" located on a sticker above the radiator. This is the only part where the project will differ, based on which engine size you have.

Depress the tensioner pulley again to complete the serpentine belt installation.

Visually examine the serpentine belt on every pulley of the engine. You want the serpentine belt to be sitting dead center on each pulley. Use a drop light or flash light to check the bottommost pulleys on the engine.

Items you will need

  • New serpentine belt

  • Serpentine belt removal tool

  • Drop light or flashlight

 How to Change a Serpentine Belt in a 2005 Grand Prix

Locate the belt routing diagram located on a sticker on the underside of the hood. Make sure you find this sticker prior to disassembling the belt, so you know how to properly run the replacement belt around the pulleys.

Locate the tensioner on the front of the engine block. It's on the passenger side of the engine block, just to the left of the crankshaft pulley. Turn the tensioner clockwise using the 3/8-inch breaker bar and sockets. Pull the belt off the pulleys with the tensioner held in place.

Route the replacement belt around the pulleys on the engine following the diagram you found in step 1, making sure to keep the belt flat and straight in each pulley, and make sure it doesn't twist in the process.

Turn the tensioner clockwise again, then route the belt around the tensioner. Release the breaker bar again so that the tensioner contacts the belt.

Items you will need

  • 3/8-inch breaker bar and socket set

  • Replacement serpentine belt

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt on a 1999 Pontiac Bonneville

Ensure the car is turned off and the keys are out of the ignition. Open the hood for access to the engine compartment.

Follow the belt to the bottom of the engine by the crankshaft pulley. The pulley intertwines through a spacer. The spacer needs to be removed.

Unbolt the spacer with a torx bit. Pull the spacer out of the way. Disconnect the wire by unsnapping the connector.

Loosen the tensioner pulley with a socket wrench. Push the tensioner down to loosen the belt.

Slide the belt off the pulleys and out of the engine compartment. Replace with the new belt. Follow the belt diagram located next to the hood latch to properly route the belt. Do not place the belt around the tensioner pulley until the routing is complete.

Push the tensioner pulley down with a socket wrench. Place the belt over the pulley and slowly release the pulley. The belt will tighten as the pulley is released. Pull the socket wrench away from the pulley.

Reconnect the wiring by the crankshaft. The wires will lock when connected. Bolt the spacer back over the belt with the torx driver.

Start the car and allow it to idle. Observe the belt as it travels the pulleys to ensure there is no slack in the line. If there is too much slack in the line, the tensioner pulley may be faulty.

Turn the car off and close the hood.

Items you will need

  • Torx driver

  • Socket wrench

  • Socket set

 How to Replace a Serpentine Belt on a Pontiac

Open the hood and locate the serpentine belt routing diagram. The diagram is on a sticker originally adhered to the fan shroud or the underside of the hood for easy referral when replacing the belt. If the sticker is no longer on the Pontiac, you’ll need to get one either from your local Pontiac dealer, in the Pontiac’s specific service manual or online. Or you can draw a diagram of your Pontiac's pulleys and belt, showing how the belt routes around the pulleys.

Insert the tip of the belt tensioner tool into the corresponding notch on the serpentine belt tensioner. You can locate the tensioner by looking for a pulley located at the end of an arm. This arm and pulley assembly is the tensioner.

Pry the tensioner arm away from the belt face with the tensioner tool. On some Pontiacs you can substitute a large socket wrench, but the risk of damage to the tensioner increases greatly with the socket wrench. The price of a tensioner tool is far less than that of a new tensioner, so avoid the socket wrench and buy the proper tool at your local auto parts store.

Push the belt off the tensioner pulley with your free hand and slowly move the tensioner back to its relaxed position. Pull the tool out of the tensioner and set it aside for now.

Pull the belt off all the pulleys and lift it up out of the engine well. Depending on the year, make and model of Pontiac you are working on, you made need to access the lower pulleys from below the engine well or through the wheel well to get the belt out.

Stretch both belts out to full length to make sure the new belt and old belt are nearly identical in length. The new belt should measure less than an inch shorter than the old one. This is due to some stretching the old belt received during its lifespan.

Route the new belt around the pulleys, beginning with the crank pulley and working your way up until the tensioner pulley is the only one left. Make sure to consult the routing diagram frequently during this step. If you route it improperly, you will have to either take it off and start over, replace whatever component this damages from the improper routing, or seek first aid for the injuries you suffer.

Plug the tensioner tool back into the tensioner body and lever the tensioner pulley away from the belt path once more. Pull the belt over the tensioner pulley and hold it there with your other hand as you slowly release pressure on the tensioner. Take the tool out when done.

Items you will need

  • Belt tensioner tool

  • New serpentine belt

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a Pontiac Grand Am

Find the belt tensioner. The Pontiac Grand Am has an auto-adjusting belt tensioner pulley that you will loosen to be able to take the old serpentine belt off. The tensioner will be down below some of the components, but above the crankshaft and accessible from above, though some mechanics say it can be hard to reach without a customized thin tool.

Rotate the belt tensioner bolt counter-clockwise with your breaker bar or ratchet tool to loosen tension on the belt, and slip the belt off of all of the pulleys.

Use the belt routing diagram provided by the manufacturer to install the new belt on each pulley. You can find the belt routing diagram on the Pontiac Grand Am on the power steering pump reservoir, on the belt guard--if applicable--or on a decal on the engine. If you can't find the manufacturer's belt routing diagram, use the Dayco belt and parts site to find the diagram for your Pontiac Grand Am by make, model and year.

Rotate the tensioner again to allow the belt to fully seat on all pulleys, then let the tensioner self-adjust to regain tension on the belt. Make sure the belt is correctly seated on all pulleys.

Run the engine and observe to make sure the belt is properly installed.

Items you will need

  • Replacement belt

  • 1/2-inch Breaker bar or 18 mm socket