How to change the serpentine belt on Toyota Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The serpentine belt in a Toyota car runs a variety of components within the engine as well as the engine itself. The belt routes through the water pump, the alternator, the power steering pump and the air conditioner compressor along with the crankshaft for the engine. The belt also routes around the belt tensioner pulley, which keeps the entire system tight. Removal is necessary when the belt wears out over time or if it breaks. You can follow the belt configuration chart on the underside of the hood to help you replace the belt when necessary.

Under The Hood:

 How to change the serpentine belt on a Toyota Camry 4 cyl. car

 This is what it looks like under the hood of a 2002 Toyota Camry 4 cylinder engine. Arrow points to the serpentine belt. Study the belt wrap so you know how it goes. It might be good to take a picture before you disturb anything. Also, the cardboard sleeve your new belt comes in should have one or more diagrams of how the belt should be wound. Note the diagram that matches your vehicle. The motor is mounted laterally, that is, across the engine compartment of the car. So the "front" of the engine actually faces the right front tire. I will call this the "end" of the motor. The side of the engine faces the front of the car. I will call this the "front" or "front side."

 I have worked on older model cars, and I falsely assumed the first thing I had to do was loosen the alternator. Wrong! Leave the alternator alone! The first thing you have to do is remove this bracket on the front side of the motor using a 14 mm wrench. These and the next two brackets you will be removing are mounts to help keep the engine steady.

 Next, remove the two bolts (red arrows) holding this bracket in place. There is a third bolt, slightly longer, that goes straight down just to the left of the picture. Before removing the bracket, remove the bolt holding the grounding wire to the bracket (yellow arrow). I suggest you put the bolt back in the hole so you don't lose it. Keep track of all your bolts.

 Once you have removed the black bracket, there will be another bracket of machined metal under it. Remove the three bolts holding this bracket in place. Make sure you keep your bolts with their corresponding bracket.

 All of this is to give you room to operate the tensoin control device (red arrow). Place a 19mm wrench (a 3/4" does just as well) on the nut and press forward (clockwise-note yellow arrow) hard for at least three seconds. The end of the handle will move three to ten inches, depending on how long a handle you have. The nut does not come off, but pressing forward allows it to release the tension on the belt. It helps to put a pipe over the handle of your socket wrench to give you more leverage. I used an 18" long piece of almuinum tubing from the leg of an old Weber grill, and once I had it pulled forward my wife was able to hold it in place while I slipped the belt off the top right pully (green arrow). Or you might be able to hold the wrench with one hand while you remove the belt from the pully with the other. Once the belt is removed from one pully, you can release the tension control nut. Finish removing the belt from the rest of the pullys, noting how it is wrapped as you remove it.

 Next you loop the new belt around the respective pullys starting at the bottom and proceeding toward the top. There are two kinds of pullies. The pullies that have a little lip on the edge of the wheel do the actual work (red arrow). The pullies that are smooth and have slightly rounded edges are "idler" pulleys (green arrow): They just position the belt so it can grip the working pullies effectively. The grooved edge of the belt goes against the working pulleys; the smooth side of the belt goes against the idler pullies.

 Once you have wrapped the belt around all the pullies except the top right one, you will have to release the tension control device, again, using your 19mm (or ¾") wrench (with extended handle). You have to hold it for at least 3 seconds before it releases. I actually managed to hold the wrench down with one hand while I slipped the belt over the last pully with the other hand. Then replace all the brackets and wire in the reverse order you removed them. Photo shows the new belt on and all the parts replaced.

I didn't know all this when I started, and it took me the better part of a Saturday afternoon. But I had removed some bolts I shouldn't have (I started to loosen the alternator), and forgot to put one back. So I had to undo all the brackets to replace the left-over bolt. I don't think it took me more thatn 20 minutes the second time. I didn't know all this then. I'm sharing what I learned so you can do it faster and with confidence. You can do it.

Items you will need

  • Set of metric wrenches, including short and long extensions, and...

  • 18mm or 3/4in. socket wrench

  • piece of pipe to extend wrench handle

  • courage, patience and endurance

 How to Change a Serpentine Belt in a Sequoia

Pop the hood and look for the belt routing diagram under the hood. Sometimes this is mounted on the core support, other times on the underside of the hood. Find it, because you'll need it for reference when reinstalling the belt.

Locate the belt tensioner on the front of the engine, just to the left of the fan. Place the 1/2-inch ratchet and socket on the tensioner and turn it counter-clockwise to release tension on the belt. Then pull the belt off of one pulley and release the tensioner. Now you can pull the old belt out of the engine bay with no problems.

Drop the replacement belt into the engine compartment and hook it around the large pulley at the base first, then work it around the remaining pulleys as shown in the belt diagram you found in step 1. You won't be able to get it around all of the pulleys yet, but get as many as you can.

Pull the tensioner counter-clockwise again and route the belt over the tensioner, and over any remaining pulleys. Then release the tensioner once everything is set properly.

Give a visual inspection of the belt, making sure that it isn't twisted or offset on any of the pulleys. Once it's set, start the engine and make sure the belt spins correctly.

Items you will need

  • 1/2-inch ratchet and socket set

  • Replacement serpentine belt

 How to Change a Serpentine Belt on a 2003 Toyota Camry

Park your car, turn the engine off and set the parking brake. Allow the engine to cool before changing the belt. Open the hood and locate the battery on the driver's side of the engine compartment. It is in the front corner just behind the headlight on the Camry.

Locate the negative battery terminal, it is marked with a "-" molded into the battery next the terminal, and loosen the retaining bolt on the battery cable end with a wrench. Remove the cable and isolate it from the battery.

Raise the front of the car with a jack and support it on a set of jack stands. Locate the right hand under engine cover and remove the mounting bolts with a socket and ratchet then remove the cover from the car.

Locate the belt tensioner, working from under the engine. Turn it counterclockwise with a socket and ratchet to remove the tension on the belt. Remove the serpentine belt from the pulleys and return the tensioner to its home position.

Install a new belt on all the pulleys, leaving it off the tensioner for now. Turn the tensioner counterclockwise again with your socket and ratchet and slide the belt onto the tensioner idler pulley.

Rotate the tensioner clockwise, allowing it to tighten the belt. Remove the socket and ratchet from the tensioner. Install the right hand engine undercover using the original hardware and tighten the bolts with a socket and ratchet.

Support the front of the car with a jack and remove the jack stands. Lower the car to the ground and remove the jack from under the car.

Install the negative battery cable onto the negative battery terminal and tighten the retaining bolt with a wrench. Start the car and check the belt to be sure it is running true over the pulleys.

Items you will need

  • Wrench set

  • Jack

  • Jack stands

  • Socket set

 How to Change the Serpentine Belt on a Toyota Matrix

Remove the negative battery cable from the battery terminal with a socket and ratchet, and move the cable out of the way. This keeps the cable from making contact with the battery while you are working.

Locate the serpentine belt tensioner on the upper right side of the engine. You should see a small square hole in the arm of the tensioner. Insert a 1/2-inch drive ratchet or breaker bar into the hole.

Grasp the handle of the ratchet or breaker bar, and pull it to toward the driver's side of the car, releasing the tension on the belt. Slide the belt off the pulleys, and remove it from the engine compartment.

Install the new belt over the pulleys, being sure to follow the same path as the old belt. If the belt is routed incorrectly, the accessories will turn backward, damaging to the accessories and causing the engine to overheat.

Release the tension on the ratchet or breaker bar slowly, allowing the tensioner pulley to tighten the belt. You don't need to make any further adjustment to the belt.

Items you will need

  • Socket set

  • 1/2-inch drive ratchet or breaker bar

 How to Change a Serpentine Belt in a Toyota Highlander

Park the vehicle in the well lighted work space and open the hood. Let the vehicle cool completely before you begin repairing. Locate the belt diagram under the hood to give you a visual guide.

Remove cover from over the alternator with your adjustable wrench.

Locate the hexagon bolt in the middle of the alternator. Securely place your socket wrench on the bolt and turn it counterclockwise. The belt will begin loosening. The more you turn the nut, the more slack you will have to remove the belt.

Pull the belt off of the alternator and continue removing it from around the other pulleys. Track your steps while removing the belt, because installing the new belt is the reverse of installation.

Install the new belt on to the alternator looping it onto the other pulleys.

Tighten the bolt on the alternator until the belt is semi tight around all of the pulleys. Guide the belt with your free hand while you are tightening it so it doesn't come off the pulleys.

Items you will need

  • Socket wrench with a 10mm socket attachment

  • Adjustable wrench

  • Diagram under the hood

  • Well-lighted area

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a Toyota Corolla

Look at the belt routing (the way the belt runs around all of the pulleys). If you do not find a belt routing diagram under the hood, you'll want to make your own sketch.

Find the belt tensioner pulley, usually located just above the crankshaft.

Insert your 19mm ratchet or breaker bar tool into the tensioner bolt head and pull toward the front of the vehicle to release tension on the belt.

Slip the old belt off of the pulleys.

Reference your belt routing diagram to get the new belt seated on all pulleys. Make sure any grooves on the belt rest against grooved pulleys, and that smooth belt surfaces contact smooth pulleys.

Slowly release the tensioner and check for correct belt tension.

Run the engine and observe for flapping or noise, signs of incorrect installation.

Items you will need

  • Replacement belt

  • 19mm ratchet or breaker bar

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt on a Toyota RAV4

Open the hood on the Toyota RAV4 and secure the hood in place.

Inspect the top of the plastic shield around the radiator for the serpentine-belt routing diagram. The serpentine-belt routing diagram will give you the routing directions for the new serpentine belt. If you cannot find or locate the serpentine-belt routing diagram, draw the routing of the old belt on a piece of paper.

Locate the tensioner that keeps the serpentine belt tight. The tensioner on the Toyota RAV4 models is located on the front of the engine in the very center. There is a small bolt head in the middle of the tensioner pulley.

Turn the tensioner pulley clockwise with the 1/2-inch breaker bar and a socket. This will loosen the serpentine belt from the pulleys. Pull the belt off of each of the pulleys and remove the belt from the engine compartment.

Put the new serpentine belt around each of the pulleys. Begin with the crankshaft pulley. Turn the tensioner pulley clockwise again with the 1/2-inch breaker bar and a socket. Put the serpentine belt around the tensioner pulley. Slowly release the tensioner so that it can pull the slack out of the belt.

Crank up the Toyota RAV4 and watch the serpentine belt as the engine is running for about 30 seconds to make sure the belt stays inside of each accessory pulley. Turn the engine off and close the hood.

Items you will need

  • Notepad

  • Pen

  • 1/2-inch breaker bar

  • 1/2-inch socket set

  • New serpentine belt

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a Toyota Camry

Measure the tension on the serpentine belt to see if it needs adjusting. The manufacturer recommends using a Nippondenso or Burroughs belt tension gauge tool that applies to the belt.

Use your wrench to loosen the pivot bolt on the front left corner of the engine block--bolt size may vary by model.

Find the adjustment locking bolt slightly below the belt tensioner pulley and loosen it.

Loosen the adjusting bolt to change tension on the belt.

Remove the serpentine belt.

Use a belt routing diagram to install the new belt, either from the owner's manual, or from a decal near the engine. If you cannot find a belt routing diagram, try the Dayco belt routing site to get a Toyota Camry belt routing diagram by model year.

Seat the new belt on all pulleys.

Tighten the adjustment bolt to replace tension on the belt and measure with the belt tensioner gauge, adjusting as needed.

Tighten up the adjustment lock bolt and pivot bolt.

Items you will need

  • Nippondenso or Burroughs belt tensioner gauge

  • Wrench set

  • Replacement belt

 How to Replace a Serpentine Belt in a 2001 Toyota Highlander V6

Raise the hood of the Toyota Highlander. Locate the configuration diagram for the serpentine belt system on the underside of the hood or near the radiator. Refer to this chart for the exact location of the automatic belt tensioner pulley and for the routing of the belt through the various components in the engine.

Slot the 3/4-inch socket onto the end of your breaker bar. Slide the socket onto the end of the bolt that protrudes from the belt tensioner just above the main crankshaft pulley. Apply clockwise force, pulling the breaker bar toward you and toward the front of the vehicle for several seconds until the tensioner compresses fully. Keep pressure on the bar and slide the belt off the pulley with the flathead screwdriver. Slowly release pressure on the bar until the tensioner has returned to its original position. Remove the belt from the other pulleys within the engine.

Route the new serpentine belt over the pulleys. Ensure that the grooves in the belt match the grooves on the pulleys. Start by routing the belt around the alternator pulley and work your way around the power steering pulley, the water pump pulley, then the remaining pulleys in the engine. Refer to the configuration chart diagram for the proper routing method. Leave the tensioner pulley for last.

Compress the tensioner pulley and use the flathead screwdriver to leverage the serpentine belt over the tensioner. Slowly release the pressure on the pulley, and check that the belt is properly configured according to the chart. Ensure the belt is centered on every pulley. Remove the breaker bar. Close the hood. Start the engine. Listen for any sounds such as screeching or flapping that might indicate the belt has not been installed properly. Adjust the belt, if necessary.

Items you will need

  • Socket, 3/4-inch

  • Breaker bar

  • Flathead screwdriver

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a Toyota Tacoma

Locate the belt's main component. For a Toyota Tacoma, each belt has a component that holds tension on the belt. To adjust tension on the belt, you'll need to actually move this component closer to the engine.

Make a detailed routing diagram, recording the way the belt is set up so you'll know how to install the new belt.

Use a wrench to loosen the adjustment bolt for the component. Loosen the pivot bolt for the component.

Move the component toward the engine to release tension on the belt and slip the belt off the component pulley. For older models, you may need to pry the component in the direction you want it to go.

Take the old belt off of its pulleys and use your routing diagram to install the new one.

Re-locate the component to regain tension on the belt and tighten the pivot and adjustment bolts.

Run the engine and check for shimmying, squealing or other signs of incorrect installation.

Items you will need

  • Replacement belt(s)

  • Wrench set

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a Toyota Tundra

Locate the Tundra's owner's manual (it is typically placed in the glove box). Find the belt routing diagram for the engine and keep it nearby when you work on the belts. Alternatively, locate the belt routing diagram under the hood of the Tundra.

Locate the tensioner on the front of the engine. Use the 3/8-inch breaker bar and a socket to turn the tensioner counter-clockwise. Pull the old belt off the pulleys while holding the tensioner off the belt with the breaker bar. Slowly turn the breaker bar clockwise.

Run the replacement belt around the pulleys, according to the belt routing diagram in the owner's manual or under the hood. Turn the breaker bar on the tensioner counter-clockwise, then run the belt next to the tensioner. Slowly turn the tensioner clockwise until it connects with the belt and holds it in place.

Inspect the replacement belt for kinks or twists, and double-check that it is squarely set on each pulley.

Items you will need

  • The car's owner's manual

  • 3/8-inch breaker bar and sockets

  • Replacement belt

 How to Replace a Serpentine Belt on a Toyota Tundra 4.7L

Open the hood of the Tundra. Locate the serpentine belt configuration chart on the underside of the hood. Refer to this chart throughout the process. Adjust the adjustable wrench head to fit the nuts on the battery connector leads. Disconnect the battery leads and place them to the side.

Stand in front of the vehicle and locate the automatic belt tensioner as referenced on the serpentine belt diagram chart for your Tundra. Place the 1/2-inch socket on the end of the breaker bar ratchet and slide the socket over the 1/2-inch nut that protrudes from the side of the automatic belt tensioner. Apply leverage to the tensioner in a counterclockwise direction or as indicated on the configuration diagram for your model year. Keep pressure on the bar for a few seconds until the tensioner compresses. Use the flathead screwdriver to slide the belt off of the tensioner pulley. Gently allow the spring-loaded tensioner to move back to its original position. Remove the belt from the remaining pulleys in the engine.

Route the new belt through the pulley system by using the serpentine belt diagram chart as a reference. Align the grooves in the belt with the grooves of pulleys that have grooves. Place strips of masking tape over the edges of the belt on each pulley to hold the belt in place while you route it through the system. Leave the tensioner pulley for last. Apply leverage to the breaker, and use the flathead screwdriver to slide the belt over the tensioner pulley. Release the tension slowly.

Check to ensure the belt is on all the pulleys according to the diagram. Remove the strips of tape. Replace the battery connector leads to the battery. Start the engine and listen for sounds such as flopping or screeching that indicate the belt is improperly mounted on one of the pulleys. Adjust the belt if necessary using the tensioner to release tension on the belt until everything is configured properly.

Items you will need

  • Socket for the tensioner, 1/2-inch

  • Breaker bar ratchet

  • Flathead screwdriver

  • Adjustable wrench

  • Masking tape

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.