How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a 98 Ford Escort Zx2

by Allen MooreUpdated November 07, 2017
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Items you will need

  • Belt tensioner tool

  • New belt

Without a serpentine drive belt, the 1998 Ford Escort ZX2 wouldn’t operate properly. The belt drives the engine accessories using kinetic energy from the crankshaft pulley and transferring that energy to the accessories. As time goes on, the belt begins to crack and fray. With that in mind, it’s best to inspect the belt during each service interval. Signs of imminent belt failure include edge fraying, splits or cracks on either side and loss of ribs.

Start the Escort, turn the steering wheel as far to the right as it will go and then shut the car off. Raise the hood and set the prop rod into the hood to keep the hood from falling down.

Insert the belt tensioner tool into the belt tensioner and use it to move the tensioner pulley out of the belt’s path.

Move the belt off the tensioner pulley with one hand while continuing to hold pressure on the tensioner with the tool. Slowly release the pressure on the tensioner once you have the belt off the pulley.

Pull the tool out of the tensioner and set it in the engine well within reach.

Remove the belt from the rest of the pulleys by hand. Depending on your arm length and girth, you may need to get at the lower pulleys through the right front wheel well or from underneath the Escort.

Pull the serpentine belt out of the engine well and compare the length to the new belt. The old belt should be no more than one inch longer than the new one. Over time, the serpentine belt will begin to stretch from use, hence the variation in length.

Route the new belt around the crank pulley and then around each of the accessory pulleys, leaving the tensioner pulley as the last unbelted one. Refer often to the belt routing diagram printed on the fan shroud or underside of the hood during this step. If you route the belt improperly it will not fit properly and can result in serious damage to the Escort, injury to yourself or both.

Reinsert the tensioner tool into the belt tensioner assembly and pull the tensioner pulley back once more. Slip the belt over the tensioner pulley and hold it in place as you carefully release the pressure on the tensioner with the tool. Pull the tool out when finished.

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