How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The Serpentine Belt on your Kia car is designed to operate several parts at the same time, winding around a series of pulleys that are run by the crankshaft. Because of usage and changing weather conditions, the belt can become brittle and develop cracks or even break, so it is important to check your belt routinely for any signs of wear or damage before the belt fails. You can replace the serpentine belt yourself in about an hour or two, and save some time and the expense of having someone else do the work for you.

Under The Hood:

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a Mitsubishi Galant

Look at where the drive belts are located on your Mitsubishi Galant. Depending on models, you may need to jack up the vehicle to access the bolts for the belts.

Find the bolt assembly for the belt. This bolt structure will be on or near the main component that the belt serves. Look at all of the pulleys around which the belt winds, and you will find a bolt system to adjust tension. For an alternator belt, the bolt system is by the alternator. For a power steering belt, look near the power steering pump.

Find the lock nut that holds the long adjustment bolt in place and use your wrench to loosen it. This is the bolt the loosens the belt tension so that you can remove it.

Turn the adjustment bolt. Turning the adjustment bolt moves the component either toward the engine in order to loosen belt tension, or away from the engine in order to tighten belt tension.

Slip off the old belt and install the new one, once the belt tension is released. Make sure the belt is correctly seated on all pulleys.

Turn the adjustment bolt the other way to bring the component away from the engine and add belt tension. Test the belt for correct tension by pressing on it and checking deflection.

Tighten the adjustment lock bolt and the pivot bolt, when the belt has the right tension.

Items you will need

  • Replacement belts

  • Wrench set

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a Mitsubishi Eclipse

Locate the main component for the belt. This component has a locking mechanism in place that adjusts tension on the belt. An alternator belt generally gets adjusted by the alternator, the power steering belt by the power steering pump and so on.

Look at how the belt is routed over different pulleys and make a detailed drawing for later reference. Make sure you have the routing exactly right. The Eclipse has different setups according to the engine type. The 2.0L and 2.4L 4 cylinder turbo models has the water pump as part of a drive belt assembly. On other models, the drive belt is run by the timing belt.

Use a wrench to loosen the one or two bolts near the main component to allow you to move the component and change tension on the belt. The power steering pump usually has two mounting bolts, and the alternator has a pivot bolt and lock nut system.

Slip the old belt off of the pulleys.

Install the new belt using your belt routing diagram. Make sure the belt is routed right and seated correctly on all pulleys.

Adjust the component to get tension back on the belt and tighten the applicable bolts.

Items you will need

  • Replacement belt(s)

  • Wrench set

 How to Replace a Serpentine Belt in a Saturn

Look through your Saturn manual for any specific instructions concerning the serpentine belt. Some models have different requirements.

Take off the lugnuts on the right-front wheel of your car.

Jack the car up on a stand.

Remove the right-front wheel of the car. Take off the splash shield, if it has one.

Look at how the belt winds around the engine. Look through your manual or for a sticker under your hood to see if there is a picture of the routing system.

Look for the tensioner pulley by the crankshaft. Pull on it in a counter-clockwise direction with your breaker bar tool. This will loosen the belt.

Take out the old belt and slowly drop the tensioner pulley.

Thread the new belt through the system per your diagram. Move the tensioner so that the belt is tight.

Double-check the belt to see that it rests squarely on the pulleys.

Start the engine and listen for strange sounds from your belt. Make sure the belt is running correctly through the system before you start the engine to avoid belt damage. If you do not hear any sounds that indicate the belt is incorrectly installed, replace the wheel on your car and drive it as usual.

Items you will need

  • Wrench

  • Car jack

  • New serpentine belt

  • Breaker bar tool

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt on a KIA Sedona

Disconnect the negative battery cable of your Kia Sedona with an open end wrench and move it away from any metal parts.

Place a floor jack under the right front edge of your vehicle and lift it up until you can get a jack stand under the front axle, then lower the vehicle down onto the jack stand.

Remove the front passenger tire of your vehicle, using a lug wrench to remove the nuts, and then set the tire off to the side.

Disconnect the plastic shield between the wheel well and underneath the engine by pulling back until the tabs dislodge from the tab holes.

Make a note of how the main (serpentine) belt on your Kia Sedona winds around each of the pulleys so you can put it back the same way.

Locate the tensioner pulley and adjustment bolt from under the wheel well in the center of the engine facing the passenger side of the vehicle.

Loosen the tensioner pulley with a socket wrench until there is some play in the belt, then turn the adjustment bolt with the socket wrench until you can easily remove the serpentine belt from the pulleys.

Position the new serpentine belt around the pulleys exactly the way the old belt came off, and then tighten the adjustment bolt with a socket wrench.

Tighten the tensioner pulley until the serpentine belt is properly adjusted, then place the plastic cover back over the wheel well, snapping the tabs back into place.

Reattach the front passenger tire to the vehicle and tighten the lug nuts until the tire is secure.

Lift the vehicle up enough with the floor jack to remove the jack stand, then lower the vehicle back down to the ground and pull the floor jack out from under the car.

Reattach the negative battery cable to the battery of the Kia Sedona, and then start the engine to verify that the belt is working properly. When you have inspected it and are satisfied, turn the engine off.

Items you will need

  • Open end wrench

  • Floor jack

  • Jack stand

  • Lug wrench

  • Paper

  • Pencil

  • Socket wrench

 How to Change the Serpentine Belt on a Mitsubishi Montero

Removing the Drive Belt

Open the hood and locate the drive-belt auto tensioner. You will find the tensioner on the upper engine section along the route of the belt. It has a metal tab on top with a square hole in it.

Make a note of the drive belt routing on your particular Mitsubishi model or find the belt routing label in front of the radiator frame or around the engine compartment. Use it as a guide during re-installation.

Insert the drive of a 1/2-inch drive breaker bar into the auto tensioner square hole.

Rotate the tensioner clockwise until the tensioner hits the stopper or the holes on the two metal tabs-on the back of the tensioner-align.

Insert a 5.0 mm Allen wrench in the tab holes to hold the tensioner in place.

Slip the serpentine belt off the pulleys and off the engine compartment.

Compare the old drive belt with the new one and make sure it matches in size, width and configuration.

Installing the Drive Belt

Mount the new drive belt around the pulleys starting with the crankshaft pulley at the bottom of the engine.

Follow the drive belt routing label or your own notes to make sure the belt is properly installed.

Make sure the belt is properly centered on each pulley.

Rotate the auto tensioner clockwise using the breaker bar, just enough to remove the Allen wrench from the metal tab holes.

Release the auto tensioner slowly to let it tighten the drive belt.

Items you will need

  • 1/2-inch drive breaker bar

  • 5.0 mm Allen wrench

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a Saturn Ion

Loosen the lug nuts on the front right (passenger) wheel. Raise the vehicle up and support it with jack stands.

Take off the right front wheel. Remove the lower fenderwell splash shield to get access to the belt area.

Check the belt routing. You may be able to find a belt routing diagram on a decal under the hood or in support documentation. Otherwise, make you own sketch for reference.

Find the belt tensioner pulley, usually near the crankshaft, and use your 3/8-inch ratchet or breaker bar tool to pull counter-clockwise, releasing tension on the belt.

Remove the old belt and slowly release the tensioner pulley. Put the new belt onto its pulleys according to your belt routing diagram. Rotate the tensioner again to allow the belt to fit on all pulleys.

Check the belt to be sure it is seated on all pulleys, then run the engine and check for any flapping or other signs of incorrect installation.

Items you will need

  • Replacement belt

  • 3/8-inch ratchet or breaker bar

 How to Replace a Serpentine Belt in a Sable

Locate the negative battery cable on the negative battery terminal of your Sable. Remove the retaining bolt from the cable and terminal using a wrench, then remove the cable from the battery. Isolate the cable away from the battery while you change the belt.

Locate the belt tensioner on the front of the engine. Place a socket on the axis bolt, the one that runs through the center of the idler pulley, and turn it counterclockwise with a breaker bar. Once the belt is loose, remove it from the pulleys and discard it.

Rotate the tensioner clockwise and let it rest in the home position. Install a new belt around all the pulleys except the idler pulley on the tensioner. Follow the diagram on the radiator support for proper belt routing.

Rotate the tensioner counterclockwise with the breaker bar and socket, slide the new belt onto the idler pulley, then slowly rotate the tensioner clockwise, tightening the belt.

Install the negative battery cable on the negative terminal of the battery. Install the retaining bolt and tighten it with a wrench.

Items you will need

  • Wrench set

  • Socket set

  • Breaker bar

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt of a Subaru Forester

Open the hood of the Subaru Forester and allow the engine to cool before proceeding. Locate the drive belt and the tension pulley. The tension pulley will be on the right front side of the engine and will be the smallest engine pulley.

Connect the wrench to the nut in the center of the engine's tension pulley. Turn the nut counterclockwise using the wrench to loosen the belt. Pull the belt off of the engine pulleys and set the belt aside.

Place the new belt onto the engine pulleys. Almost every Subaru Forester engine will be set up differently, so you will need to use the drive serpentine belt diagram on the plastic cover above the radiator.

Turn the wrench that is connected to the nut in the center of the tension pulley clockwise to tighten the new belt. The tension specification will be on the diagram above the radiator.

Items you will need

  • Wrench

  • Replacement serpentine belt

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt on a 1998 Oldsmobile

Removing the Old Serpentine Belt

Disconnect the black negative battery cable with a wrench. Note the serpentine belt path before removing the belt. Most Oldsmobiles have a diagram located near the radiator or fan belt shroud with the proper routing for the serpentine belt. The owner's manual may also have this information included within.

Release the tension from the belt tensioner pulley. Move the pulley away from the belt by inserting either a belt tensioner tool or a 3/8-inch socket wrench into the square hole at the top of the belt tensioner pulley.

Slide the old belt off of the pulleys while holding the belt tensioner pulley in place. Release the pulley after removing the belt.

Installing the New Serpentine Belt

Compare the old serpentine belt with the new one. The new belt may be up to an inch shorter than the old one due to stretching.

Route the new belt onto the pulleys according to the routing diagram. The belt tensioner pulley will be the last pulley to place the belt on.

Move the belt tensioner pulley out of position with the belt tensioner tool or socket wrench. Slip the serpentine belt onto the pulley and slowly ease the pulley back into position. Make sure the belt is properly routed and aligned.

Start the car and observe the serpentine belt in action. Make sure the new belt is running along the pulleys properly.

Items you will need

  • Serpentine belt

  • Belt tensioner tool

  • 3/8-inch socket wrench

 How to Replace a Serpentine Belt on BMW 325i

Pop the hood. Locate the belt-routing diagram, which is a sticker on the core support. Locate the belt tensioner, which is in the middle of the engine, just above the crankshaft pulley.

Place the 3/8-inch ratchet and socket on the hex-head bolt in the middle of the tensioner and turn it counterclockwise to release the tension on the belt. While still holding the ratchet, pull the belt off the pulleys.

Run the replacement belt around the pulleys on the engine, using the sticker you found in Step 1 as a guideline. Then pull the tensioner counterclockwise with the ratchet again, and run the belt around the tensioner. Release the ratchet and verify that the belt is straight and even on each pulley.

Items you will need

  • 3/8-inch ratchet and socket set

  • Replacement serpentine belt

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a GMC Sierra

Find the belt tensioner pulley--generally located above the crankshaft and has a bolt in the middle--and rotate it to release belt tension.

Slip the old serpentine belt off of the tensioner pulley and each of the pulleys it's connected to.

Check the belt routing diagram to find out how to install the new serpentine belt on each pulley. On many GMC Sierra models, the routing diagram can be found on the radiator support. You can also find detailed diagrams and parts descriptions for the GMC Sierra at the Dayco parts site online by selecting the make and model.

Install the new belt. Keeping pressure on the belt tensioner by keeping it released to allow the new belt to fit on. Slip the new serpentine belt onto each pulley including the idler pulley and make sure it is seated in each groove.

Remove the wrench or tool, releasing the belt tensioner so that the belt tensioner can auto-adjust.

Run the engine and observe the belt to check for proper installation.

Items you will need

  • 1/2-inch Wrench or breaker bar

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a Jeep Grand Cherokee

Find the belt tensioner pulley. The tensioner pulley is generally between the crankshaft and a component toward the top of the hood area.

Check the belt routing so you know how to replace the belt. You may be able to find a belt routing diagram on a decal on the fan shroud or in support documentation. Otherwise, make you own sketch for reference.

Rotate the belt tensioner pulley, using the wrench, to and relieve tension on the belt.

Slip off the old belt and slowly release the tensioner pulley.

Use your belt routing diagram to put the new belt onto all of the pulleys. Pay close attention to the water pump pulley, as incorrect routing can cause the water pump to run backwards and overheat.

Make sure the belt is correctly routed and seated on all pulleys. Rotate the tensioner again to allow for the belt to slip onto all pulleys and then release the tensioner again to regain correct tension on the belt.

Items you will need

  • Replacement belt

  • Wrench set

 How to Replace a Serpentine Belt for a 1998 Jeep Cherokee

Find and review the belt routing guide located on a decal under the hood. If this decal is missing, the belt routing guide can be found in your service manual and online.

Loosen the belt tensioner pulley bolt (the tensioner is located near the top center of the engine), and then loosen the tensioner bolt located on the tensioner bracket. When enough slack is available in the belt, slip it off the tensioner, and then the other pulleys. Remove the belt from underneath the vehicle after it is free from all the pulleys. It is not necessary to lift the jeep to do this.

Starting from underneath the vehicle, feed the replacement belt around the lower pulleys, and onto the crankshaft pulley. The crankshaft pulley is located at the bottom center of the engine. Then, following the routing guide, route the belt around the other pulleys.

Check for proper alignment and tighten the tensioner bolt until the belt is tight. Tighten the tensioner pulley bolt to lock the tensioner in place. Start the engine, and check for alignment one more time before closing the hood.

Items you will need

  • Metric wrench set

  • 3/8-inch drive socket set

  • Safety glasses

 How to Change the Serpentine Belt on a 2007 Volvo XC90

Belt Replacement

The tensioner pulley on my 2007 XC90 was between the crankshaft pulley and the alternator on the belt-routing path. To relive the tension on the belt, I placed a breaker bar and socket on the bolt in the center of the tensioner pulley assembly, and rotated the breaker bar clockwise.

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt on My Mercury Marquis

Loosen the tensioner with the ratchet and the appropriate socket to fit the bolt in the center of the tensioner pulley. Install the ratchet and socket on the bolt and pull the tensioner away from the belt. When the tension is removed from the belt, lift the belt off the alternator.

Look at the belt-routing diagram for reference to facilitate installation. The belt has a smooth top and grooved bottom. The grooved side of the belt always passes over the grooved pulleys, with the grooves intermeshed. The smooth pulleys always have the top smooth side of the belt contacting them. The water pump, idler pulley and the tensioner are the only ones with a smooth surface. The belt is installed counterclockwise, starting on the crankshaft pulley and moving to the water pump. The belt will only go on one way, so it won't fit if it's installed wrong.

Install the belt over the crankshaft pulley. Hold the belt with your left hand to keep a small amount of tension on it so the belt does not fall off as you are installing it. With your right hand, grab the belt at the top of the crankshaft pulley and pass it over the top of the water pump pulley, which is directly above the crank pulley. The smooth top of the belt should contact the water pump. Continue down the right side and place the grooved side on the power steering pulley.

Pull the belt up, with the smooth side contacting the idler pulley. Pass the belt over the top alternator pulley, with the grooves contacting the pulley. Continue down to the idler, with smooth side contacting the pulley. Move the belt down so that the grooved side contacts the air conditioning compressor. You should have a little slack in the belt.

Pull the belt toward the tensioner on the left side. The belt will be too short to go over the pulley until you install the ratchet and pull the tensioner away from the belt. Place the belt under the tensioner, with the smooth side toward tensioner. Allow the tensioner to operate and apply tension to the belt.

Items you will need

  • Ratchet

  • Socket set

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.