How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in Ford Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The Ford car comes with a serpentine belt that routes around each front engine accessory. The serpentine belt controls all the engine accessories at the same time from the same belt. When the motor is running, the belt is driven around the accessory pulleys by the crankshaft. The belt is tensioned to the front of the engine by a belt tensioner device that keeps the proper amount of tension on the belt at all times. Replace the belt if there is excessive cracking or fraying present. If the belt breaks, all accessories stop working.

Under The Hood:

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a Ford Focus

Jack up the front of the vehicle and support it on jack stands. Use a wrench to remove two bolts and take off the drive belt lower cover.

Note belt routing and make a sketch for your reference if you don't have a belt routing diagram from the manufacturer.

Find the belt tensioner pulley. Use your wrench to rotate the tensioner pulley by pulling clockwise on a bolt in the center of the pulley. Slip the old belt off of the tensioner pulley.

Release the belt tensioner. Slip the belt off of the pulleys and install the new belt according to your routing diagram.

Rotate the tensioner again to allow the new belt to slip over the tensioner pulley. Release the tensioner again. Replace the drive belt lower cover and lower the vehicle.

Items you will need

  • Wrench Set

  • Replacement Belt

 How to Replace Serpentine Belt on a Ford F150

Remove Serpentine Belt

Park your Ford F150 on a safe place and open the hood.

Place a drain pan under the engine in the direction of the upper radiator hose, where it connects with the radiator, if you have the 7.3L engine model. Remove the radiator clamp using a Phillips screwdriver or ratchet and socket. Twist and pull the hose off the radiator fitting. Go to Step 6.

Remove the cooling fan mounting bolts using a ratchet and socket if you have a 6.0L engine model. Then remove the four cooling-fan stator mounting bolts using a ratchet and socket and remove the stator. Go to Step 6.

Remove the air duct from the air cleaner assembly if you have a 5.4L or 6.8L engine model. Go to Step 6.

Remove the fan assembly if you have a 4.6L engine model. Use special Ford fan tools 303-240 and 303-239 to remove the fan (see Tips). Move the fan assembly over the radiator shroud, away from the engine.

Remove the serpentine belt from the engine. On the 4.2L engine, rotate the belt tensioner counterclockwise using a wrench and remove the belt; on the 4.6L engine, rotate the belt tensioner clockwise using a breaker bar with a 1/2 drive and remove the belt; on the 5.4L and 6.8L engines, rotate the drive belt tensioner clockwise using a wrench and remove the belt; on the 6.0L engine, rotate the belt tensioner clockwise using a breaker bar with a 1/2 drive and remove the belt; on the 7.3L engine, rotate the drive belt tensioner clockwise using a breaker bar with a 1/2 drive and remove the belt.

Install Serpentine Belt

Route the new serpentine belt over the accessory pulleys, except the tensioner pulley, on all engine models. Rotate the tensioner pulley--in the same direction you turned it for belt removal--and slide the belt over the tensioner pulley. Make sure the belt is properly routed and seated on every accessory pulley.

Install the fan assembly if you have the 4.6L engine; install the air duct if you have the 5.4L or 6.8L engine; install the cooling-fan stator and fan, if you have the 6.0L engine; and install the upper radiator hose if you have the 7.3L engine model.

Add coolant to the coolant reservoir to bring the level between the "Add" and "Full Hot" marks, if you have the 7.3L engine. Start the engine and let it reach operating temperature. Add more coolant as necessary and turn off the engine.

Items you will need

  • Drain pan, if necessary

  • Phillips screwdriver

  • Ratchet and socket

  • Ford fan tools 303-240 and 303-239, if necessary

  • Wrench set

  • Breaker bar with a 1/2-inch drive

  • New serpentine belt

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a Ford Explorer

Note the routing of the belt for future reference (so you can fit the new belt on correctly). If you don't find a belt routing diagram under the hood or in your owner's documentation, make a sketch for your reference.

Find the tensioner pulley which is generally located near the crankshaft and then find the bolt on the side of the pulley.

Use the wrench to rotate the tensioner pulley counter-clockwise and release tension on the belt.

Hold the tensioner in position with the wrench and slip off the old belt and install the new one according to your belt routing diagram.

Make sure all ribs on the drive belt are fitted correctly into the pulley grooves and that the belt is seated on all pulleys.

Release the tensioner.

Run the engine and observe for flapping, noises or other signals of incorrect installation.

Items you will need

  • Replacement belt

  • Long wrench

 How to Change a Serpentine Belt on a Ford Windstar

Remove the Serpentine Belt

Park your Windstar in a safe place and open the hood.

Disconnect the ground (black) battery cable using a wrench. This will prevent the cooling fan from activating if you recently drove your vehicle or someone from cranking the engine by accident while you are trying to remove the belt.

Look for the serpentine belt diagram. This is usually located on the radiator support cover. Compare the diagram with the routing of your installed belt and make sure it runs the same way. If not, or your minivan is missing this label, make a note on a piece of paper for later reference.

Install a serpentine belt tool on the square hole in the side arm next to the tensioner pulley or, if your particular model has no side arm, the pulley center bolt. Alternatively, you may use a 1/2-inch drive breaker bar or ratchet on the side arm; or a ratchet and socket or long-handled wrench on the center bolt.

Pivot the tensioner pulley clockwise or away from the belt to release the belt tension, keeping your fingers away from between the belt and the pulleys at all times.

Slide the belt off the tensioner pulley with your hand or a screwdriver.

Let the tensioner pulley carefully pivot back into position.

Remove the belt from the rest of the pulleys and the engine compartment.

Install the New Serpentine Belt

Compare the new belt to the old one. The new belt might be slightly shorter but the configuration should be the same.

Run the new belt through all the pulleys except the belt tensioner pulley. Use the serpentine belt diagram or your own notes as a reference, if necessary.

Pivot the belt tensioner pulley clockwise using the serpentine belt tool.

Slide the new serpentine belt over the tensioner pulley and carefully release the tensioner pulley.

Remove the tool from the engine compartment and run your fingers over the pulleys to make sure the belt is properly seated on the pulley ridges.

Connect the ground (black) battery cable using the wrench.

Start the engine and check that the belt is operating properly.

Turn off the engine.

Items you will need

  • Wrench

  • Serpentine belt tool

  • Ratchet and socket, if necessary

  • Screwdriver, if necessary

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a Ford Taurus

Find the automatic serpentine belt tensioner. The tensioner pulley has a bolt you will rotate to release tension on the belt.

Rotate the tensioner with your 15mm-wrench. For a OHV engine types, you'll rotate the tensioner clockwise; for OHC engine types, you'll want to rotate it counter-clockwise.

Slip the old belt off and slowly release the tensioner.

Use your memory or a belt routing diagram to put the new belt on. Ford usually includes a belt routing diagram on the fan shroud or elsewhere in the engine compartment. There also may be one in your owner's documentation.

Put the new belt on by rotating the tensioner again, then slowly release the tensioner to regain tension on the belt.

Make sure the belt is seated correctly on all pulleys and that the ribs on the belt are correctly lined up with the pulley grooves.

Run the engine and observe to ensure correct installation.

 How to Change a Serpentine Belt on a F250 Ford

Open the hood. Locate the serpentine belt routing sticker affixed to the metal radiator support cross member. Make a sketch of the routing of your serpentine belt if your truck does not have a routing sticker. Make sure to note whether the ribbed side of the belt goes over the engine pulleys or the smooth side of the belt, as this will make the installation of the new belt quicker.

Locate the belt tensioner, which is mounted on the passenger side of the front of the engine. Insert the end of a 1/2-drive ratchet wrench into the square hole on the belt tensioner.

Rotate the ratchet wrench counterclockwise slightly and hold it there, which releases the belt tension. Slide the belt off of the idler pulley, which is at the top of the engine in the center. Release the belt tension by letting up on the ratchet wrench handle slowly, as the tensioner spring is under a lot of pressure. Remove the ratchet wrench from the engine compartment.

Slide the serpentine belt off of the remaining engine pulleys and place it aside. Compare the old and new belts to make sure they are the same thickness, width and diameter.

Following the belt routing instructions on your truck’s sticker or from your sketch, place the belt over all of the pulleys except the idler pulley at the top center of the engine. Place the 1/2-inch ratchet wrench back into the square hole in the belt tensioner and rotate it counterclockwise. Hold the ratchet handle while sliding the serpentine belt over the idler pulley. Release ratchet handle slowly as the tensioner tightens the belt onto the pulleys. Remove the ratchet from the engine compartment.

Make sure the belt is riding in the center of all of the pulleys. Release the belt tension and reposition the belt if necessary. Start the engine and observe the belt operation.

Items you will need

  • 1/2-drive ratchet wrench

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a 2002 Ford Explorer 4.0 Liter

Open the hood and familiarize yourself with the belt routing diagram located on the fan shroud. This diagram illustrates the location of the various pulleys, including the belt tensioner, as well as the proper routing path for the belt.

Pull the belt tensioner off the serpentine belt with your serpentine tool. Hold it roughly 1-inch away from the belt and move the belt aside with your other hand. Slowly move the tensioner back into position while the belt is off the pulley.

Pull the belt off the remaining pulleys by hand. Removing the belt from the lower pulleys may be easier if you approach it from the bottom of the engine well.

Pull the old and new belts out to their full length to compare sizes; the old belt should be roughly ½-inch to 1-inch longer than the new one due to the stretching which occurs as a natural part of the belt's service life. Take both belts to your place of purchase to match up a proper replacement, especially If your new belt is substantially longer or shorter than the old one.

Follow the belt routing diagram and wrap the new belt around the bottom of the Explorer's crankshaft pulley. Route the belt around each of the remaining pulleys, leaving the tensioner for last. Refer to the belt routing diagram before moving onto each successive pulley in the system.

Move the belt tensioner off to the side with the serpentine tool. Slip the new belt over the 4.0 liter's tensioner pulley with your free hand. Hold it there while you slowly move the tensioner back to its normal position.

Remove the serpentine tool and close the hood.

Items you will need

  • Serpentine tool

 How to Change the Serpentine Belt in a 2001 Ford Ranger

Open the hood on the 2001 Ford Ranger and lock it in place.

Look for the serpentine belt routing diagram on top of the plastic shield that covers the top of the radiator. The serpentine belt diagram will give you the instructions for routing the new serpentine belt across the pulleys. If you cannot locate the diagram, use a pen and paper to draw out the routing diagram of the old serpentine belt.

Look for the serpentine belt tensioner on the front of the engine. The tensioner is what keeps the serpentine belt tight on the pulleys. The tensioner on the 2001 Ford Ranger is located below the alternator on the front passenger side of the engine. The tensioner has a 3/8-inch square hole in the spring loaded arm of the tensioner.

Slide the square end of the 3/8-inch drive ratchet into the 3/8-inch square hole in the end of the tensioner.

Turn the tensioner counterclockwise and slide the belt off of the tensioner pulley. Remove the belt from the remaining pulleys. Pull the belt out of the engine compartment.

Slide the new serpentine belt around the water-pump pulley first. The water-pump pulley is the big pulley directly in the center of the engine.

Route the serpentine belt around the remaining pulleys. Leave the alternator pulley as the last pulley to route the belt around.

Turn the tensioner counterclockwise again and slide the new serpentine belt onto the tensioner pulley. Release the tensioner and it will tighten the belt around the pulleys to the proper tension.

Inspect the new serpentine belt to make sure that the belt is seated inside all of the pulleys.

Crank the 2001 Ford Ranger and inspect the belt one more time to make sure that the belt stays seated inside all of the pulleys while the engine is running.

Items you will need

  • 3/8-inch drive ratchet

  • New serpentine belt

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt on Ford Escort

Removing the Serpentine Belt

Park your car in a safe place away from traffic. If you have an Escort with a 2.0L DOHC engine model, choose a level surface as well to prevent your car from rolling. You will need to raise the front of your vehicle to reach the belt tensioner from underneath.

Open the hood and locate the belt diagram on the upper radiator support and compare the belt routing to the actual routing of the installed belt. Make sure it is the same. If it is different or there is no label on your car, make a quick sketch on a piece of paper of how the belt runs around the pulleys. You can use it as a reference during installation.

Raise the front of your vehicle using a floor jack and place two jack stands under the frame for support, if you have a 2.0L DOHC engine model.

Insert a 3/8-inch drive ratchet or breaker bar into the tab’s square hole of the belt automatic tensioner. From under the vehicle, insert a 13mm socket and ratchet on the center bolt of the tensioner pulley, if you have a 2.0L DOHC engine model.

Rotate the automatic tensioner toward the front of the vehicle using the ratchet or breaker bar to release the belt tension. If you have a 2.0L DOHC engine model, rotate the tensioner pulley clockwise.

Slip the serpentine belt off the belt tensioner pulley by hand as you hold the automatic tensioner in the release position.

Let the automatic tensioner carefully rotate back into position.

Remove the serpentine belt from the rest of the pulleys and the engine compartment.

Installing the New Serpentine Belt

Compare the new serpentine belt with the old one. The new belt might be slightly shorter than your old belt but both should have the same configuration.

Run the new belt through the pulleys, except the tensioner pulley. Use the diagram on your vehicle or your notes as a reference, if necessary.

Insert the ratchet or breaker bar into the tab’s square hole of the belt automatic tensioner. From under the vehicle, insert the socket and ratchet on the center bolt of the tensioner pulley, if you have a 2.0L DOHC engine model.

Rotate the tensioner toward the front of the vehicle. If you have a 2.0L DOHC engine model, rotate the tensioner pulley clockwise.

Slip the new serpentine belt over the tensioner pulley.

Let the automatic tensioner carefully rotate back into position.

Lower your vehicle using the floor jack, if you have a 2.0L DOHC engine model.

Run your fingers around the belt pulleys to make sure the belt is properly seating.

Start the engine and let it idle for a few minutes to verify the belt is operating properly.

Items you will need

  • Floor jack, if you have a 2.0L engine model

  • 2 jack stands, if you have a 2.0L engine model

  • 3/8-inch drive ratchet/breaker bar or 13mm socket and ratchet, if you have a 2.0L engine model

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt on a 1993 Ford Ranger

Lift the Ranger's hood and support it with the prop rod. Examine the belt routing diagram, located on the fan shroud, to familiarize yourself with the location of the tensioner and other components, as well as the belt's proper routing path.

Release the tension on the belt tensioner with the serpentine tool. Slip the belt away from the tensioner pulley with your free hand and slowly move the tensioner back into position.

Thread the belt off the remaining pulleys and pull it out of the engine well by hand. Stretch the belt out to its full length next to the new belt. Make sure the old belt is no more than 1 inch longer than the new belt.

Loop the new belt around the bottom of the crankshaft pulley by hand. Follow the belt routing diagram as you thread the belt around each of the remaining pulleys, leaving the tensioner pulley for last.

Relieve the tension on the belt tensioner once more with the serpentine tool. Place the new belt on the tensioner pulley by hand and hold it in place as you slowly move the tensioner pulley back into position. Remove the tool and close the hood.

Items you will need

  • Serpentine tool

 How to Replace a Serpentine Belt in a 2002 Ranger

Locate the belt routing guide under the hood. This guide is printed on a decal located on the cooling fan shroud near the front of the engine compartment. It may also be on the air duct running across the front of the engine compartment. If the decal is missing, you can find a copy of it online (see Reference) and in your service manual. Remove the air duct in the front of the engine compartment to gain access to the belts below.

Remove the old belt by pushing down on the tensioner pulley bolt with a 15 mm wrench. The tensioner pulley is located between the power steering pulley and the water pump pulley. When enough tension is released off the belt, slip it over the alternator pulley and release the tensioner. Slip the belt off the remaining pulleys and out of the engine compartment.

Install the new belt by wrapping it around the pulleys according to the routing guide. Begin with the crankshaft pulley, the lowest pulley at the bottom front of the engine, and end with the alternator pulley. Push down on the tensioner pulley; slip the belt over the alternator.

Start the engine and check the belt for proper position in the pulley grooves. If the belt doesn't sit flat on a pulley, release the tension on the belt by pushing down on the tensioner pulley bolt again, and reposition the belt as needed. When done, replace the air duct.

Items you will need

  • Metric wrench set

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt on a 1997 Ford Explorer

Open the hood on your Ford Explorer and insert the serpentine belt tensioner tool into the slot on the serpentine belt tensioner. Locate the tensioner by consulting the belt routing diagram located on a sticker adhered to your radiator shroud or the underside of the hood. Note where this diagram is prior to removing the belt, as you will need it to know how to route the replacement belt.

Use your hand to carefully pry the belt tensioner arm away from the serpentine belt and move the belt off the tensioner pulley with your other hand. Gently release the pressure from the tensioner.

Remove the belt from all the pulleys by hand and pull it up and out of the engine well.

Compare the length of the new belt to that of the old belt. The old one should be approximately ¾-inch longer than the replacement belt due to stretching that occurs during the belts lifetime.

Move the replacement belt down into the engine well and route it over the crank pulley. Follow the belt routing diagram to run the belt around all the pulleys, leaving the tensioner pulley for last. Verify the belt is routed correctly per the diagram before continuing.

Pry the serpentine belt tensioner back out of the belt path once more and loop the replacement belt over the belt tensioner pulley with your other hand. Carefully allow the tensioner to return to its natural placement while holding the belt in place with your other hand. Remove the belt tensioner tool when done and start the engine. Watch the belt for a moment to make sure it's running around the pulleys properly.

Items you will need

  • Serpentine belt tensioner tool

  • Replacement belt

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

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.

Items you will need

  • Belt tensioner tool

  • New belt

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt on a Ford Truck

Locate the negative (black) battery cable on the battery of your truck. Remove the retaining bolt from the battery terminal with a wrench, then remove the cable.

There should be a belt-routing diagram in the engine compartment of the truck. If there isn't, or if the diagram is illegible, draw a diagram of the belt's routing on the various pulleys on a piece of paper, for later reference.

Locate the serpentine belt tensioner on the front of the engine near the passenger's side of the engine. There is a square hole in the end of the arm to insert the square drive from a 3/8-inch-drive ratchet into.

Rotate the serpentine belt tensioner counterclockwise with a ratchet to loosen the belt. Remove the belt from the pulleys then carefully rotate the tensioner back clockwise. Discard the old belt.

Install a new belt around the pulleys except the tensioner, following the diagram exactly. Rotate the tensioner counterclockwise, slide the belt onto the pulley and rotate the tensioner clockwise to tighten the belt. Check that the belt is centered on all the pulleys.

Install the negative battery cable onto the negative battery terminal and tighten the retaining bolt with a wrench. No other adjustment of the belt is required.

Items you will need

  • Wrench set

  • 3/8-inch drive ratchet

  • Pencil and paper (optional)

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt on the 2002 Ford Escort

Open the hood. Locate the serpentine belt routing diagram that is stamped to the top left side of the hood locking latch on the fan shroud. The routing diagram has the routing instructions needed to route the new serpentine belt around the accessory pulleys.

Locate the automatic belt tensioner on the front of the engine. The tensioner for the 2002 Ford Escort models is located on the front center of the engine above the crankshaft pulley. The tensioner has a roller pulley attached to one end of the tensioner arm. Use the bolt head in the middle of the roller pulley to rotate the tensioner.

Rotate the belt tensioner counterclockwise with the 1/2-inch drive breaker bar and a socket. Slide the belt out from under the roller pulley and release the tensioner.

Pull the belt out of the remaining pulleys and out of the engine area. Match the used belt to the new belt to ensure the new belt is the proper width and length.

Lower the new belt into the engine area and around each accessory pulley by following the routing directions on the belt routing diagram. Start with the crankshaft pulley and end with the tensioner roller pulley.

Rotate the tensioner counterclockwise again with the breaker bar and socket. Slide the new belt under the roller pulley and release the tensioner. Examine the new belt to ensure it is seated within all of the accessory pulleys.

Crank the 2002 Ford Escort engine for about 10 seconds to completely seat the belt inside of the pulleys. Turn the motor off. Recheck the belt. Close the hood.

Items you will need

  • 1/2-inch drive ratchet

  • Metric socket set

  • New belt