How to Replace the Serpentine Belt on a 1997 Ford Explorer

by Allen MooreUpdated November 07, 2017
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Items you will need

  • Serpentine belt tensioner tool

  • Replacement belt

Serpentine belts are responsible for transferring torque energy form the engine’s crank pulley out to the engine accessory pulleys. The belt on a 1997 Ford Explorer transfers that torque to a power steering pulley, air conditioning pulley, alternator pulley, idler pulley and belt tensioner pulley every second the engine is running. All that work can make a belt begin to break down after 60,000 miles. While most Ford belts last over 100,000 miles, you should inspect yours regularly and replace it immediately if you see any signs of excessive wear.

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.


If the belt routing sticker is missing, you can find a diagram in a service manual, online or by asking the counter person at your local Ford dealer.

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