How to Replace the Serpentine Belt on Chevrolet Cars

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

The drive belt on your Chevrolet car is a single, continuous belt that works its way through a number of pulleys that drive the alternator, the air conditioning pump and other components. In certain models of the Chevrolet car the belt will drive more components than in others, but the overall removal and installation process is the same no matter what year or type of Chevrolet car you are driving. If the belt frays or stretches over time, replace it to keep your Chevrolet car safely on the road.

Under The Hood:

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt on a Chevy Tracker

Locate the belt routing diagram for your engine in your owner's manual. If you can't find the diagram or the manual, look for the diagram on the fan shroud. If you don't find a diagram there, draw a diagram yourself that shows the route your serpentine belt takes around the pulleys.

Open the hood and locate the tensioner on the front of the engine block, toward the top of the engine block. Place the socket on a 1/2-inch breaker bar and turn the tensioner clockwise to allow the belt to fall slack (if the belt hasn't fallen off already). Pull the belt off of the pulley system at this time.

Run the replacement belt around the pulleys until you can't go any further, starting on the bottom and following your belt routing diagram.

Turn the tensioner clockwise using the breaker bar and socket, then run the belt around the remaining pulleys as well as underneath the tensioner. Slowly return the tensioner to its normal position.

Look at the belt and make sure there are no bends or kinks along the path, then double-check that it's routed correctly.

Items you will need

  • 1/2-inch breaker bar and sockets

  • Owner's manual

  • Replacement serpentine belt

 How to Change the Serpentine Belt on a 2005 Chevy Uplander

Pop the hood on the 2005 Chevy Uplander. Locate the serpentine belt diagram on top of the fan shroud that is covering the radiator. The serpentine belt routing diagram will be a picture of all the pulleys with the belt routed around the pulleys. This diagram will give you the correct routing procedure when putting the new belt on the pulleys. If you cannot locate the serpentine belt routing diagram, take a pen and notepad and draw out the exact direction that the old belt is routed around the pulleys and use this diagram when putting the new belt on.

Locate the serpentine belt tensioner. The belt tensioner is on the passenger side of the engine in the front. The tensioner has a pulley on it and a square 3/8-inch hole. Take a 3/8-inch ratchet and insert the square head of the ratchet into the square hole on the belt tensioner.

Turn the belt tensioner clockwise to relieve the tension in the serpentine belt. Remove the belt from the belt tensioner pulley with your free hand. Then let the tensioner go back to its original place. Finish removing the belt from the rest of the pulleys. Pull the old belt out of the engine compartment.

Put the new belt around the bottom crankshaft pulley first. The crankshaft pulley is the big pulley on the bottom center of the engine. Then route the belt across the remaining pulleys. Leave the belt tensioner pulley for last.

Turn the belt tensioner clockwise again to give you the slack you need to slide the new belt onto the belt tensioner pulley. Slide the new belt onto the belt tensioner pulley and release the tension on the belt tensioner. The belt tensioner will then pull the slack out of the belt. Inspect the belt to make sure it is in all of the pulleys.

Crank the engine and inspect the belt again to make sure it is still seated inside all of the pulleys. If so, turn the engine off and close the hood.

Items you will need

  • Notepad

  • Pen

  • 3/8-inch ratchet

  • New belt

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a Chevy Silverado

Find the auto-adjusting belt tensioner pulley. The belt tensioner can be located using a belt routing diagram, which you should find on the radiator support.

Use your wrench or breaker bar to rotate the bolt on the belt tensioner to release tension on the belt.

Slip the old serpentine belt off of the pulleys and take it out.

Use the belt routing diagram again to route the new belt. If you can't find a routing diagram in your documentation, or under the hood, you can use the Dayco product site where belt routing diagrams are in hyperlinks next to the belt description. Enter make, model and year to get the right routing diagram.

Rotate the belt tensioner again to allow the belt to be fully installed.

Make sure the belt is well seated on all of the pulleys.

Run the engine and observe to make sure the belt is installed properly.

Items you will need

  • Wrench or breaker bar

  • Replacement belt

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a Chevy Impala

Find the belt tensioner pulley and bolt. The belt tensioner is accessible on the Impala, between the engine and the coolant tank.

Rotate the tensioner with your wrench to release tension on the belt. For 3.1L, 3.4L and 3.8L models, you'll rotate the tensioner counter-clockwise. For a 3.4DOHC engine, it should be rotated clockwise.

Remove the old serpentine belt and compare it to the new one. The old belt should be slightly longer due to wear.

Use the routing diagram for the Impala to put the new serpentine belt around all of the pulleys. If you can't find the routing decal on the engine, or it's unreadable, use the Dayco belt accessory site to find a routing diagram for the belt.

Slip the new serpentine belt onto all pulleys. Rotate the tensioner again to allow the belt to be fully installed, then release to regain tension on the belt. Make sure the belt is well seated on all pulleys.

Run the engine and observe to see if the belt is properly installed.

Items you will need

  • Replacement belt

  • Wrench set (size varies for different models)

 How to Change a Serpentine Belt on a Duramax

Open the hood of your truck and locate the negative battery terminal on the battery. Remove the retaining bolt that secures the negative battery cable to the battery using a wrench, then remove the cable. Set it aside for now.

Locate the tensioner on the front of the engine. It is on the passenger side front of the engine. There is a hole in the arm of the tensioner. This hole will accept a ½-inch drive breaker bar. There is a small black pulley on the end of the arm, making it easier to identify.

Insert a ½-inch drive breaker bar in the hole on the tensioner and rotate the tensioner counterclockwise until the belt is loose. Remove the belt from the engine and discard it. Slowly rotate the tensioner back to the home position and allow it to sit there while you install the new belt on all the pulleys except the tensioner pulley.

Rotate the tensioner counterclockwise, then install the belt onto the tensioner pulley. Slowly rotate the tensioner clockwise. Do not let it snap back or you will damage the tensioner. Once the belt is tight, remove the breaker bar from the tensioner and out of the engine compartment.

Install the negative battery cable on the negative terminal of the battery, install the retaining bolt and tighten it with a wrench. Close the hood and drive as you normally would, rechecking the belt in a few days.

Items you will need

  • Wrench set

  • 1/2-inch drive breaker bar

 How to Change the Serpentine Belt on a Chevy 4.3 V6

Open the hood of your car or truck. Disconnect the negative battery cable from the battery terminal before starting any work on the belts. Remove the retaining bolt from the battery cable end with a wrench, then remove the cable. Tuck the cable out of the way.

Locate the serpentine belt tensioner on the front of the engine. While there are many different cars that use this engine variant, the tensioner is always located near the middle of the engine and has a long arm with a pulley on the end of it. Some models of tensioners have square holes in the tensioner arms (which allow for ratchet attachment) and some do not.

Place a 3/8-inch or 1/2-drive ratchet in the square hole on the tensioner, if the tensioner of your Chevy's engine has the hole in it. The size of the hole will vary from model to model, therefore you will have to try the ratchet in the hole to determine which size fits. If the tensioner does not have the square hole in the its arm, place a socket on the bolt in the center of the idler pulley and attach a ratchet to it.

Rotate the tensioner counter-clockwise and release the tension from the belt. Remove the belt from the pulleys and carefully rotate the tensioner clockwise to the home position.

Install a new belt, following the original path over the pulleys. Do not install the belt on the tensioner yet. The path is critical, so if you are not sure of the belt path, check the serpentine belt diagram sticker that is affixed under the hood.

Rotate the tensioner counter-clockwise and slide the belt onto the idler pulley. Rotate the tensioner clockwise, allowing it to tighten the belt. Do not force the tensioner--it will adjust to the correct tension on its own.

Remove the breaker bar from the engine compartment, then install the negative battery cable on the negative battery terminal. Tighten the retaining bolt with a wrench.

Items you will need

  • Wrench set

  • Socket set

  • Breaker bar

 How to Change a Serpentine Belt on a Chevrolet Prizm

Park your Prizm on a flat, level area such as a driveway or a garage. Set the parking brake. Open the hood and disconnect the negative battery lead with the adjustable wrench. Locate the serpentine belt configuration diagram for your Prizm on the fan shroud above the radiator (although some models may have the diagram on the hood of the vehicle). Refer to the diagram for the location of the tensioner pulley, as well as the routing path for the belt through the pulleys.

Slot the ¾-inch socket over the end of the bolt on the tensioner pulley, located on the passenger side of the engine. Attach the ratchet to the socket and apply pressure in a counterclockwise motion as indicated on the diagram (some models of Prizm may require clockwise pressure; the chart will indicate which is the case for your specific model) to loosen the tensioner pulley. Slide the slackened belt off the pulley and allow the pulley to close.

Route the new serpentine belt through the pulleys of your Prizm's engine. Follow the diagram for the exact routing path, matching the notched sides of the belt with the notched pulleys, and the smooth side of the belt on the opposite side with the smooth pulleys. Leave the tensioner pulley for last. Apply pressure to the pulley to open it, slide the new belt over the pulley and allow the tensioner to tighten against the belt.

Replace the battery lead, close the hood and start the engine . Let your Prizm run for a few minutes before driving, to allow the tensioner pulley a chance to adjust to the new belt.

Items you will need

  • Adjustable wrench

  • 3/4-inch socket

  • Ratchet

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt on a Chevy Trailblazer

Locate the negative battery cable on the negative terminal of the battery. Remove the retaining bolt from the cable end with a wrench and lift the cable off the battery. Isolate the battery cable from the battery terminal while you are working.

Locate the serpentine belt tensioner on the front of the engine. Place the square drive from a 3/8-inch drive breaker bar in the square hole in the arm of the tensioner. Rotate the tensioner clockwise, loosening the serpentine belt.

Slide the serpentine belt off the pulleys while holding the tensioner off the belt. Discard the old belt and install a new belt over the pulleys. Rotate the tensioner counterclockwise allowing it to tension the new belt as you go.

Remove the breaker bar from the tensioner, then out of the engine compartment. Inspect the belt to ensure it is on the pulleys correctly, then double-check the path of the belt against the diagram on the sticker under the hood of your Trailblazer.

Install the negative battery cable on the negative terminal of the battery. Insert the retaining bolt and tighten it with wrench. Start the engine and watch the belt to be sure it is running smooth and squarely over the pulleys.

Items you will need

  • Wrench set

  • 3/8-inch drive breaker bar

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a Geo Metro

Air Conditioning Belts

Find the idler pulley bolt. This bolt moves the pulley and changes tension on the belt. On earlier models, this bolt is usually beside the pulley on the component. In later models, it's often in the center of the idler pulley.

Move the idler pulley bolt with your wrench to release tension on the belt.

Note belt routing for replacement. If you can't find a belt routing diagram under the hood, make your own sketch.

Slip the old belt off of all pulleys and replace it with the new one, making sure the belt is seated on all pulleys.

Tighten the idler pulley bolt (in reverse direction) to replace tension on the belt.

Other belts

Find the lock bolt on the component. The lock bolt is on the side of the long adjustment bolt and holds that bolt in place.

Use your wrench to loosen the lock bolt.

Turn the adjustment bolt so that it moves the component closer to the engine, loosening tension on the belt.

Slip the old belt off and use a belt routing diagram as mentioned above to install the new belt.

Re-tighten the belt with the adjustment bolt and tighten the lock bolt.

Items you will need

  • Wrench

  • Replacement belts

 How to Replace a Serpentine Belt on a 2003 Chevrolet Impala

Pop the hood of the car and locate the serpentine belt routing diagram. The diagram on the 2003 Chevrolet Impala is on top of the fan shroud. The diagram will be a picture of all of the accessory pulleys and how the serpentine belt is routed among the pulleys. This diagram will give you the exact direction for routing the new belt onto the pulleys. If you cannot find a serpentine belt routing diagram, take a notepad and pen and draw out the exact routing diagram of the old belt across the pulleys.

Locate the serpentine belt tensioner. It is located below the alternator on the left front side of the engine. The tensioner on the 3.4 liter, 3.5 liter and the 3.9 liter engines will require a 3/8 ratchet to release the belt tensioner. The 3.8 liter engine will require a ratchet and a 15 mm socket for the belt tensioner. Rotate the belt tensioner clockwise to loosen and remove the belt from the belt tensioner pulley.

Slide the old belt from the belt tensioner pulley. Remove the belt from the remaining pulleys and pull the belt from the engine compartment.

Route the new belt across the crankshaft pulley first. The crankshaft pulley is the big pulley on the bottom of the engine in the center. Then route the serpentine belt across the remaining pulleys as directed by the serpentine belt routing diagram. Leave the belt tensioner pulley for last.

Rotate the belt tensioner clockwise again to relieve the tension and slide the new belt across the top of the belt tensioner pulley. Release the belt tensioner and the belt will tighten up as the tensioner applies pressure to the belt. Make sure the new belt is properly seated in all the pulleys.

Crank the engine and inspect the belt again to make sure that it stays seated in the pulleys.

Items you will need

  • Notepad

  • Pen

  • 3/8 breaker bar

  • Ratchet

  • 15 millimeter socket

  • New serpentine belt

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a Chevy Camaro

Remove all parts that prevent access to the belt and tensioner pulley. On pre-1998 models, you may have to remove an air intake duct to get to the belt area. For models 1998 and on, it's likely to be the air cleaner housing and/or air intake resonator that's in the way.

Find the belt routing diagram on the radiator support. This will help you install the new belt. If you can't find a routing diagram, draw your own for later reference. Find the tensioner pulley, generally between the crankshaft and alternator.

Use the wrench on the belt tensioner bolt to rotate the tensioner clockwise, releasing tension on the belt.

Take the old belt off of the tensioner pulley and release the pulley. Slip the old belt off of all of the other pulleys, then use your belt routing diagram to install the new belt.

Rotate the tensioner again to allow the new belt to go around the tensioner pulley.

Slip the new belt onto the tensioner pulley and then release the pulley. Check for reasonable tension on the belt and make sure it is seated correctly on all pulleys.

Items you will need

  • Replacement belt

  • Wrench set

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt on a 1990 Chevy Silverado

Raise the hood of your truck and prop it open. Locate the negative cable on the battery. Remove the retaining bolt with a wrench. Lift the cable off the terminal and set it aside.

Locate the serpentine belt tensioner on the front of the engine. Place a socket and breaker bar on the tensioner center bolt. Rotate it counterclockwise to loosen the belt. Remove the belt. Rotate the tensioner back to the home position. Discard the old belt.

Install a new belt over the pulleys on the front of the engine. Leave it off the tensioner for now. Routing the belt correctly is important, so check the diagram on the radiator support under the hood to verify the belt path.

Rotate the tensioner counterclockwise with the breaker bar and socket. Install the belt over the tensioner pulley and rotate the tensioner clockwise to tighten the belt. Remove the socket and breaker bar from the engine compartment.

Reattach the negative cable to the negative battery terminal. Reattach the retaining bolt and tighten it with a wrench. Close the hood of the truck.

Items you will need

  • Wrench set

  • Socket set

  • Breaker bar

 How to Change a Serpentine Belt on a 2003 Chevy Silverado

Pop the hood and locate the serpentine belt routing diagram located on the top of the fan shroud. If the diagram is not there, tale a notepad and draw out the exact belt routing over the pulleys before you remove the old belt.

Locate the belt tensioner, which is at the top left above the air conditioner compressor. Find the proper socket that fits the bolt head in the center of the belt tensioner and put it on the ratchet.

Put the ratchet and socket onto the tensioner bolt head and turn the tensioner clockwise to relieve the tension on the belt.

Slide the belt off at the idler pulley, which is the top center pulley above the water pump. Finish removing the belt from the rest of the pulleys.

Put the new belt on the bottom pulley, which is the crankshaft pulley, and follow the routing diagram for routing the belt properly on the other pulleys. Leave the idler pulley for last because the idler pulley is the pulley that you will be sliding the belt under once you get the slack out of the belt.

Put the ratchet back on the tensioner bolt head and turn it clockwise with one hand and with the other hand, slide the belt under the idler pulley. Release the belt tensioner and the belt will tighten up against the idler pulley. Inspect it to make sure that the belt is on all of the pulleys.

Crank the truck and let the engine run for two minutes. Turn the truck off and then inspect the belt to make sure that it is still on the pulleys and to make sure that the belt has seated into the grooves on the pulleys.

Items you will need

  • New serpentine belt

  • Ratchet

  • Socket set

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt on a Chevrolet Colorado

Lift the Colorado's hood by hand. Familiarize yourself with the belt-routing diagram, provided by Chevrolet and placed on the fan shroud. The diagram illustrates the proper belt path as well as the location of the various components in the serpentine drive belt system.

Move the Colorado's automatic belt tensioner away from the serpentine belt employing the serpentine belt tool. Pull the belt away from the engine with your free hand before moving the automatic belt tensioner back into position.

Lift the serpentine belt off the various pulleys by hand. Pull the belt out of the Colorado's engine bay.

Measure the Colorado's old belt against the replacement belt to ensure you have a proper replacement before installing the new one. The old belt may have stretched up to 1 inch during its lifetime. If the new belt is longer than the old one, or more than 1 inch shorter, you have the wrong replacement belt and should take both belts to the parts retailer for a proper replacement.

Loop the replacement belt around the bottom of the Colorado's crankshaft pulley by hand. Follow the exact routing path illustrated on the belt-routing diagram to run the belt around all the engine pulleys until only the automatic belt tensioner pulley remains.

Move the Colorado's automatic belt tensioner aside once more using the serpentine belt tool. Slide the new serpentine belt onto the tensioner by hand. Slowly move the tensioner back into position before removing the tool and closing the hood.

Items you will need

  • Serpentine belt tool

 How to Replace the Serpentine Belt on a 2003 Chevy Express

Open the hood on the 2003 Chevy Express. Locate the serpentine belt routing diagram. The diagram can be found on the top of the fan shroud that surrounds the radiator. If you do not see the serpentine belt routing diagram, draw out the routing direction of the old serpentine belt on a notepad, or use the routing diagram in the References section.

Locate the spring loaded serpentine belt tensioner on the front of the engine. The tensioner will have a spring loaded arm on one end and a pulley on the other end. The pulley will have a 1/2 inch square hole in the center of the pulley.

Slide the square end of the 1/2-inch drive pull bar into the 1/2-inch square hole of the tensioner pulley.

Turn the tensioner clockwise to relieve the tension from the serpentine belt. Remove the serpentine belt from the tensioner pulley with your other hand.

Remove the serpentine belt from the remaining pulleys. Slide the belt around the radiator cooling fan and remove the belt from the engine compartment.

Slide the new serpentine belt around the radiator cooling fan. Route the new serpentine belt around the crankshaft pulley first. The crankshaft pulley is the big pulley on the bottom of the engine.

Route the new serpentine belt around the remaining pulleys by using the serpentine belt routing diagram. Leave the alternator pulley for last.

Slide the 1/2-inch drive ratchet back into the square hole of the tensioner pulley. Turn the tensioner clockwise and slide the serpentine belt onto the alternator pulley with your other hand. Release the tensioner. Inspect the serpentine belt to ensure it is inside of all the pulleys.

Crank the 2003 Chevy Express and inspect the belt again to ensure that the belt stays seated inside of the accessory pulleys. Turn the engine off.

Items you will need

  • Pen

  • Notepad

  • 1/2 inch drive pull bar

  • New serpentine belt

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.