How to Install a Belt in a 1998 Nissan Frontierby Rex Molder
The 1998 Nissan Frontier uses a system of three drive belts to operate the engine accessories. The belts derive power from the crank pulley and transfer the energy to the respective components. There is one belt for the air conditioner compressor, one belt for the water pump and generator, and one belt for the power steering pump. If you inspect the belts and find you need to replace one, you should go ahead and replace them all. If one breaks or is worn, it's likely that all of them are worn and need to be replaced.
Open the hood and locate the drive belt routing diagram. It should be either on the inside of the hood or near the hood latch on the grille. If the diagram is missing, sketch out your own diagram so you can reroute the belts properly later.
Remove the power steering pump belt first. This is the outermost belt, and you must remove it first before you can remove either of the other two belts. As you look down into the engine compartment, you will see the span of belt running across the top, from the power steering pump pulley on the passenger's side to the idler pulley on the driver's side. Near the top of the idler pulley, you will see an adjustment bolt. Loosen the locking bolt in the center of the pulley to allow the pulley to move. Then, turn the adjusting bolt counterclockwise to loosen the tension on the belt. Remove the belt when you have relieved sufficient tension to slip it off the power steering pump pulley.
Pull off the air conditioning compressor belt next. Position yourself underneath the vehicle. As you look up, you will see the large crank pulley, and just to the driver's side of that, you will see another idler pulley. Follow the procedure from Step 2 to relieve tension then remove the air conditioner compressor belt.
Remove the generator/water pump belt. There is no idler pulley for this belt, and the adjustment bolt differs from the idler pulley bolts. First, loosen the locking bolt that runs perpendicular to the adjustment bolt to allow the generator to be moved. Then turn the adjustment bolt counterclockwise to relieve tension. Looking down into the engine compartment, the generator is located beneath the power steering pump pulley on the passenger's side of the crank pulley.
Replace the generator/water pump belt. Ensure you route it correctly according to the diagram. Turn the adjusting bolt clockwise to tighten the belt. Once the belt is tight, place a straight edge along the span of the belt that runs from the water pump to the generator. It doesn't matter what you use as a straight edge as long as it fits between the pulleys. Press down on the belt with the ruler and note the distance the belt deflects from the straight edge. The proper deflection should be between 8 mm and 10 mm (.31 inch to .39 inch). If the deflection is more than that, you need to continue to turn the adjusting bolt clockwise to tighten the belt until it reaches the correct deflection. If the deflection is less than that, loosen the belt until it is correct. Once you reach the proper deflection, use a torque wrench to tighten the locking bolt to 12 ft.-lbs. of torque.
Attach the air conditioner compressor belt, ensuring it is routed correctly. Follow the procedure in Step 5 to adjust the tension to the proper deflection. For this belt, place the straight edge along the span of belt that runs between the air conditioner compressor pulley and the crank pulley. The correct deflection for this belt is also between 8 mm and 10 mm. Once you reach the proper deflection, tighten the locking bolt in the center of the idler pulley to 12 ft.-lbs. of torque.
Replace the power steering pump belt. Follow the procedure in Step 5 to adjust the belt tension. For this belt, place the straight edge along the span of belt between the power steering pump pulley and the idler pulley. Once you reach the proper deflection of 8 mm to 10 mm, tighten the locking bolt in the center of the idler pulley to 12 ft.-lbs. of torque.
- An assistant will make this job much easier. One person can measure the belt tension while the other turns the adjustment bolts.
- If you start the car and the belts squeal, let it run for a few minutes. If the squealing continues, turn off the engine and recheck the tension. Squealing often means the belts are too tight.
Things You'll Need
- Socket set
- Straight edge
- Torque wrench
Rex Molder began writing professionally in 1999 and specializes in automotive, technology and travel articles. His articles have appeared at iPad- and SEO-related websites. Rex holds a Bachelor of Arts in Asian studies from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.