How to Replace a Belt Tensioner on a 1998 Chevy Cavalier

by Grace Mclain
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The belt tensioner on the 1998 Chevy Cavalier is a spring loaded component with a pulley attached to one end. The belt tensioner keeps the proper amount of tension on the belt while the engine is running. The tensioner moves up and down with the movement of the belt as the belt travels around each accessory pulley. Replace the tensioner if the spring inside of the tensioner arm becomes weak or if it breaks.

Step 1

Open the hood on the 1998 Chevy Cavalier and locate the spring loaded belt tensioner. It's on the front passenger side of the engine or in the front center of the engine. Use the bolt head in the middle of the tensioner pulley to loosen the tension off of the belt.

Step 2

Rotate the tensioner pulley clockwise with the ratchet and socket. Then, pull the belt out from under the tensioner pulley. Hang the belt to the front of the engine with a bungee strap to keep it from falling out of the other accessory pulleys.

Step 3

Locate the bolt head that in the center of the spring loaded section of the tensioner. Loosen and remove the bolt with the ratchet and a socket by turning the bolt counter-clockwise. Pull the tensioner straight off of the front of the engine and place it to the side. If the tensioner is stuck, slide a flathead screwdriver behind the tensioner and pry outward until the tensioner comes off of the front of the engine.

Step 4

Position the new tensioner to the front of the engine. Screw the bolt back into the center of the spring loaded arm and tighten down tight with the ratchet and socket.

Step 5

Remove the bungee strap from the belt. Then, turn the new tensioner pulley clockwise to make room for the belt. Slide the belt under the new tensioner pulley and release the tensioner. As the new tensioner retracts it will tighten the belt to the proper tension.

Step 6

Inspect the belt to make sure it's still seated inside all of the pulleys. Then, crank the engine and let it run for 15 seconds. Watch the tensioner as the engine is running to ensure it's working properly. Turn the engine off and close the hood.

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