Changing your belts in 25 minutes (2 Viewers)

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IdahoDoug

IdahoDoug

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There have been a few posts lately with folks changing the 3 drive belts and including the unneccessary steps of removing the battery, the battery tray, the lower engine bay skidplate and even the fan (!?).

Since I changed my belts today after a fruitless attempt to quiet them down, I thought I'd outline this simple procedure, which I'd have completed in 20 minutes had my neighbor walked over to say hello.

First, loosen the lock bolt in the center of the A/C tensioner pulley. It's a 14mm and I find it easiest reached standing with the left foot in the engine bay and right foot on the bumper. Lean way down with an open end wrench, bracing yourself on the valve cover with your left hand. Just loosening a revolution will do.
Then slide under the truck with a 14mm on about a foot of extension and find the 1" hole under the AC compressor. Directly in line with it is the tensioner bolt - a very long bolt. Turn it counter clockwise until it comes loose and then insert it for a revolution or two. It helps to remove the ratchet handle and use the extensions only once the bolt is finger tight so you don't drop the bolt. You just 'feel' that it's out of threads, then spin it back in a rev or two.

Loosen the alternator upper bolt it pivots on. Just a couple turns and I think it's a 12mm.
Then the lock nut on the alternator below it - again only a couple turns (12mm). This lock nut clamps down on a very long bolt whose threads you can see while loosening it, which is the tensioner bolt.
Loosen the tensioner bolt counterclockwise (12mm) until it literally comes out of the tensioner. Thread it back in a couple turns. This tensioner bolt is easily accessed with a socket wrench sans extension in a tight spot a stubby would speed things up. The 3 minutes of limited swinging here is what causes most folks to opt for the hour of removing the battery and battery tray.

So now to remove the belts. First, the A/C belt will nearly fall off, though it might help to reach deep down in with one hand to manually pull the tensioner pulley up (gravity will keep it holding the belt). Then the longer dual belts - forward one first. Pulling/pushing on the belts will help pivot the alternator all the way through its travel to ease reinstalling the new ones. Then roll the forward one off the alternator pulley and free it from the other pulleys. Loop it up over a couple fan blades, then rotate the fan and keep looping over more and more blades until you can simply pull it up and out between the fan and the radiator fins. There's plenty of room here - no need to remove the fan. Roll the rearward belt off and do the same.

Install the rearmost of the new dual belts, seating the the belt properly on the rear groove of the engine pullley and first putting it in the forward groove on the alternator pulley, then moving it to the alternator pulley's rear groove where it belongs. I mention this because trying to move it directly to the alternator's rear groove will cause tremendous tension in the belt. Better to do two small steps. Seating the 2nd of the dual alternator belts is more difficult because you can't spin the pulleys as easily to get it into the groove with the other belt adding some friction. If you can't get it fully on, note the direction the engine will spin (look at the fan blades, which push air rearward when the engine's running) and hook the belt as best you can such that when you bump the starter the engine will pull it the rest of the way. BE SURE YOU HAVE NO TOOLS OR PARTS WHERE THEY CAN CAUSE DAMAGE OR INJURY.

Tension the dual belts by tightening the tensioner bolt clockwise until you're satisfied. Snug up the tensioner lock bolt - no need to crank on it, just nice and snug. Tighten the bolt the alternator pivots on above it.

Now install the A/C belt. As before, it helps to reach way down with your left hand and manually lift the tensioner pulley to get enough slack and keep holding the pulley up while you're working it onto the A/C compressor pulley. Back under the truck to tighten the belt tensioner bolt. Right foot back in the engine bay and lean way down to tighten the tensioner's lock bolt. You're done. Now snicker to yourself about how others would still have 45 minutes work or more to reinstall the battery, battery box, skidplate and fan. With the 90 minutes you saved, wash the car and check all fluid levels, tire pressure and have a #6 while sitting on the tailgate while snickering a bit more....

DougM
 
elmariachi

elmariachi

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About a year ago I posted something about being able to change the belts in 30-45 minutes and I was boo'd off the stage. :eek: I have been doing it exactly as you described for 10 years and thats about how long it takes. Like removing the steering damper, people make this a whole lot harder than it has to be.

Also a good time to change that noisy idler puller with a new one.

Nice write-up Doug.

Jim
 
IdahoDoug

IdahoDoug

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Jim,

Agree on both counts - been doing it since new this way, and the idler pulley's a good idea every 100k or so..

Can't believe how quiet the engine is with new belts.

DougM
 
91Cruizer

91Cruizer

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Real bummer, I did this and the new belts still squeak. It is not the idlers, it is the belts. I think they must have had a long life on the shelf or something. OEM toyota/ Mitsubosha. Checked tension multiple times and adjusted.
 
Brindleboxer

Brindleboxer

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Doug,

Good write-up, I did mine simialrly but I did remove the skid plate for netter viewing and a little more room. I basically looked at it for 15 or so minutes to determine how things were going to go and then I dove in. If I would have seen this first I would have been better equipped rather than figuringit out as I went. I downloaded directions but after looking at the truck and then them I determined there had to be an easier way.

As for the belts making noise, karma kicked me in the butt and mine have since started to make a bit of noise (nothing major, just annoying to know it is there). This being after a buddy and I were talking about how people said the gatorbacks would make noise-- I guess they are right. ;)

Glen
 
91Cruizer

91Cruizer

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I have the same problem. They only make enough noise to let me know. Other people won't always even notice.
 
Darwood

Darwood

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Nice write up, though I'm one to remove the splash guard to get to the ac tensioner and pully. I'd rather work from below then have to do the kung fu balancing act. ;p

The splash guard only adds about 5 minutes total (on and off) to the job, and that's taking your time.
 
IdahoDoug

IdahoDoug

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Just as a data point, here is why I think I had to replace these early. I'd replaced them when I got this truck at 132,000 miles. Then I did the HG at around 150,000 miles. Reasoning that the belts were still quite fresh I put them back on but did not tighten them as tight as I would a new set because a new set will loosen quite a bit in a short period as they seat and stretch to their service length. I feel that while this is a directionally valid thing to do, I did not get them tight enough. A few months later they started making noise, so I tightened them. A few months later they began making noise again and I finally got sick of it.

I think during the period they were making noise they were slipping slightly which is the noise itself. I suspect that one of the dual belts slipped more than the other, resulting in either more wear/different size or a more glazed contact surface or most likely - both. It's retrospectively my opinion that once this happens the belts will never, ever be compatible as they once were when purchased as a carefully matched set from Toyota. So, the lesson learned for me is that since this is a dual belt system it may be wise to have them on slightly tighter than usual to ensure equality over their service life. The reasoning for this is that if they're slightly loose the looser of the pair will slip more and increase the difference in the two belts' properties regarding service length and associated noise. If they're kept tighter than the threshold level for the looser of the two (impossible they're exact despite being matched carefully) to slip, then they'll continue to remain quiet and neither will slip. If you have OEM belts and they're noisy I think you may have to replace to have peace and quiet.

Anecdotally, in 250,000 miles or more of maintaining 80s, this is the first time I did not put the belts on as tight as I prefer and the first time I've EVER had a noise issue. Your mileage may vary.

DougM
 
hfd crusher

hfd crusher

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Just want to add one thing about putting the new a.c. belt back on. For some reason mine did not want to fit over the pulleys, I could barely get it to the far edge of the pulley but couldn't get it over and yes the lock nut was loose and the adjustment bolt backed out. Also, they were the matched set from Cdan so I knew they were the right size. I remembered reading on here about bumping the ignition to get a stubborn belt on, lo and behold it jumped right on the pulley on the first attempt. Thanks to all who recommended this.
 
177mph

177mph

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Oddly enough - I was just thinking about this very subject when I did my belts yesterday. I can apprecaite your expertise in this regard - but for someone who's a first timer - your explanation of the belt replacement process isnt detailed enough. It makes it seem like a very easy process - which it may well be - for you. For others who have a limited set of tools, and who are trying this for the first time - reading a thread that says "takes 25 minutes" is misleading. It causes all sorts of marital difficulties.

"honey - I'm just gonna change the belts in the truck. Should take 30 minutes - be right back" Cut to - rusty frozen bolt on tensioners, no "foot long" extension in toolbox, size 12 foot not able to fit in engine bay without wrecking expensive toyota plumbing - and the job becomes an hour - or two!! Then the wife says "what the hells taking so long" Not happy.

So - i say: "good for you" for all your expertise in replacing belts on the LC. You are amazing, fast, have all the right tools, and really, really good at changing belts. May everyone change belts as quickly as you - for evermore. May no rust ever get in your engine bay - may no bolt ever strip because you made a mistake and used a 12 point instead of six point socket, may all your new belts slip on as easily as a newborn pops outa britney spears.

I for one - will say to all of you that it takes the common man an hour. Be wary of those who say its like a walk in the park...
 
Firedog

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I for one - will say to all of you that it takes the common man an hour. Be wary of those who say its like a walk in the park...

LOL, i know what you mean! I worked in a garage for years, literally changing hundreds if not thousands of belts in my lifetime. I decided to put new belts on my 80 when I bought it. The AC belt came off easy, I moved to the alt. and tried every tool in my box to get to those bolts:mad:....I finally decided that it could be done, but i would be damned if I was going to do it until I had too! The new alt. belts are still in the back of the truck:D
 
IdahoDoug

IdahoDoug

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I get the tongue in cheek humor, but seriously I only used the most common of common hand tools. A simple socket set, and a couple ordinary wrenches. Sure, if your truck has overtightened bolts or rusted bolts it will be the usual hassle. Not much to disagree with there.

Regarding the experience of HFD on the AC belt, I'll categorically state that my guidance on pulling the AC idler pulley up will let it slip on with the aforementioned ease of Miss Spears. Fitting the new belt, the totally slack idler pulley will not provide enough slack in the belt because gravity keeps it at the bottom of its travel and the harder you pull the more it binds in its upward travel to provide that slack. Reach down there in the middle of the process and to your delight you will find the idler pulley has an inch or more of slack obtained simply by directly pushing it upward. The belt goes on with literally zero tension as you slide it over the last pulley. Try it next time.

If you suspect frozen bolts, etc then hit them with penetrating oil. From this change on, you will be able to do the job in a jiffy.

Someone asked about the idler pulley. While doing the belts, this would add perhaps 5 minutes to the job. With a new pulley on hand, you simply continue loosening the lock nut I had you turn only a couple turns. When the lock nut comes off, the entire pulley follows and you put the new pulley on and the lock nut on loosely. Piece of cake.

DougM
 
Miescha

Miescha

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To PM or not to PM

I really love these threads - no joke. I not only subscribe to them, I print them out and put them in my 'PM' file. I don't know that I'll ever do all the things I've put on the list, but I know I'll be able to find good instructions if I ever get to them.

Here is my question though, I've owned my truck since new and I have the full service history (always dealer serviced until this year when I took over). I have no problems (with the truck at least) and everything runs nicely and there are no odd sounds/noises/squeeks/etc... but I find myself doing things like the front axle rebuild, stainless brakes, new pads and rotors, flushing the PS fluid, flushing the transmission fluid, flushing the diff fluid, flushing the brake fluid, flushing the wiper fluid, flushing the air in the tires, etc. . . just b/c someone posts an excellent thread on how to do it and b/c you damn people are doing it so I figure it should be done!

Really though, how often should the belts be replaced and the idler pulley? I have a brand-spanking-new FSM sitting here next to me but I apparently don't know how to use the search feature for the FSM, b/c I can't find a service interval for these items. Again, I have no noise from the belts or anything else, but maybe my engine really is louder than it should be and I've just grown accustomed to the noise over the years.

I don't think I'll be able to sleep until I get some of this stuff done. I've always been Obsessive compulsive, but I think I'm developing OCPMD (obsessive compulsive preventative maintenance disorder). I worse still, it appears to be a communicable disease that can be acquired and transmitted via the online community! A warning to all newbies, delete your mud account and go back to blissful ignorance, it may save your marriage and sanity.

I'm off to call CDan - maybe I can just start a monthly auto-debit from my bank account.
 
177mph

177mph

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I will also add that I am SOOOO glad that I did the belts myself. I got to see the old belts first hand and I'm convinced they were the originals. Really worn out, lots of dry rotting, and little chunks missing. Probably weeks away from a failure. I feel a great deal of satisfaction in personally preventing that failure.:)
 
Nay

Nay

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Two things:

1) What's a splash guard :flipoff2:? Stock maintenance is such a nightmare :D

2) Did you take any pics? I just replaced the AC belt, because it snapped, that was incredibly simple working from the bottom of the truck, but the dual belts weren't obvious to me in terms of release/tightening. No need to do extra work, would just appreciate them if you have them.
 
IdahoDoug

IdahoDoug

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Miescha,

Look in the beginning of the 'MA' section of the FSM where you'll find a maintenance schedule - one for A type usage and the other for B type. Yup, anally retentive maintenance is a sickness. Happily, it's excellent for your pocketbook in several ways. First, I have a vehicle with 170,000 miles that I didn't even think twice about taking on a 1000 mile trip with my wife, kids and my parents in their 70s with a full load of luggage, bikes and a roof box that included some remote Canadian driving. Second, my vehicles have been paid off for years and now pay ME to keep driving them. Third, by doing the work myself I save probably $1000 a year and not only do I know it's done right and with top quality OEM parts, but also while in there I can monitor other things by glancing around and feel secure it's ready for another trip to anywhere carrying anything with anyone - no exceptions.

Nay,

The splash guard is variously also called the engine skid plate and it's a formed sheetmetal guard under the engine that comes off with a few bolts. Sorry, no pictures!!

DougM
 
O

openoptions

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Thanks for the good info and advice ... this write-up and discussion saved me a bunch of time and frustration, and no doubt prevented my 8-yr-old "assistant" from learning a few new words!

BTW: One thing that was different on my 97 LX is that the A/C tensioner pulley bolt was a 16mm instead of a 14.

And finally, one of the threads I recently read was praising the benefits of the gearwrench ... I can testify that the 12mm one I bought for this job made short work of the alternator bolts!!

Again, many thanks.
 

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