Auto Repair Q&A



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Auto Repair Products

Power Steering Belts

Serpentine Belt Configuration

Replacing a power steering belt, or any accessory belt, can be an easy job. Sometimes, it's one of the toughest maintenance tasks a DIY mechanic may have. It all depends on the vehicle. The power steering belt on a Mercury Sable, for example, may not be an easy replacement, as user chasemorris in our forums found out.

A common issue, which seems to be what Mr. Morris ran into, is not having the correct tool or having the wrong sized belt for the replacement. The first is due to some vehicles requiring specific tools for belt stretching or placement. The latter is due to a mistake either by the mechanic or the auto parts store when issuing a replacement part. Make sure you have the right tool and the right part for the job. Sometimes, the routing for the belt is the confusion.

Removal and replacement procedures will depend on the vehicle. For most, the job is straight-forward and requires only basic hand tools. We detail that at this link.

Removing the Old Belt

On more complicated vehicles, such as the Mercury Sable at hand, serpentine belt removal is not as simple. To begin with, the routing for the belt is likely very complex. Take photos or draw a diagram of the belt's travel for reference. Some maintenance and repair manuals will have this included.

On most vehicles like this, there is a tensioner that can be loosened or removed to allow slack in the belt. From there, it's a matter of pulling the belt off of the other accessories and around the cooling fan or other items that may be in the way to get it out of the vehicle.

Replacing the Belt

Replacement will usually be very similar. The belt tensioning tool required for some, like this Mercury, is used to put tension on the belt to ensure it has enough friction with each pulley it rounds. Otherwise, some accessories may not be turned as fast as they should or the belt may wear out early and snap.

If your new belt doesn't seem to fit, make sure it is of the right length (compare it to the belt removed) and type. Make sure you are routing it correctly by double-checking your diagrams as well.