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Hammer Time
Hammer Time, L1 Master Technician
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Experience:  ASE Mastertech with Adv level Engine performance cert.
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1997 buick lesabre: the serpentine belt on a gm 3.8 v6 mounted

Customer Question

I am trying to replace the serpentine belt on a gm 3.8 v6 mounted in a 1997 buick lesabre. The belt is on the left side of the engine as you face the front of the car. An uncle of mine and I did this three years ago without knowledge of the "sequence." Using his car (which has the same engine and set up) then 2 hours and a few beers later we figured it out. This time around, engine brackets which run between the drive pulley an the A/C pulley seem impossible to work around. The belt on the bottom side of the of the drive and A/C pulley goes underneath the bottem bracket and the top side of the belt goes between both brackets, coming from the A/C the the Alternator, down to the hydraulic pump, then over the tension pulley, around the water pump pulley, where it completes @ 12:00 on top of the drive pulley. There has got to be a "trick" to do this...we did it before, but now we're trying it sober.
Damn Sobriety! Further, we DID NOT remove either engine bracket. If anyone can help....
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Car
Expert:  MechanicMan replied 7 years ago.

Hello

Here see if this helps if you have any questons just ask

Remember if this helps hit ACCEPT positive feeback and BONUSES welcome

Altenator sholud be last pulley to make it easier

INSPECTION

See Figures 1 through 6

Once a year or at 12,000 mile intervals, the tension and condition of the drive belts should be checked, and, if necessary, adjusted. Inspect the belts for signs of glazing or cracking. A glazed belt will be perfectly smooth from slippage, while a good belt will have a slight texture of fabric visible. Cracks will usually start at the inner edge of the belt and run outward. All worn or damaged drive belts should be replaced immediately. It is best to replace all drive belts at one time, as a preventive maintenance measure, during this service operation. Loose accessory drive belts can lead to poor engine cooling and diminish alternator, power steering pump, air conditioning compressor or Thermactor air pump output. A belt that is too tight places a severe strain on the water pump, alternator, power steering pump, compressor or air pump bearings. Inspection of the belt may reveal cracks in the belt ribs. The cracks will not impair belt performance and should not considered a problem requiring belt replacement. Belts should be replaced if sections of the belt ribs are missing or if the belt is outside the tensioner's operating range. The material used in late-model drive belts is such that the belts do not show wear. Replace belts at least every three years.

On all vehicles, except those equipped with supercharged engines, a single serpentine belt is used to drive all accessories formerly driven by multiple drive belts. Supercharged engines use two accessory drive belts. The outer belt drives the supercharger, while the inner belt drives the alternator, power steering pump, water pump and A/C compressor. The accessories are rigidly mounted with the belt tension maintained automatically by a spring loaded tensioner.

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 1: There are typically 3 types of accessory drive belts found on vehicles today

 

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 2: An example of a healthy drive belt

 

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 3: Deep cracks in this belt will cause flex, building up heat that will eventually lead to belt failure

 

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 4: The cover of this belt is worn, exposing the critical reinforcing cords to excessive wear

 

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 5: Installing too wide a belt can result in serious belt wear and/or breakage

 

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 6: The supercharged engines useXXXXXbelts


TENSION MEASUREMENT

 

1987-92 Vehicles

  1. Inspect the tensioner markings to see if the belt is within operating lengths. Replace the belt if it is excessively worn or is outside of the tensioner's operating range.

  2. Run the engine with all of the accessories off for until the engine is warmed up. Shut the engine OFF. Using a belt tension gauge No. J 23600-B or equivalent, placed halfway between the alternator and A/C compressor (if equipped), or between the power steering pump and the crankshaft pulley (if not equipped with A/C), measure the belt tension. Note the reading.

  3. With the accessories off, start the engine and allow to stabilize for 15 seconds. Turn the engine OFF. Using a 18mm box end wrench, apply clockwise force to the tensioner pulley bolt. Release the force and record the tension immediately, without disturbing the belt tensioner position.

  4. Using the 18mm wrench, apply counterclockwise force to the tensioner pulley bolt and fully raise the pulley to eliminate all tension. Slowly lower the pulley to the belt and take a tension reading without disturbing the belt tensioner position.

  5. Average the three readings. If the average of the three readings is lower than 67 lbs. (298 N), and the belt is within the tensioner's operating range, replace the belt tensioner.

 

1993-99 Vehicles

  1. Run the engine, with no accessories on, until it is warmed up or for about 10 minutes.

  2. Shut the engine OFF, then check the belt tension using J 23600-B or equivalent belt tension gauge. Place the belt tension gauge as follows:

    1. Except supercharged engines: Place the gauge halfway between the alternator and the power steering pump.

    2. Supercharged engines: Place the gauge halfway between the supercharger and the idler pulley.

  3. Note the reading, then remove the gauge.

  4. Start the engine, with the accessories off, and allow the system to stabilizer for 15 seconds, then shut the engine OFF. Using a 15mm or 18mm socket, as applicable, apply clockwise force (tighten) to the tensioner pulley bolt. Release the force, then immediately record the tension reading without disturbing the belt tensioner position.

  5. Using the 15mm or 18mm socket, as applicable, apply counterclockwise force to the tensioner pulley bolt and raise the pulley to eliminate all tension. Slowly lower the pulley to the belt and take a tension reading without disturbing the belt tensioner position.

  6. Average the three readings. If the average is not between 50-70 lbs. (125-315 N) and the belt is within the tensioner's operating range, replace the tensioner.

 

BELT ADJUSTMENT

Belt tension is maintained by the automatic tensioner and is NOT adjustable. If the belt slips or is out of minimum tension range, you need a new belt.

 

REMOVAL & INSTALLATION

See Figures 7 through 13

  1. Disconnect the negative battery cable.

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 7: Many vehicles have an accessory drive belt routing label affixed to the radiator shroud

 

  1. Remove the belt guard or coolant recovery reservoir as required.

  2. For 1996-99 supercharged engines, perform the following:

    1. Raise and safely support the vehicle.

    2. Remove the right-hand splash shield.

    3. Remove the connector from the crank sensor.

  3. For 1996-99 vehicles, remove the engine mounting bracket lower nut, stud and spacer. Carefully lower the vehicle.

CAUTION
To avoid personal injury when rotating the serpentine belt tensioner, use a tight fitting wrench that is at least 24 in. (61cm) long.

  1. Take note of the belt's routing. Lift or rotate the tensioner using a suitable sized breaker bar in the square opening or box end wrench on the pulley nut. Remove the belt from the pulleys.

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 8: You can use a box-end wrench on the pulley nut to rotate the tensioner ...

 

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 9: ... then remove the belt from the pulleys

 

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 10: Serpentine drive belt routing and removal - 3.8L (VIN L) engine shown, VIN C similar

 

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 11: Make sure to note the drive belt routing prior to removing it - 3.8L (VIN K) engine shown

 

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 12: Drive belt removal on a 1992-95 supercharged engine

 

To install:

Be sure the belt is aligned into the proper grooves of the accessory drive pulleys.

  1. Lift the tensioner, and install the belt onto pulleys. Make sure the belt is routed properly.

Click image to see an enlarged view
Fig. 13: Many vehicles have a label you can check to be sure the belt is installed and routed correctly

 

  1. For 1996-99 vehicles, raise and safely support the vehicle. Install the engine mounting bracket lower spacer, stud and nut.

  2. For 1996-99 supercharged engines, perform the following:

    1. Attach the connector to the crank sensor.

    2. Install the right-hand splash shield, then carefully lower the vehicle.

  3. Install the belt guard or reservoir.

  4. Connect the negative battery cable.

Customer: replied 7 years ago.

Hello,

First I would like to thank you for answering, however I respectfully XXXXX XXXXX for the following reasons:

I thought my question was pretty straight forward and not hard to understand. But the answer I got back started with a lot of "generic" stuff I already knew..such as the condition of the belt. I wouldn't have been trying to put one on if I didn't already have the old one off...which fit every description listed in the first part of the answer. Secondly, I recieved instructions for 3.8's (I guess) with a front-side serpentine belt, after I made it clear I was dealing with a left sided (as you face the car from the front) serpentine belt.

Lastly, believe it or not my uncle and I DID put this belt on 3 yrs ago, without the engine brackets being an issue. We DID NOT know the sequence, we did have a couple of beers while working on it....but after 2 hours or so we got it on.....Swear to God!

The only thing that makes sense is there has to be some sort of "trick" to putting this belt on....something we lucked into 3 yrs ago. I asked if someone knew what that "trick" is.....but I got 8 pages of stuff that I already knew or did not apply to my certain engine type and configuration. To be honest, starting out with diagnosing the belt in the reply was a bit of an insult to my intelligence.

IF you provide me with the proper way to route that belt (the "trick") I will gladly pay the $9 you are requesting.

Sincerely,

Gene Froelicher

 

 

 

Expert:  Hammer Time replied 7 years ago.

This is a different expert.

I clearly apologize for the substandard answer you just received.

You do have one problem with this belt and that is that one leg of the motor mount bracket pases through the middle of the belt. There is a removable inser on the leg that allows you to slip the belt out. You have to first remove the nut and then the stud itself and the inser will come right out.

Here are the instructions.

graphic

Hammer Time, L1 Master Technician
Category: Car
Satisfied Customers: 4942
Experience: ASE Mastertech with Adv level Engine performance cert.
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