Ghetto Idler Pulley Change

09 Sep

Okay, this is a quick tutorial on how to change the upper idler pulley – ghetto style.

Firstly, the reason this would need to be changed is due to the bearing inside the pulley getting worn and making noise. If it goes too far it can seize up and happily wreck your engine. I was alerted to the fact that it needed to be changed by the whining noise it made, which turned out to be the alternator bearing, but I’m pretty sure this one needed to be changed as well.

Anyway, the way I found out was to get a plastic flexible tube (that’s ghetto, right?) and stick one end to your ear, the other end to the idler pulley. You can then work out which bearing is the one giving you problems. Before I changed mine it was very noisy, afterwards it wasn’t. You can also use a rigid metal tube, but I think it’s just dangerous if you are the slightest bit clumsy.

On to the tutorial. Step one is to remove the air box. Not a big deal, there are three bolts holding it down, just take the nuts off and it should lift out with a little bit of effort. Once out, move it to one side (don’t need to disconnect it) and you’ll see the upper pulleys…

The next step is to loosen the belt and move it to the side so we can change the idler pulley (just visible in the above photo on the left hand side). To loosen the belt, there is a tension release thing just to the left (in my pic above) of the belt – behind the engine on the belt side. There is a square whole that you insert a socket extension bar into to lever it back and forth.

However, it wouldn’t be very ghetto if it was that easy, right? So I don’t have an extension bar (I went and bought one after this, by the way), so I had to improvise…

Yes, that a socket rachet handle thing with a big-ass spanner looped around it. Hey, it gave me the leverage to pull the tensioner toward me and loosen the belt. I know it’s literally putting a round peg in a square hole, but hey this IS supposed to be ghetto, right?

Anyway, when you’ve finished judging me (although notice where the spanner is made), pull that ghetto lever (or the extension bar if you’re sensible) towards you and the front of the car. This will loosen the belt and allow you to slip it off to the side.

Belt is on…

Belt is off…

(Notice the padding I put in so that the ghetto lever wouldn’t scratch the car too much? Pipe insulation.)

So, now that the belt is off, take the opportunity to move the other pulleys around a bit. If you hear a dry kind of grinding sound as you move them, you may need to replace those too.

Anyway, just grab a socket ratchet thing to undo the bolt….. oh. Small problem. We used that for the tensioner. Okay, now here is the bit of a drawback to my ghetto lever – when you take the belt off, the tensioner moves back a little. Fine with the extension bar, it fits in. However, the ghetto lever takes a fair bit to move it back into place again.

Moving on regardless, undo the bolt on the upper idler pulley…

Take it off…

Whack the new one on…

Tighten it up…

And put the belt back on.

Obviously, you’ll need to pull the tensioner back to refit the belt. I suggest that you put it on at the idler pulley. I found that the easiest. Check the belt is okay and properly in place. Give the belt a squirt with belt dressing if you have it and spray some wd-40 around as well – although you may not have this stuff or you wouldn’t be reading a “ghetto” thread, would you?

Replace the air box, write down when you replaced the pulley and pack up tools.



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