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Cannot find the tensioner pulley to put my alternator back on

I took off the alternator on my 99 Ford ZX2 without loosening the pulley, but I am trying to put my new alternator on and I cant find the pulley. I dont know how to loosen the serpentine belt.

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The smooth rounded tensioner pulley has a 1/2 inch drive recessed ratchet drive fitting in the outer side of it. Reach down and feel it with your fingers and insert the ratchet drive into it. Look around the underside of the hood and engine bay for a small diagram showing the belt, pulleys and tensioner.

This pulley is either a slider or a spring loaded pulley. If it is a slider, there will be one or two bolts with "slide" areas that the bolt can move through, and possibly a third bolt that controls the tension. If it is a spring loader, there will be a pulley that looks like it is on a lever. There will be a "bolt" type head, a hole for a ratchet, or a square area on the end of the lever to twist it away from the belt. If it is one of these, the belt tensioner will move relatively easy.

Posted on Aug 18, 2009

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Step one is... Take out the reservoir for the radiator. It's up against the firewall, and you'll have to pull off a little sensor, it's pretty simple. Next, there are a few hoses that will get in the way of the detensioning tool. I don't know what they are called, but I believe one is to an oil or hydraulic fluid cooler, and the other is the drainoff for the radiator. The main bracket holding it down is on the P/S pump, has three bolts, then the next is on the motor mount, and the third is on the frame, slightly underneath the alternator, but just a bit offset.
There are several bolts and nuts, about 5 you have to remove. Once you get all of this out of the way, it will make your job 100% easier. The hoses should be slacked enough so that you can detension the belt properly.
NOW, what you actually set out to do!


The first step is getting the belt in. Start at the very bottom.
The pulley on the A/C pump was where I had issues at the very end, I had to (painfully) wedge my hand down in their, WHILE DETENSIONING, and slip it back on there straight. It is kind of dark in there, you'll need a light.
Now, slip the belt onto the crank pulley. Have a second person on hand to hold the belt at the top to keep some tension on it while you slip it onto the A/C pump.
Now slip it around the tensioner, over the water pump. Use a bent coat hanger to get it up under the ribbed idler and around the alternator. Once again, the threads have to be PERFECTLY STRAIGHT, or you are just screwing yourself.
Next, go to the other side and slip it up around the power steering (P/S) pump, keep it over the smooth idler.
Now that you have it all in place, turn the tensioner to the right to relieve the tension, and slip the belt underneath the smooth idler (it takes a tiny bit of shoehorning, as the motor mount is in the way).
Viola! It should be on now. If it isn't, go over the whole thing with a flashlight and make sure the belt is one the threads properly anywhere. IF you have question as to whether something is on straight, and the belt won't go on, it's a good bet it has slipped a thread or two off of the crank pulley or A/C pump.
You will know when it is all in place right, as when it is, the belt slips back in without a tidbit of resistance, easy as pie.
The detensioner tool is indispensable for this, because I had to lean on the dang thing to make get enough slack and have my hands free to get the belt back on. Would not have worked with a wrench or ratchet. If you don't have one, you can rent one at Autozone. I am not sure about other part houses though. It's not to expensive, and a good investment as they are UNIVERSAL.

Posted on Aug 18, 2009

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