Replacing v-belt - tensioner bearings collapsed (3.0 V6)

thankfully not the timing belt but this is still **** enough. what's it called? Auxilliaries belt? anyway, car was booked in for Tuesday becauseof intermittent noise coming from the front. sometimes a bit squealy but nothing major. Leaving the nursery this afternoon with the kids the power steering went though and a brief smell of burnt rubber as some final shred burnt through.



So a bit of work with my arms to coax it back home, via parts shop and I now have a new belt ready to go. I'm going round in circles on etka though trying to find info on how to fit and tension the new one. The optimist in me thinks it will be OK but the pessimist is thinking how **** it will be to have to take the front end off.

Can anyone help me find a guide?

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OK, apparently it's called a serpentine belt and details are about 1/4 of the way down this page AudiWorld Tech Articles
Looks like it's smart to do the tensioner at the same time. aghh!

If the belt itself is doable without taking the front off the car i'll do it straight away and then get the tensioner to do it later. it's a ****** when you don't have something like this planned and actually need the car
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Staff member
I'm amazed they had a belt in stock in downtown Kajaani at teatime on a Friday!

Is this the kiddie?

I don't think it's a front off job, looks a fiddle though. I'll get the instructions up as soon as I can for you.

for future ref this seems to be the right way to refit
Ok, so your diagram is marginally better than mine :)
So you saw that post? haha. good stuff.
right, i'm off outside in the snow to see if I can sort this in time for picking the missus up
well the good news is it's quite possible to change the belt from the top. abit fiddly and arms slightly scraped but got there with a 19mm spanner. note that I had to angle it between the belt so when pushed right down it goes past the bottom pulley.

So I smugly checked the belt and started theengine, only to see smoke appear. turned engine off an inspected things.. ******* tensioner pulled is seized. so that would be the noise recently. and it would seem that today the ****** seized solid, which then caused a quick puff of burning before the belt snapped.

so.. It took me ages to get the tensioner undone (two 6mm allen head bolts low down with little visibility and one 8mm higher up). The issue is that as the bolts loosen there's nowwhere for your ratchet to go. so I ended up hunting for my ratchet spanners that have a little kit to convert to allen head or screw driver head ratchet if that makes sense? it's halfords ratchet set anyway. brilliant investment, especially with lifetime guarantee. so eventually as it started to get dark and I started to get cold it came off. But i'm fuggered if I can get the thing out of the space between the engine and radiator fan casing. aghhh! So I packed up and came inside. I'll continue tomorrow. I've also scraped the **** out of myself getting my arms in there. I'm not anorexic but definitely not big either and I reckon anyone of a heavy build would really struggle to get in there without pulling the front of the car off.

right.. cup of tea....
Well this explains a lot. bearings have collapsed and the whole pulley has jammed. maybe the bearings had started to go previously and that was the noise, then yesterday all went tits up and the pulley jammed solid. Looks like I have to wait to Tues morning for a new one. On the plus side the old one came out of that limited space (from underneath) so hopefully I'll get the new one to go in there too.

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is there any way to edit the thread title to make it more accurate for future searching should someone be looking for info?
I can do it mate, let me know what you want to rename it as.
probably "replacing v-belt - tensioner bearings collapsed (V6)" would be sensible. yes, yes.. I can be sensible.. before you say anything
...and back to the wheel refurb until the new tension arrives
OK, tensioner finally arrived yesterday - Wednesday. So I fitted it last night. It was a ****** to get back into position but the lesson learned is that you want to put it in from below and shuffle it upwards into position. easier said than done but still doable. Leave the bolts out until it's in position, then put the top one in and tighten slightly (not all the way). then get the lower two 'arms' into position. Because the spring doesn't sit entirely straight you'll need to bend it a little, get one bolt in and jiggle it about a bit before you get the bolt to catch. tighten it a little bit and get the other one into place. I found it easiest to access the lowest bolt from below but if you have the car jacked up you might get both easier from below.
These cheeky little numbers were a life saver.

it's the halfords professional ratchet spanner set with mini socket set. When I first took out the allen headed bolts I found that the 3/8" drive ratchet ended up stuck against the radiator (well, the plastic flaps on the inside of the radiator) and the bolt wasn't even out yet. The ratchet spanner (10mm), adapter and allen bit let me get them the whole way out. And using a larger spanner end to end I was able to get a bit of torque on the bolts when refitting.
I don't know if there's an official order to getting the belt back on but I found it easiest to get it round all pulleys except the top one and hold a little bit of pressure upwards so it didn't fall off. Them, to get the belt on I had to put my 19mm spanner back on the tensioner bolt (the square one) and use a breaker bar to push down hard on the end to fully compress the tensioner's spring, allowing me to slip the belt onto the top pulley. If you have a spare pair of hands this would, of course, be a lot easier. I didn't. Remember to pull the pin out of the bottom of the tensioner at this point.
And Robert's your mother's brother... done. Just get the plastic etc back on.
I had to jump start the car as the battery had drained (between driving home when the pulley went and the opening and closing of doors, plus the alternator may not have been getting a full charge previously anyway) it must have drained totally. So when I started it my ABS/traction control light was on. I was slightly concerned but hoped that a quick drive would sort it... and it did. all good. And I left the battery on charge overnight so it's well topped up this morning.
I was hoping this would have fixed the squeal at full lock and it's definitely better but there's still a slight squeal. Could it be the P/S pump or pulley?
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Registered User
Mate, dont know if your still active on this forum, but how you did this without moving to lock carrier position i do not know!

Doing mine as my tensioner is shot, and the belt is well beyond its best. I could barely see the nuts never mind undo them!
If I remember right (it was a while ago) I did a lot of it by feel, and maybe shining a torch through whatever cracks I could at the front.
The 10mm ratchet spanner with socket adapter was an absolute lifesaver too because it lets you get into spaces that a full size ratchet probably won't.
I think I spent a lot of time with my hands and arms jammed into small spaces with no real way to see what I was doing.
Sorry I don't have any additional words of wisdom apart from the above.
Best of luck to you mate, I know it's a w@nker of a task but if you get it done you'll feel like an absolute legend!


Registered User
Yo thanks for the reply! I ended up taking the front end off as i wanted to change a faulty aircon switch at the same time. It was still a tight squeeze!
well done mate. yeah, it's still a pain in the tits and in the end you could waste a day trying to get access without taking the front end off - and still not manage it... or spend the day taking the front end off, doing it properly and putting it all back together again.
bet you enjoyed your beer/cuppa after the job was done right? :)
Nice! good luck matey :D