Unless you open the hood of your car and peep inside, you cannot understand the complex machine that the car is. There are various systems and subsystems that power a car forward and give you control in terms of operating it. Various small devices and components like the alternator belt make its working possible.
The car alternator is a dynamo. It is useless without the proper functioning of the alternator belt. The belt distributes the torque generated by the car engine to drive the dynamo. As the car runs ahead, the engine torque drives the belt, which, drives the alternator to produce electricity. This electricity replenishes the used-up charge from the battery.
When Should the Belt Be Replaced?
The only way you may know is through inspection. Firstly, locate the alternator and the belt that runs it. If you find that the belt is cracked, loosened, or torn, then it is time you got it replaced. A loose belt can result into lowered voltage output, as the torque from the car's crankshaft is not fully transported to the alternator.
Things you need
The tools that you'll need to keep handy before you begin are a socket wrench set and a prybar. Make sure that the new belt you buy is of the same type as the old one.
#1. Let us begin with the procedure. Since, the belts used in a car mechanism are interrelated, there are some other belts that you must remove before you can replace the alternator belt. Make sure that you keep track of what was where, before removing things, as you have to put them back later.
#2. First thing to do is, to open the hood of the car and locate a device called the power steering pump. The thing we need to look for is a tensioner bolt, that keeps the steering pump belt taut. It is normally located on the bottom of the steering pump.
#3. Next thing to do is to look for a wrench of the right size, to loosen this tensioner bolt. Loosen it till you are easily able to remove the power steering belt.
#4. Look for the tensioner bolt on the AC compressor and remove the AC tensioner belt. Now you can go for the removal of the belt.
#5. After you locate the alternator adjustment bolt, use an appropriate sized wrench to slowly loosen it. Loosen it until the alternator is fairly dislodged, which will enable you to take the belt off the pulleys that drive it. Then, place the new belt in exactly the same position as the old belt. Make sure that it is properly wrapped around the pulleys.
#6. By using the prybar, get the alternator back into its old position. Next, we need to restore the tautness of the alternator belt. This is achieved by tightening the adjustment bolt. Keep tightening, until the belt has enough tension and tautness.
#7. Next, fix the AC compressor belt and the power steering pump belt, back as it was before and ensure that their tension is restored through adjustment. This ends the procedure.
The cost to replace the belt can be lesser, when you do it on your own. Do it only after you have made a thorough study of the architecture of your car's internal structure and its working. You should at least understand the working of the alternator and have a rough understanding of which part is located where. Take help from the car manual, if needed.