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Do I need to buy a tensioner when replacing a timing belt?

Sukhoi

Elite Member
Dec 5, 1999
15,123
18
81
I'm having a guy at work who does car work on the side replace my timing belt. He's on vacation next week or I'd ask him this question.

Is all I need to buy just the timing belt? Or do I need one of these tensioner things? I guess I don't understand if the tensioner is just a tool you use when replacing the belt, or if it's actually an engine component. If it is a tool, is there a specific one for each car model (in which case this guy may not have it), or is it a generic thing a mechanic will have?

And not that it really matters for the question but I have a 1995 Toyota Corolla 1.6L.
 

natto fire

Diamond Member
Jan 4, 2000
7,117
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The tensioner is a pullly that is spring activated to keep the correct tension on the timing belt.

It is part of the engine, and is usually recommended to be changed with the timing belt because it can seize and make lots of noise as well as stretch the belt, or the spring can weaken and it will let the belt get too slack, and "slap".

Whether or not you get a new tensioner is totally up to you. It is more of a preventive maintenance thing, because changing the tensioner require removal of the timing belt anyways.
 

T2urtle

Diamond Member
Oct 18, 2004
3,426
3
81
when doing a timing belt. I recommend a water pump and tensioners as well. Along with drive/serp belts.

if you in need of a T-belt that means your aleast 60k. you should replace water pump since with the belt off it takes 2 mins and honestly it will save you time and money down the road. I'm surprized the guy didn't mention this. Any tensioners and rollers that the belts ride on should be replaced.
 

Samus

Golden Member
Jan 12, 2001
1,406
7
81
Definately replace it.

I didn't replace mine in a 98 Protege and now 20,000 miles into the new timing belt the tensioner bearing whines sometimes. Now I gatta pull it all apart and basically re-do the whole job because I didn't want to spend $70 bucks.

Some cars have two pulley's, although one is just an idler, not a tensioner. I don't know which of mine is bad, but I'll probably just replace both, because both have a bearing that can fail over time. Idlers are usually cheaper too because they don't pivot like a tensioner.
 

Sukhoi

Elite Member
Dec 5, 1999
15,123
18
81
Oh I'm getting a bunch of extra stuff done. I'm at 120K miles. Here's the list:

Timing belt & tensioner
Water pump
Thermostat
Radiator hoses
Power steer, A/C, and alternator belts
Fuel filter
Brake fluid flush
A/C recharge
Wheel bearing check

It was about $220 for the parts. I asked him how much he thought the labor would be (I'm supplying the parts). He said he thought around $150-$200. :D
 

Evadman

Administrator Emeritus<br>Elite Member
Feb 18, 2001
30,990
5
81
Wow, that is one hell of a deal Sukhoi.
 

Sukhoi

Elite Member
Dec 5, 1999
15,123
18
81
Yeah it's crazy. I was expecting closer to $500 in labor costs. From what I hear the guy does an excellent job too.
 

FeuerFrei

Diamond Member
Mar 30, 2005
9,152
925
126
I didn't replace my timing belt tensioner until 180K miles. I seriously doubt you need a new one every time the TB is replaced. At least on that Corolla.

Btw, the fuel filter is around $100 if you buy it from the dealer. I bought one and have yet to install it on my '93 Corolla.
 

jhayx7

Platinum Member
Oct 1, 2005
2,226
0
0
Originally posted by: FeuerFrei
I didn't replace my timing belt tensioner until 180K miles. I seriously doubt you need a new one every time the TB is replaced. At least on that Corolla.

Btw, the fuel filter is around $100 if you buy it from the dealer. I bought one and have yet to install it on my '93 Corolla.
You shouldn't need to replace one but it is a very good idea to replace since you already have the TB off. Plus the tensioner is very cheap. Better off replacing a $15 part just in case instead of replacing $3000 worth of valves and other various engine parts if it fails.
 

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