Mechanics

ENGINE BELT WAS SQUEALING, I REPLACED MYSELF, NOW IT DOESN'T TURN

2000 Honda Accord • 200 miles

Hi

My engine was squealing very loudly, and it was the main engine belt (the longer one). It looked hard to replace, but I just tried it myself (bought the new belt from AutoZone) and after 2 hours, finally got the belt around the pulleys.

Once I started the car, I heard a strange knocking sound coming from the belt area at low RPMs. I then moved the car out of the driveway, and turned on the A/C. It made a weird racket (couldn't hear it that well from inside the car), and now the pulleys no longer turn at all.

1) Any idea what I may have done wrong? I checked, and there is no tension in the belt at the moment (there was after I added the belt).

2) What happens if I drive it without the pulleys turning?

Thanks
Quentin
Avatar
Superqd
September 18, 2012.



My best guess is something was already locked up that caused the old belt to squeal. Start by checking each pulley for easy turning, (except the large bottom one on the crankshaft). The new belt may have snapped or slid off the side of one of the pulleys, or, if your engine uses a spring-loaded tensioner pulley, that may be broken.

Which engine do you have?


Caradiodoc
Sep 18, 2012.
I have a 6 cylinder.


Tiny
Superqd
Sep 18, 2012.
Also, how bad is it to drive it in that condition (to get it to a shop if necessary)?


Tiny
Superqd
Sep 18, 2012.
That does use a spring-loaded tensioner pulley. Did you tug on that to get the new belt on? If you didn't, that would explain why you had to struggle so hard.

Also, since you're hearing noises, look at the harmonic balancer. That's the large pulley on the bottom on the crankshaft that drives the belt. The pulley is a cast iron outer ring that is glued to the hub and often that glue lets go. That will stop the belt from turning.

As far as driving it like that, the water pump is driven by the timing belt so overheating the engine is not a concern. You will not have power steering or a charging system. The car will steer really hard at low speeds but it will steer. The faster you go the less you'll miss the power assist. At highway speeds you won't even notice the loss of power steering assist but be aware that every time you turn the steering wheel with the power steering pump not running some fluid may get pushed out and make a mess. No need to panic over that but you will want to refill the system with the correct fluid once the belt issue is fixed.

Without the charging system you will be able to drive somewhere between a half hour to potentially as much as two hours before the battery runs dead. The biggest draw on the battery is the starter so don't stop the engine for short periods of time such as when sitting at a stop light. Some weird things will start to happen when the battery runs down. Before the engine stalls you may start to see a bunch of warning lights turn on as various computers shut down or become confused from low system voltage. Those things should clear up once the battery is recharged.


Caradiodoc
Sep 18, 2012.
I did tug on the tensioner to get the belt on, but given the direction the engine faces it was exceedingly difficult (it faces the right front tire). Is it possible to get to the belt more easily then from above? That was really really hard (so little space).


Tiny
Superqd
Sep 18, 2012.
It depends on the vehicle and how you're most comfortable bending and twisting. Many vehicles have plastic splash shields that can be removed after removing the right front wheel. Replacing the belt is real easy on my '88 and '95 Grand Caravans. Replacing it on a '96 Caravan is a nightmare. Same engines; totally different body style.

Often it takes a number of attempts to figure out the best way to get the new belt on. I wrap the belt around all the pulleys except the highest and easiest one to reach, and hold it by that last one with a rubber strap. That gives me a chance to stretch and relax, then I tug on the tensioner and slide the belt on that last pulley. If it just isn't long enough, look for a different pulley with no ridges on the sides. That way you don't have to stretch it far enough to lift over that ridge. The power steering pump and generator pulleys always have those ridges. Most of the time it's the idler and tensioner pulleys that run on the smooth back side of the belt that have no side ridges. Sliding the belt on those is easier except that you're usually doing the tugging and the sliding at the same place and that can get a little crowded.

Every beginning mechanic goes through the same frustration but the more we do the better we get at it. Over time we learn which special tools to grab and what works best.


Caradiodoc
Sep 18, 2012.
Are all belts not turning or only one belt is not turning?

If only the alternator belt that is nto turning, you have a bad harmonic damper, meaning the crank pulley is bad and that was the initial reason the belts were making so much noise.


KHLow2008
Sep 18, 2012.
It is only one belt that isn't turning, but that only occurred after I put it on (after removing the old one, I put the new one on and it then stopped turning after I turned on the A/C. Not sure if they are related, or if it slipped off. I'm gonna check after work.


Tiny
Superqd
Sep 18, 2012.
Any latest information?


KHLow2008
Oct 21, 2012.