98 Chevy Cavalier 2.2L Belt Tensioner Removal Problems

  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD

On my 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier, the Belt Tensioner had finally gone bad, I believe the bearing popped out of place. I am now trying to remove it and replace it with a new tensioner, following these instructions:
Open hood, apply emergency brake
If the belt isn't already off, push down on the tensioner with the stick or tensioner tool and slip the belt off of either the tensioner or the dummy wheel in the center of the engine
Raise vehicle from the front of the passenger door's jack slot until RF tire is almost off ground
Loosen lug nuts slightly raise tire off ground
Support frame up front with jack stand, do not block engine pully access
Remove tire and center access panel in wheel well (three small screws on the right and some larger ones supporting the brake line cable)
Wiggle the panel out of of the brake line and it should drop out only supported by the front valence fastener.
Lower your jack or use a 2nd one and jack up to the engine support bar running just in front of the flywheel pully on the front of the engine.
Up under the hood, remove the two motor mount bolts on the top front of the engine with a 15mm socket going back and forth alternately between the two (yes, the obvious easy to get to bolts).
Start lowering the engine with the jack until it bottoms out (note: make sure the alternator or anything else doesn't get hung up on the way down).
Now look in the wheel well and there is the tensioner. Unfortunately the bolt is still slightly obscured so use a 15mm box end to break it loose and the open end to remove it the rest of the way. Lots of threads so keep going.
Tensioner falls off.
Put bolt in new tensioner and install getting the guide pin lined up.
Raise the engine back up to within 1/2 inch of the mount plate taking care not to get hung up on the way up. (The engine is flopping loose and easily manipulated).
Line up the motor mount bolts and hand start them and tighten them up alternately.
Have a friend hold the tensioner down with a stick or tensioner tool while you reinstall the belt (route it and install it on the dummy wheel last). There is a diagram on the top front of the hood, I recommend drawing it on paper so it can be oriented during installation.
Install wheel well access panel and tire, lower car and tighten lug nuts.
If the car was overheated because the belt came loose during tensioner failure, replace lost coolant and change the oil (heat breakdown).

The problem I am having is that the tensioner's arm has pushed outward, making it seem impossible to access the bolt to the tensioner. With just the motor mount bolts removed on the passenger side, the engine doesn't drop far enough for you to have room for a socket and ratchet. And because the tensioner arm pushed it self outward from the rest of the tensioner, the bolt and rubber inner part itself, I can not get an open end wrench onto the bolt. I was somewhat success for in getting the 12 point end of my combination wrench on the bolt, but did not want to try too hard for fear of stripping the bolt head. Is there anything else I can do to possibly lower the motor? Is there anything else I can attempt to get the old tensioner out?

Do you
have the same problem?
Saturday, February 19th, 2011 AT 10:51 PM

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