Squeaking Belts

tigerjon1tigerjon1 Member Posts: 26
edited March 2014 in Ford
On occasion the belts on our 2002 XLT V-6 start squeaking badly. Last fall (around 22,000 miles) I took it to the dealer where they replaced the idler pulley and a belt. Problem went away until right before Christmas. By the time I was able to get it back to the dealer the problem went away again. Today I ran it through an automatic car wash w/the undercarriage blast. Now they are squeaking worse than ever. I called the dealer, he claims moisture on the belts and pulleys can cause the belts to slip on on the pulleys as they are turning. If this is the case, I would think this could affect the performance of the engine. He said to bring it in and that the belts may have too much slack in them. Anyone have the same problem? Thanks.



  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    the 90 ranger (2.3L four) and the 00 explorer (5.0L eight) squeal like a hog lot in the morning if the car is put away wet (snowy, after rain, etc.) in the garage. there appears to be no way to permanently quiet the issues. a drop of oil on the shaft behind the top idler usually helps. tensioner pressure is allegedly good. cleaning the pulleys and idlers and belt with alcohol, which would help if there was a road-film glaze, doesn't do diddly. moisture means squealing... usually not serious enough to wake the road workers ;)

    I think it's the rubber compound used in the belt, myself... OEMs look like Dayton belts, and basically what is stocked in the consumer-parts joints are all dayton belts. if I could fall across a Gates belt, I would change in an instant and see if that made a difference. used to be in building maintenance, if brand X was screwy on a machine, brand Y would often run better, assuming there was no pulley damage and the belt was not overloaded. [ full disclosure corner... I have an old college friend who works for the Gates belt plant in Nebraska, and they would like to see the business, I'm sure. ]
  • tigerjon1tigerjon1 Member Posts: 26
    I took the rig to my local dealer today. As I mentioned, the first time I took it in they claimed they put in a new idler pulley. When the guy looked under the hood today he says 'I think you got a new belt tensioner and they typed it up wrong'. He put his stethescope up to the idler pulley and said that is where he's hearing it. I went ahead and scheduled an appointment for this weekend to have them put on a new idler pulley. We'll see what happens. By the way, in your opinion, what do you think of an extended warranty. Other than this problem, I've had no trouble up to 27,000 miles. I plan on driving it over 100k. Thanks a bunch.

  • alwaysfordsalwaysfords Member Posts: 210
    Try a little belt dressing, but don't over do it. It gives the belt just enough tackiness to allow it to hold on in those mildly annoying situations.
  • vidtechvidtech Member Posts: 212
    by the time my 87 f150 was two years old the dealer had replaced the tensioner three times and the belt four times also shimmed the power steering pump pulley to keep the belt from flying off.the belt had come off twice creating quite a mess.after all this the belt would still squeel until i tried goodyears "gatorback"serpentine belt.i have not had a problem in five years.i warn you DO NOT PUT ANYTHING ON THE BELT.Especially belt dressing.That stuff works fine for your riding mower but will create the noisest belt squeel you have ever heard.Good luck
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    your doofus finally got the time to go to the gates website (www.gates.com), and they do indeed have a dealer locator. five parts shops in a ring around me, and I know them all. all, in fact, are serviced by a large wholesaler called parts plus. I forget what they used to be called, auto-tune or something like that.

    so, your doofus will be able to check his theories and report back sometime before he dies.

    good to know the "gatorback" belt worked, vidtech
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    I am not able to get enough windage on that stinking tensioner to put the new belt on, so it's a flat-bed tow for the dealer. just too much crap in the way, even if I loosen the fan from the fluid clutch so I have room to swing the flex-head ratchet. bad, bad engineers for putting the tensioner in east Hell behind all the junk, instead of top and center. that's the one thing I was displeased about on the 00 exploder when I looked them all over before signing the papers, and sure enough, it bit me on the gitalongs.

    so close, so many times, but just can't get it done. always good to be able to admit when you just can't complete something and don't screw around disassembling half the car so nobody will touch the last, I suppose 20 seconds, of the job.
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    We've all been there with something or other.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    it is also mildly possible that the listed belt in the database will only fit if the brand X tensioner was used instead of the brand Y, those things happen in production quantities as well.

    and to compound the doofus report, of course, I was too ( ) after the columbia news and screwing around on the car to clearly note that I have a spare Motorcraft belt in the back, open up the hatch, open up the duffel bag, and make one more try with a new factory belt. that kept me up a few hours last night :(

    moral: get an earlier start. it does also help if you have a confederate availiable that can use a tool to help try pull a belt over the pulleys from the top, and who you know is absolutely smart enough to not get their freaking fingers in the work zone, so you don't have blood gushers or severed digits falling on you underneath.

    ah, well, at worst case that's only party money for my 50th at risk, and no corollary damage to the truck.

    and some people wonder why service guys get all those big bucks... experience helps and insuring they have the tools and a partner or two in the shop helps...
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastMember Posts: 1,712
    That is why they make tools like this and this one.

    As with any job, the tools make all the difference in the world. :)
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    I've been lucky, and have been able to use my long handled Mac socket wrenches as serpentine belt tension releasing/holding tools. One is half inch drive, the other three eighths. This pair of Mac socket wrenches are far and away the best such wrenches I have ever used. And I have wrenched a fair amount, I might brag! (:o]
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastMember Posts: 1,712
    The socket wrenches are great for that. The new ratchet wrenches work pretty good too. Some of the vehicles can be a royal pain to get at.
    Too bad they didn't make them so the tensioner would lock in the release position so those who don't have 3 hands could get the belt wrapped around all the pulleys.

    Batman, too funny. The couped crusader, huh? LOL!
    Are you picking on me? LOL!
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    we'll see what they do to me at the cashier's window. I do vacation a few feet past the end of the road, so it's not out of the question to add another special tool. and yeah, locking wound have been great... but with a way to stick a drill bit or something in there for a lock backup. if the stinker decided to kick loose when pulling the belt over the last pulley, it would not be pleasant.

    meantime, we're getting 10 inches of snow, and I'll be dependent on a cab on rotten roads to get to my four-by.

    probably would have never snowed if I hadn't gotten into that position, though... and the way winter has been around here, if I wanted 20, I would have left the hood up and my tools out overnight ;)

    hey, you minnesota snowmobilers, you owe me BIG time for making it snow :-D
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    It finally hit me in the visualization zone of the brain: Bat Auto :: Bat Man. Just a little fun to throw in.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    guess the snowmobilers came through for me. the Gates belt fit, got the truck back in time to get to work (as one would expect,) and total cost was $33.15 for the belt, 0 for the flatbed tow as I still have 800 miles of bumper-to-bumper left, $25 to put on customer belt, and $6 for a cab ride.

    no squeaks today, we'll see how it behaves after being driven home and put away wet overnight.
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastMember Posts: 1,712
    Fleet, no worries. We get the batman thing alot. LOL! I added a few things to my profile a while back. You might be interested in the show.

    That is a pretty decent price. Can't complain about that. LOL!
  • alcanalcan Member Posts: 2,550
    HOLY MOLEY, BATHEAD. When did you change that?? LOL
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastMember Posts: 1,712
    When they changed the color of the background of the profile page. LOL!
    So Alcan, I guess that makes you Alfred?
    LOL!! Oh man, I'm slaying myself. Ha Ha.

    Oops, sorry. Off topic. LOL!
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,338
    Shop labor rates are so high!

    Gotta keep buying those new tools to work on the new cars!

    Lisle, KD and others stay pretty busy!
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    auto engineers shoehorn stuff into the availiable space left from styling, and service division gets the willies when they get a look at the car, running out to whistle up tool companies to clean up after everybody's mess.

    for serviceability, an old 60s mopar or chevy was nice. I only came close to setting my first car, a 61 skylark, on fire once... learning about clearance for parts with too big a battery post connector. the stuck float on the carb doesn't count, there was no vapor when the gas shot up a foot ;)

    my exploder isn't BAD, mind you, but things just don't jump under your hands like they used to.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    You can still squirt some belt dressing in there to quiet the squeaks.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    last time I used belt dressing... no last two times... the results were

    --> 30 Hp induction air blower, V-belt snapped, replacement snapped, had to replace gooked-up pulley before I could get cool air back into the wards.

    --> 1964 mopar, V-belt, loaded squeal and belt was thrumming between pulleys like a mad thing.

    I don't think so. I might add for no good purpose whatsoever that so far there is no noise at all from my new Gates belt, but then, new belts never act up. they have to run a while to get the usual metal particles in the underside, road dust pounded into the rubber, etc. before you can tell if they are going to behave for their run life.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    Gates is the premiere belt manufacturer. Their products really cannot be topped, in my experience. I never use belt dressing, either. I have noted that a lot of rubber products react poorly to dressings-- in the sense of weakening, or loosing integrity. Thus, when I see tire dressing being applied to hide dirt and cause unnatural sheen, I wince. Blue Coral and Bleche Wite are another story, and are great rubber cleaners. I wonder what such products would do on belts? Report your results if you try it, okay? (:o]
  • vidtechvidtech Member Posts: 212
    My f150 has had a history of noisy belts.Even the gates did not remain quiet for a long time.In my oppinion the goodyear gatorback is the best serpentine belt on the market.Gates is too close to OEM in design to be a reliable solution.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    I've got a 96 Chrysler with an original serpentine belt (but only 24K+ miles). It is checked/cracked here and there, and I have been thinking of moving it to the trunk as a spare after replacing it. I got a coupon in the mail the other day from the down town Goodyear dealer, offering me engine belts for 50% off and "labor not included." On your recommendation and half price, I might just go for it. I hope the unspoken thing is not that I MUST pay them to install it. I can do that myself.
  • vidtechvidtech Member Posts: 212
    make sure its their "gatorback" belt.I got burned
    at a store selling a goodyear "flextra" belts.those only lasted a short time.they were cheaper too.i guess you get what you pay for.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    most of them are service franchises that are also free to get products from anyplace they want. you have to have those discussions before signing the mechanic's lien section of the work order. the gatorback belt is a premium product and you should expect a premium nick in the wallet for it.

    the gates belt I put on was two bucks more than a Dayco belt; on the gates site, I didn't see that they have a premium line for serpentine belts.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    Gates delivers premium belts only.
    My nearby Goodyear store is company owned, rather than a franchise. I will not overlook the low quality of the tires they put on my Ranger when I gave up a good set of Firestone Wilderness tires, being plainly greedy to get the new tires for free. After three sessions that included replacing one new tire and rebalancing over and over again, the lousy Wrangler RT/S tires are now marginally acceptable. Are their belts any better? Even at half price, maybe I should reconsider!
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    the things just didn't stick, and when the ford teardown testing was released showing different factories used different materials and specifications for "the same tires," I would have even have taken wooden oxcart wheels loaded with shims.

    even before the hoorah about the Wilderness ATs came out, I had determined they were pretty lame footprints.

    Not many folks got Michelin XTCs or Cross Country tires in the "customer satisfaction initiative," there were a lot of Wranglers and Generals around here. I find the General Ameri-660s I got are far and away a better tire under all conditions than the => KILLER TIRES! <= tm were. there were stories about "7-ounce" Goodyears around town, but the guy in the next cube from me got a good set of Wranglers on his truck.

    at the price, you don't like 'em, get something else and you've learned a lesson.

    as for V-belts, the topline goodyears ran well when I did some maintenance helper stuff to pay my second college degree off in the early 80s. serpentines in cars were pretty rare at that point. goodyear did have a double-priced silly-looking overwrapped belt at that time that looked like lizard skin, we had a couple on air handlers and they wore like nothing else. if those are the prototype of the gatorbacks, and you have ever had any reason to worry about whether you could get to safety because of a belt failure, worry no more after the installation, those belts were primo. Gates held up well, too.

    Dayton/Dayco/DriveRite is a good standard belt, and goodyear had two lines of belts, a standard and a "better", that ran about the same length. the "better" seemed to be straighter and ran a little cooler. "who's he?" belts varied all over the lot, usually chunked or linted early and ran crooked to boot.

    have not burned up all that many serpentines, this experience is the first time I've gotten away from the Ford and Dayco (they look and feel the same to me) and tried something else to can the occasional squealing in humidity.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    "at the price, you don't like 'em, get something else and you've learned a lesson."

    Naaaah! I'm dedicated to the idea that Goodyear is going to see me to the end of the tread life on Wranglers, or replace them with another brand of tires. I've heard the same stories now, that Goodyear used the Ford initiative to get rid of dock loads of tires that should have been used for ballast in paving plants in third world countries. This level of treatment by G'year is unacceptable.
  • iknowcars1iknowcars1 Member Posts: 1
    Sometimes you might just have to go to a different brand belt or size. No matter what, your belt(s) shouldn't squeal.
  • maxima96maxima96 Member Posts: 3
    The squealing described reminds me of being stranded on an off-ramp for 2 hours on a cold november night. The squealing is probably due to a worn tensioner. After the squealing begins, I wouldnt hesitate to have the 90 dollar service done...its much cheaper than having it towed. Keep an eye on your temp if the squealing is occuring, because the belt may become dislodged and the water pump will shut off. Shift to neutral and shut it off quickly if this happens.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    if you have good tension, however, belt surface adhesion and release from the pulleys/rollers is still an issue to check. as in, slimy belts get slimier when they get moist, and will just skip along the back-surface contacted drives. in the case of fords I have had, that means the idlers and the fan-drive drum.

    no squeals yet after my change to a Gates from the OEM apparently-Dayco, but it's only one month yet. you might get a month of quiet out of two old pair of pantyhose tied together....
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    If Gates can't fix it, it is really broken! Two pair of panty hose tied together sounds like a social issue... >:o]
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    I prefer to rely on horsepower transfer on the Gates belt, myself.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    Yeah, a powerful horse in panty hose can be a lot to handle!
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    party on, dude! I sorta expect that this belt will fix my squeaks.

    now the SO's squeaks, ahhhh, .......
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    it's been about two months, and we're into fog weather now here in the nearest metropolis to Frostbite Falls, MN. not a squeak from my new Gates belt on my explorer. I declare victory and am withdrawing my battle group from the garage.
  • fleetwoodsimcafleetwoodsimca Member Posts: 1,518
    Gates of Denver is the good one. Gates of Redmond, well...
    I have found over the years that the Gates Rubber Company has never disappointed me. I can't say that about the other brands, unfortunately.
  • swschradswschrad Member Posts: 2,171
    typically go around the neck of major customers (oh, you have 70,000 seat licenses? well, we need to audit you, and that upgrade kit you need? our new policy is to sell you three years of upgrades, whether you will install them or not. sign or die. no, we don't have any bug fixes yet for your issues.)

    Gates Rubber Co. belts go on cars, trucks, air handlers, what have you, and run for years without attention. you can see when they aren't on right, and fix it yourself with hand tools, some of which alas are unique due to squirrelly packing of the engine compartment by the carmakers.

    there is a difference ;) and I have bought the squirrelly hand tool needed to manipulate the tensioner, another 8 pounds of iron in my duffel bag in back.
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