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Old 08-16-2004, 06:49 PM
Ron in SC's Avatar
Ron in SC Ron in SC is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Charleston, SC
Posts: 1,095
Serpentine Belt: Designed to leave you stranded?

The serpentine belt on new autos together with the tensioner that it uses appears to have been designed with one of the goals being to leave a motorist stranded on the side of the road when the tensioner fails catastrophically.

One the other hand maybe I was negligent in failing to replace my tensioner when my vehicle had 98K miles on it. Iím not really that familiar with tensioners and serpentine belts as I have only one other car with one; itís a 92 300E and I did have that tensioner replaced at 88K mile because I could tell the drive belt was not that tight when I pulled on it.

About a week ago the tensioner on my ML failed catastrophically. It caused a belt with only 50K miles on it to shred. This is the first time in 34 years of driving Iíve had to have a vehicle towed because I could not get it quickly fixed on the side of the road sufficiently to get it home.

In the past if a drive belt would break I could just replace it, tension it manually and be on my way. Actually the only vehicles Iíve had that have broken belts are old Porsches and VWs. I did have an 83 240D that burned up a belt when the A/C compressor froze up. Not good, I had to drive without A/C but I could still drive it.

So bottom line should the tensioner be replaced based on mileage or age as part of the general maintenance on a vehicle?
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