BEING ‘SYSTEM SMART’

Gates explains why you should replace the tensioner when you replace the drive belt

Inspecting and replacing tensioners at the correct intervals is critical to optimum Accessory Belt Drive System (ABDS) efficiency and performance, says Gates.
Did you know that drive belts and tensioners wear at the same rate? Gates explains the ABDS is designed by the OE and they design the belt and tensioner to wear at the same rate, therefore when you replace the drive belt, you should also replace the tensioner.
Tensioners are difficult to visually inspect and identify signs of wear. Inside the tensioner are bushings that buffer the force between stationary and pivoting components; these bushings wear over time becoming less effective.
Tensioners also have an internal damping mechanism that wears similarly to a brake pad, so over time it loses material and becomes less effective. As these components are internal, they cannot be seen during an external visual inspection, further reinforcing the need to replace the tensioner when the drive belt is replaced.
A common visual sign of a worn tensioner is the arm noticeably ‘bouncing’ during operation: this is a clear sign the internal components are worn and not operating as required to maintain constant tension.

Correct tension is vital to efficient ABDS operation, too much tension will overload other components such as bearings, resulting in premature failure. On the other hand, low belt tension results in poor accessory performance, noise, and belt slip; creating heat and reducing component life.
When replacing the drive belt and tensioner it is also critical to ensure alignment between all components of the ABDS as misalignment causes wear to the bushings inside the tensioner leading to premature belt wear and failure.
Gates says its DriveAlign laser alignment tool can be used to achieve perfect alignment between all ABDS components.
It states following the recommendations in this article will help you reduce warranty returns, save your customers time and money and boost profits for your workshop.
To reinforce the importance of tensioner inspection and replacement, Gates Australia is offering a ‘Tensioners – Turn to learn’ wheel which you can turn to see some important questions and answers about tensioners which can be used to educate workshop staff and customers on the importance of tensioner replacement when replacing the drive belt.

You can request your free wheel by going to info.gatesaustralia.com.au/Tensioner-Wheel