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Drive Belt Tensioner Replacement Cost Estimate

Worried you might overpay for your drive belt tensioner replacement? Use Jerry's GarageGuard to get fair cost estimate for your drive belt tensioner replacement.
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John Davis
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Reviewed by Kathleen Flear, Director of Content
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Edited by Jessica Barrett, Senior Car & Insurance Editor

How much does it cost to replace a drive belt tensioner?

You can expect an average total replacement cost of $214 for a drive belt tensioner replacement, with $94 for parts and $120 for mechanic labor. The exact price will depend on your vehicle.
How long does it take to replace a drive belt tensioner? A certified mechanic generally takes around 1.0 hours to complete the job. The service will start with a preliminary inspection and if your drive belt tensioner needs to be replaced, your mechanic will continue with the replacement.
Here’s an overview of the drive belt tensioner replacement costs for different vehicles:
Drive belt tensioner replacement cost for various vehicles
Estimate DateCustomerCarFair Cost EstimateParts CostLabor CostLabor Time
May 19, 2024
Geo Metro
$91
$45
$46
0.4 Hours
May 17, 2024
Mercury Monterey
$141
$85
$56
0.4 Hours
May 13, 2024
Subaru Outback
$93
$45
$48
0.4 Hours
May 13, 2024
Oldsmobile Intrigue
$146
$96
$51
0.4 Hours
May 11, 2024
Land Rover Range Rover
$145
$96
$49
0.4 Hours
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How did we estimate these prices?

Jerry's experts researched and collected data from 2500+ real repair shops in all 50 states in the US, including everything from the total cost of repair services to the hourly labor cost for mechanic labor in each shop. We combined that data with our expert database of hundreds of real repair jobs, thousands of real cars, millions of real car part prices in order to best estimate the cost of each repair service. Our labor cost estimate is calculated by taking the average hourly labor rate for a certified mechanic in the US, times the number of hours it takes on average to complete a repair. We recommend you compare your local shops with Jerry and contact those shops directly to get final pricing for your vehicle.

What parts do I need for a drive belt tensioner replacement and how much do they cost?

Confirm with your mechanic or the manufacturer’s specifications in your owner’s manual for the exact parts you’ll need. But in general, here’s a breakdown of what you’ll need to replace your car’s drive belt tensioner:
  • Serpentine belt: This is a long rubber belt that transfers power to the engine accessories—the alternator, power steering pump, air conditioning compressor, and water pump. It connects the engine crankshaft on its exterior to the engine accessories. Depending on the car, a serpentine belt replacement costs around $100 to $250.
  • Tensioner: The drive belt tensioner is a pulley that keeps constant tension on your serpentine belt to allow various engine accessories to function. A tensioner usually costs between $140 to $400, depending on the parts needed.
  • Pulley: A tensioner pulley applies the proper pressure and helps keep the belt tensioned and aligned. In this system, the tensioner pulley is spring-loaded to maintain the appropriate tension and alignment of the serpentine belt. The average cost for a pulley is around $200.
We recommend purchasing these parts at local auto parts stores such as AutoZone, Advance Auto Parts, and NAPA Auto Parts. Reputable brands like Gates, Continental, Dayco, and ACDelco are known for quality serpentine belts, while brands like Dorman and SKF offer reliable tensioners and pulleys to ensure a smooth replacement process. However, like price, recommended brands may also vary depending on your vehicle’s specific year, make, and model.
If you’re looking to replace the serpentine belt or the drive belt tensioner, it may be worthwhile to look for OEM parts. While generally more expensive, OEM parts are designed specifically for your vehicle make and model. The serpentine belt and drive belt tensioner must be the correct length and width for your car or they won’t function correctly. Because these parts have specific dimensions and OEM parts are exact replicas of the stock belt tensioner in your engine, you don’t have to worry about dimension issues and malfunctioning parts.
You can purchase drive belt tensioners through online auto parts stores like AutoZone or NAPA Auto Parts. You may also find them on Amazon and other automotive parts stores. Check your vehicle’s owner's manual for the specifics of your tensioner.

Where can I get my drive belt tensioner replaced?

It’s not always easy to find the right place to replace your drive belt tensioner. Jerry's
GarageGuard™
is here to help you compare costs from over 2,500 trusted auto repair shops in the US. 
With Jerry's GarageGuard™, you can compare price estimates based on hourly labor costs from local shops and read reviews from customers to make sure you’re setting yourself up for the best service experience.
Check out some of our vetted shops below and download the app to compare car repair quotes in your area.
180 Reviews
Parkway Car Care
address
7601 Lakeview Pkwy, Rowlett, TX
Drive Belt Tensioner Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$228
(Parts - $78, Labor - $150)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$79.99
113 Reviews
FXG Automotive Diagnostics Inc.
address
635 Seaman Ave #2647, Queens, NY
Drive Belt Tensioner Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$217
(Parts - $78, Labor - $139)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$140
118 Reviews
101 Auto Care
address
11945 S Dixie Hwy, Miami, FL
Drive Belt Tensioner Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$263
(Parts - $78, Labor - $185)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$120
190 Reviews
LBR Auto Repair
address
13030 Bel-Red Rd, Bellevue, WA
Drive Belt Tensioner Replacement Cost
Fair Cost Estimate for This Shop
$236
(Parts - $78, Labor - $158)
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$159
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How did we vet these shops?

Jerry experts researched 2500+ real repair shops across the US. We talked to real shop customers, and analyzed both real shop pricing data and thousands of real customer reviews from each shop to verify them individually. We do not partner with the shops listed above, and our analysis is always unbiased.

How will a mechanic replace my drive belt tensioner?

In this service, the mechanic will: 
  1. Check for odd sounds—such as squeaking or grinding—in the engine 
  2. Remove the drive belt and inspect the drive belt pulleys and tensioner
  3. Replace the drive belt tensioner and other parts if faulty
  4. Re-check the engine after assembly to make sure everything is working properly
Note: Typically, your mechanic will need to replace the drive belt alongside the drive belt tensioner. The drive belt pulleys—idler pulley and belt tensioner pulley—may also need to be replaced.

What happens if I don’t replace my drive belt tensioner?

Depending on the extent of your tensioner's wear and tear, the belt could fully dislodge and every component that relies on the serpentine belt for power will be lost. This includes the air conditioner, alternator, smog equipment, water pump, and power steering.
The bottom line: Get your drive belt tensioner replaced promptly if it is not operating correctly. Otherwise, you risk getting stranded on the side of the road when something breaks down fully. 

What is the drive belt tensioner?

A drive belt tensioner is a pulley mounted on a spring mechanic or to an adjustable pivot point, which puts constant tension on the serpentine belt to stay taut on the crankshaft pulley. The serpentine belt wraps around various engine components, such as the alternator, power steering pump, water pump, and air conditioning compressor. It delivers enough tension when the car is operating so the belt can move the pulleys that drive the engine components. 

How do I know when my drive belt tensioner needs replacing?

Squeaking and grinding noises with the engine running—or even squealing when you start your car—are the most significant clues that you might need your drive belt tensioner replaced. 
Other common symptoms of a bad drive belt tensioner include:
  • Unusual belt wear
  • Belt-driven accessories fail (alternator, A/C compressor, etc.)
Remember: The drive belt tensioner is an integral part of your vehicle—it keeps the serpentine belt properly tensioned so it can power your vehicle’s accessories. If your tensioner isn’t working properly, you’ll lose important functions in your car.

How often does the drive belt tensioner need to be replaced?

Although there is no specific lifespan for a drive belt tensioner, it’s a good idea to have it inspected every time you perform routine maintenance on your car. That way, you can detect early signs of damage or problems. 
The average drive belt tensioner lasts around 40,000 to 70,000 miles or 4 to 5 years. Keep in mind that when swapping out your tensioner, you may have to replace other items like pulleys and even the serpentine belt itself.

Can I replace my drive belt tensioner myself?

Replacing your drive belt tensioner isn’t as simple as replacing some other components in your car, but if you have automotive experience, you may be able to do it yourself. 
Many tensioners are easily accessible and attach to the engine with a single bolt. To replace it, you’ll have to remove the serpentine belt and the retaining bolt, remove the tensioner, and put the new belt tensioner back into place. 
If you’re not comfortable performing this process, schedule an appointment with your local mechanic and let a professional handle it. 

FAQs

If your car has a bad or broken belt tensioner, it’s best to avoid driving. The drive belt tensioner is responsible for several important functions. Driving with a bad belt can lead to issues including decreased performance and potential wear or failure of the auxiliary systems. 
If you notice any symptoms of a bad drive belt tensioner, have your vehicle inspected as soon as possible.
For mechanics who are familiar with the process, the drive belt tensioner can be changed in about one hour. If you choose to DIY and don’t have much automotive experience, you may save on repair costs but expect it to take a bit longer.
Over time, the belt tensioner becomes worn and loses its capacity to apply tension to the serpentine belt. When this happens, you can hear a squeaking noise from the front of the engine. It will eventually affect various parts of your car, such as the alternator, power steering, and air conditioning since they’re all powered through the drive belt.
A bad tensioner will usually sound like squealing or rattling noise coming from the front of the engine. If the tensioner pulley or bearing has worn out, you may also hear a grinding noise from the pulley.

Meet Our Experts

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John Davis
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Car Expert
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Certified mechanic with 10+ years of experience
John Davis is an expert automotive writer and former automotive mechanic. John's work spans multiple categories, and he relishes the opportunity to research a new subject and expand his area of expertise and industry knowledge. To date, John has written more than 200 articles covering car maintenance and care, car advice, how-to guides, and more.
Prior to joining Jerry’s editorial team, John worked as a mechanic and freelance writer, creating content for clients including HotCars and SetPower.
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Jessica Barrett
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Car Expert
Jessica Barrett is a senior insurance writer and editor with 10 years of experience in the automotive and travel industries. A specialist in car insurance, car loans, and car ownership, Jessica’s mission is to create comprehensive content that car owners can use to manage their costs and improve their lives. As a managing editor for a team of writers and insurance specialists, Jessica has edited over 2,000 articles for Jerry on topics ranging from local insurance shopping tips to refinancing car loans with bad credit.
Before joining Jerry as a senior content editor in 2021, Jessica created visual content for clients such as Expedia, Vivid Seats, Budget Direct Car Insurance, Angie’s List, and HomeAdvisor. Her content was published in Business Insider, Forbes, Apartment Therapy, and the BBC.
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Kathleen Flear
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Car Expert
Kathleen Flear is an expert insurance writer and editor who heads up Jerry’s editorial team as director of content. Kathleen empowers drivers to make smart car ownership decisions through  best-in-class articles on insurance, loans, and maintenance. Prior to joining Jerry in 2021, Kathleen served as managing editor for a team of SEO content marketing professionals at Article-Writing.co and worked as a freelance writer and editor for a range of digital publications, including Chicago Literati magazine and Golden Words. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from Queen’s University, and a master’s degree in creative writing and fiction from Sierra Nevada University.
*The price information provided on our car repair webpages is intended for general informational purposes only. Actual prices for car repair services may vary based on various factors, including but not limited to the make and model of your vehicle, the extent of repair required, and the prevailing market conditions. All prices for real repair shops are estimations based on our research only. Therefore, the prices listed on our webpages should not be considered as final quotes or binding offers.