What is an Idler Pulley Replacement?

Your car’s idler pulley helps to guide your drive belt, also known as a serpentine belt. The drive belt connects your engine to several other systems in your vehicles such as the power steering and alternator.
If your idler pulley breaks, you could lose power in any or all of these systems, as your drive belt may be unable to continue spinning. When this happens, a mechanic may suggest replacing the idler pulley altogether.

How to know if you need your idler pulley replaced

The most obvious sign that your idler pulley, or drive belt as a whole, needs to be replaced is a loud squealing noise coming from the engine.
Other hints that it’s time to replace your drive pulley include your check engine light coming on or your power steering not working like it’s supposed to.
If you notice any of these issues, you’ll want to bring your car to a mechanic right away.

How to replace an idler pulley

When you bring your car to the mechanic, there are a few common steps that they will take:
  • Disconnect the battery
  • Spin the pulley to see if can guide the belt
  • Loosen the bolts around the old idler pulley and remove it
  • Compare the old and new pulleys to ensure they match up
  • Place the new pulley and tighten the bolts
  • Reconnect the battery
In general, a mechanic will inspect your drive belt alongside your idler pulley. If the pulley is broken, it’s likely the drive belt could have been damaged as well.

Is replacing my idler pulley important?

Although it may just seem like an accessory to your drive belt, replacing a broken idler pulley is very important. If your pulley breaks, your drive belt is likely to wear down, and you may lose the use of important systems like your alternator, power steering, or air conditioning.
If you have any doubts about the condition of your idler pulley, be sure to have both your pulley and your drive belt inspected immediately. It’s best to get this checked early, as waiting could cost you more in the long run.

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