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Thread: Alternator Belt Change - What a Palaver!

  1. #1
    Regular Member Jezzy's Avatar
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    Default Alternator Belt Change - What a Palaver!

    My Z20NET has been making an unwanted noise from the O/S section of the engine for a while, which I guessed meant that the alternator belt and tensioner could do with replacing. At the weekend it suddenly got worse, so I started gathering the parts needed. The belt is very cheap (a fiver plus VAT on TC), but the tensioner isn't on TC and costs about £80. ECP wanted the same price, and emailing Saab and Vauxhall dealers en mass via CarPartsConnexions only produced lots of replies of "Sorry, we don't stock that". Finally found it on Vauxhall Parts Warehouse's ebay shop, for £45. It might be a pattern part, but looks identical and is even made in Canada, as is the original.

    After work yesterday, I thought I'd crack on with replacing the belt and tensioner, and gave myself and hour and a half to finish it. The Z20NET isn't covered by the Vectra Haynes manual, so I consulted the Saab one instead. "Remove the O/S wheel arch liner to gain access to the tensioner" it said. So that's exactly what I did. And lo and behold, that give you access to sweet faff all. I could just see a bit of the bottom of the belt, and maybe a third of the crankshaft pulley (which I wasn't going to replace anyway). The tensioner was completely obscured by the inner wing. Bu99er.

    Off with air box then, that must be how to do it. And could I see the tensioner now? Could I heck. All I could see was a huge mother of an engine mount. More bu99er.

    Trolley jack under the car, piece of timber on top of the trolley jack, engine on top of the wood, and lift the engine slightly. Undo an army pf bolts on the engine mount to try and separate it from the engine and the chassis, then find one bolt that was so long it was hitting the chassis long before it had come undone, so there was no way it was going to come out. Leave that bolt in place, and swivel the mount out of the way of the tensioner. Bu99er. The mount won't move enough because it's hitting a coolant pipe. Bend the pipe's bracket out of the way whilst trying not to split the pipe, finally manage to swivel the engine mount enough.

    Use a piece of wood to push upwards from underneath against the tensioner, use the car's weedy jack to push the wood upwards (the trolley jack was supporting the engine, remember), get the old belt off, undo the tensioner (surprisingly easy, thankfully). New tensioner on, lift the tensioner using the same method, find that the piece of wood is now in the way and can't manouvre the new belt into place. Spend 20 minutes trying different methods. Finally get the belt on, release the tensioner, tighten it (again). Swivel the engine mount back into place, unbend hose bracket, check hose for leaks, refit mount, tighten all bolts, put the air box back in, yada yada yada.

    Start the engine, sounds as sweet as a virgin on a sunny Sunday.

    One silver lining to the wheel arch liner (see what I did there), removing it allowed me to see that the PAS fluid is a little low, so the liner will stay off the car until I top the level up. Sorted.

  2. #2
    Ex Vec-C Admin Deztroyer's Avatar
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    it never rains it pours mate ...

    dont suppoe you took lots of photos for a how2 ... as thats going to be the next question

    glad you got it sorted in the end

    0-Large smile ......every time it's driven

  3. #3
    Regular Member Jezzy's Avatar
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    I started off taking plenty of photos, when I thought I had the process down pat - take off the wheel arch liner, insert 3/8" ratchet into the square hole in the tensioner, use that as leverage to move it away from the belt - but that all went to pot when it became apparent how rubbish the access was. I do vaguely recall taking some photos of something or other whilst I was working/cursing/crying, and I can probably cobble together something that stops others having to suffer for their art like I did... lol

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    wish i had the gonads to try that, well done jezzy

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    Full Member Penfold101's Avatar
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    Times the 1.9 150 is a blessing...

  6. #6
    Regular Member PORKBALLS29's Avatar
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    Well done Jezzy sounds like a pig of job to do.

    I'm sure there are two Jezzy's on this site though. The one above who is helpfull, informative and a wealth of knowledge and another one who is a sarcy g*t lol. Do you have a split personality?

  7. #7
    Regular Member Jezzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Penfold101 View Post
    Times the 1.9 150 is a blessing...
    Once in a blue moon.... lol

  8. #8
    Regular Member Jezzy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PORKBALLS29 View Post
    Well done Jezzy sounds like a pig of job to do.

    I'm sure there are two Jezzy's on this site though. The one above who is helpfull, informative and a wealth of knowledge and another one who is a sarcy g*t lol. Do you have a split personality?
    There are two Howards as well - the one happilly getting on with his day hiring out plant machinery, and the other one that's running as fast as he can, yelling "Help, Jezzy's trying to kill me..!!"

  9. #9
    Regular Member PORKBALLS29's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jezzy View Post
    There are two Howards as well - the one happilly getting on with his day hiring out plant machinery, and the other one that's running as fast as he can, yelling "Help, Jezzy's trying to kill me..!!"
    Lol. Scarily your memory is far too good Jezzy. But i'll keep an eye out for you

  10. #10
    Regular Member marktaylor's Avatar
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    should have brought a y30dt jezzy

    took me 15 mins start to end

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