How to Put a Serpentine Belt on a Pontiac Sunfire

Written by craig woodman
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How to Put a Serpentine Belt on a Pontiac Sunfire
Drive belts need to be inspected as part of regular maintenance. (timing belt image by Albert Lozano from

The Pontiac Sunfire uses a serpentine belt to power the accessories from the engine. A serpentine belt is in the beginning stages of failure when it begins squealing. The squealing may start quietly at first, but will gradually increase in volume and duration. This squealing is a warning that you need to inspect the belt. A squealing noise can also be a sign that a belt tensioner is beginning to fail or that a belt pulley could be aligned incorrectly.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Basic set of hand tools
  • 3/8-drive breaker bar
  • Replacement belt

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  1. 1

    Observe the routing of the existing belt carefully. Check under the bonnet for a diagram that shows the belt routing. This diagram is usually stuck to the cooling fan shroud, directly above the radiator. If the diagram is not there, or you can't read it, make a sketch of the accessories and the belt routing on the car before you remove the belt. You can also take a digital photo for reference.

  2. 2

    Place a 3/8-drive breaker bar into the square drive section of the belt tensioner. The tensioner's location is in the centre section of the front of the engine, to the left as you look at the engine on the Pontiac Sunfire. Roll the serpentine belt tensioner upward off the drive belt. This will loosen the belt and allow you to remove it.

  3. 3

    Inspect the belt tensioner. The spring should pull the tensioner back with ease when you release the breaker bar. Check the idler pulley on the belt tensioner. It should spin with ease and not make any strange noises. The pulley also should not wobble. If it does, you must replace the tensioner as well. Check any other idler pulleys or pulleys that do not drive power accessories and just support the belt. Check all the other accessory pulleys for free moving, quiet rotation and wobbling. If you find these concerns with other power accessories, you need to service the power accessory for proper operation.

  4. 4

    Place the new serpentine belt for your Sunfire on the pulleys as either the factory diagram or your own diagram shows. Place the belt on each pulley except for the tensioner. Put the 3/8-inch breaker bar back into the hole on the tensioner and lift the tensioner pulley with one hand while placing the belt against the pulley. Release the tension on the serpentine belt. Double-check to make sure that the grooves on the belt line up with the grooves on the pulley.

  5. 5

    Start the engine and check for noises.

Tips and warnings

  • Inspect the pulleys carefully. Many times other engine-compartment parts cause noises that sound like a failed serpentine belt.
  • Be ready to stop the engine quickly and check your installation if you hear any noises on engine start-up. Be cautious around the spring-loaded tensioner, as it can move suddenly with a breaker bar attached, and cause injury.

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