I’ll admit, the result you see in the photo above is my own doing; it’s what happens when you pass up the belt service a few times on an old Jeep Grand Cherokee then ignore the obvious “bearing noise” from under the hood for a week or two.
When I removed the pulley, most of the ball bearings tinkled out the bottom of the car onto the ground. I figure the bearing siezed, the pulley froze in position, and the friction of the belt melted away about one-third of it. I spent this afternoon driving down to where I parked the Jeep, quickly replacing the pulley and belt, and driving it back home. (Thanks Sean, for the ride and a spare hand.)
The repair was easy. What really pissed me off was my call to the local Jeep dealer’s parts department. They wanted $144 for the pulley alone or a full $235 for the tensioner arm as well. I understand that sometimes parts like this are a bit high, but when I found it just a phone call later at the local O’Reilly’s for $27 I just about came unglued.
What the hell are they thinking? Do they really believe that a plastic pulley with a press-fit bearing is worth almost a buck-and-a-half, or did their marketing research tell them that Jeep owners just get off on paying five times the price for parts?
This is why you should always, always call a few different parts houses before you settle on a price for parts. If I’d have accepted the Jeep stealerships’ parts department price, I’d have paid over $200 for a self-repair that cost me $50. (And if I’d have allowed someone to tow the car to a dealership, I’d have easily spent $500+, assuming they didn’t bend me over as bad on labor as they intended to on parts.)
One call, $150 saved. Bastards.