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In some cases, it’s easier to remove the alternator to release serpentine belt tension than to get a wrench or ratchet on the belt tensioner. Ignoring the lamentable decision-making process that spawns such folly, there is a workaround. I first saw very low-profile bars like these at a Tuffy where I worked, and everyone in the shop borrowed it almost every time they had to release a serpentine belt on a transverse-mounted engine. The owner probably wasn’t too happy with us, but the photo above shows why the pseudo-thefts were necessary.

In essence, these are just strong steel bars with 3/8″ or 1/2″ square lugs near the ends. Double-ended versions like the Schley Products model 63200 below provide the best flexibility for the most common size, placing a 1/2″ lug on either end, and at a 45° offset relative to one another. ToolSource.com has them for $39 before shipping, but the cream of the crop comes from (you guessed it) Snap-On. Their YA9350B set covers just about every style on the market, adds a ratcheting mechanism, and is actually priced pretty competitively against units with similar compatibility ranges.

Schley 1/2″ Serpentine Belt Tool [Schley Products]
Schley 1/2″ Serpentine Belt Tool [Tool Source]
[Snap-On]

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4 Responses to Serpent(ine) Charmers

  1. Phil says:

    Having a couple different belt tools over the years (a simple one from Lisle and a more involved setup I got off the MAC truck) I checked out the set made by Gear Wrench and it’s now my primary tool. I got it for about sixty bucks, it is one of the only ones that will easily work on late model Duramax engines. The adjustable angle “knee” as well as the ratcheting end will make it work anywhere.

    http://www.gearwrench.com/catalog/specialty_tools/serpentine_belt_tool/

  2. Mike47 says:

    Last time I had to change a belt on my Ford F-250 Powerstroke Diesel, I went to AutoZone and took advantage of their free tool loan program. Just leave a credit card deposit, use the tool, bring it back and get the deposit refunded. Hard to beat for unusual or rarely-used situations.

  3. Davo says:

    That Autozone tip is good to know. It’s crazy how cramped engine compartments can be, these days.

  4. Shopmonger says:

    Yes these little wonders are a god sends… I have had to make these on several occasions and wish i would have bought one years ago. Welding sockets on the end of flat bar is time consuming….and a pain in the @#$

    ShopMonger

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