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Old 02-06-2019, 12:09 PM   #1
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What I Drive: 2012 SEL Hatch, 2003 Cent. Sedan

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Belt change

I just did a belt change out last evening and it wasn't too bad but I did have the Gates tool and I'm glad I did because I did briefly try to get the outer (stretch) belt on without it and it didn't want to go.

For anyone unfamiliar with the MK3 belt system, there are two belts. The inboard belt is a smaller serpentine belt and the outer belt is only running the AC compressor. The serpentine belt has the typical tensioner and most are familiar with removing and installing that type of belt.

The outer stretch-type belt was a new one for me as I have never installed one of those before. With this belt, there is no tensioner to loosen to make it easier to remove and install the belt. It is pretty easy to get off because you just cut it with a knife (Make sure you have the right size replacement belt first but I guess it's good that it is just the AC that you would be without if you didn't which is why it would be a good idea to do the replacement in cooler months). You have to stretch the belt over the crank pulley and the AC compressor pulley to get the new one on. You do this by positioning the belt fully around the AC pulley and partially around the crank pulley and then turn the crank with a wrench to get it to slide into place the rest of the way. Problem is, it just wants to slip as you turn the crank if you don't have a way to keep it on the crank pulley as you rotate it. That's where the Gates (or equivalent) tool comes in. It rides around the pulley as you turn it and helps to ease the belt on by keeping it from sliding off. It was about $9 on Amazon but totally worth it as it saves a lot of headache. The tool also acts to protect the belt from damage that could occur as it is being worked on to the crank pulley by acting as a smooth surface for it to slide across as opposed to the sharp edges of the pulley. When I used it, the first revolution got the belt to seat for all but one rib so I ran the tool around one more time and this time it seated fully. Total install time for both belts was about a half hour. Probably about 20 minutes if I had to do it again.

One other important thing for other 2012 Focus owners is that you have to know the specific build date of your vehicle to get the right inboard/serpentine belt. They changed from a 6 rib belt to a 4 rib belt on 6/1/11 so anything built before that date uses the 6-rib and after uses the 4-rib. I have two 2012s and it figures that they use different belts. The stretch belt for the AC is the same on both, however.

Last edited by IrishBrewer; 02-06-2019 at 01:26 PM.
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