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  1. #1

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    Default Car Gurus: How do I change a serpentine belt on a front wheel drive?

    So over the past week my serpentine belt has been squealing upon start-up, and the sound would eventually go away after a few seconds of driving. I took the car in for NY State inspection and was told I need a new serpentine belt, and this isn't covered under warranty. So I bought the belt from the dealer, along with some other stuff like brake pads and fluids. The problem is, I can't seem to figure out how to get the belt off. There's an automatic belt tensioner, which I'm assuming I need to loosen - just need to get the belt removed and put the new one on.

    Any ideas? I have a '12 Nissan Versa with the HR16DE engine and manual transmission. I've already completed the tune-up (1st major service) and replaced the brake pads, all I have left is to get this belt on.

    Thanks in advance!
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  2. #2

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    Major pain to do yourself. Take it to a pro. Good luck !!!

  3. #3

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    The automatic tension pulley is usually on a spring loaded arm. Use a breaker bar and socket to relieve tension on the belt. It's pretty simple, although probably a tight squeeze with such a small car. May help to have someone help hold the breaker while you route the belt.

    I'm surprised a 2012 needs a new belt already. I usually get at least 10 years out of them.

  4. #4

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    Thanks William. I tried to use a socket but there's no room to get anything in there. Unless there's some sort of low-profile socket wrench that bends, I can't see myself getting anything in between there.

  5. #5

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    I bought a tool, a flat style bar, for that from Harbor Freight, it was a set of two different lengths and I think it was $15. Not sure what you mean by it needs to bend? Some you have to access from underneath the vehicle.

  6. #6

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    It needs to bend because of a metal bar that blocks the socket wrench from going in straight. It has to go in at an angle on this car for some reason. Very different from an American V8 where the belt is right by the radiator and easily accessible.

    I'm going to take a trip to the auto parts store and see what I can find.

    Also, I'm really glad I didn't buy this car used (as some here suggested) - I'd rather have less headaches and a full warranty. The cost savings would probably equal the increased costs down the road.
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  7. #7

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    The auto parts store should have what you need.

  8. #8

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    A 2012 model already needing a tune up, brake pads, and a new serpentine belt, have you even had it 12 months? How many miles on it?

  9. #9

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    I cross the tip of Manhattan every day, 5 days a week, in rush hour traffic. I already have 21,000 miles and haven't even owned the car for a year. Did the brakes at 20,500 miles. Mechanic said I'll also need a new clutch soon as it's engaging near the top. NYC traffic really, really sucks.
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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Serendipity View Post
    Thanks William. I tried to use a socket but there's no room to get anything in there. Unless there's some sort of low-profile socket wrench that bends, I can't see myself getting anything in between there.
    Ding! Most parts stores sell a kit. Or cut off an old wrench and weld on a long piece of pipe.
    Or just take it to a shop. There may be more going on than just a belt.
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  11. #11

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    When done by someone who knows what they're doing.........it takes all of a minute or three to change one of those belts. Find such a person !

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    Take the car to Nissan and have them do it under warranty. Ther is a strong chance the tensioner damaged the belt. At any rate, a belt failing with those kind of miles is a warranty issue.
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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by nooshinjohn View Post
    Take the car to Nissan and have them do it under warranty. Ther is a strong chance the tensioner damaged the belt. At any rate, a belt failing with those kind of miles is a warranty issue.
    Have to agree here. A year old car needing a new belt, something else is amis. Same with the breaks, 20 thousand miles ? Hope your not riding the break pedal or the clutch pedal for that matter. Haven't changed the serpentine belt yet on either of my cars and they are 17 years old and 15 years old, one over 200,000 miles and the other 180,000. I usually get 40,000 miles out of a set of brakes.

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    Do they have a "Lemon Law" in your state?
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    Sounds like 21k miles City is like 135k miles on a highway!

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  16. #16

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    Those belts are typically rated for at least 60k miles, many are 100k miles. Take it to the dealer! Make an issue out of it. Be firm! No car with 21k miles should need a new serpentine belt unless there is a defect, which should be covered under warranty.

  17. #17

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    I actually did take it to the dealer, and they said it's not covered under warranty. I did admit the mileage was all city, which probably didn't help my case. For reference, I just changed the brakes on our other car, which sees more highway use, and got 50,000 miles out of the original pads (front) and the rears still looked brand new! Same driving style, just different driving conditions.
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  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyb View Post
    Have to agree here. A year old car needing a new belt, something else is amis. Same with the breaks, 20 thousand miles ? Hope your not riding the break pedal or the clutch pedal for that matter. Haven't changed the serpentine belt yet on either of my cars and they are 17 years old and 15 years old, one over 200,000 miles and the other 180,000. I usually get 40,000 miles out of a set of brakes.
    I agree, see my post above. So what's the best way to "crawl" in stop-and-go traffic without wearing the clutch? If the road is facing uphill, and traffic speeds are less than 1MPH, I've always had to hold the clutch in halfway to creep up slowly (otherwise, you'll roll backwards). That probably contributed to the wear, if there's a better way I'm all ears.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Serendipity View Post
    I agree, see my post above. So what's the best way to "crawl" in stop-and-go traffic without wearing the clutch? If the road is facing uphill, and traffic speeds are less than 1MPH, I've always had to hold the clutch in halfway to creep up slowly (otherwise, you'll roll backwards). That probably contributed to the wear, if there's a better way I'm all ears.
    Buy a car with an auto trans.
    That's the worst situation you could be driving in with a clutch on so many levels.
    You'll burn thru that car in no time.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by brgman View Post
    Buy a car with an auto trans.
    That's the worst situation you could be driving in with a clutch on so many levels.
    You'll burn thru that car in no time.
    Yikes! I've been driving this car thru the city for the past 21k miles day in, day out and my daily commute has some pretty big hills!

    Quote Originally Posted by disneyjoe7 View Post
    Sounds like 21k miles City is like 135k miles on a highway!
    I agree. Mileage counters don't account for run time and traffic. 1 hour of highway (60 miles) might only be a few miles city!

  21. #21

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    I love cars and trucks with clutches but doing that every day,no way.Screw dat!

  22. #22

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    Disconnect the lower motor mount. place a wood block on a jack and slowly raise the sumbitch up by the oil pan. that should give you access on the business end of the engine. i doubt thats the serp belt sqeeling. theyre usually toothed and wldnt make that sound. idler pulley or water pump. car is way too new. good luck

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    This can get kind of complicated with a chance of injury to your finger tips. Belts are simple but you must have experience and equipment. Look for a second opinion and a light weight garage something like Pep Boys. If you don't have a second car it's quite possible you will be renting a ride. A 2012 car absolutely should not have this problem.
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  24. #24

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    Default Persist. Get to the right person.

    Automobile manufacturers, like most equipment manufacturers, have warranty coverage, which is always advertised, and they also have a less advertised kind of coverage usually called "policy." Policy coverage differs from warranty coverage because whether a complaint qualifies for it or not is a matter of judgment by somebody outside the dealership or retail shop. To get policy coverage you have to argue that even if the warranty does not cover your particular problem, as a matter of policy, the manufacturer would not want their products to fail in the way you have experienced, and they should not fail in that way. The dealer should help you connect with the right person to get this coverage -- e.g., "VP for Nissan Quality in North American Operations" or some such title or person.

    My bet is that if you persist, you will get relief. My persistence in this vein has been successful with John Deere for a snowblower on my 4400 tractor, Lexus for a seat that did not function the way the sales person explained that it would to my wife and me, with Baldwin Brass with respect to the finish on lock sets in our house, with Jado with respect to the core assembly in a shower mixer, with Kohler for a generator set that failed with only 244 hours on it (partially successful), and with Grohe with respect to a small rubber cover and a plastic connector on a kitchen faucet assembly with a removable handspray.

    These manufacturers set aside funds on their balance sheets for "Warranty and Policy." They are there to cover these kinds of problems with there products that shouldn't happen and that are not from abuse or misuse by their customers. Just don't let them make their problem seem like your problem.

    A little advice from an old curmudgeon in New England!

    Good luck!
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    The standard for new cars is "36 months/ 36,000 mile BUMPER TO BUMPER WARRANTY"!!!
    I'm pretty sure that belt is included.
    You live in the KING of the Nanny states, all you have to do is write an email to the state AG, and cc the GM of that dealership, and the local tv stations consumer products reporter. Hell, they'll prolly extend your warranty for free.
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    Quote Originally Posted by brgman View Post
    Buy a car with an auto trans.
    That's the worst situation you could be driving in with a clutch on so many levels.
    You'll burn thru that car in no time.
    Bingo.....I have to ask the OP why he bought that car knowing the driving conditions ahead of time.

    Maybe best to trade that car in while newer for one with an automatic. Just what you'll save in clutches and brakes should be worth it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Serendipity View Post
    I agree, see my post above. So what's the best way to "crawl" in stop-and-go traffic without wearing the clutch? If the road is facing uphill, and traffic speeds are less than 1MPH, I've always had to hold the clutch in halfway to creep up slowly (otherwise, you'll roll backwards). That probably contributed to the wear, if there's a better way I'm all ears.
    I used the park brake to hold from rolling on inclines when I drove stick.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Serendipity View Post
    I agree, see my post above. So what's the best way to "crawl" in stop-and-go traffic without wearing the clutch? If the road is facing uphill, and traffic speeds are less than 1MPH, I've always had to hold the clutch in halfway to creep up slowly (otherwise, you'll roll backwards). That probably contributed to the wear, if there's a better way I'm all ears.
    Never ride the clutch like that. Simple way is don't drive at 1mph. Wait till there is a gap, accelerate, full clutch out. Clutch in when you have to stop. With a clutch car, you just have to be that person who is stop and go vs slowly creeping along.

  29. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyb View Post
    Bingo.....I have to ask the OP why he bought that car knowing the driving conditions ahead of time.

    Maybe best to trade that car in while newer for one with an automatic. Just what you'll save in clutches and brakes should be worth it.
    It's my first stick car, so I didn't really know what to expect other than "it's fun to drive" and "it's more engaging than an automatic," which was what I was told by people such as Bigaudiofanatic. I quickly found out it was not much fun after driving in NYC traffic for a day. By that time I had already put 100 miles on the car (mostly learning miles) and figured I would get used to it. I'm not sure if I would ever buy a manual again unless I lived in a rural area. It's just too much work to deal with slow moving traffic.
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  30. #30

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    Take the passenger front tire off. Undo the fender well lining.Look above the crank pulley to see the tensioner. Use a 114mm wrench rotate towards the rear of the car. Should come off. These are instructions off Nissan Versa forum.
    Good luck!!!!

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