Last week, my wife lost the serpentine belt (also known as an accessory drive belt) on her daily driver … twice. By the time I had grunted my way through it the second time, I learned a few things that made the job much easier. Replacing the belt and pulleys was actually a lot easier than I expected it to be, so learn from my mistakes. Here’s how to replace the Saab 9-5 Serpentine Belt! Here are a few top tips before getting started:
- You do not want to break or shred a serpentine belt on the road. My wife lucked out, both of hers snapped in the driveway. Inspect the belt if you have any concern. If it is starting to crack or fray, or if you don’t know when it was last replaced, replace your belt preemptively. Expect a Saab 9-5 serpentine belt to last around five years or 50,000 miles.
- There is always a reason that a broken belt went bad. Some just get old and crumble over time, but it’s pretty rare. Usually, bad pulleys are the most likely cause. Although the serpentine belt touches eight pulleys in the Saab 9-5, the most likely suspects are the two inexpensive idler pulleys and the single tensioner pulley. Check these before you replace your Saab 9-5 serpentine belt, but I recommend just replacing them while you are in there. I checked mine too quickly and mistakenly decided they were fine, and replaced just the belt itself. Two days later, the belt shredded again with a vengeance (it turned into spaghetti and took most of an afternoon to extract). This time, I replaced the pulleys along with the belt. eEuroparts has any part you could possibly imagine to replace the belts, pulleys, as well as huge selection of other Saab parts you may consider replacing while you’re in there, including engine mounts, power steering pumps, AC compressors, water pumps, and alternators.
- You have two options for belts. Originally, Saab and eEuroparts provided a belt that hit all eight pulleys, but later provided an alternative shorter belt that bypassed the forward idler pulley. Although this slightly reduces the grip on the power steering pump, it is not enough to be problematic, and it leaves you with one fewer pulley to worry about.
eEuroparts put all the parts that you need into a convenient Saab accessory drive belt kit if you are looking to delete your center idler.
To install the 9-5 serpentine belt, idler pulleys, and tensioner pulley.
- Jack up the front passenger side, insert a jack stand for safety, and remove the wheel.
- Remove the plastic shielding the covers the front-lower section of the wheel well to expose the crank pulley. There should be five small 8mm torx screws.
- Slide your jack under the engine and with a piece of wood above it for protection, jack the passenger side of the engine up a slight bit to take weight off the engine mount (this will make the later reinstallation steps much easier with tension off the yoke).
- Go back into the top of the engine bay and remove the plastic shield around the engine oil dipstick as well as the air mass meter boot on the front passenger side of the engine (flathead screwdriver).
- Take the large nut off the passenger side upper engine mount (18mm). Then remove the four 15mm screws holding down the metal yoke on the passenger side of the cylinder head. Then remove the yoke itself. Now you should have full access to the top and bottom of the belt area.
- To remove the belt, take a ½” extension bar (around a foot long if possible), and insert it into the square slot at the rear of the tensioner pulley housing. A 1/2in breaker bar works too. It is made to fit, and will slip right in. Now pull the bar toward the front of the car and it will pivot the tensioner pulley, relieving tension on the belt. There is a little hole on the side of the tensioner pulley housing just ahead of your cheater bar – while pulling the bar to the limit of rotation, you can insert a small tool (I used a 4mm torx wrench) into the hole, and when aligned with the matching hole on the cylinder head, it will act to stop and hold the tension on the tensioner pulley housing. With this in place, you can stop pulling the bar and it will hold itself. You don’t really need to do this if you are quick with your hands to get the belt off, as it will be difficult to get your torx key back after the belt tensioner assembly is off, if you are replacing it.
- With the tension off, you can remove your belt (I usually cut it and pull it out). Check your pulleys now and order them if you have not already done so.
- To replace the rear (upper) idler pulley (which is necessary to get to the tensioner pulley itself), just use a size 13 open ended wrench or a socket – it should come off pretty easily.
- The forward (center) idler pulley is also pretty easy to reach with a wrench and comes off easily. Again, this can be deleted by using the short belt.
- The tensioner pulley, however, has less than an inch between the bolt and the fender wall. You have two options – you can either remove the entire tensioner pulley and housing together, or you can just remove the pulley itself. Some claim that the former is easier, but I opted to remove just the pulley. I used a 6mm allen socket/hex bit which fit right into the bolt hole. However, I had to use a hack saw to cut it down to about a half-inch long for it to clear. Once it was short enough, it fit right in and the pulley came off pretty easily.
- Installation was the reverse of removal – replace the pulleys, torque them to 33 ft-lbs.
- To install the belt, refer to the diagram and work from the top and bottom. I started with the steering pump and down to the AC pulley, then went pulled it down around the crank pulley and pushed it up over the water pump. Then I went back up top and pulled it over to the idler pulley and pushed down, then from the bottom pulled it over the alternator. Because the tensioner pulley does not have channels and the flat back of the belt passes over it, I found it easier the first time to slide the last portion of the belt over the tensioner pulley. The second time I installed the belt though, I tried an alternative approach of just leaving off the rear idler pulley and installing the pulley last with the belt already on it. Both worked fine.
- Last, double check that your belt is passed around all of the pulleys and is correctly in the tracks. Then remove your stop tool and relieve the tension from the tensioner pulley.
- Reinstall your engine mount yoke and torque the bolts (39 ft-lbs) and engine mount nut (78 fl-lbs). Reinstall the plastic shield around the oil dipstick and the air mass meter boot at the front of the engine.
- Go back underneath and reinstall your lower plastic shield and remove the jack from under the engine.
- Start the car up and make sure you don’t hear any funny noises. Check the belt as it rotates to make sure it looks straight and that it’s not fraying. If it looks good, turn off the engine, reinstall the wheel and drop the car. You are good to go.
eEuroparts has a huge selection of Saab Parts, so if your Saab needs anything let us know! Thanks for reading, and happy Saabing.