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First, make sure you have the right size belt. If you've modified your engine, or the previous owner modified it, you'll have to measure out the new length. If you have to measure, use a semstress's tape and route per the diagram under the hood. If the diagram sticker is missing or damaged, your owners manual or a shop manual from an auto parts store should have one.

Second, buy your belt, and start it per the diagram, waiting for the tensioner last. The tensioner usually has a 1/2" square recess that a 1/2" drive rachet/breaker bar etc will fit in. Twisting the tensioner in the correct direction will allow slack for the last bit of belt to slide on. Release the tensioner, and you are done.

Most newer model cars have arrows and needle pointers on the tensioner to prevent turning too far or the wrong way. The tensioner will flex in both directions, but was only designed to allow sufficient slack in one direction. Make sure you replace the belt per the diagram, having your water pump/altenator/power steering pump turn the wrong way could lead to more expensive repairs.

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Q: How do you install a serpentine belt on a 1989 Ford 5.0L truck?
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