I have successfully changed my serpentine belt on my '96 Windstar. After fighting the tensioner nut my neighbor grabbed a pry bar and put it in the notch on the other side of the nut and belt it very easily moved the pulley down and relieved the tension and slipped the belt off. Leaving the bar in place and letting it pull backwards he rested the pry bar against the car while we put on a new belt. Pulling forward again and slipping the belt back over the alternator for the final touch. Forget the wrenches this was so simple I should sell the answer.
First, buy the correct belt, then look on the fan shroud which should give the route that the new belt should take. I'm my 95, it didn't, but the only thing I was doing was replacing the alternator, so I still knew how the belt went. Then release the belt tensioner nut, which is 18mm and hard to reach. Release this nut a few turns, then the tensioner will slide toward the side of the car, and the belt should fit on. To re-tension the belt I am considering buying a tensioner tool, which is a long handled lever for $35.00. If you need a diagram, email me.
First of all, you will need to locate the drive belt tensioner and the drive belt tensioner pulley. There should be a belt routing map under the hood.
If you have a 6 cyl 3.0L engine: the drive belt tensioner is located between the crankshaft pulley and the water pump pulley and the drive belt tensioner pulley is located between the alternator (or generator) and power steering pump.
If you have a 6 cyl 3.8L engine, the drive belt tensioner is located at the very back of the engine (if you follow the belt back from the alternator, the first pulley you come to will be the drive best tensioner) and it's very inconvenient to get to. The drive belt tensioner pulley is located between the alternator and the power steering pump pulley.
Per Chilton's manual, use a 15mm wrench on the bolt of the drive belt tensioner and rotate the tensioner clockwise to release the tension. Remove the belt from the drive belt tension pulley. When installing the new belt, make sure that the drive belt is routed correctly and note the position of the indicator mark on the tensioner.
Note: A standard belt tensioner tool will not get the job done. Ford may have a special tensioner tool for the Ford Windstar, but I haven't found one. I used a non-angled 15mm 6pt box end wrench (longest one I could find) and used a section of galvanized pipe to slip over the wrench for leverage and was able to release the tension to change the belt.
Just replaced alternator on my 2002 Windstar. Found easiest way to loosen belt tension was by jacking up(and installing stands) front of van and having skinny son slide under. Could loosen tensioner for removal and re-installation with a **13mm**combination wrench and some grunting. Also, prior to loosening belt, I taped belt to all pulleys wherever I could reach them. That way the belt stayed in place.
My brother has a 1998 ford Windstar 6 cyl 3.8 engine. The drive belt tensioner broke. so He got a new replacement. He tried to put the serpentine belt ALL BY HIMSELF with no avail. just before he gave up. he call me. here is what we did: He installed the new drive belt tensioner using a 18 mm wrench without fully tighten the bolt. We routed the belt correctly (following the belt routing map under the hood). only leaving off the alternator pulley. now the only thing left was to put the alternator pulley. this was accomplished by us working simultaneously. while I grabbed the belt close to the tensioner and pulled it with all my strength toward the alternator to relief the tension ; my brother using both hands put the belt around the alternator pulley taking advantage of the loose belt. Once the belt was in place; He tightened the 18mm bolt fully. Mission accomplished.
For my '98 Windstar 3.8 liter, the first issue is that the picture in the service manual pointed out the idler pulley as the Belt Tensioner; the BT is actually nearer the firewall. I loosened the bolt (18mm) that secures the BT to the engine and the BT pulley bolt(15mm) but was still unable to move the BT in any way.
I then put an ~8" loop of 1" webbing around the BT's arm, slid a crowbar thru it and using the top of the strut housing as a fulcrum, lifted the crowbar. The BT shifted and I was able to reach down with one hand and remove the belt from off the idler pulley.
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