My understanding is that I need to follow these steps to replace a drive belt:

  1. Use a breaker bar and 19 mm socket and turn the tensioner release nut clockwise to release tension on the belt.
  2. Remove old belt.
  3. Put on new belt (following diagram).
  4. Put tension back onto belt by turning tensioner release nut counter clockwise.

The problem I am having is that I cannot get a socket onto the release nut as there is not enough room between the nut and the fender:

enter image description here

UPDATE: Bolt pictured above is the wrong one - the one I should have been trying to turn is part of the tensioner body and is not really a bolt per se but a "handle" if you will to attach your wrench to (see this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eX27hH39mQM).

I will be trying again when I have time and will update further.

  • What kind of socket and ratchet are you using? Can you get a smaller, shallower socket on it?
    – Nick
    Feb 3, 2013 at 13:50
  • short socket (about 1 inch i estimate) and small 1/4 ratchet. not alot of room to work with box.com/shared/l9vc33ehdne1x577p6q0 box.com/shared/nvhzpkowy03mhioh7yfc
    – Jim Ford
    Feb 3, 2013 at 19:21
  • 1
    Did you try regular flat wrench? If it does not budge, I would spray the nut with the lubricant, let it sit for a few, then I would use regular flat wrench (possibly the six-sided one so as not to shear off the corners), and use a pipe on the other end for extended leverage. You might have to tap on it vigorously to get it moving at first.
    – theUg
    Feb 4, 2013 at 9:45
  • Yup, seeing the picture now, I would go with the closed end of a wrench and a pipe. Possibly a hammer, depending on the length of the pipe/leverage. I've got some cheapo wrenches I've cut the open end off to allow small diameter pipe, just for stuff like this.
    – Nick
    Feb 4, 2013 at 14:02
  • oops did not realize I could add pictures directly... will have to remember that. I will try with flat wrench as soon as I can acquire a 19mm one :D will let you know how it goes thanks folks
    – Jim Ford
    Feb 4, 2013 at 16:25

1 Answer 1


I hate to answer my own question but did eventually figure it out.

Here are the more complete steps to swap the belt:

Prerequisite: locate a belt diagram or draw your own before starting.

  1. Remove the plastic engine cover using 10mm ratchet - this will allow easier access to the tensioner / belt on the left side of the engine.
  2. Find the bolt head that is welded to the tensioner (circled in picture below 2).
  3. Using 19mm socket and ratchet with long handle (or using pipe as cheater bar for more leverage) turn the "bolt" on the tensioner towards the front of the car (clockwise).
  4. Slip the belt off of one of the pulleys and release the tension on the bolt.
  5. Remove the old belt.
  6. Now the tricky part - get the new belt on as per diagram. I started with the deepest pulley and worked my way up until I had the belt on all pulleys except the front top one.
  7. Do step 3 again - while the tensioner is released slip the belt onto the last pulley.
  8. Make sure you have the belt on as per diagram and that the belt is centered on each pulley.
  9. Release the tensioner to take up the slack in the belt.
  10. Put the engine cover back on.
  11. Success!

Thanks for all the suggestions guys. Hopefully this will help out someone else in the future :D

Correct Bolt

  • Thanks for the instructions and the link to the diagram. The diagram came in very handy. Also, the recommendation to remove the plastic engine cover is worth the extra few minutes. My car is a 2007 Corolla and the tensioner bolt took a 3/4" socket. Surprisingly, the breaker bar I rented from a local auto parts store came with metric sockets only, and only up to a max of 18mm which is too small. Be sure you have some larger sockets handy. It was very easy to relieve the tension on the belt to remove it, but getting the new one on is quite a task for one person. The order to install the new belt
    – user6581
    Jul 30, 2014 at 5:19
  • Yeah the 19mm is 0.748 inch so close enough for the 3/4 socket. I have metric set so did not try the 3/4
    – Jim Ford
    Nov 9, 2014 at 22:37

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