'96 Bonneville Tensioner Replacement - GM Forum - Buick, Cadillac, Chev, Olds, GMC & Pontiac chat


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Old 07-19-2005, 11:19 PM   #1
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Default '96 Bonneville Tensioner Replacement

Hey all. Sorry if this has been discussed here before, but if it has, I have not been able to find it using the Search feature. All I could find is information about replacing the tensioner on the Supercharged 3800 II, and that did not seem to help me too much lol.

Here is my problem:
As I said, the car is a '96 SE with the 3800 II (non-supercharged). I was just trying to replace the serpentine belt on and it would seem as though the bolt in the tensioner has stripped the hole it screws into. The bolt I am talking about is the one that holds the pulley on to the tensioner itself. If you turn it with a ratchet, it keeps turning, which not only makes me think that it will eventually fall off, but it also makes it so you can not use the tensioner to replace the belt, (all of the info I can find on replacing the belt on this car (as well as previous experience on older cars) says that you just slap a ratchet or wrench on this bolt on the tensioner and push down, and the tensioner moves to allow you to put the belt on. Now, if I pry the tensioner with a screwdriver or other long object, I can get the tensioner to move, but I will either need to replace it or get the hole re-drilled or what not, but both options requires me to
take the tensioner itself off the car.

Just so you know, the main reason that I am changing the belt is that for one, the car has over 269,000 KM'* on it, so I do not know when the last time it was done, for seconds the belt is starting to crack a bit, and for thirds the power steering does not work very well at times when I am parking, or just turning the wheel side to side in Park. At high speeds it
is 97% ok and it also is fine while the car is revving high, as in, if I am at a dead stop and give it some gas while in Neutral, the steering works fine. I heard that the Bonneville'* of '95 and higher have some kind of power steering assist feature, but everyone I had look at the car suggested that the cheapest first try would be to replace the belt. I have also check
power steering fluid and it is fine (though a HUGE pain in the butt to get too!!).

So, the question is, how do I change the tensioner? Also, is it alright to just get the hole repaired (re-drilled, or coiled or what have you) or is it better to buy a new tensioner assembly? I called around and for $20 I can get the hole fixed, but the price of the new unit is over $100, and I can not afford that...I can get one from a local and trusted junk yard for $30, but I do not know if I really need one. I know the tensioner is really hard to move with the screwdriver, but could this tensioner be causing my power steering problem as well?

Thanks for any help you all can give me, it is much appreciated.
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Old 07-20-2005, 01:15 AM   #2
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I would at least get the assembly from the junkyard. That seems like a sure thing to me.
It'* not too hard to replace. I think i just took off the alt and power steering pump to remove mine. (i'm a series 2 like you) Coolant will spill though.
If you do replace it, replace your coolant elbow that comes from the lower intake manifold, turns 90 degrees, and goes into the assembly. There really prone to beakage and it will most likely break on you when you take the assembly out. It'* less than 5 bucks at a parts store.
But unless your belt is squealing when your having powersteering issues, then i doubt it'* the belt.
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Old 07-20-2005, 09:41 AM   #3
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I did mine not too long ago, and while it'* not fun, it'* not a bad job either. The longest part for me was getting the stupid hoses freed up... they were stuck on bad. I mean really bad.

So be ready for it, and be patient... it'll come with time..
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Old 07-20-2005, 11:32 AM   #4
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A little known secret on those hoses is to have a bent awl from Sears on hand. You must be extremely careful. But using the awl you can sneak it in under the hose and loosen the bond that has formed. Like I said..CAREFULLY so you don't punch a hole in the hose.

Another same type of trick is to grab the hose on top of the outlet tube carefully again with pliers and twist. You again can puncture the hose and must be CAREFUL not to tear the hose. Of course while you are there. How old is that hose? Might be time to replace it.

Sears also sells a spring clamp hose remover tool. Looks kike pliers with a cable attached. I'll try to get a pic tonight. One of those "can't live w/o it" tools.
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Old 07-21-2005, 09:10 PM   #5
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Hey again and thanks for the help. I did get a junkyard piece, but while I was taking it off the engine they had out there, I accidentally broke part of the piece that goes into the block for the coolant (not the plastic one, as I broke that later lol). I did not notice this until I got everything back together, filled the car with coolant and it leaked like a siv.
Needless to say, I was not impressed. So, I went back out to the junk yard today and had them do the 'pulling' part of the new piece, went to a Napa parts store nearby and got some new rubber rings for all places that needed them, went home, bolted it all up, filled the coolant again and no leaks. Incase anyone is interested, here is the way I did it:

Should disconnect battery.
Removed Alternator (3 large bolts and one small one. One bolt is bolted into the tensioner as well, but must come out for the Alternator to be removed)
Took off the 2 coolant hoses going into the tensioner (they come from the fire-wall)
Took out the other 2 bolts of the tensioner.
*Carefully* pried the tensioner off the car, making sure not to put too much pressure on either part that connects into the engine block (I did not take my time while doing this the first or second time, resulting in too much damage to the original and the second tensioner assembly). Also be warned that coolant will likely spill out of the 2 coolant hoses and the 2 parts of the tensioner assembly that goes into the block.
Get your new one, and do basically the opposite of the above, but make sure to put coolant in as you will loose some, as I noted.

I am not a mechanic, but I just thought I would write this down as I just finished a couple hours ago and it was fresh in my mind, in case anyone has to do this repair.

Once again, thank you to the other posters for there help!!
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Old 07-21-2005, 09:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillBost37
Sears also sells a spring clamp hose remover tool. Looks kike pliers with a cable attached. I'll try to get a pic tonight. One of those "can't live w/o it" tools.
kike? i dont think that appropriate for the BC
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Old 07-21-2005, 11:39 PM   #7
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I used that puppy tonight. kike..like...you knew what I meant.

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This removes the spring clamps w/o any problems. Will reach anywhere.
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