Acura MDX SUV Forums banner

1 - 20 of 54 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,012 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
My belt area used to generate a weird kind of noise. It is not the common chirp. I am not sure whether it is due to lack of tension or dirty belt. (Belt alignment was not likely the cause. Nobody touched that area when the noise started.) This is how the noise sounds like:


It is the same kind of noise as I described here

http://www.mdxers.org/forums/74-second-generation-mdx-2007-2013/153769-2007-mdx-noise-front-engine-under-load.html

i.e., it will show up with some load on the engine. At neutral, there is no sound. At park, there is very little sound. It will show up at Drive or Reverse.

When I started, I was not aware of these youtube clips and people's comments. I started by spraying water onto the v side of the belt. Well, things don't always go as well as those youtube diagnose videos. After I sprayed water onto the belt, the noise stayed the same. The test is useless. Since I firmly believed that it was not due to alignment, the candidates are contaminated belts, OR lack of tension. So I replaced the belt first b/c it is easier and cheaper. Afterwards, the noise stayed the same, but got even worse in the following days. So I know it is not due to a dirty belt. But I was not sure.

This thread has some discussions on how to remove and reinstall the belt only

http://www.mdxers.org/forums/74-second-generation-mdx-2007-2013/44247-serpentine-tensioner-belt.html

In case that the picture links are messed up by photobuckets again, I attach them here.

PS. A very techinical point raised in the 2nd picture is that a tensioner can malfunction either due to 1 bad tensioning device, or 2 bad pulley. In theory, the problem can be solved by replacing the pulley only.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,012 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
A couple days later, we could not start the car. I charged the battery, it started right up. So it is clear that belt was slipping so bad that the alternator was not driven. So a good battery got drained. I think the weak belt tensioner was weakened further when I compressed it to remove and install the belt. So the situation got worse. Otherwise, the weak belt might hang on for another 20k miles. But it might also leave us stranded in a desert in Utah or Nevada ...

After I have already made up my mind, I finally thought of searching on youtube for the noise. How dumb I am! Had I looked earlier, it would have saved me a lot of upset and $20 for the belt.

From youtube comments, it seems that it happens quite often after timing belt replacement. I had mine done at an Acura dealer. Still it showed up. I guess the gist of the story is that it is not a bad idea to replace the tensioner and idler set (for drive belt, as well as timing belt) when doing timing belt job. Otherwise, it would be another $250 bill and a lot of hassle down the road. But that timing belt job would seem even more expensive. It can be easily more than $1400 for a 'complete' job.

The job is actually quite easy. Just removing and reinstalling 12mm and 14mm bolts. The 3rd picture of the 1st post has the torque specs: 33 and 16 lb ft.


I searched youtube and found the above video. I have not started yet. So I am not sure which video works best for our cars. Need some help here. Is 04-08 TL the closest cousin of 2007 MDX? Is there a better video out there?

It seems to be a pretty common issue and quite a few people were caught. Among the reviewers, only one guy says that the problem was solved by a new belt. For all the others, it was a belt tensioner issue. I guess this might be another item similar to HFL, AC clutch replay that we might see more an more often in the future. 11 years, it is about time!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,012 Posts
Discussion Starter #3

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,012 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Now, for parts, I need to change out the belt tensioner (and idler, since they come together in a single package.) The OEM is 31170-RCA-A04. It is typically about $115 each, without the belt.

I am looking at GATES ACK060841. It is the kit I plan to buy. Does it look correct? The Amazon review was kind of scary. 1 good review in 2017 (very new), and one bad review claiming the Gates tensioner quit after 55k miles. Even if the 2nd review is true, I am still fine with it b/c my 2nd timing belt job is coming up soon. Also Gates is a brand name in the world of belts. But if somebody can suggest a better choice than Gates at similar price, it will be great.

https://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo.php?pk=4845798&cc=1434516&jsn=325

I am very convinced so I wrote this 'guide' before I replace the tensioner. It is better to write it down while I can still remember. But please let me know if there is any flaws in my analysis, or anything that can be improved. Hopefully the hassle stops here. thanks a lot.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,012 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
From skirmich:

**********************************************************
If you are changing the tensioner my best advise will be to do it from below the car like I did twice...
Just jack up the front axle (No need to remove the wheel) and do the job from beneath once you have removed the belt.
After you replace the tensioner then lower the car and replace the belt, its pretty easy.

The TL video is pretty accurate as is the same tensioner design. The main difference is the gigantic room you have in the TL due to the engine sitting leveled to the car body, The MDX engine sits far lower into the engine bay which makes it more difficult to replace the belt.

In my personal scale of DIY its a 4 out of 10.. Pretty average in difficulty, Should take no more than 30 minutes the first time.
**********************************************************

Which tensioner did you buy?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,012 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Here is the sound of a normal worn belt on MDX

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
45 Posts
Great thread qqzj. I'm going on my 3rd tensioner only to have to replace it again. I replaced it first during timing belt replacement, then developed the squeal again. Tried the tensioner from Advance (forgot what the original brand was), as it was closer than the dealership to my friend's shop, but that was making noise right out of the box. I'll be going OEM this round and would suggest looking into the Honda/Acura tensioner tool. It was a hassle to get a long enough wrench / clearance for a breaker with a socket on the MDX.

I'll be grabbing the OEM tensioner from Bernardi: (31170-RCA-A04 | Acura TENSIONER ASSY., AUTO - Bernardi Parts)
a new belt, the 4 AC bolts, and the tensioner tool before going back near there.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,012 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Wow, which year is your MDX and what is the mileage? So you have used up 3 tensioners already? I thought I was unlucky. Do you have the link for the Honda/Acura tensioner tool? I borrowed an OEM branded tool from Autozone to do it. The tool set does not have a shallow 14mm socket, so I have to used a regular 3/8 14mm socket, which made my life a lot worse than it could have been.

Going OEM is totally worth it when you do it together with timing belt. So you got everything new and great for the next 7-10 years and 105k miles. I don't drive much so I do timing belt once every 8 years and the next one is coming up in 5 years. So I cheaped out with a Gates set. OEM is totally worth it. The molding seems a lot better than Gates' set. And the OEM has dust shields for both idler and tensioner. So I guess the expected life is also longer than Gates. But Gates might be a good deal for a lot of guys, since the cost is $65 (with a belt) for me from rockauto. The OEM one (no belt) is about $115 everywhere I looked.

For others who haven't done this, when installing aftermarket tensioners, please remember to NOT to use the dust shields from the OEM idler. If it is used, the idler would be stuck and won't rotate at all! Very dangerous. I was lucky when I put it on that I decided to spin it before I put on the belts. I searched around and found clue from reviews for this ACDelco product

https://www.amazon.com/ACDelco-ACK060841-Professional-Accessory-Tensioner/dp/B010GK8FN2

This tip can save you more than 30 minutes! Also don't throw away the OEM idler and dust shields. They might be useful later on.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,338 Posts
^ OEM Idler dust shield works correctly in the GATES Tensioner replacement 38332 (http://www.rockauto.com/en/parts/gates,38332,belt+tensioner,11659), at least it did in my replacement tensioner. If you get an incorrect idler the OEM dust shield wont work..

The correct pulley must look like the one on the right here:

The pulley on the left is what came in a Gates Tensioner replacement for the Ridgeline which locked the idler when installing the dust shield like it did on your AC Delco.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,012 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
I actually used the Gates ACK060841. The tensioner is also 38332. It did not work with the OEM dust shield. Look at here, lots of similar complaints.

https://www.amazon.com/Gates-38332-Belt-Tensioner-Assembly/dp/B000IY5YLI

Among the 4 reviews with 1 star, 3 mentioned that the OEM washer won't fit. (They call it washer.) One of the two star review did the same. You might got a truly unique Gates 38332 for it to work.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,338 Posts
Mine did, I bought that kit from a local auto parts store in México ("Baja Autoparts" Subsidiary of Carquest).. It is INSTALLED right now on my MDX with the OEM Dust Shield in place on the idler.

You are focusing on the bad reviews only when 60% are 5 Stars.. For those it included the correct idlers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,012 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Good for you. Apparently not everybody is so lucky. You bought it used, right? Is there any chance the previous owner put a smaller washer on it? If you look at your picture closely, you can see that the new one (Gates) the center of pulley dropped very sharply. The OEM one on the right has a much gradual drop. The dust shield is pretty big. If somebody else use it on the Gates pulley, the shield will press against the edge of the pulley and the pulley will stuck. I discovered this last night and I know my dust shield is OEM.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,338 Posts
The tensioner I replaced was the OEM with the OEM Dust shield, OEM Manufacturer is GATES for the tensioner assembly.

The tensioner I Bought was NEW and it was gates.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,012 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
The tensioner I replaced was the OEM with the OEM Dust shield, OEM Manufacturer is GATES for the tensioner assembly.

The tensioner I Bought was NEW and it was gates.
OK, next time you take it off, take a picture. Maybe you got one that is different from others.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,338 Posts
The only difference it can have its the IDLER PULLEY which is the one causing the issues with the OE Dust Shield.


To anyone getting a New Tensioner assembly make sure the pulley looks like the one in the right to install the OEM Dust Shield:

If your tensioner came with an idler pulley that looks like the left one, It wont allow you to install the OEM Dust Shield without binding. So do not install the OE Dust Shield on a idler pulley that looks like that.


And that´s it! Both idlers pulleys will do the job, The only difference is that one allows the retrofitting of the OE Dust shield and the other do not.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,012 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
That is correct! By the way, after I installed the new tensioner, idler and belt, the belt started to make another kind of noise at startup. After a while when the car is in operating temperature, the sound would virtually go away. (Very little bit is left.) This new sound is a lot less annoying than the previous one, and from my online search, it is a very common, non-critical sound. But I still would like to eliminate it. Do you have any idea what it can be? Thanks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,338 Posts
I do not know, My gates combo (Tensioner + Belt) did not make any new sound at all after install..
Probably the bearings are getting break-in?, might wanna give it a few days before worrying about the sound being permanent.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,012 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Thanks. Let me wait a couple of weeks and see.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,338 Posts
Well at least it was until it was changed (For the 3rd time) to Mitsuboshi.. The 2nd time was Bando.
Honda is getting very picky on Acc Belt OE Manufacturer..

They already changed the Timing Belt Supplier from Gates to Unitta....
 
1 - 20 of 54 Posts
Top