1998 3.8 camaro serpentine belt randomly came loose last night. - Team Camaro Tech
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Old Nov 25th, 13, 04:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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1998 3.8 camaro serpentine belt randomly came loose last night.

I had a brand new serpentine belt i put on with a brand new alternator about a year ago and have barely drove the car so i know its not the belt itself. last night it was the coldest night we've had i'm pretty sure and when i turned the car on, i heard a terrible scratching/squealing noise. opened the hood and saw part of the belt came loose and part of it was off. what could of caused this to randomly happen? it's also not the air compressor locking up because i disconnected it and it still has the same problem. i dont think its any of the pulley's too because there was no bad sound warning me before it came off. this is just random. what could it be?
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Old Nov 26th, 13, 03:26 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: 1998 3.8 camaro serpentine belt randomly came loose last night.

Having barely driven the Camaro for a year, I suspect the battery was/is in a low charge state creating a heavy load from the alternator in recharging, the belt squeals due to the heavy load.

If this is the case, you might put an external charger on the battery, or swap out with a known good one from your daily driver.

Usually, the tensioner pulley is out of alignment a little. Not much you can do with it, unless the bearing is shot, then replace the pulley(s). May not be a bad idea any way as there is a second idler pulley.
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Old Nov 26th, 13, 10:54 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: 1998 3.8 camaro serpentine belt randomly came loose last night.

Its not the battery because I did drive it through out the year. just not that much. And it is a brand new battery from like three months ago. could the tensioner pulley of cause the belt to come loose/partially off?
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Old Nov 26th, 13, 11:01 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: 1998 3.8 camaro serpentine belt randomly came loose last night.

Any pulley out of alignment, see from the side of the car, can 'pull' a belt off from a smooth pulley.
Batteries need usage and need charge.
Measure a battery after a 50 mile run.
Then measure the same battery one month later, probably around 12.0 volts.
Makes for a heck of a load on the alt for recharge.
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Old Nov 26th, 13, 11:30 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: 1998 3.8 camaro serpentine belt randomly came loose last night.

I just don't understand why it would randomly come off. I mean if it was the pulley, wouldn't it of made a squeal before it would just randomly one night when i turn it on come off? Because if it was out of alignment, it seems i would of noticed some kind of warning
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Old Nov 26th, 13, 03:53 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: 1998 3.8 camaro serpentine belt randomly came loose last night.

The squeal depends upon the pulley and its bearing. If a bad bearing, they will squeal most of the time and if under load, the bearing may lock up, pulley stops turning, belt is pulled off. Then next time belt is installed, the balls are aligned/unstuck and one would never know of a bad bearing until next time the bearing locks up. It may turn for 5 minutes, it may run until tomorrow.
The same random pull-off could happen if the tensioner spring is broken, not able to apply enough force keeping the belt taut/tight. Place a load upon the belt, pulls the tensioner loose, belt comes off.
If a belt of poor workmanship is installed, as in the smooth side of the belt has defects in it, such as a slanted sliced belt rather than a straight cut belt, the slanted slice could allow the belt to run off the smooth pulley. You might turn the belt around next time you install it from one of its random fly-offs.
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Old Nov 26th, 13, 04:28 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: 1998 3.8 camaro serpentine belt randomly came loose last night.

just because the belt is newer doesnt mean good, could be just loose enough fit that in the cold its slipping. what about tension, ?
might just take it all apart and see.
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Old Nov 28th, 13, 02:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: 1998 3.8 camaro serpentine belt randomly came loose last night.

Everett#2390 I think that it is the spring in the tensioner because when i put the belt back on it was loose enough that i could put it on without pulling the tensioner. i ended up buying a brand new belt and put it on today and the same thing... i can take it off without pulling the tensioner back to put the belt on. is this normal where if u pull hard on the belt then it can come off without pulling the tensioner? or should i buy a new tensioner? also... what is the difference between these two tensioners? (Links below)

http://www.ebay.com/itm/GATES-38195-...f7de41&vxp=mtr

or

http://www.ebay.com/itm/GATES-38289-...f55f7a&vxp=mtr

If it is the tensioner, could i buy the first link because it is cheaper? or would the second link be the only option?
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Old Nov 29th, 13, 04:35 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: 1998 3.8 camaro serpentine belt randomly came loose last night.

if you can get the belt on without relieving the pressure from the tensioner you have a seized tensioner. the smaller one Z/28 - linked looks wrong, I'd say the bigger one is correct. its going to be 1 or the other but all pictures and videos I have seen show the larger one for $52.00 is correct for your car. google the install on you tube, videos there to give you tips and a visual. you need to make your own determination by inspecting the part, heck - take it off and get to a napa or GM dealer and get a replacement. its got to be a in stock fast moving type part & you can be burning fuel before lunch! right?

Z/28 tensioner, its in the notes. these notes have to match your application exactly.
This part is compatible with 4 vehicle(s) matching 1998 Camaro.
Notes
Important part details Year Make Model Trim Engine
Accessory Drive; Qty... 1998 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 Convertible 2-Door 5.7L 350Cu. In. V8 GAS OHV Naturally Aspirated
Accessory Drive; Qty... 1998 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 Coupe 2-Door 5.7L 350Cu. In. V8 GAS OHV Naturally Aspirated
Accessory Drive; Qty... 1998 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 SS Convertible 2-Door 5.7L 350Cu. In. V8 GAS OHV Naturally Aspirated
Accessory Drive; Qty... 1998 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 SS Coupe 2-Door 5.7L 350Cu. In. V8 GAS OHV Naturally Aspirated
Portions of the information contained in this table have been provided by discountapw
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Last edited by Z27LS3; Nov 29th, 13 at 04:41 AM. Reason: add text
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Old Nov 29th, 13, 05:36 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: 1998 3.8 camaro serpentine belt randomly came loose last night.

I agree with Mr. Walsh.
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