How to Take off the Belt Tensioner on a 2002 Ford Windstar Van

Last updated January 05, 2013

How to Take off the Belt Tensioner on a 2002 Ford Windstar Van. Ford released the Windstar -- the only one of its minivans to live past the first generation design -- in the 1995 model year. In terms of size, the Windstar was a little bit bigger than its cousin the Mercury Villager, and just a little bit smaller than its predecessor the Aerostar. The Windstar wasn't incredibly popular, but Ford did manage to catch a good market share because it beat the release of the third-generation Dodge Caravan by more than a year. The 3.8-liter engine was the only engine Ford offered in the Windstar after 2001, and it used a single serpentine belt to drive the engine's accessories. Replacing the tensioner for this belt is a painless process, and you can do it with simple hand tools.

Things Needed

  • Hydraulic jack
  • Jack stands
  • 15 mm box-end wrench
  • Socket set
  • Ratchet
  • Penetrating oil
  • Torque wrench
  • Step 1

    Set the parking brake, then lift the front end with a hydraulic jack. Place jack stands under the lift pads in the pinch welds, behind the front tires. Lower the front end onto the jack stands. Open the hood and look around the engine bay for a belt routing sticker. If you can't find one, draw out a sketch of the belt routing or take a picture with a camera phone or digital camera.

    Step 2

    Look below the power steering pump to find the automatic belt tensioner. Place a 15 mm box-end wrench on the tensioner pulley bolt. Rotate the tensioner clockwise and slide the belt off the tensioner pulley. Slowly release the tensioner and remove the belt from the engine. Inspect the belt and replace it if you find the edges are frayed, there are lengthwise cracks or glazing on its backside.

    Step 3

    Crawl under the van, remove the bolts for the splash shield and place the shield aside. Spray penetrating oil around the belt tensioner bolts; chances are the tensioner hasn't been replaced yet, and the penetrating oil will help break loose any corrosion. Remove the three bolts for the belt tensioner and remove it. Mount a new tensioner in its place and tighten the bolts to 35 foot-pounds with a torque wrench. Install the splash shield and tighten the bolts just snug. Lower the van to the ground.

    Step 4

    Route the belt around the pulley system, using the diagram or pictures as a reference. Hold upward tension on the belt at the power steering pulley. Rotate the tensioner clockwise and slide the belt over the pulley. Slowly release the tensioner to tension the belt. Inspect the belt and make sure it sits within the grooves of each pulley. Shut the hood.


  • Best to replace the belt with the tensioner.