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Serpentine (drive) Belt Idler Pulley


AZ Mike
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Last Saturday, I got part way into the TB/water pump replacement on my '99 LS400 before I had to put everything on the back burner until today. My question has to do with the idler pulley for the serpentine, or drive belt (not timing belt). Specifically, the pulley attached to the tensioner arm. When I spin it with the belt off, it spins nicely, but there is a faint noise....sounds like the ball bearings are moving just a bit. I presume that the ball bearings should be seated in the race and not moving, right? If that is the case, I would want to replace that pulley while I have everything apart on the front of the engine, right? Or is it not uncommon to have just a little noise, and it's failure would not necessarily happen shortly??

All my parts for the TB/WP job are OEM Toyota parts. If I replace the serpentine belt idler pulley, I need to go pick up the part today (no time to wait on mail order). For the serpentine belt, does it really matter much whether I get a Lexus pulley or the version that they sell at Checker Auto??

This car only has 62K miles, but I have gone past the time interval on the TB by nearly four years.

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The bearing isn't gone, but the fact that I can hear anything is a sign of wear. When I removed the pulley and shook it, I could hear just a little play in the bearing. I didn't want to wait on a part mail order, so called the dealer. I know from looking at online parts that the MSRP on the pulley is in the $70's. Local dealer quoted me $121!! Called AutoZone; they had a GoodYear replacement pulley for $21. I decided to save the $100 on a serpentine belt idler pulley.

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