You need to keep all of the internal parts of your car working at a high level in order to have your vehicle performing at a consistent and powerful rate. One of these parts that directly influences the engine and the engine belts are the idler pulley – if this part is damaged or worn-down over time, the idler pulley replacement cost can become quite expensive.
However, if you catch the normal idler pulley replacement symptoms on time, you will not have to pay as much for the replacement. The total price to replace the idler pulley usually ranges between $80 and $200. The average price of the labor comes to less than the parts cost, with the total cost of hte parts ranging between $40 and $90, and the labor dependent on the hourly rate of the specific auto body shop you choose.
To figure out the total idler pulley replacement cost for your specific vehicle, you need to know the function of the idler pulley, the signs of a damaged pulley, the causes of a damaged pulley or serpentine belt, and the average cost.
What is the idler pulley?
The idler pulley is the part of your system that drives the belt of a vehicle. It directly correlates with the drive belt, serpentine belt, and your car’s engine, helping to regulate the crankshaft and engine accessories. Along with the belts and crankshaft, the idler pulley influences the steering pump, compressor, and alternator.
Designed with a sheave, or a wheel that contains a groove, the idler is positioned between two supports. These supports are formed around a belt, which sits in the groove of the idler pulley. The crankshaft rotates the inside wheel, turning the belt and causing the mechanical power to be transmitted from the engine’s pulley.
Idler pulleys are the engine pulleys that guide the tension in the belts. These drive belts control accessories like the alternator, power steering pump, and the AC Compressor, helping to make a smooth rotating point for the engine belts so that power and energy can be easily transferred. However, over time these belts and pulleys can wear out, leading to expensive idler pulley replacement costs. Let’s find out some of the symptoms that you will notice when your idler pulley becomes damaged.
A common symptom of an issue with the idler pulley that can lead to a replacement is squealing from the engine belts. If the surface wears down and becomes damaged due to the pulley bind’s consistent use, it can cause the engine to squeal. In some instances where the pulley has become significantly worn, it can cause the belt to squeal when you first turn on the car.
Another symptom that is more visible with drivers is that a damaged bearing or pulley can cause a pulley breakdown, leading to cracking, holes forming, and seizing. This can lead to the belt to rotate improperly and cause a torn serpentine belt or a belt falling off of the engine.
Causes of Idler Pulley Noise
When determining how much you might spend on the idler pulley replacement costs, you need to be aware of the signs and symptoms that your idler pulley is damaged or breaking down over time.
As you know, the idler pulley is a vital component used to guide the drive belts in your vehicle. The idler pulley works to route the drive belts to prevent them from running on any accessories and disrupting energy flow. Using idler pulleys keeps your belts properly aligned and rotating at the right speeds and directions, affecting your car’s entire internal function and performance.
Most modern cars on the market today have only one idler pulley, which can reduce the idler pulley replacement cost when compared to needing to fix two mechanisms. Some specialized cars, like luxury vehicles or sports cars, have more than one idler pulley,, enhancing the idler pulley replacement cost. Over time, regardless of how many pulleys your vehicle uses, an idler pulley will eventually become worn out and run down and prevent the timing belts’ proper functioning.
You can notice this happening by obvious signs and symptoms in your car. Keeping an eye and ear out for these noises, sounds, feelings, and occurrences in your vehicle can keep your car running safely and at a high level for a long period of time.
When you hear a noise coming from the idler pulley, it usually is related to one of three main causes in your vehicle. By knowing the three main signs, you can prevent these issues from getting any worse and causing irreversible damage or very expensive replacements that can cause your car to be undrivable for the future.
Old and Worn Out Pulley
Just like any other parts of your vehicle, an idler pulley can wear down and become damaged over time. The constant spinning with the drive belt and serpentine belt can cause increased friction, overheating, and excess wear after idler pulleys repeatedly while driving.
Over time, the pulley will develop scuffs and other abrasions on the surface where the materials rub against each other. You will notice noises at this time, but they will become worse as time goes on, and the damage gets worse.
Once the worn-out pulley becomes more broken down over time and succumbs to excess damage, you will begin to notice the idler pulley slipping. This slipping causes the pulley to bind and rub against the engine belt and the serpentine drive belt. This will cause squeaking noises that will only become louder until the idler pulley is replaced after analyzing the idler pulley replacement cost.
If you let the pulley slippage go on for too long without any fixes, it can harm other belts and internal engine components that can lead to expensive repairs and higher idler pulley replacement costs in the future.
In situations where you let the first two causes of idler pulley damage go on overtime, like pulley slippage and a worn-out pulley, the idler pulley will break and no longer be able to function. The idler pulley will begin to crack and form holes, causing the entire mechanism and engine to fall apart a little bit at a time. This can lead to the serpentine completely breaking.
Keep reading to figure out how the idler pulley damage and misalignment directly correlate with the serpentine belt function.
Idler Pulley Misalignment & Serpentine Belt
Two parts that go hand in hand are the idler pulley and the serpentine belt. If you notice anything is wrong with either one of these parts, it can significantly increase the idler pulley replacement cost.
Aside from the idler pulley working with the drive belt tensioner, the idler pulley can also be a catalyst to serpentine belt misalignment. The idler pulley is one of the parts that keep the serpentine belt moving correctly and in-line. The idler pulley’s function is to help move the other engine accessories and cause serpentine belt noise and a higher idler pulley replacement cost if it is misaligned.
Serpentine Belt Function
A serpentine belt is meant to run on various belts and pulleys, like the idler pulley. If any of the devices do not align correctly with the serpentine belt, the serpentine belt will begin to make loud noises. This problem is usually discovered after a new belt still squeals, wears down too quickly, or makes loud noises that are audible to the driver. A clear symptom that can alert you to this misalignment is increased wear on just one side of the belt. If the serpentine belt wears down unevenly, this can lead to an increased idler pulley replacement cost.
Serpentine Belt Damage
This breakdown on the serpentine belt usually can be seen visually during an inspection by you or a mechanic. If you can see where the idler pulley is not lined up, the belt will squeak, and the alternator can shift at an improper angle. This improper shifting can cause the idler pulley to be misaligned with the serpentine belt, so the belt squeals and wears down quicker.
In addition to idler pulley misalignment, there can also be a noisy idler pulley or tensioner bearing. Many cars use the idler pulley to route and align the serpentine belt, which spins on a bearing. When this bearing goes bad, it can produce a loud screeching sound and an increased idler pulley replacement cost.
Since several belt-driven devices can make a similar noise to this one when the bearing is damaged, this might take a little longer to diagnose and be harder to find. Mechanics have to use special tools to look for this noise source, since a similar sound can be made from the power steering pump or alternator, instead of just the serpentine belt noise.
Idler Pulley Replacement Cost
Now that you know the signs of damage in the idler pulley and how the idler pulley can influence the serpentine belt and vise versa, it is crucial to note the idler pulley replacement cost. The total price to replace the idler pulley typically ranges between $80 and $200, with the parts ranging between $40 and $90, and the total labor cost averaged between $40 and $110.
Idler Pulley Replacement Cost Comparison
Looking at the average price of the idler pulley replacement, certain factors can affect how much you might pay for this fix – like where you get the procedure and service done. If you are looking to visit your local mechanic, you can expect to pay between $163 and $367 for the replacement.
If you would rather go to a chain store to have the idler pulley replacement, then Midas will charge between $155 and $351 for the total price, while Mr. Tire ranges between $168 and $377. NAPA will charge you an average of $149 and $359, making this the cheapest option for going to a chain store for the idler pulley replacement.
If you feel like you can do this fix on your own, or if you want to get cheaper parts to bring to your local mechanic shop, you can purchase the parts only at Walmart or Amazon. At Walmart, the price will range between $92 and $175 total, while the parts’ Amazon price will range between $89 and $241.
Sample Idler Pulley Replacement Costs
Regarding how much you will pay for the idler pulley replacement cost, you can use this guide to see the sample costs for the most common cars on the market today. The least expensive option for the replacement costs is for the Nissan Altima, with the total price ranging between $161 and $197, with the cost of labor between $65 and $85, and the total cost of the parts between $96 and $112.
The middle of the road options involves the Toyota cars – the Toyota Corolla and the Toyota Camry. These car options average between $175 and $210 total, running between $80 and $90 for labor and between $105 and $120 for the total cost of parts.
The next options for the sample idler pulley replacement costs involve the Ford cars – the Ford F-Series and the Ford Focus. Both of these cars range between $223 and $276, with the labor costing between $98 and $120, and the total cost of the parts ranging between $125 and $156.
The most expensive option for the idler pulley replacement cost is the Honda cars – the Honda CR-V, Honda Civic, and Honda Accord, with each one of these cars running between $253 and $321. The total price of the labor for these cars ranges between $118 and $143, with the total cost of the parts averaging $135 and $178.
When determining how much you are going to pay for your idler pulley replacement cost, you must know the causes of the idler pulley damage and the symptoms to keep an eye and ear out for. When noticing problems with your serpentine belt, pulley damage, pulley slippage, worn out bearings, or the belt squealing, you know it is time to find out how much you might pay for the idler pulley replacement cost.