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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
For the last several thousand miles, I've noticed a pair of sounds from under the hood, one intermittent during idle, the other when AC compressor is engaged.

First: *sometimes* during idle, especially after reaching full operating temp, I hear "marbles" from under the hood. Definitely around the serpentine belt, definitely below the PS pump. This noise has been present for quite some time, and seems to be increasing in volume and frequency of occurrence, but always sounding like marbles bouncing around, usually noticed when sitting in traffic, window down, sound bouncing off the car next to drive side window. It's been a bugger to hear with hood up cuz it comes and goes.

Second, when AC is engaged, I hear a sound best described as d-d-d-ddeeee-d-d-ddeeee-d-d-dddeeeee. This is never heard inside the cabin, but is clear when standing outside the vehicle and appears to be originating down low in the AC compressor area. With hood open, the electric fans mask the sound enough to make locating its source difficult.

At first, I thought both sounds were attributable to the AC clutch, marbles cuz the clutch is disengaged, d-d-d when engaged - both indicating a spinning mass issue and pending failure, I thought. Today, I had time to stop by for a quick visit with helpful Harry over at Premiere Auto Service here in San Marcos. He was kind enough to loan his stethoscope and probe a few key spots in the rotating accessory assembly. He nailed the idler and tensioner pulleys and let me hear it for myself.

So.... armed with new info, I looked up relevant info in the FSM and started checking out parts cuz this is the kind of repair I'm comfortable with.

Pulleys are cheap @ around $30 for the pair, while a new tensioner assembly is $145. Cheap Bastard that I am, cheap is attractive but I don't wanna replace pulleys only to have the tensioner crap out in a few thousand miles.

Honda Parts Cheaper:
Text Diagram Font Line Design


FSM says if tension position indicator changes between motor off and motor idle, replace the tensioner. It definitely changes position, but only by the amount shown inside the red circle below, which is about the width of the indicator mark cast into the assembly:

Text Line art Diagram Auto part Illustration


06 has 127K on the clock and I wanna keep her for as long as she'll have me. What do you guys say about this? Drop the cheap bastard routine and go new? While I hate spending money needlessly, I have no gauge to measure life expectancy of the tensioner itself.

Your wisdom is welcome! And thanks in advance.
 

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2008 Ridgeline RTS in Billet Silver Metallic
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OhSix, I have the S-belt and tensioner replaced when the TB service is done. I figure it's cheap insurance. But you have me wondering if the shop replaced the tensioner pulley only or if they replaced the assembly, which was my intent.
 

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2006 Ridgeline RTS in Steel Blue
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I had both replaced while they had it apart or atleast that was my intension also. I'll have to pull the paperwork and review in the morning.

Six, have you already had the timing belt done? If so I'm guessing the serpentine belt was done at that time. If your unsure I have a new serpentine belt that you could change at the time, your doing this.

If it was me and it's something I was tearing into, my time is worth something, and considering what I'm saving DIY, I'd do both rather than do it twice?

YMMV
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
OhSix, I have the S-belt and tensioner replaced when the TB service is done. I figure it's cheap insurance. But you have me wondering if the shop replaced the tensioner pulley only or if they replaced the assembly, which was my intent.
I had both replaced while they had it apart or atleast that was my intension also. I'll have to pull the paperwork and review in the morning.

Six, have you already had the timing belt done? If so I'm guessing the serpentine belt was done at that time. If your unsure I have a new serpentine belt that you could change at the time, your doing this.

If it was me and it's something I was tearing into, my time is worth something, and considering what I'm saving DIY, I'd do both rather than do it twice?

YMMV
Thanks guys. A136 was done by Harry's crew a while back. But I'll be danged if I recall details or if was this year or late 15.

Brain fade. A toll on the road to golden years. Damn it.

Paper work is in a folder in my office cuz I was making calls on the airbag recall notice I've been ignoring, so confirmation will hafta wait til tomorrow. When Harry was commissioned to do the work, details like leaving upper/lower hoses until I got around to radiator replacement were discussed, and yesterday we touched on whether the belt & tensioner were serviced at that time. He didn't think so and offered to look it up. Saturdays are busy at his place and he was doing me a favor, so told him to go help paying customers. I'd confirm the invoice and get back to him.

Going by appearance - which can be misleading - the belt looks newish:
Auto part Tire Automotive wheel system Automotive tire Wheel


The tension indicator looks as though the assembly has been there since 06's motor was built new, so I dunno:
Metal Architecture Steel Silver


After sleeping on it, and pending invoice review, it would be goofy to invest the time and not do the job right. $100 is "cheap" in the overall scheme. I guess. Beside, did you notice how dirty the motor is? Good time to release the OCD hounds.

I find info in the FSM to be lacking or misleading. Replacing pulleys is fully described, and parts are readily available, which suggests the tensioner has life cycle characteristics exceeding that of bearings. Unless I missed it, other than to observe position deflection @ idle, there isn't a procedure to measure tensioner condition. Without a description of the tensioner design - which I ASSume to me spring loaded - and given the limited range of motion - other than spring degradation - what it there to wear out in the tensioner?

Overthinking gets in the way of progress.
 

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Oh Six, I have a squeaky idler pulley. I, like you, wanted to just do the whole auto tensioner assembly instead of simply doing the pulley. After 10 years and 154,000 miles, it's time. I was able to find a complete Gates kit from Rockauto which included the auto tensioner, both pulleys already attached to it AND a new serp belt for $72 shipped to my door. All of the reviews of the Gates kit suggest that it's an OEM Honda part re-badged as a Gates part. Save yourself some cash and get the whole kit. I will be installing it in a few weekends when I get some time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Oh Six, I have a squeaky idler pulley. I, like you, wanted to just do the whole auto tensioner assembly instead of simply doing the pulley. After 10 years and 154,000 miles, it's time. I was able to find a complete Gates kit from Rockauto which included the auto tensioner, both pulleys already attached to it AND a new serp belt for $72 shipped to my door. All of the reviews of the Gates kit suggest that it's an OEM Honda part re-badged as a Gates part. Save yourself some cash and get the whole kit. I will be installing it in a few weekends when I get some time.
Holy Cheap Bastard Back Scratchers Batman! Love that price!
After checking the invoice for A136 service was done @ 104,540. Other than WP, time belt tensioner, belt, cam & crank seals, the accessory belt was replaced at that time (OEM part $52 thru Harry's shop).

Accessory pulleys and tensioner weren't replaced. That was 23K ago. Should have done it then but...

At half the price of a new OEM tensioner alone, I'm thinking it best to order up the same kit you found and call it even.

You just saved me over $100.

Thanks for the info!
 

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Carsmak pointed out that it might be helpful to post a link or more info on the kit. If you just go to rockauto.com and go through the drop down lists for Honda, 20XX (whatever year your truck is), Ridgeline and Belt drive, there are a few choices under Belt drive component kit. The Gates kit is $65.99 plus shipping. The time between when I ordered it and when it showed up at my door was less than 24 hours. That may vary depending on where you live, but it was very fast. The kit looks to be made very well. There is some direction with it that a plastic tab on the timing belt cover must be ground away so that the belt does not make contact with it. I believe this was a TSB several years ago, but it includes a template to do the job yourself. Nothing a dremel can't handle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I replaced both the pulleys not to long ago and my faint squeak went away for awhile and sorta came back. I cant understand how the tensioner can fail with such a thick spring inside....
Thats what I was thinking! Consider the duty cycle of cylinder head valve springs. Although I'm sure valve springs employ a different alloy, and I've not seen the tensioner spring itself, it doesn't make sense it could degrade to the point where it could no longer resist motion with proper tension. With such limited range of motion, it also makes no sense any sort of bushing could wear out either.

But then again, why does tensioner design include deflection indicator mentioned in FSM, serving as "replace" go/no go criteria? GRRRR. This is the difference between a mechanic - who follows work instructions, learning from experience over time and a DIY vehicle owner with frugality incentive. Follow the damned instructions is probably the simplest answer.

OCD on the topic ensued, so a mild effort to educate invoked the google reflex. If ever bored and lonely, or in need of reading material to lull you to sleep, try reading these snore fests:
Force degradation of closed coil springs: an in vitro evaluation. - PubMed - NCBI
Acoustic-emission investigation of the sensitivity of spring steel to hydrogen degradation | SpringerLink

And who knew there is a "Spring Manufacturers Institute of America"?
Spring Manufacturers Institute

Serious propeller head geek OCD is a first world problem for sure. LOL

Emoticon Smile


Carsmak pointed out that it might be helpful to post a link or more info on the kit. If you just go to rockauto.com and go through the drop down lists for Honda, 20XX (whatever year your truck is), Ridgeline and Belt drive, there are a few choices under Belt drive component kit. The Gates kit is $65.99 plus shipping. The time between when I ordered it and when it showed up at my door was less than 24 hours. That may vary depending on where you live, but it was very fast. The kit looks to be made very well. There is some direction with it that a plastic tab on the timing belt cover must be ground away so that the belt does not make contact with it. I believe this was a TSB several years ago, but it includes a template to do the job yourself. Nothing a dremel can't handle.
In my case, procrastination blended with seeker of knowledge is often a road block to progress. But the unnatural, marble-ish, and d-d-dee-d-d-dee-dee noise from under the hood inspires action.

SO the go forward decision is:
-Order the kit you found.
-Install the new tensioner with the existing belt having less than 24K miles of use.
-Retain the OEM tensioner and new belt from the kit.
-If a future issue evolves, order new OEM pulleys. Attach to old OEM tensioner, install new belt.

TAH DAH! So it is written, so it shall be. :grin:

Thanks again for the tip.
 

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^^ That's exactly what I'd do. A new belt was put on mine about 4 years ago when I swapped out my alternator (even though bad PS fluid turned out to be the cause of a whining noise). Five months later, I did the timing belt service. The TB kit came with a new belt, so I just kept that one. I didn't need a new belt, but the component kit happened to come with one. I'll use the new belt with the kit and hold onto the tensioner and other belt I have just in case. Just more stuff for my "car parts" collection in my garage. I could have gotten just the tensioner and pulleys, but the belt was only about $10 more. Just made sense.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
^^ That's exactly what I'd do. A new belt was put on mine about 4 years ago when I swapped out my alternator (even though bad PS fluid turned out to be the cause of a whining noise). Five months later, I did the timing belt service. The TB kit came with a new belt, so I just kept that one. I didn't need a new belt, but the component kit happened to come with one. I'll use the new belt with the kit and hold onto the tensioner and other belt I have just in case. Just more stuff for my "car parts" collection in my garage. I could have gotten just the tensioner and pulleys, but the belt was only about $10 more. Just made sense.
The Gates kit fro Rock Auto arrived yesterday. I was more than surprised to see this:

Label


Very encouraging the parts are made in Canada vs. China. Not that I have a problem buying Chinese manufactured goods - its unavoidable in certain consumer segments. In this case, it makes me think there's a closer relationship with OEM castings than might might exist with stuff made overseas. Decent looking parts.

Wheel Auto part Automotive wheel system Button
Wheel Auto part Automotive wheel system Tire Automotive tire


And descriptive work instructions.

Text Font Paper


Saturday morning project looms. Hopefully, marbles and d-d-deee-d-d-d-d will be a thing of the past. For a good long while.
 

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Exact same kit with the exact same quality parts that I got. Make sure you take pictures and do a write-up on the process of the removal of material of the timing cover. That's the only part of the install on which I'm not 100% certain. A Dremel will certainly make quick work of it, but just need to know where to grind. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Exact same kit with the exact same quality parts that I got. Make sure you take pictures and do a write-up on the process of the removal of material of the timing cover. That's the only part of the install on which I'm not 100% certain. A Dremel will certainly make quick work of it, but just need to know where to grind. Good luck!
Used a Dremel with a round bit to mod the timing belt cover. Easy peasy. The material is dense-but-soft, perhaps a nylon composite of some sort.

Anyhow, couple of tips learned:

The TSB and FSM are straight forward, but there's a couple of bumps along the process. Other than those instructions, I'll add:

FSM shows use of a tool to relieve tension on the belt during de/reinstallation. I'll be damned if I'll be buying a special tool for this kind of project, so I use a large Snap On 1/2" drive swivel head ratchet and shallow 14mm socket. But there's a bracket attached to pass side upper motor mount with a battery ground cable attached to it that needs removal to make room for the ratchet.

Auto part Fuel line Engine Vehicle Car


Once the bracket is out of the way, you find out how tense the tensioner is. It's pretty stout.

The drive belt cover rib to be modified can't be seen from above, but you can see the bolt head.

Auto part Engine Automotive engine part Vehicle Car


Couple of notes on the tensioner assembly.

There's a nylon keeper inserted in a recess on the block side of the tensioner body, where the fixed pulley bolt passes thru. It hangs on to the threads enough to make it so the bolt can't be removed once its loosened from the block. So, once the bolt is loose, just let it float. You'll deal with it after the tensioner assembly is removed

Auto part Wheel Automotive engine part Metal


The Gates kit has a box containeing the fixed idler pulley. It States: "Note: The bearing in this product is greased and sealed and therefore does not require the dust cover that may be used on the original pulley. Check for interference before reusing the original dust cover."

What the note should state is: The dust original dust cover CANNOT be used with the pulley supplied with this product."

The original pulley has a tapered face, into which the dust cover fits but does not interfere with pulley rotation. If someone were to install the Gates kit with the original dust cover, they would lock the pulley down as the bolt tightens to 33lbs.

Tire Automotive tire Wheel Auto part Rim
Auto part Wheel Automotive wheel system Metal


Also note: the nylon keeper mentioned above has a key feature that made me think there is a mating feature in the OEM and/or Gates tensioner body. There isn't. No big deal, just an observation.

Double and triple checking what was about to be trimmed, I stored the image in TSB on my phone to be used as reference when working thru the wheel well.

Auto part Drawing Automotive engine part Engine Fictional character
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 · (Edited)
The trimmed rib:

Auto part


With everything in place, the motor is smooth and mable/d-d-d-ddeeee-d-d-d-d-d free. Which is nice.

However, I do notice the pulleys sit a bit farther out than the OEM assembly. This caused me to question if I'd assembled correctly, so double checked my self with eyes and torque. The belt simply doesn't ride dead center on the pulley surface. There is a small amount of pulley surface that can be seen on the block side, so it's not like the belt overhangs the inner edge. Still, I'll keep ears and eyes open on this for the next 100 miles or so.

Auto part Vehicle Engine Car Fuel line


Tools:
Jack
Jack stands
Phillips head driver (splash guards)
Panel tool (wheel house liner clips)
1/2 drive ratchet
3/8 drive ratchet
Torque wrench(es)
14mm socket (fixed pulley bolt)
12mm socket (lower tensioner mount bolt)
10mm socket (engine mount ground tab)

Pretty straight forward work. 2 hours at a leisurely pace.

BTW: with engine idling, new tensioner deflects by the same amount the original did. I suspect there was no issue with belt tension.
The fixed pulley bearing is the noise culprit. Slight wobble noted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Good thread! Here's one that I started in 2014 on a similar subject. I clearanced the webbing on the timing belt cover by feel from above with a file, which was a bit of a PIA but as a result, I was able to skip the wheel and splash guard removal part of the process. . . http://www.ridgelineownersclub.com/...2006-2014/80257-changing-serpentine-belt.html
Wish I'd have seen that thread earlier! Saw your comment about having a buddy near by. This was one of those times a third arm would have come in handy. I'm amazed you were able to do everything top side. You must be a very patient guy!

Forgot to mention, with belt removed, its a great time to check out PS pump pulley for signs of wobble. Same for alternator. AC pump freewheeled smoothly too. A slight confidence builder for continued trouble free miles ahead.
 

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I've replaced a ton of the pulley bearings at work on our buses. They are inexpensive and easy to knock out and back in. I've only seen a hand full of tensioner that the spring was broken.
 

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OhSix, thank you so much for the very thorough write up with pictures. I will be referencing them when I tackle this job this coming weekend.
 
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