Imperial Homepage -> Repair -> Steering -> Power Steering -> Belts
Question from Michael (1955):
Took my 55 out of the garage today. Started fine, no problems. However, in about 20 minutes of pleasurable driving, both power steering belts broke. Problem is this is the third set in two years. (About 1000 miles of driving) Any idea on why and what I need to do to fix this problem.
Is it that the belts are too tight, or too loose? Wrong belts? Or something I have not even considered?
The belts should be tight enough so the don't slap all over the place when in use, but not so tight that you can't press midway between pulleys & have the belt move a bit. If the belts show extreme wear, there may be something wrong with the P/S pump. Also, look from the side of the car when the engine is running & check if any pulleys appear to be bent. This is a problem on the early 60's Imps.
Make sure you buy a matched set of belts when you need 2 running together if you didn't do this last time.
Possibly, the belts could be too tight. If they were too loose you would likely either throw a belt or hear a loud screeching noise when turning hard left or right. The belts should have approximately 3/8" play with moderate thumb pressure on the middle of the longest stretch of the belt.
Possibly too they are the wrong belts. With dual belts, generally the thin style belt is used. Make sure the top of the belt is below the upper ridge of the pulley. Also, I like Gates belts. They are quite durable in my experience, for everything from lawn tractors to roto-tillers to automobiles and go-karts.
Finally, check to see that the pulleys are aligned. If the pulleys are not parallel and on the same plane, the belts will wear out prematurely. You could have a bent bracket or a bolt with too many washers on one side. Also, often a belt that is too tight can distort the pulley alignment.
Follow-up question from Michael:
I am hoping that the broken power steering belts were just too wide. When I compared them to the generator belts they are wider. Also when I look at the broken belts, they look like they went through a grinder. They just didn't break, they were grounded up. There is grounded belt all over the bottom pulley. Would this be a sign of the belts being too large. From an eyes view the pulleys don't look bent or out of alignment.
When I go to buy the belts, do I just ask for the "thin" variety. Any help is appreciated. I just don't want to keep spending money on belts.
Reply from Phil:
You may want to try and order a matched set of belts. I've gotten into to this on other air conditioned Mopars as well. There is usually small difference between belts as they are manufactured, usually not a problem when a single belt is used, but a definite cause of noise and slipping when used in dual applications. I know NAPA used to sell matched belt sets, and maybe some other parts stores do as well. Take the time to see if they offer matched belts, before the counter man just hands you any 2 with the same number, without knowing if the belts are anywhere close in actual age, length or width. You may want to try a place that services and sells parts of RV's and large trucks, many of these vehicles used dual belts in many applications, and more than a few RV's have been powered by big block Chryslers.
Reply from John:
If they seem to be the wrong size, try ordering some from Andy Bernbaum. You may spend a bit more but should be the correct ones. Once you have a correct set, it should be easier to find others to match at your local parts store.
Question from Chad (1973):
My question is about the power steering belt. I purchased a new one already and was looking at the car and noticed what looked to be a tensioner for the power steering belt, although it is not spring loaded. It was located under the power steering pump and currently is not connected but is just a lone pulley on a bracket. Is this factory? Is the belt I bought for this added pulley? What does this do?
Reply from Steve:
My '73 has four belts. Two run the A/C compressor and alternator. Make sure you get a matched set on these belts. The belts have a code on them so you can make sure they came from the same run.
Belt #3 drives the PS pump (and fan? it's dark and I can't remember). Belt #4 drives the fan and is looped around the idler pulley that you see. The idler pulley is used to tighten that belt. The manual also mentions a configuration with air-pump but does not show any pictures of that configuration.
Follow-up from Chad:
I remember replacing the belts on my 73 New Yorker but never thought about getting ones from the same run. How do I tell which code tells when the belts were made. I would imagine the reasoning in this is to have the same properties as each other and share the same wear characteristics.
>Belt #3 drives the PS pump (and fan? it's dark and I can't remember). Belt #4 drives the fan >and is looped around the idler pulley that you see. The idler pulley is used to tighten that belt
I have one belt which goes on the fan and the PS pump, but what is the purpose of the belt that goes to the idler pulley? The only think I can think of is to keep the fan running if the PS belt breaks?
Reply from Steve:
> How do I tell which code tells when the belts were made. I would imagine the reasoning in >this is to have the same properties as each other and share the same wear characteristics.
In addition to the belt number there should be a date/run code on the belt. In an ideal world the belts should be the same length but they can vary slightly between runs.
> I have one belt which goes on the fan and the PS pump, but what is the purpose of the belt >that goes to the idler pulley? The only think I can think of is to keep the fan running if the PS >belt breaks?
I believe the second belt is probably there for the air pump equipped cars, but do not know that to be true. The fan on those engines can pull a heck of a lot of power when under a heavy load and the belt may cause the belt to slip. The second belt is also a handy backup if the p.s. belt should break.
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