Four Things to Keep in Mind when Dealing with Hydraulic Tensioners

Before, engines used a manual tensioner for the drives. This tensioner needed to be installed and locked in place. However, these days, automatic tensioners have been used for controlling belt tension and the drive system’s dynamic behavior for a lot of years. They optimize the belt tension in function and adjust to changes that may take place in the engine and belt characteristics. There are two primary systems designed to guarantee optimal tensions. The first one is the design that involves the spring-loaded mechanical tensioner controlling the belt tension. The other is composed of a hydraulic tensioner. When dealing with hydraulic tensioners, the following must be taken into account:

Proper Storage

It is important to store hydraulic actuators upright to prevent leakage and ensure the oil does not mix with the air. The oil contains air bubbles which could result in a non-damping situation that can lead to tooth shear or jump.

Proper Installation

Once all components are installed, the retaining pin must be removed. These components include the hydraulic actuator, new belt, lever, and pulley. Installers must refer to the OE recommendations while replacing the belt system.

Accidentally removing the pin in inverted or horizontal tensioner positions requires gentle compression of the piston rod in an upright position and installing the part. To separate oil and air before engine startup, the engine must be rotated by hand. Also, once the engine is rotated in two full revolutions, it is important to let the system sit for fifteen minutes before startup.


Often, a hydraulic tensioner can function with a bigger range of dynamic belt lengths than mechanical tensioners. Because of the actuator’s length of stroke and the lever design, the tensioner system is ideal for big V6 and V8 applications. With its high undirectional damping characteristic, it can be perfect for applications that have high dynamic loads as it controls the dynamic belt behavior.

Component Replacements

Degradation of the actuator and the wear in tensioner pulley bearing are normal and can result in a loss of performance. Because of the susceptibility of these systems to contamination, oil leaks can take place in the actuator seal. As a result, the system can wear more quickly and there will be incorrect damping. Also, s the system’s parts are in constant motion, components tend to wear out after some time. Without regular maintenance and components replacement, the risk of component failure and engine damage increases.

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