how to can’t


I changed the drive belts on my daughter’s little Sentra the other day, and before I did the job, I consulted the internet for guidance.

Of course, the things that I read mostly talked about the problems that people were having with a job that, before I read any of these stranger’s mechanical shortcomings, was always something that I considered pretty easy.

It bothered me.

It made me think that maybe this was a couple of steps above my pay grade.

When I got started on the job, I couldn’t see how I was going to figure it all out.

Laying in the cool gravel driveway, I couldn’t find the tensioners on an unfamiliar car.

Suddenly, I started to understand how easy it would be to “can’t”.

I banged my head on the rotor….I scraped my knuckles on the power steering pump….but….

I found both of the tensioner bolts and the job was just like it had been on all the other cars that I’d worked on.

We were quoted a price of 179.00 for replacing the two belts (for the car to pass inspection) ….and I did it for the cost of parts and a little time spent on my back in our driveway.

So…. for about 23.00 in parts, my daughter can pass inspection and get the little car licensed for another school year.

I guess that the easiest information to find is always going to be the most discouraging…..whether you’re watching the evening news or trolling the internet for instruction about fixing a 1996 Nissan Sentra.

You have to watch out for the things that tell you how to can’t.


(Easy info about replacing the belts: You have to take off the two plastic dust shields on the passenger side of the car. One’s in the wheel well….take the tire off first…..the other under the car right in front of the one in the wheel well. This will make it easier to reach stuff from underneath the car. Then loosen the nut at the idler pulley. This will free it up to move when you turn the adjuster that’s down by/behind the big pulley on the lower right hand side. The adjuster is to the right and behind that big pulley.  Then, go up top and loosen the nut at the back of the adjuster on the power steering pump. This nut will free up the pump to move when you turn the adjuster. The adjuster nut is to the left of the nut on the back. Screw it counter-clockwise to loosen that you did with the other adjuster. This should loosen everything enough to get the old belts off and the new belts on. There’s good information on doing this if you hunt around the internet….the main thing is to get everything routed right and seated correctly on the pulleys….then tightened back down enough that the belts don’t squeal but not so tight that you burn up the bearings in your alternator or power steering or water pumps. The belt should feel kind of tight but you should still be able to push it in a little. Be careful working under the car….a good jack and jack stands are a must…..put the tire under the frame. It’s kind of a pain in the rear….but doable. I guess that’s what I’m saying is….this is doable. It’s just kind of tight….and dark…and dirty.

Don’t let yourself believe that you can’t.)

About Peter Rorvig

I'm a non-practicing artist, a mailman, a husband, a father...not listed in order of importance. I believe that things can always get better....and that things are usually better than we think.

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