October 22, 2021

OEM Auto Tensioner VS. Parts Store Auto Tensioner- By [SPOOLIGAN]

I can’t stress how important it is to NEVER under any circumstances use an auto tensioner from the parts store. I found out the hard way back in 2012 after doing a 6 bolt swap in my 2G.

I bought the auto tensioner from Advance Auto. After I completed the swap, I was staring at my engine bay a couple days later. Still haven’t put the upper timing belt cover on. I decided to feel the slack on my timing belt which I have done a thousand times before this swap. To my amazement, there was a lot of slack. It was so bad that I could have literally pulled the timing belt completely off of my cam gears with my bare hands.

Obviously, I decided to redo the timing. Maybe I messed something up with the tensioner pulley? Maybe it’s not tight? Wrong. I did everything right. The auto tensioner I bought from Advance Auto was CRAP. I took it off 3 days after putting it on. 3 days after walking out of the parts store with it. I could literally press the rod in with my thumb. There was no tension what so ever.

So, I made the mistake a second time. Went back to Advance Auto to exchange it for another tensioner. Went to install that one and had to take it back off because I was a tooth off in my first attempt. So I compressed the tensioner in the vice so I could insert the grenade pin. This time, the damn rod broke! (pic below)


So, this time I said the hell with this, I am getting an OEM tensioner. I logged onto Extremepsi.com and purchased one. Installed it and never had any problems again.

If my upper timing belt cover wasn’t off, I would never have been able to feel the tension and know there was a problem. I could have destroyed my engine from the timing belt snapping/slipping or jumping timing. I hope you learned something from this.

I have since then seen countless people ruin perfectly good motors from using a parts store tensioner. Or having the same problems with tension. Luckily, some of them caught it in time as did I.