Can You Reuse Timing Belt Tensioner? – Learn How to Do It

Yes, you can reuse the timing belt tensioner. But there are factors you must keep in mind. Timing belt tensioners are reusable if they’re in good condition. Tensioners lose their ability to optimize tension and adjust tension over time. Consider replacing the tensioner if it’s worn out or makes squeaking or rattling sounds.

Many people attempt to reuse the timing belt tensioners instead of replacing them with new ones. Reusing a timing belt tensioner can be a great way to save money on car repairs. But the real question is whether you should do it or not. 

So, this discussion is about the query on can you reuse timing belt tensioner?

Let’s now move into the detailed discussion on reusing the timing belt tensioner.

Can You Reuse a Timing Belt Tensioner?

Yes, you can reuse it, but it’s not recommended to reuse a timing belt tensioner. An engine’s timing belt tensioners play a vital role in maintaining the proper tension of the timing belt. So, if the reused timing belt tensioner has a problem, it can lead to severe consequences.

If the tensioner is not functioning properly, it can lead to problems such as belt slipping, misalignment, or even engine damage. As a result, you should consider some important factors while reusing the timing belt tensioner. 


Reusing a timing belt tensioner is not recommended because it can lead to severe consequences such as belt slipping, misalignment, or even engine damage.

Before I discuss the factors in detail, let’s see how to reuse a timing belt tensioner.

How to Reuse a Timing Belt Tensioner?

Reusing a timing belt tensioner can be a great way to save money on car repairs. It is important to take the time to properly reinstall the tensioner and ensure that it is functioning correctly. This guide will provide the steps necessary to do so.

Tools Needed

  • Screw drivers.
  • Socket set.
  • Torque wrench.
  • Combination wrenches.
  • Jack and Jack stand.

Step 1: Locate the Tensioner

It is usually located at the front/back side of the engine, but the location may vary depending on the engine model. Disconnect the negative cable from the battery. Then unscrew the bolt holding the tensioner in place to unmount it.

Worth adding, some people think that a timing belt may drain the battery but no it doesn’t.

Step 2: Remove Other Components

In some engine models, you need to disassemble some other engine parts first to get access to the timing belt tensioners. Such as the alternator/belt, power steering pump, water pump, air conditioning compressor, etc. Hence, remove them first.

Step 3: Remove the Tensioner

Be careful not to damage the timing belt while removing the tensioner. Check the tensioner for any signs of wear or damage. If there is any, replace the tensioner. The removal process may vary depending on the type of vehicle you are using.

Here’s a video you can watch to have a general idea of the tensioner removal process.

Step 4: Clean the Tensioner from Debris

Clean the tensioner and lubricate the bolt with any non-detergent petroleum-based oil before reinstalling it. If there’s oil or water contamination in the tensioner, it will affect proper grip and cause slippage.

Step 5: Reinstall the tensioner

Finally, reinstall the timing belt tensioner in the same position it was removed from.

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for tightening and adjusting the tensioner bolts. To ensure the tensioner is functioning correctly, perform a test run before driving.

Following these steps should help you safely and correctly reuse a timing belt tensioner. Remember that the above steps are general instructions for the replacement process. The replacement procedure may depend on your car model, brand, and engine type.

Your vehicle may have spring-loaded or hydraulic tensioners. Watch this video to learn how to set tension on spring-loaded timing belt tensioners.

If you’re going to reuse the hydraulic tensioner, make sure to bleed the air out before installing them.

Additionally, adjusting the proper tension is complex and requires the highest precision. In case you don’t know how to adjust the tensioner, here’s a video on adjusting the timing belt tension without any special tools. 

Alternatively, you can contact an automotive expert or take your vehicle to the nearest service center to adjust the belt tension properly. Now, let us move on to the factors.


To reuse the tensioner, first, gather the required tools and Locate the tensioner first, according to the engine type. Then, before removing the tensioner, disassemble other components if needed. Clean the tensioner by removing all debris. Finally, reuse the tensioner and adjust the proper tension.

Reusing Timing Belt Tensioners: What to Consider?

As I have mentioned earlier, you should keep some critical factors in mind when reusing the timing belt tensioner. Here are the factors discussed in detail below.

Factor 1: The Age Of the Tensioner

Make sure the timing belt tensioner you want to reuse is not too old and has some lifespan left in it to reuse. Although there’s no ideal timeframe, a belt tensioner should ideally last between 40,000-70,000 miles; you may need replacement after this period. (2)

In case, you’d want to know whether a timing belt has a date on it, here you’ll find that.

Factor 2: The Type of Tensioner

Whether you can reuse the timing belt tensioner depends on the type of tensioner. Ensure the tensioner you try to reuse is compatible and still reusable with the vehicle. Also, double-check the owner’s manual for the recommended tensioner type.

Factor 3: Worn-out Tensioner

Always visually inspect the tensioner you are trying to reuse for physical damage or cracks. Just like any other automotive parts, tensioners tend to lose their capability. Hence, ensure its tension adjustment functionality is working properly. 

Factor 4: Overheating Tensioner

If the tensioner you want to reuse has an overheating issue due to friction, refrain from reinstalling it to the vehicle. Tensioners can overheat for many reasons, such as excess friction/load, wear and tear, lack of adequate lubrication, and high torque. 

Factor 5: Faulty Tensioner Spring

In automatic spring-loaded tensioners, the spring might be weakened or damaged over time. The spring creates and maintains the tension by providing extended force when the timing belt is stretched. So, ensure it’s in good condition and working properly. 

Factor 6: Condition of the Timing Belt

The tensioner helps to maintain the proper grip and tension between the timing belt, so they’re correlated. If the timing belt is worn out or contaminated by leakage, replacing a tensioner won’t help until you fix the timing belt issue. Hence, replacing the timing belt when installing or reusing a tensioner is recommended. 

Factor 7: Cost of Replacement

Cost of replacement is another factor to consider while reusing a timing belt tensioner. The cost varies depending on the manufacturers and the type of your vehicle. But the ideal cost of replacing the engine tensioners ranges between $500-$1000 (the entire tensioner kit, including taxes on the parts and labor cost).

However, keep in mind that if you’re reusing the tensioners, you’ll only need the labor cost. If you want to DIY, that can save you a lot of money.


While reusing tensioners, you need to consider some factors, such as the age and the type of the tensioner. Also, physical inspection of the tensioner and its overall condition. These inspections are necessary for safety and optimal performance.

Is It Safe to Reuse a Timing Belt Tensioner?

Using a timing belt tensioner is safe only when the bearings are free from visible damage, cracks, and rust; there are no wear and tear and mechanical faults. But it’s generally not recommended to reuse a timing belt tensioner. 

Timing belt tensioners are subjected to a lot of wear and tear. Also, over time, they can become less effective at maintaining proper tension on the timing belt. If a tensioner is reused, it may not be able to hold the timing belt in the correct position.

This could result in problems such as belt slippage, engine not starting or misfiring, sudden power loss, and reduced engine performance. Moreover, tensioners are designed to be replaced as units rather than individually for optimal performance.

The tensioner unit includes the timing belt, the serpentine belt, idlers, the water pump, etc. That’s why experts suggest replacing the entire kit rather than just the tensioners.

Hence, consult a mechanic or refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations if you are unsure whether to reuse your timing belt tensioner. 


Timing belt tensioners are subject to a lot of wear and tear and can become less effective at maintaining proper tension on the timing belt. Reusing a timing belt tensioner is generally not recommended.

Pros and Cons of Reusing a Timing Belt Tensioner

Here’s a quick overview of the pros and cons of reusing a timing belt tensioner.

It’s more cost-effective than a replacement.There is a risk of failure and costly engine repair and damage.
Less time-consuming compared to installing the entire timing belt kit.Risk of precision loss in tension adjustment and maintenance.
Reduced environmental impact.We May face compatibility issues with the timing belt.
Is It Safe to Reuse a Timing Belt Tensioner? Infographic

What Experts Say On Reusing Timing Belt Tensioners?

When reusing the timing belt tensioners, automotive experts have differing opinions. Some say it is safe to reuse the tensioner, while others argue it is best to replace it. 

Reusing tensioners can save money and time, but inspection of the parts is required before installation. Make sure that the tensioner pulley is rotating smoothly and that the tensioner is visually inspected for signs of wear and tear. 

Experts recommend using only high-quality parts when replacing the tensioner. The best choice is to use OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts, designed specifically for your vehicle’s make and model and tested to ensure they comply with manufacturer specifications.

In the end, the age and condition of an existing belt tensioner, as well as the advice of experts, should be considered when deciding whether to reuse or replace it.


Automotive experts have differing opinions on whether it is safe to reuse timing belt tensioners. They recommend inspecting the parts before installation and using only high-quality parts when replacing the tensioners.


How Do I Know My Belt Tensioner Is Bad?

Any cracks or damage to the timing belt tensioner indicates it’s bad. If your belt tensioner fails, you may also hear a squealing or squeaking noise from the engine. If the belt is slipping off, it could be a sign that the tensioner is not keeping it in place.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace Tensioners?

Generally, replacing the timing belt tensioner can cost between $140-$500. (3) The additional labor cost is around $70-$80, and the average time required is 1-2 hours. Keep in mind that the cost may vary depending on the model and brand of the vehicle.

How Long Do Timing Belt Tensioners Last?

There’s no ideal lifespan, but on average, the timing belts last between 60,000 to 100,000 miles without fail. In general, it is a good idea to replace the timing belt tensioner whenever the timing belt is being replaced. It’s because the timing belt tensioner usually lasts as long as the timing belt lasts. 

The Bottom Line

So this is it. Hopefully, I’ve been able to answer your query on Can You Reuse the Timing Belt Tensioner. I have properly explained whether you should reuse the timing belt tensioner. Also, the factors you need to consider while reusing them.

As a final tip, I recommend replacing the belt and tensioner at the manufacturer’s recommended service intervals to ensure the best performance and safety.

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Aaron Byrne

Hi, Aaron Byrne here. I'm an expert automotive mechanic with 10 years of experience. I work on engine parts especially timing belts for their repair, maintenance, and replacement.

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Talha Atta

Talha Atta, a Mechanical Engineer and experienced technical content writer and editor at with a passion for the automotive industry.